Each NHL Team's Most Valuable Trade Asset

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistMarch 8, 2013

Each NHL Team's Most Valuable Trade Asset

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    If you don’t think the trade deadline is important when it comes to winning the Stanley Cup, take a look at the last two winners.

    Prior to the 2011 trade deadline, the Boston Bruins added Rich Peverley, Chris Kelly and Tomas Kaberle. Peverley and Kelly played vital roles in the Bruins' Stanley Cup run and while Kaberle was a disappointment, he had a couple of decent moments for the Bruins.

    Last year, the Los Angeles Kings felt good about their team but general manager Dean Lombardi knew his team needed more offense. He assessed his roster, swallowed hard and traded solid defenseman Jack Johnson and a 2013 first-round pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets for center Jeff Carter.

    The move turned out to be the right one because the Kings suddenly had the scoring they needed to make a successful Stanley Cup run. Carter would go on to score a team-high eight goals in the postseason as the Kings won their first championship.

    With those scenarios in mind, let's look at each teams’ top trade asset as the April 3 trade deadline approaches.

    (All salary information is courtesy of CapGeek.com.)

Atlantic Division

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    New Jersey Devils—The Devils got off to a very hot start, but they have been fading in recent weeks. If general manager Lou Lamoriello decides to trade his top assets because he doesn't believe his team will make the playoffs, he could trade high-scoring David Clarkson, who will be a free agent at the end of the season.

    New York Islanders—The Islanders are certainly in playoff contention, but it's hard to see them finding a way to earn a postseason spot in this difficult division.

    If they decide to trade for the future, look for the Islanders to part with either Lubomir Visnovsky or Mark Streit. Both veteran defensemen could help contending NHL teams with their solid play on the blue line.

    New York Rangers—The Rangers are looking better each week after a difficult start. New York is going for it this year and they may be willing to part with a young prospect like Chris Kreider if they can get a quality defenseman.

    Glen Sather does not like to trade his stars of the future, but if he feels that a Stanley Cup is a real possibility, he may make a difficult decision.

    Philadelphia Flyers—The Flyers have made noises like they want to get back in playoff position, but the team has too many defensive weaknesses to make a real run.

    Paul Holmgren should write off the 2013 season and build for the future by trading Simon Gagne for a young and talented defense prospect who can help this team for years to come.

    Pittsburgh Penguins—The Penguins have not played up to their potential yet, but it's clear they have the talent to push any opponent to the limit in the playoffs. Ray Shero wants some defensive help and possibly a new goaltender and he may be willing to trade a prospect like Beau Bennett or Derrick Pouliot to get veteran help in one of those areas.

Northeast Division

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    Boston Bruins—The Bruins are going for it again this year and if it wasn't for the Chicago Blackhawks, they might be the team that is considered the Stanley Cup favorite.

    Though very solid on defense, the Bruins are looking for veteran scoring help and they could be willing to move a young prospect like center Ryan Spooner to bring in additional offensive production.

    Buffalo Sabres—While they fired Lindy Ruff with the hopes of getting back into the playoff race, it's doubtful whether the Sabres are going to make the climb. They simply lack the consistency to get there.

    A complete remake may take place in the offseason and they could begin by moving Jason Pominville once they realize their playoff aspirations are done.

    Montreal Canadiens—Last year's cellar dwellers are this year's top dog. The Canadiens have succeeded this season because they have played with an edge and they may want more of the same in a trade.

    They could be willing to move solid defense prospect Jarred Tinordi to bring in a gritty veteran.

    Ottawa Senators—No team has been hurt more by injuries than the Senators and even though they fight and hustle every night, it's almost certainly a losing battle.

    The Senators have a prime asset in veteran star Daniel Alfredsson and he may be the object of a bidding war prior to the trade deadline.

    Toronto Maple Leafs—One of the names mentioned in potential trades has been Phil Kessel but with the Leafs in prime playoff contention, it would be foolish to trade one of their best offensive weapons.

    Still, nothing is guaranteed and the Leafs should not sacrifice their future by trading their top prospects. If general manager Dave Nonis is going to make a move to strengthen his team's playoff chances, he might consider moving Nikolai Kulemin.

Southeast Division

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    Carolina Hurricanes—The Hurricanes made moves in the offseason—such as adding Jordan Staal—to get stronger and the team is holding on to first place in the division.The injury to Cam Ward may force Jim Rutherford to bring in a goalie, but it seems unlikely they would move a key player.

    The Hurricanes may want to trade a prospect like Chris Terry to improve their playoff chances this year.

    Florida Panthers—The struggling Panthers appeared ready to move free-agent-to-be Stephen Weiss, but he is out for the rest of the season with a wrist injury.

    The Panthers might be willing to move veteran defenseman Brian Campbell if somebody is willing to take his contract ($7.14 million per season through 2015-16).

    Tampa Bay Lightning—The Lightning are rapidly playing themselves out of playoff contention and that's not good for head coach Guy Boucher's long-term employment.

    General manager Steve Yzerman has plenty of talent on his hands and he might be willing to move forward Ryan Malone.

    Washington Capitals—It was an awful 1-5-1 start for the Capitals, but they are rebounding nicely under rookie head coach Adam Oates.

    If their drive gets stalled, general manager George McPhee may be willing to move future free agents Mike Ribeiro and Tom Poti.

    Winnipeg Jets—The Jets have played some solid hockey this year but they have a difficult time stringing good games together.

    If that continues to be the case, general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff could move Olli Jokinen or Blake Wheeler, who will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

Central Division

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    Chicago Blackhawks—The Blackhawks are playing record-breaking hockey and they are fixed on winning the Stanley Cup. Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville are happy with their roster, but they will try to bring in depth to help the cause, especially with Patrick Sharp's shoulder injury that could keep him out four weeks.

    Perhaps they would be willing to move a prospect like Mark McNeill to help them win the Stanley Cup this year.

    Columbus Blue Jackets—The Jackets were instrumental in the Los Angeles Kings winning the Stanley Cup last year when they sent Jeff Carter to the Kings.

    This year, the Blue Jackets are still on the outside looking in and John Davidson could move Johnson to a team in need of a solid defenseman.

    Detroit Red Wings—It's difficult to think of of a Red Wings team that would off-load talent because they don't believe they have a realistic chance to win the Stanley Cup, but that is a legitimate possibility.

    If he wants to look to the future, general manager Ken Holland could move Valtteri Filppula, who will be a free agent at the end of the season.

    Nashville Predators—It may be difficult for the feisty and competitive Predators to remain in contention for a playoff position because they don't score enough goals.

    General manager David Poile would like to see his team turn that part of the game around and win a playoff spot, but if he comes to the conclusion that it won't happen, he could move veteran David Legwand.

    St. Louis Blues—The Blues would like to add a defenseman, according to Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com. They could be interested in Lubomir Visnovsky or Mark Streit of the New York Islanders.

    They could be willing to move draft picks in order to procure a veteran defenseman.

Northwest Division

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    Calgary Flames—No team should be more willing to move its prime assets to build for the future than the Flames. They are in 12th place in the Western Conference as of March 8.

    If general manager Jay Feaster believes his team is capable of sneaking into the playoffs and making the same kind of run the Kings made last year, he's fooling himself. The Flames should trade long-time star Jarome Iginla to a team with legitimate Stanley Cup aspirations.

    Colorado Avalanche—The Avs are struggling and are not a playoff team this year. They may eventually trade Ryan O'Reilly, but they must keep him for one calendar year after matching Calgary's offer sheet.

    Adrian Dater of the Denver Post believes the Avs may trade Paul Stastny.

    Edmonton Oilers—Despite a boatload of young talent that should eventually lead the Oilers to the top of the Western Conference, it's not going to happen this year.

    The Oilers must keep Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz, but they could move Magnus Paajarvi for veteran talent.

    Minnesota Wild—General manager Chuck Fletcher has a number of players who will become free agents on July 1.

    According to Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Wild would be willing to move Matt Cullen, Niklas Backstrom or Pierre-Marc Bouchard if they remain unsigned.

    Vancouver Canucks—Roberto Luongo remains on the trade market, but general manager Mike Gillis still wants a premium price in return. The Canucks are also getting calls about Cory Schneider.

    The Canucks could move one goalie or the other, but they may hold on to both of them through the remainder of the season.

Pacific Division

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    Anaheim Ducks—The Ducks signed Ryan Getzlaf to an eight-year contract at $8.25 million per season on March 8 (source: SportingNews.com), and they would probably like to do the same with Corey Perry. Perry is scheduled to be a free agent at the end of the season.

    However, with the reduced salary cap next season, can they afford to keep him? If general manager Bob Murray concludes that he can't, he may come to the painful conclusion that he should probably move Perry even though the Ducks are playing sensational hockey.

    Dallas Stars—The Stars are currently in a four-way tie for fifth place in the Western Conference, meaning they have a shot to make the playoffs.

    If they start to slip, they could move former Buffalo Sabres center Derek Roy, who will be a free agent at the end of the season.

    Los Angeles Kings—The Kings are playing much more consistent hockey after a very slow start and should be a playoff team once again.

    General manager Dean Lombardi may be looking to trade Dustin Penner or Rob Scuderi, both of whom will be free agents on July 1. Penner has been a healthy scratch several times this season.

    Phoenix Coyotes—The Coyotes are just one point out of a playoff spot as of March 8, but their unsure ownership situation makes it very difficult to predict which direction the Coyotes will go.

    General manager Don Maloney could choose to move a number of players who will be free agents at the end of this season or after the 2013-14 season. Those players include Raffi Torres, Steve Sullivan and Radim Vrbata (2013-14).

    San Jose Sharks—The Sharks started the season as if they were going to challenge the Chicago Blackhawks, but they have struggled quite a bit in February and March. They are currently battling for a playoff spot.

    If the Sharks fall further in the standings, general manager Doug Wilson could choose to move Ryane Clowe, who will be a free agent at the end of the season.