Predicting the Top Buyers and Sellers at the 2013 NHL Trade Deadline
The trade deadline can be one of the prime moments for teams to improve themselves in two ways.
Teams that are on the outside of the playoffs looking in can trade veteran players who will make other teams better and get draft picks and prospects in return. A better tomorrow for the teams that are suffering today.
Teams that are likely playoff participants can improve or at least fine-tune their rosters so they are stronger once the puck drops in the postseason.
This season, matters are complicated by the truncated 48-game schedule and next year's $64.3 million salary cap. The shortened season means that more teams think they are still in playoff consideration, while next year's reduced cap means that taking on additional salary could create huge problems next year.
Here's a look at the teams that should be most active through the April 3 trade deadline.
The Buffalo Sabres should in a selling mode as they look to the future.
The writing has been on the wall since the Sabres fired long-time head coach Lindy Ruff in February. Interim coach Ron Rolston has brought about some improvement, but the Sabres would need a small miracle to make the playoffs.
They would be much better off moving assets and veterans and building for the future. Ottawa Sun hockey writer Bruce Garrioch reports the Sabres are ready to "blow it up," and most players will be available. That includes captain Jason Pominville and goalie Ryan Miller.
It appears that general manager Jay Feaster has finally gotten the message.
After years of mediocrity, he understands that his team is going nowhere as it is presently constituted and that it needs to remake its roster and look to the future for its success.
Feaster doesn't like to use the term rebuild, but he took the first step last week when he traded Jarome Iginla to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Now that the first move has been made, it should be easier for Feaster to make more moves by the trade deadline.
While the Boston Bruins were not happy with Feaster for the way the Iginla trade was handled—Peter Chiarelli thought he had a deal in place to bring Iginla to Boston—the league's buyers may not have any issues making deals with the Flames and Feaster to improve their rosters.
The Dallas Stars have already been active on the trade front.
They got started in February when they traded high-scoring winger Michael Ryder to the Montreal Canadiens for Erik Cole and then moved veteran Brendan Morrow to Pittsburgh last week.
That's an indication that Joe Nieuwendyk will continue to clean house prior to the trade deadline. However, that may not be the case. The Stars are just two points out of a playoff spot, so Nieuwendyk could decide to add and make the team stronger for its stretch run.
Nieuwendyk has to make up his mind and then start acting more decisively. If he decides that the Stars don't have what it takes to be a major factor in the postseason, look for him to move 41-year-old future-Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr and at least two other veterans.
A week ago, the Edmonton Oilers did not appear to be anything but sellers at the trade deadline.
However, the young talent appears to be jelling and the Oilers have won three games in a row. They can sniff a spot in the playoffs—they are just two points out of eighth place—so it may be time for the Oilers to go for it.
General manager Steve Tambellini also has a number of expiring free-agent contracts, including defenseman Ryan Whitney and goalie Nikolai Khabibulin.
Defenseman Ladislav Smid was in that group, but he signed a four-year, $14 million contract extension April 1 (source: TSN.ca).
The Oilers could be active in both directions.
New York Rangers
The disappointment and embarrassment is palpable in New York.
The Rangers headed into the 2013 season as the favorites to get out of the Eastern Conference after finishing at the top of the conference a year ago. However, the team has not played with anything close to the effectiveness that it did a year ago.
They are tied for eighth place with the New York Islanders and they are struggling to score goals.
Head coach John Tortorella is not happy with veteran Marian Gaborik and the Rangers could move him. They also could make several moves to add some goal scoring if they can find willing trade partners (source: newyorkpost.com). General manager Glen Sather understands the nuances of the trade deadline and he will be active.
San Jose Sharks
The San Jose Sharks are in sixth place and look like they will be a playoff team once again.
However, the tight Western Conference could easily see quite a bit of movement between now and the end of the season.
General manager Doug Wilson is likely to be active in both directions. Ryane Clowe has been rumored to be on the move, but the Sharks also need to add scoring (source: Canada.com).
Clowe has not scored a goal in 28 games this year.
The Boston Bruins would like to add some goal scoring.
They thought they had done just that last week when general manager Peter Chiarelli and Jay Feaster of the Calgary Flames put together a deal for future Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla. However, Iginla had the final say and chose to go to Pittsburgh.
The Bruins still need scoring. Chiarelli will be busy before the trade deadline.
When the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011, Chiarelli traded for Rich Peverley, Chris Kelly and Tomas Plekanec. Peverley and Kelly played key roles in the championship run, and while Kaberle was a disappointment, he made a few plays during the Stanley Cup run that helped.
Chiarelli and the Bruins are not likely to go away empty-handed. They appear to be in the market for San Jose's Ryane Clowe (source: Canada.com).
The Winnipeg Jets have been overachievers this season.
They are currently manning first place in the Southeast Division. If they can hold off the Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals, they will have the third seed in the Eastern Conference based on their division title.
The Jets have been getting all they can out of their talent, but they need more scoring. Look for general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff to work non-stop to give head coach Claude Noel a bit more offense so the Jets can take advantage of their position and earn the division title.
Winnipeg's hungry fans are dying for a return to playoff hockey, and Cheveldayoff is a hard-working and well-respected general manager who will find a way to make trades.