NHL Trade Scenarios: One Player Each Team Would Love to Land at Trade Deadline
Though the NHL winter roster freeze will prevent any teams from making immediate moves, important trades could certainly befall the league within time.
Certain unavoidable rumors (including stars such as Shea Weber, Zach Parise, Eric Staal and Jarome Iginla) persist now that team performances (and what they are lacking) are clear nearly halfway through the 2011-12 season.
Every team needs something to improve their franchise. Many teams will not get what they are looking for, but all would be happy to add that key piece before the trade deadline.
The struggling Anaheim Ducks need a lot of help on both sides of the ice; they are among the worst-five in goals-against and goals-for this season.
Anaheim will not make an appearance in this season's playoffs. Any move they make will need to improve their future.
The team's leading scorer, Teemu Selanne, is 41 years old and is nearing retirement. Additionally, forward Saku Koivu is 37 years old and does not have a contract after this season.
The Ducks need a scoring forward who is relatively young.
If Selanne retires, Anaheim will have plenty of cap space to spend on a big-name player. They could trade for an upcoming free agent during this season and sign him to a long-term deal.
The New Jersey Devils' Zach Parise would fit that description. If the Devils do not feel they will be able to sign Parise (an unrestricted free agent after this season), he could be on the move.
The defending Stanley Cup Champions lead the NHL in wins and made a statement by ending the Philadelphia Flyers' seven game winning streak with a blowout 6-0 win.
They have the best goal differential in the NHL and do not need much. With David Krejci struggling this year, the team could benefit from adding a goal scorer.
Matt Moulson of the (once again) non-playoff bound New York Islanders is scoring 15 goals through 30 games, plus nine assists.
Additionally, the disciplined Moulson (one minor penalty this season) would help keep the Bruins out of the box. Boston is second in the NHL in team penalty minutes.
His $3.1 million cap hit is affordable to the Bruins, who have just $3.5 million in cap space available.
With a myriad of injuries to Buffalo Sabres forwards, highlighted by the loss of winger Ville Leino, the team is going to need depth on offense.
Niklas Hagman was picked up off re-entry waivers by the Anaheim Ducks earlier this season. This reduced his cap hit to $1.5 million (with former team Calgary responsible for the other $1.5 million).
The 32-year-old Hagman has 10 points in 22 games this season. Set to be a free agent after this season, he is an affordable, short-term solution to the Sabres' broken down offense.
The Calgary Flames are in a difficult situation as a franchise; the team has spent plenty of money in attempts to produce a playoff-contending team.
With less than one million dollars left in cap space, those attempts have simply burnt away the wallets of Calgary's many co-owners.
The team needs to rebuild. It needs to find young players while eliminating the old. Twelve players on the current roster are set to be free agents after this season.
The Flames should trade whatever they can for draft picks, and look to build for the future. The players they should have their eyes on are whoever they find in the 2012 entry draft.
The Carolina Hurricanes are yet another team who is facing a dismal end to the 2011-12 NHL season. Their trade efforts need to be focused on the future.
The team has three key defensemen facing free agency this season in Jaroslav Spacek, Bryan Allen and Tim Gleason. Finding a young, quality defenseman should be a priority for the club.
If Ryan Suter of the Nashville Predators becomes available, the Hurricanes would be wise to make him part of the team's core.
Once again a member of the NHL's elite, the Chicago Blackhawks are winning with offense. The team's 3.22 goals-per-game is fifth in the NHL. The team's 2.91 goals-against-per-game is a distant 20th.
Furthermore, the team has an abysmal penalty kill, ranked 27th out of 30 teams.
The Blackhawks are fortunate to have taken the fewest minor penalties in the NHL thus far, but help on the penalty kill would do the team well.
One player who would help a great deal in that category is Francois Beauchemin of the Anaheim Ducks.
Beauchemin leads all Anaheim skaters with an average ice time over 26 minutes per game. His average of 5:01 in shorthanded ice time leads the NHL.
He is an upcoming free agent with an affordable (for Chicago) $3.8 million cap hit.
The Colorado Avalanche have the third-worst record in the western conference, with 31 points in 33 games. However, the competitive conference puts them six points out of a playoff spot.
The has just two wins less than the current sixth-seeded Nashville Predators.
Colorado has a promising group of young players including forwards Ryan O'Reilly, Matt Duchene, Paul Stastny, Gabriel Landeskog, defensemen Kyle Quincy, Ryan Wilson, Erik Johnson and goaltender Semyon Varlamov.
Even if the Avalanche do not get back to playoff form this season, they will soon be a force in the NHL again.
Colorado could speed up that process by utilizing the $13 million in cap space they have and making a push for Shea Weber, who has been tied to numerous trade rumors this year.
They could certainly afford the young superstar defenseman. Adding him to their already impressive core could cause a renaissance of the powerhouse that won two Stanley Cups and made the Pepsi Center one of the NHL's most exciting arenas.
Columbus Blue Jackets
With nearly one-third of the team's cap space spent on three players (Rick Nash, Jeff Carter, James Wisniewski), the Columbus Blue Jackets have banked on this trio carrying them to some form of success.
Unfortunately, the additions of Carter and Wisniewski this offseason have done nothing but help the franchise reach the bottom of the NHL standings.
The team is not going to make the playoffs this season. The team can try to win with Nash, Carter and Wisniewski leading the way, but they will need to be smart and economically sound in their choices.
Columbus should look to dump the large salary of upcoming free agent Kristian Huselius before this season's end, then acquire a defenseman to compliment Wisniewski's offensive abilities.
Tim Gleason of the Hurricanes is a defensive-minded blue liner similarly aged to Nash and Wisniewski.
He fits what should be their aimed timeframe for victory.
Despite losing leading scorer Brad Richards in this past offseason, the Dallas Stars are leading the Pacific Division.
However, the Stars are going to have to make a move in order to be able to compete against teams from the stronger Central and Northwest divisions.
The team's 2.52 goals-per-game is 22nd in the NHL. The team's powerplay is even worse at 14.6 percent; 24th in the NHL.
With over $12 million available in cap space, Dallas has the room to add a quality point-producing defenseman. The question is whether or not the organization is willing to pay that price.
Sergei Gonchar of the Ottawa Senators is just what Dallas needs; he is on pace for his 10th 50+ point season this year. Dallas is one of the few playoff contending teams with enough cap space for Gonchar's average hit of $5.5 million.
Detroit Red Wings
The only areas of weakness that jump out from the perennial Stanley Cup contenders is the team's 21st-ranked penalty kill, and the team's lack of toughness.
Additionally, the team needs to think about replacing Niklas Lidstrom's spot on the defensive end.
Though nothing short of adding Shea Weber would replace the seven-time James Norris Trophy winner, the team could add defensive depth and help the penalty kill with Carolina's Tim Gleason.
Gleason would also add much-needed toughness to the Detroit lineup; his four fighting majors this season is as many as the entire Red Wings' team.
The Edmonton Oilers are currently six points away from the playoffs.
The squad is led by the young scoring trio of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall, but lacks a quality playmaker on defense.
Upcoming free agent Ryan Suter of the Nashville Predators is on pace for 53 points this season. At the young age of 26, he could be an additional piece of the core built by the Oilers.
The team has roughly a half million dollars more than they need to fit him under the cap for this season. The question is, what would they need to give up to get him, and would they be able to get him under contract for the long term?
With all the moves Florida made prior to the start of this season, expecting a better team was simply logical. However, not many imagined the Panthers would be leading their division over both the Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning.
Part of the pleasant surprise is the play of Kris Versteeg. Versteeg's 33 points in 31 games puts him on pace to smash his career high of 53. He is on pace for 86 this season.
Versteeg's linemates Stephan Weiss and Tomas Fleischmann are just under point-per-game production at 31 and 30 points (respectively) through 32 games.
After this high-scoring trio, the Panthers have little sources of offensive production from the forwards. Tomas Kopecky is fourth with just 13 points.
The Panthers need depth; if a good defensive pairing is able to shut down that top line, Florida has no chance of scoring.
Luckily for Florida, the team has $10.7 million in cap space available to add a high-scoring forward. If any of the rumored superstars are actually available, Florida's management should make a push if they are serious about winning.
The biggest names potentially available include Zach Parise, Alexander Semin, Eric Staal and Jarome Iginla. Though general managers have denied both Staal and Iginla's availability, Florida would certainly love adding one of these players.
Florida would have an easier time dealing with the western conference Flames and Iginla than New Jersey, Washington or Carolina.
Iginla would give the Panthers offense and leadership they are currently lacking.
Los Angeles Kings
The Los Angeles Kings are under-performing so far this season, especially on the offensive side.
They have the NHL's lowest goals-per-game total, at 2.21. Though the team plays well defensively, the Kings definitely need scoring.
Drew Doughty's low production is a cause for the low scoring total, as is winger Simon Gagne. Both players are on pace for career-lows in point totals.
Both Dustin Penner and Jarret Stoll need to pick up their play as well.
What the Kings might need, if the firing of head coach Terry Murray does nothing, is a trade to simply shake up the roster, such as moving Stoll for a point-producing player.
Another struggling center who has potential, but is under-performing, is Derick Brassard of the Columbus Blue Jackets. The trade might seem redundant, but sometimes all players need is a change of scenery.
Like the Florida Panthers, the Minnesota Wild are playing surprisingly well this year. They currently lead the NHL with 45 points.
The team is excellent defensively (third-lowest goals-against-average) but struggles to score many goals (fifth-lowest goals-for-average).
What might help is a true point-producing defenseman. The team lacks production from the back end; Jared Spurgeon leads all Minnesota blueliners with just 13 points.
Luckily for Minnesota, they have $7.87 million in available cap space; enough to add the market's best scoring defenseman Sergei Gonchar.
Gonchar has a $5.5 million cap hit, which is too high for most teams. The Wild could afford it and benefit from the 37-year-old who is second among active defensemen with 730 points in 1086 games.
With the Canadiens having acquired Tomas Kaberle from the Carolina Hurricanes, their focus turns to adding a forward (and likely, losing a defenseman; they have too many right now).
The team could trade one of the upcoming free agent defensemen; (a list that includes Josh Georges, Hal Gill, Chris Campoli, Alexei Emelin, Raphael Diaz and P.K. Subban) for a low-priced forward.
The Blue Jackets are set to miss the playoffs. Leading scorer Vinny Prospal (26 points in 32 games) is set to become a free agent.
He could add scoring ability to one of Montreal's top lines in a deal that rids the Canadiens of an excessive defenseman.
Prospal is an especially beneficial target for Montreal due to his low $2.5 million cap hit; the Canadiens are tight on cap space, currently relying on Andrei Markov being on the long term injury reserve.
Amidst all the talk of trading Shea Weber and Ryan Suter is a lost fact; the Nashville Predators are indeed a playoff team.
If Nashville does not trade their impending free agent defensemen before the deadline, it means the team is looking to make a run this season.
In order to improve their chances, Nashville needs to spend big and add a quality forward. The team has the most cap space of any NHL team, though it lacks the actual financial support necessary to utilize that space.
This is why Weber was not given a larger contract this offseason. However, the Predators are going to have to make a sacrifice soon; either lose their players or lose their money.
If the franchise chooses to win, adding a scorer is their priority.
Team leader Craig Smith has just 24 points and no Nashville player has ten goals. The team would benefit from a legitimate scorer like Zach Parise of the New Jersey Devils, if only for the remainder of this season.
New Jersey Devils
Martin Brodeur is nearing the end of his career, and backup Johan Hedberg is no youthful prospect at the age of 38.
New Jersey needs a young goaltender to take over the franchise's net for the future.
Jonathan Bernier of the Los Angeles Kings may be that goalie.
Bernier has backed up the successful Jonathan Quick since the beginning of last season. Quick does not look as though he will be losing his job as starter, but Bernier's potential in that role makes him overqualified as a backup.
New York Islanders
The New York Islanders are still in the middle of a long rebuilding process that has presented them with young players such as John Tavares, Michael Grabner, Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey and Nino Niederreiter.
While these players could develop into a successful offensive core, the defense's youth consists of Travis Hamonic, but not much else.
The best young defenseman that could be available is Nashville's 26-year-old Ryan Suter. The Islanders have plenty of cap space to use in signing him to a long-term deal.
New York Rangers
Before the recent Anaheim Ducks coaching change, the team was shopping Bobby Ryan. The New York Rangers were one of the teams reportedly interested.
Though the Ducks have played better since Bruce Boudreau took over, they still show no signs of being a playoff team. If Anaheim looks to trade Ryan again, you can expect the Rangers to come calling yet again.
The ever-rebuilding Ottawa Senators took a chance by adding the greedy Kyle Turris (drafted third overall behind Patrick Kane and James van Riemsdyk in the 2007 entry draft) in a recent trade.
The Senators could take advantage of the Edmonton Oilers' plethora of young offensive prospects and make a play for Sam Gagner.
The 22-year-old forward is a free agent after this season. Having underperformed every year since his rookie season, Gagner may have lost value with Edmonton.
If the Senators were willing to take a chance with Turris, they would likely do the same with Gagner. His career high of 49 points was recorded in the 2007-08 season when Gagner was just 18 years old.
He is on pace for just 36 this year.
Still, this could just mean Ottawa gets a deal on a player with tons of potential.
The Flyers' loss of Chris Pronger for the rest of the season means the team lacks defensive depth. Though a blockbuster trade including an offensive player from Philadelphia for a superstar blueliner is possible, the Flyers are not likely to make any major moves while the team is still doing so well.
A more realistic move for the team would be acquiring a cheap depth defenseman with at least second-line skill.
Tim Gleason of the Carolina Hurricanes is just a $2.75 million cap hit.
With Pronger, Ian Laperierre, Erik Gustafsson, Andreas Lilja and Blair Betts on the long term injury reserve, the Flyers have $1.8 million in space. The team will have to move a significant contract in order to make more room for Gleason.
Sparingly-used Matt Walker and his $1.7 million cap hit could be included in a trade for Gleason. That would give the Flyers enough space for Gleason in their current situation.
The physical, shut-down defenseman brings leadership and toughness to the Flyers; both qualities admired in Philadelphia.
Three of the Coyotes' top five forwards are aged 35 or older.
Once Shane Doan, Ray Whitney and Daymond Langkow leave, the team is going to need additional forwards.
The financial situation in Phoenix will prevent them from acquiring a pricy youth, but the team could look for a deal on the under-performing Sam Gagner, just like the Ottawa Senators could.
Just as cross-state rival Philadelphia lost leading scorer Claude Giroux for an indefinite amount of time, the Penguins are once again without Sidney Crosby due to a head injury.
If Crosby ends up missing the rest of this season as he did in 2010-11, the Penguins could put their captain on the long term injury reserve and use the cap relief to find help on offense.
Pittsburgh's best option would be an expensive "rental" player; they will need to clear cap space once Crosby is healthy. If they simply trade for an upcoming free agent, that will not be an issue next season.
Olli Jokinen of the Calgary Flames is an exceptionally consistent point producer, having recorded eight consecutive seasons of more than 50 points. This season he has 27 through 33 games (on pace for 67).
Set to become a free agent after this season, Jokinen has a $3 million cap hit.
San Jose Sharks
Like the Chicago Blackhawks, the San Jose Sharks' success comes with a very weak penalty kill. The Sharks' is second-worst in the NHL at 73.63 percent.
With this being essentially the only area needing improvement, Blair Betts of the Philadelphia Flyers is an option.
Betts is essentially a penalty-killing specialist. Last season his average 3:37 of shorthanded ice time led all Flyers. That is particularly significant considering Betts is a fourth-line player who will total roughly 10 minutes of total ice time each game.
Betts is currently on the long term injury reserve with a knee injury. The Flyers' overloaded offensive depth means Betts will struggle to crack the lineup when healthy.
He would be used more elsewhere, and San Jose's atrocious penalty kill would benefit.
St. Louis Blues
St. Louis is tied for fifth in the NHL in both wins (19) and points (42).
What is even better news for Blues fans is that the team is quite young; just three players on the Blues' 20-man roster are above the age of 30.
The Blues are doing well despite having a weak offense and the NHL's worst powerplay (converting on just 11 percent of opportunities).
St. Louis has some interesting options here.
They can help the powerplay and add a veteran leader to the team by trading for defenseman Mark Streit of the New York Islanders (11 of his 16 points came on the powerplay).
Or, like Colorado, they can add the big gun to their lineup and make a move for Shea Weber.
The Blues have enough cap space for Weber and the young defenseman would fit in with a youthful core.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning find themselves in a similar situation to the New Jersey Devils; they have two non-stellar, aging goalies and no future between the pipes.
Like the Devils, their future rests best on the shoulders of a young goaltending prospect like Jonathan Bernier.
Toronto Maple Leafs
General manager Brian Burke and the Toronto Maple Leafs are aggressive parties which will not hesitate to do whatever it takes to win.
Earlier this month, a trade rumor connected Eric Staal to Toronto.
If the struggling Carolina team were to trade their captain (and his super-high $8.25 million cap hit) to the Leafs, Burke would need to offer plenty in return, as well as clear cap space.
That could mean dumping Mike Komisarek ($4.5 million cap hit), Clarke MacArthur ($3.25 million cap hit) and Colby Armstrong ($3 million cap hit).
Those are probably the Leafs' least valuable trio of players which would cover the salary cap space needed.
Bob McKenzie said Carolina GM Jim Rutherford told him Staal will not be traded.
Do we take Rutherford's word?
Consider what Flyers' GM Paul Holmgren told Jeff Carter this summer before trading him to Columbus, according to Carter's agent Rick Curran; he should not worry about trade rumors linking him to the Blue Jackets.
Funny thing trade rumors are, aren't they?
In the season after losing the Stanley Cup finals, the Vancouver Canucks are yet again near the top of the NHL standings.
Vancouver needs is the aspect of their game lacked in last year's series against the Bruins; toughness.
The Canucks are fighting much more than last season, thanks to the addition of Aaron Volpatti (spent last season in the AHL) and Dale Weise (acquired from the New York Rangers); each player has five fighting majors this season.
As a team, Vancouver has 19, just 10 shy of last season's total.
Still, Volpatti and Weise are middleweights who will not stop big players like Shawn Thornton and Milan Lucic from taking liberties with the team.
Vancouver would do well to add an enforcer capable of playing the game competently.
Matt Carkner of the Ottawa Senators is a defenseman who averages more than 15 minutes of ice time per game. He has played four games this season after missing the first two months with knee issues.
He's one of the NHL's best fighters.
The Washington Capitals could improve on the powerplay, but the fate of that special team is inevitably going to improve once the team gets Mike Green back.
The team does not play well defensively; their 3.06 goals-against-average ranks 23rd in the NHL.
The Capitals have essentially no cap room to work with unless they choose to trade upcoming free agent Alex Semin, who they may not be able to re-sign this offseason.
A cheap defensive-minded blueliner who could fit the Capitals' needs is Francois Bouillon of the Nashville Predators.
That said, maybe a midseason blockbuster including Semin would be a good idea if it means acquiring a useful defenseman.
If the Winnipeg Jets are going to make a playoff run, the team would benefit from tightening up defensively; the Jets' goals-against-average of 3.00 is 20th in the NHL.
The Jets have plenty of cap space to work with at $10 million. The hockey-crazed city of Winnipeg is sure to continue support the franchise with the proper financials in order to spend to the limit.
Winnipeg can go after a few defensemen mentioned previously.
The question is, do they want to pay a small price in order to make a push for this season? Then they go after Francois Beauchemin or Tim Gleason
Or, do they add a player who would become the face of Manitoba by trading for Shea Weber?
B/R Featured Columnist Jason Sapunka is available on Twitter