NHL Trade Speculation: 13 Teams That Will Be Buyers at the Deadline
The production on the ice is only a portion of what goes on in the NHL.
The other portion happens well behind the scenes as teams and their GMs compete in a veritable chess match as they try to come up with trades and deals that will improve their team enough to make a push deep into the playoffs.
By the time the trade deadline hits, the teams that will be buyers and sellers are pretty clear.
At this point in the season, it's still a bit fuzzy.
That's part of the fun, though, so here are some teams that will be buyers heading into the trade deadline.
New York Rangers
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The Rangers are going to be a team that is a serious threat going into the playoffs.
The addition of Brad Richards has really helped to push this team in the right direction, but they aren't quite where they want to be as a team yet.
There are still some holes on the wing and on the blue line that could prevent them from doing as well as they probably could.
I'm certain that the Rangers are going to want to make a hard push to have home-ice advantage in the playoffs this year, and they should be within striking distance of the fourth seed.
What's more, if they can maintain consistent play, they might even be within striking distance of the Pittsburgh Penguins and a division title.
It would make a lot of sense for the Rangers to make some kind of a move to bolster their team for a run to get home-ice advantage in the first round and to push deep into the playoffs.
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The Edmonton Oilers are one of the youngest teams in the NHL but have come out of the gates hot.
This year the Oilers are battling for tops in the Northwest Division and could very well be fighting for a good playoff spot come spring time.
The Oilers will probably be looking to add a veteran presence that has gone through all of the motions of the Stanley Cup Playoffs before, as many of the players on the team haven't been there at all or in quite a long time.
Ryan Smyth and Nikolai Khabibulin will provide good leadership, but there can definitely be a bit more.
The Oilers will probably be able to get some decent return as they have some very skilled players, such as Ales Hemsky, who should help give great trade value.
Look for the Oil to be buying for the first time in a while.
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I don't believe that the Florida Panthers are going to stay on the pace with which they have started the season.
That being said, I do think that they will be in the playoff picture towards the end of the year, and a trade seems very likely in their future.
Panthers GM Dave Tallon was very aggressive in the offseason trying to put together a team that was capable of a playoff push. It seems to have succeeded.
That being the case, I don't think that he will shy away from making a trade at the deadline to try and ensure that his team remains int he playoff hunt.
If I were to guess, I would say that the Panthers might take a run at a goalie because Jose Theodore is bound to show how inconsistent he is again.
St. Louis Blues
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The St. Louis Blues made one of the best hires of the year when they brought Ken Hitchcock in as their newest head coach, and the team has responded.
St. Louis plays in a very competitive division with the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Blues have performed very well of late, but if they are going to make a run at their division or at the fourth seed in the Western Conference, they may be interested in some kind of a trade.
It is very fortunate for them that they have Hitchcock. If a trade is made, it will be a very savvy deal that will benefit their team.
Toronto Maple Leafs
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The Maple Leafs are another team that has gotten off to a fantastic start.
Phil Kessel has been hotter than hot in the early portion of this season, but I'm sure he wouldn't mind a little bit of help coming through some kind of trade.
The Leafs have cooled down, to a certain extent, and sit just behind the Boston Bruins in their division. They figure to be serious contenders for a division title this year, and buying at the trade deadline could be a great way to help their case.
Plus, the Maple Leafs have Brian Burke as their general manager.
He has a stigma of being one of the most willing GMs to find some kind of trade to make his team better; and when he finds the man that he wants, he will make that trade happen.
See Phil Kessel or the Sedins if you wish for examples.
Toronto will definitely be buying this year.
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I know that I wasn't expecting to say the words "the best team in the NHL" when referring to the Wild this year, I don't think anybody was planning to hear that.
But here we are, a little more than a quarter of the way through the season, and the Wild are on top of the NHL standings.
They are doing it with great defense and some pretty good goaltending as well.
One thing they will need to go far in the Stanley Cup playoffs is more scoring. By the time you reach the playoffs, everybody's defense is good.
Plus, the Northwest Division is no slouch. Edmonton is nipping on Minnesota's heels and it's only a matter of time before Vancouver fully turns things around and starts racking up wins.
Also, the Avalanche could be a sleeper if they could ever find out how to score goals at home.
Minnesota will be pressured by several teams, and buying some of the talent at the trade deadline will help them out, especially since they already have a substantial amount of salary cap money to play with.
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The Flyers' fate at the trade deadline may be determined by how well Chris Pronger is able to come back from his leg surgery.
The absence of Chris Pronger would leave a hole in any defense, no matter how well rounded.
Then again, there is also the goaltending situation in Philly, which nobody was supposed to be talking about this year because Ilya Bryzgalov was supposed to finally solidify that position.
Bryzgalov has been less than consistent, and you just never know what you're going to get from Sergei Bobrovsky.
Might Philly be interested in making their goalie situation the game of Yahtzee that everybody is so used to seeing? Maybe.
The Flyers will definitely have to consider buying at the trade deadline in order to keep up with the Rangers and the Penguins.
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All bets are off in the Pacific Division this year. The Sharks aren't dominating and the Dallas Stars and Phoenix Coyotes are both on top of the division.
Dallas has cooled considerably from their hot start, and they might sit just outside the playoff race by the time the trade deadline comes into play.
The choice for them will be whether to stand pat and try to start building for the following season, or to be aggressive and try and make a hard push for the playoffs.
Given the fact that they lost Brad Richards, I don't think that they can afford to stand pat, as that might send the fanbase a message saying that the front office doesn't care about the team enough to try and make them compete.
In a market like Dallas, you really do need to win to keep the fans' attention.
Plus, with the long-term health of Kari Lehtonen a bit up in the air, Dallas may have to be active to get a goalie who can help them make that playoff push.
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Last year, the Capitals made a deal to get Jason Arnott at the deadline to try and add some veteran leadership and experience of a Stanley Cup champion to the roster.
He didn't work out, but it wouldn't surprise me if the Capitals made another similar move to help inspire the boys once playoff time comes around.
Plus, Dale Hunter will probably want the team to have a different kind of identity going into the playoffs and maybe his will work a bit better in the playoffs.
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The Nashville Predators are in a unique position of being a team that may be both buying and selling at the trade deadline.
With the uncertainty of Shea Weber's future, he could be the biggest name on the move come deadline time.
Which means that the Predators could get a ton of value in return.
If it were me, I wouldn't trade Weber. I would get that guy signed at any cost.
The Predators are in a very competitive division and now are looking up at three teams: the Red Wings, the Blackhawks and now the Blues.
The Predators could use some help.
New Jersey Devils
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The New Jersey Devils may be looking into some kind of trade before the deadline, but if they're in the picture at deadline time, they're going to need some help.
I think New Jersey may end up just on the outside looking in, which will require them to make a move if they want to get into the playoffs.
Right now they need help scoring, and I imagine that is going to be something that continues until the trade deadline comes around.
If New Jersey wants to squeak in, and that's how it would have to happen, they're going to need to get some offensive help.
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This might be the biggest maybe of the whole article because of how uncertain the ownership situation is in Phoenix.
Phoenix has never gone past the first round of the playoffs and will need some kind of special addition to their roster in order to help the team go deeper.
Even teams that are playing really well look for action at the trade deadline.
I like Phoenix to make a move.
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Vancouver made a deal last year at the deadline to bring Max Lapierre out to Vancouver. Not a huge move, but it definitely paid dividends for the Canucks.
Vancouver may look to make a similar move to bring a role player in that will help give energy to the team.
As I mentioned earlier, teams that are good will still look to make certain moves that can make their team better.
Plus, now Vancouver may not be the big kid in the Northwest Division anymore. They have to climb over both the Oilers and the Wild to get back on top.
I'm not saying they can't do it, this is just something that the Canucks haven't had to deal with in recent years.
Some trades may be in order for them to make some headway in the Northwest Division.
Kevin Goff is a Featured Columnist for the Colorado Avalanche and NHL on Bleacher Report. For more NHL news and discussion,