NHL Trade Speculation: 8 Teams That Will Deal for Leadership at the Deadline
Few moves that an NHL GM can make at the trade deadline have the potential to impact a team like adding a savvy veteran to the mix. Adding the right guy can put a team over the top for various reasons, while adding the wrong one usually doesn't come with big repercussions.
Adding more experience at the deadline can make several impacts for a club.
Perhaps the GM just wants to have a guy that has been there and done that in a locker room full of young twenty-somethings. Adding a guy who can walk into a room and show off his Stanley Cup ring is rarely a bad move for these kinds of youthful teams.
Maybe the incumbent captain could use a little bit of help with his troops.
Sometimes the veterans are brought on board for one last kick at the Cup, to be a secondary scorer or to be a shutdown third-liner. Nearly every team that has recently taken a run at the Stanley Cup has made some kind of move to bolster their lineup at the trade deadline.
So which teams will be looking to make that savvy move when the deadline approaches?
(For the record, not all of these teams are going to be taking a run at the Cup or even make the playoffs. However they all could use an extra veteran in the lineup for different reasons, and I'll state them in each slide.)
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No team in the NHL has a lower average age than the Winnipeg Jets. Their leadership core is largely made up of players in their mid-20s, and on some nights that fact shows a bit on the ice.
The Jets currently sit at 27th overall in the NHL while having over $10 million in cap space. The opportunity is there to add a veteran somewhere down the line, and that honestly might be a move that would make sense in Winnipeg.
While they probably aren't going to be a playoff team this season, they won't be too far off for too much longer either. Adding an older guy with some gas left in the tank sometime this year would be a move that would pay dividends once the squad is playoff-ready.
The right veteran could ease some of the leadership pressure that has been handed to players like Andrew Ladd while teaching the youthful core how to win hockey games. Winning is a culture after all.
San Jose Sharks
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The San Jose Sharks aren't the youngest team in the NHL, but they aren't the oldest either. This is a team that has a wonderful mix of youthful talent and veteran guys that can still flat-out play. So any move that the squad would make wouldn't be for a top-six forward or top-pairing defender.
The teal-and-black attack are a little shallow in players who have won the ultimate prize in hockey.
Antti Niemi is the only big player in the room with a Stanley Cup ring, and while on other teams that might not be a big deal, adding another veteran with that experience could help the Sharks over the long run.
This is a team that has a stigma stapled to their collective backs. Certain veterans out there could certainly help dilute the lack of players who have gone the distance.
Columbus Blue Jackets
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No team in the NHL has a more desperate need for a change in culture than the Columbus Blue Jackets. Only two or three players on the team seem interested in what is happening on the ice—the rest already seem lulled into the deep sleep that constant losing creates.
This is a team that already needs to be blown up entirely.
Last week I wrote that the Jackets should consider dealing Rick Nash. He seems uninspired and so does the rest of the team. The only guys who seem to have the right idea are Vinny Prospal and Cody Bass. They are both angry about losing, and Columbus needs more guys in this mold to be successful.
Bringing in a plethora of veterans could help change the OK-with-getting-my-ass-kicked-again-tonight culture that has taken over in Columbus. They don't have much cap room thanks to this summer's spending spree, but there are plenty of attractive moving parts that the Blue Jackets could move to free up some space.
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Few squads have the offensive upside and youth that the Edmonton Oilers do. The contingent of young guns they have pieced together through the draft will be fearsome—once their top players actually need to shave once the playoffs roll around.
While there is plenty of pedigree to go around in Edmonton, the team could still use another guiding light inside the locker room. As I've stated several times already: winning is a culture. Teaching these kids how to win on a nightly basis could make a huge difference for the fortunes of the team as it grows up.
Few things will bring a team together like winning while nothing will make a squad lackadaisical quicker than a 15-game losing streak. Everything in life is a habit. Winning and losing aren't any different.
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The Boston Bruins bullied their way to a Stanley Cup last season—at least that is how it would seem to those who were pulling for the Vancouver Canucks.
Overall team toughness (both physical and mental) were questioned by those outside of the locker room after the defeat. This was something that many thought the team would shore up a bit during the offseason. For whatever reason, the Canucks really didn't make any moves in that direction.
Their recent pickup of David Booth is a "stay the course" type maneuver, and while it gives them yet another soft set of hands it leaves them lacking in the right kind of sandpaper. This is probably the easiest aspect to add to a team at the deadline, but that doesn't mean it isn't important.
Look for the Canucks to add a bit more grit via a veteran sometime throughout the season.
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The Colorado Avalanche might be onto something this season. They've performed far better than most predicted, but seem to be settling down a bit as of late.
Still, this is a team that is right in the thick of the playoff hunt in the Western Conference. The Avs are currently ninth in the conference, but are only five points out of first—things are that air tight in the West.
As such Colorado can't afford to hit any major losing skids like they did last season. One of the best ways to remedy that kind of inconsistent hockey is to bring the right veteran on board. They have cap space to spend and a lot of youth to like.
Moving for a guy like Shane Doan could be just what the doctor ordered to get this team into the playoffs. From there, anything can happen.
Toronto Maple Leafs
There isn't a ton of cap space to play with here, but the Toronto Maple Leafs have around $3 million to make additions with. They also boast several tradeable assets that could bring in a veteran to help steady this squad over the long haul.
That will be the key for Toronto this year: sustained quality play.
Pundits seems split on the "for realness" of the Leafs. Regardless of where you stand, the team could use a more steady hand in the locker room, both for leadership purposes and to help show how to continue to roll and win.
They currently sit in second place in the Eastern Conference, but some feel there are still holes that need to be filled in Toronto.
New York Islanders
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The kids need help on Long Island. Plain and simple.
So far the only real consistent scoring threat the New York Islanders have is John Tavares. There are several other guys who need to get going for this team to have any kind of success, and bringing in a veteran to shake things up a bit could do the job.
There is enough top-six talent to go around here, but another piece or two at the deadline could go a long way toward improving this squad. Moving one of their three netminders for a veteran or two could bolster the lineup and help steady the course for the younger, inconsistent players.