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NHL Trade Speculation: 12 Teams Looking for Defense at the Deadline

Brad LeClairCorrespondent IDecember 12, 2016

NHL Trade Speculation: 12 Teams Looking for Defense at the Deadline

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    The Trade Deadline is months away, but its not too soon to talk trade in the NHL these days. With quite a few teams in the playoff picture, it only creates more of a pressure cooker when it comes to player movement.

    If this pace continues, look for quite a few teams to make trades to bolster their lineups, give an extra piece to the puzzle, or in some instances, get some insurance just in case an injury happens.

    It just so happens the deadline is months away, so in reality, you can't really give an accurate assessment on which teams will be shopping and specifically, which teams will be looking for defenceman.

    In this article, we will focus on the teams that are in need of an upgrade to their defence, rather than predict teams who'll be looking for defence, because every team will be looking to upgrade their defence at the deadline.

    Some teams on the surface may appear to be strong on defence, but in the end, could've lost a player already to a devastating injury, or already dealt a defender or two before the deadline.

    All depth charts are courtesy of theHockeyNews.com.

Calgary Flames

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    Defenceman

    Jay Bouwmeester, Anton Babchuk, Mark Giordano, Chris Butler, Scott Hannon, Cory Sarich, Brett Carson (IR)

    Calgary has never been the greatest scoring team and the defence has never been that great at adding to the offensive firepower of the Flames.

    They win games based on strong defensive play, stellar goaltending from Miikka Kiprosoff, and of course timely scoring from Jarome Iginla and a talented group of forwards.

    Why Make a Splash?

    The need still remains for more offensive defenceman on the Flames. Given their style, the defenceman they seek will also need to be good in their own end.

Columbus Blue Jackets

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    Defenceman

    James Wisniewski (Suspended), Grant Clitsome, Radek Martinek (IR), Fedor Tyutin, Marc Methot, Kris Russell, John Moore (Rookie)

    The Jackets are in dire need to make the playoffs to help save some grace for a franchise that has really struggled since joining the NHL in 2000.

    Why Make a Splash?

    With the additions of Wisniewski and first line center Jeff Carter, on the surface it appeared the Jackets were heading in the right direction. However, an injury to Carter and a lengthy suspension to Wisniewski later, and a terrible start to the 2011-12 season could force the GM Scott Howson to make some more moves at the deadline to shore up a few weak spots on the club.

Dallas Stars

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    Defenceman

    Stephane Robidas, Sheldon Souray, Alex Goligoski, Trevor Daley, Adam Pardy, Nicklas Grossman

    The Stars are off to a great start this season, but after losing first-line center Brad Richards, some wonder if this hot start will last the rest of the year.

    Why Make a Splash?

    The Stars, as of October 25, sit tied atop of the Western Conference with the Colorado Avalanche, another team expected to finish in the cellar of the Western Conference.

    The D core, as a whole for the Stars outside of Goligoski, is either aging, or slow or a combination of both. To improve their chances of long-term success, Dallas will need to address their defence and increase their foot speed and offensive ability if they hope to make it back to the playoffs this season or in the future.

Edmonton Oilers

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    Defenceman

    Ryan Whitney, Tom Gilbert, Ladislav Smid, Cam Barker, Andy Sutton, Theo Peckham, Corey, Potter, and Taylor Fedun (IR)

    The Oilers are tied for eighth place in the Western Conference, but are tied with the New Jersey Devils for the worst scoring output by any team in the NHL with 13 goals.

    Edmonton's gotten five goals from rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as he makes his case to stay in the NHL, however, no player other than Nugent-Hopkins has scored more than two goals this season.

    Why Make a Splash?

    Offence can be attributed to the success of your forwards, but in the grand scheme of things, offence starts with a solid defence. Right now the Oilers don't have that.

    Defensively, they struggle and offensively, their D core is invisible, having only Corey Potter and Tom Gilbert score once for them in eight games.

    The Oilers are where they are today because of their strong goaltending from Devyn Dubnyk and Nikolai Khabibulin, however that is not a guarantee that it will last.

    Owner Daryl Katz wants to build a new arena in the city of Edmonton, but with a floundering team, getting it may be a hard sell. Look for the Oilers to move quickly to improve their defence if they are in contention come the trade deadline.

Florida Panthers

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    Defenceman

    Brian Campbell, Jay Garrison, Dmitry Kulikov, Mike Weaver, Ed Jovanovski, Keaton Ellerby, and Erik Gudbranson

    The Panthers are second in the Southeast Division, ahead of Stanley Cup contenders Tampa Bay and the Carolina Hurricanes. Having lost possibly their best pure goal scorer in David Booth, it will be offence by committee for this group.

    Why Make a Splash?

    For years the Panthers have given up a boatload of shots, and so far this season, that hasn't changed. With rookie net-minder Jakub Markstrom nearly ready for prime—time, the Panthers could have another stud goalie on the horizon, but it would help them out greatly to make his initial stay in the NHL a tad more comfortable and face an average amount of shots per game.

    To do that, it appears Florida will have to make a move or two to shore up a few glaring holes in their attack. If that happens, you could see the playoff hockey taking their talents to South Beach. Well, sort of, you get where I'm going here.

Minnesota Wild

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    Defenceman

    Marek Zidlicky, Greg Zanon, Nick Schultz, Marco Scandella, Clayton Stoner, and Jared Spurgeon.

    The Wild have always been a team whose staple has been 2-1, 3-2 style of total team defence. But that trend seems to be falling to the wayside and the NHL game is more geared towards the run—and—gun teams that score plenty of goals.

    Nearly every team at the top of the division leads their respective divisions in goals for, the really good teams also are up there for goals against.

    Why Make a Splash?

    The Wild lost a ton of offence from their back end when they dealt away star defenceman Brent Burns to the San Jose Sharks for Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle and a first round pick (Zack Phillips).

    In the offseason they didn't add any offence to a rather stagnant defence, and right now the Wild sit in the bottom half of the NHL in goals for, and their power-play is a paltry 9.7% effective as of Oct. 25.

    Is it possible for the Wild to make it to the playoffs? Yes, but they'll need plenty of help along the way if they hope to make it back to the postseason.

Montreal Canadiens

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    Defenceman

    PK Subban, Andrei Markov (IR), Jaroslav Spacek, Yannick Weber, Chris Campoli (IR), Josh Gorges, Alexei Yemelin and Raphael Diaz.

    The Canadiens are off to a horrid start this season with an Eastern Conference worst power-play and likely will be needing a new head coach if the losing continues.

    Why Make a Splash?

    After letting James Wisniewski go in the offseason, his departure left a massive hole in the Canadiens defensive depth. With quite a few injuries and a rabid fan-base and media, success for Montreal hockey is the only acceptable thing, and to not have success means there will be changes afoot.

    Look for the Canadiens to be active at the deadline if things don't change soon.

New Jersey Devils

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    Defenceman

    Mark Fayne, Andy Greene, Mark Fraser, Henrik Tallinder, Adam Larsson, Bryce Salvador and Anton Volchenkov.

    The Devils are again in the basement of the NHL in goals for, despite having pure goal scorers like Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise on the squad.

    Why Make a Splash?

    Nobody other than the injured rookie center Jacob Josefsen is a plus on the team, and no defenceman other than Mark Fayne has scored a goal this season.

    For the Devils to eventually score more goals, the forwards will need to get some help from the back end if they ever hope to score at least 200 goals a season.

New York Rangers

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    Defenceman

    Marc Staal (IR), Michael Del Zotto, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Michael Sauer, Steve Eminger, Tim Erixon, Jeff Woywitka, and Brendan Bell

    Hockey on Broadway so far, with its new  free agent star performer Brad Richards, has been pretty much a dud for entertainment value as the Rangers have only scored 14 goals this season, and only one blueliner has added his name to the goal list, Ryan McDonagh.

    Why Make a Splash?

    Hockey in New York, I'll just say that much. The pressure on the Rangers to succeed is pretty large and right now, without the services of Marc Staal for an indefinite period of time, the Rangers could be on the lookout for a defenceman or two sooner rather than later.

Ottawa Senators

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    Defenceman

    Erik Karlsson, Jared Cowen, David Rundblad, Filip Kuba, Sergei Gonchar, Brian Lee, and Matt Carkner (IR)

    The Senators are in a rebuilding phase of their team, and early success is more of a pipe-dream rather than an expected outcome. Right now, Ottawa sits dead last in goals against in the NHL with 36.

    Why Make a Splash?

    They really have no reason to make a splash because they won't be going anywhere, however, the splash may come when they try and unload a few veterans who are not leading the team like they're supposed to. Sergei Gonchar has looked rather old this season next to some of the younger players, and really isn't showing any veteran leadership whatsoever.

    The Senators may look for a few veteran defenceman to help develop some of their young studs for future years, because Gonchar and Kuba certainly are not doing that for them.

Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Defenceman

    Victor Hedman, Mattias Ohlund, Brett Clark, Pavel Kubina, Marc Andre Bergeron, Matt Gilroy and Bruno Gervais

    The Lightning haven't really wowed many hockey purists out there, as they sit tied for seventh in the Eastern Conference.

    Why Make a Splash?

    With a talented forward group and two decent goalies, the Lightning are close to something special. They are tied for second worst in goals against in the NHL with 30 with Columbus and Carolina, so addressing a slower back-end could be in store for the Lightning.

    Look for a move or two involving a defenceman in the near future, rather than them waiting to grab one at the deadline.

Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Defenceman

    Dion Phaneuf, Luke Schenn, John Michael Liles, Jake Gardiner, Carl Gunnarsson, Cody Franson, Mike Komisarek, Keith Aulie, Matt Lashoff

    Are you serious? Yes, the Leafs are included.

    With lackluster play out of veteran Mike Komisarek and slow starts for Cody Franson, Luke Schenn and Keith Aulie in the minors, the Leafs, who have not reached the playoffs since 2004, will be looking for another defenceman to help make a push for the postseason.

    Why Make a Splash?

    Three concepts here to think about, its the hockey Capital of the world, we're dealing with Brian Burke here and he's not very patient, and lastly, the Leafs could stand to shed some cap space if they ever hope to re—sign the likes of Nikolai Kulemin or Mikhail Grabovski.

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