NHL Trade Deadline 2013: Underperforming Teams That Must Become Sellers

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistMarch 28, 2013

BUFFALO, NY - JANUARY 20:  Ryan Miller #30 of the Buffalo Sabres stands on the ice during pregame warm-ups prior to playing the Philadelphia Flyersat First Niagara Center on January 20, 2013 in Buffalo, New York. Buffalo won 5-2.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

The 2013 NHL trade deadline is less than a week away (Wednesday, April 3), and the discussion about which underperforming teams will become sellers at the deadline has GMs across the league ready for action.

The trade of Jarome Iginla from the Calgary Flames to the Pittsburgh Penguins (h/t ESPN) was the first major piece to fall, and now that the NHL sees that the race is on, other teams will get into the frenzy.

All of the following teams are out of contention and must become sellers for the future betterment of their organizations.


Buffalo Sabres

The Buffalo Sabres were supposed to be one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, but a horrible start to the season led to the firing of longtime head coach Lindy Ruff (h/t New York Times).

While the franchise hoped the coaching change would help, the Sabres sit 12th in the Eastern Conference. It’s time for the franchise to become trade-deadline sellers and start the rebuilding project for 2013-14.

There are plenty of moves Buffalo could make—the roster is littered with high-priced forwards and defenders underperforming—but according to ESPN’s Craig Custance (membership required), the biggest move that could come to fruition is a trade involving star goaltender Ryan Miller.

Miller is arguably the Sabres most valuable piece, so if the team were to trade him, the return would have to be huge. If Buffalo is ready to begin the rebuilding project and Miller doesn’t want to be part of its long-term plans, the decision should be made to trade his contract.


Philadelphia Flyers

The Philadelphia Flyers were hoping to enter the lockout-shortened NHL season with a chance to steal the postseason show, but early injuries and lackluster play across the board on both offense and defense has banished the team to 14th in the Eastern Conference.

For a Flyers team pushing the limit of the salary cap (h/t CapGeek), this season’s performance is the definition of underperforming.

As the deadline approaches, Philadelphia would be wise to understand its position in the postseason hunt and start making deals for the offseason and next year.

That starts with dumping the players that don’t fit in the long-term plans for the team.

While the team was reportedly shopping high-priced forward Danny Briere to the Boston Bruins (h/t Joe Haggerty)—a concussion has sidelined the Flyers star indefinitely (h/t Dave Isaac of USA Today)—the desire to start making changes is becoming more obvious by the day.


Edmonton Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers have a very young team comprised of elite prospects, but their position in 12th place in the Western Conference is not what the franchise expected from this year’s group.

With former first-round picks Taylor Hall, Sam Gagner, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov making up the core of the Oilers franchise, the lack of success from the supporting cast around them means that Edmonton must start over.

All of the impending free agents and high-priced veterans that have not fit in well with the Oilers—players like Ryan Whitney and Magnus Paajarvi are already rumored to be dealt (h/t Haggerty)—should be traded before the deadline in preparation for a big offseason.

The team will likely try to re-sign defender Ladislav Smid to a long-term deal, but the Oilers should be listening to offers for almost any other player not involved in the team’s core of offensive talent.