Picking Buyers and Sellers Among NHL Playoff Bubble Teams at 2014 Trade Deadline

Allan Mitchell@@Lowetide_Featured ColumnistMarch 2, 2014

Picking Buyers and Sellers Among NHL Playoff Bubble Teams at 2014 Trade Deadline

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    Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

    The Buffalo Sabres got the party started Friday with a massive trade, sending Ryan Miller to St. Louis. That trade will likely be the spark for dozens more over the next several days.

    This season there are a few clear sellers and a large number of teams in a vague, middle area. Those teams will drive this deadline, either flooding the market with suitable trade options, or tightening it, forcing prices up.

    Here are 10 bubble teams that will impact the 2014 trade deadline.

Ottawa Senators: Seller

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    Why they're sellers: The Ottawa Senators are five points out of the final wild-card spot. There are three teams ahead of them in line for that final position. The club lost its last two games by lopsided scores and is not good enough defensively.

    What they're selling: All NHL teams that will miss the playoffs are looking to send away expiring contracts at this time of year. Ottawa has some attractive options, like veteran defender Chris Phillips and forward Milan Michalek.

    Where they're shopping: Tim Wharmsby from CBC suggests that GM Bryan Murray may be looking for players with term on their contracts. A team willing to offer such players may be able to pry Phillips and Michalek away from the Senators.

Washington Capitals: Buyer

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    Why they're buyers: The Washington Capitals are one point out of the playoffs, both in their division and in the wild-card race. The club is going to be aggressive in two areas at the deadline.

    What they're buying: Scott Cullen from TSN lists another scorer and help in goal as being major items for the Capitals at the deadline.

    Where they're shopping: Ryan Miller's trade to St. Louis takes one prime goalie away from the Capitals. The most attractive option available now might be the man Miller was traded for: Jaroslav Halak.

Nashville Predators: Seller

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    Why they're sellers: The Nashville Predators are only four points away from the final wild-card spot, but there are too many teams ahead of them.

    What they're selling: The Predators have some interesting contracts expiring this year. Center David Legwand is one of the most attractive names available.

    Where they're shopping: Legwand has value everywhere. With his size and overall ability at center, he should fetch great value at the deadline.

Winnipeg Jets: Buyers

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    Why they're buyers: The Winnipeg Jets are on fire since Paul Maurice took over as coach. It has turned them from sellers into buyers in the last 15 games.

    What they're buying: They should be shopping for goaltending. The club offers a balanced attack and has thrived under Maurice. The gap between starter Onrej Pavelec and backup Al Montoya is massive. If the Jets don't trust Montoya to carry the load, they must acquire another starting goalie.

    Where they're shopping: The best available goaltender on the market is probably Jaroslav Halak, now in Buffalo. A deal for the Czech goaltender could make Winnipeg a playoff team.

Vancouver Canucks: Sellers

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    Why they're sellers: The Vancouver Canucks got old in a hurry, and GM Mike Gillis is in search of young players for a quick rebuild.

    What they're selling: The Vancouver Sun's Brad Ziemer details the latest on Ryan Kesler. The story surrounding the Canucks center is trending across the NHL community.

    Where they're shopping: If Kesler and veterans like Roberto Luongo are being shopped, all 29 NHL teams will be calling. Kesler is an outstanding talent and could impact the playoffs in a big way.

Phoenix Coyotes: Buyer

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    Why they're buyers: The Phoenix Coyotes are just on the cusp of making the playoffs and boast a veteran-laden team expecting to make the postseason.

    What they're buying: TSN's Scott Cullen points out the Coyotes are under new ownership. They may feel a need to make a splash at the deadline.

    Where they're shopping: Phoenix could use an offensive player, most likely a finisher. Names that might be attractive include Thomas Vanek, Matt Moulson and Mike Cammalleri.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Buyer

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    Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

    Why they're buyers: The Columbus Blue Jackets are in the 13th year of their existence. They have made the postseason one time. The team is currently in playoff contention and should be aggressive at the deadline.

    What they're buying: The club has a nice balance of scoring, but lacks a sniper to run with emerging center Ryan Johansen. It could get a boost from Marian Gaborik's return, but may want to look at adding more offense.

    Where they're shopping: It's unclear how much the Blue Jackets are willing to invest, but there are quality scorers (Vanek, Moulson, Cammalleri) available at the deadline.

Detroit Red Wings: Buyer

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    Why they're buyers: The Detroit Red Wings are in a new conference and are barely hanging on to a playoff spot. They have injury worries, as described by James Murphy of NHL.com. An average team might give up, but Ken Holland doesn't run an average team.

    What they're buying: Detroit needs help at center, with veteran Henrik Zetterberg's injury creating a major hole in the lineup.

    Where they're shopping: The obvious choice is Nashville. David Legwand is well known to the Red Wings and could help immediately.

Carolina Hurricanes: Sellers

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    Why they're sellers: The Carolina Hurricanes have hung in as long as they could, but a recent four-game losing streak had a major impact.

    What they're selling: An article by Nicholas Goss of NESN references a tweet by TSN Insider Darren Dreger. That tweet suggests the Hurricanes are willing to trade any of their goaltenders, including long-time starter Cam Ward.

    Where they're shopping: Carolina will be active at the deadline, and perhaps significant changes are on the way. Saying goodbye to a player like Cam Ward is a drastic measure for a franchise.

New Jersey Devils: Buyer

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    Why they're buyers: The New Jersey Devils are three points out of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. With their veteran roster, it's a good guess they'll be buyers at the deadline.

    What they're buying: New Jersey can't score goals. Any moves the Devils make at the deadline will be with an eye to increase scoring.

    Where they're shopping: The offensive stars at the deadline include Thomas Vanek, Matt Moulson and Mike Cammalleri. The Devils may also have interest in Ales Hemsky.