NHL Trade Deadline: 3 Surprising Teams That Could Make Major Moves at Deadline

Mike MacDonaldCorrespondent IFebruary 14, 2011

NHL Trade Deadline: 3 Surprising Teams That Could Make Major Moves at Deadline

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    The NHL Trade deadline is a mere 14 days away and there seems to be an interesting array of players eligible to be traded.

    Many will be traded to provide depth to teams seeking a deep run in the playoffs, others will cut salary and go with youth, some teams will begin a major rebuild.

    No matter how you look at it, the NHL trade deadline is always full of promise. Many teams seeking hope from such deals that will be bring them future success.

    There are players that could be part of one of the season's biggest deals. There will also be those key deals done to help those close make a run for the postseason, and possibly the Stanley Cup.

    Others might be asked to waive their no-trade clause to give a team a healthy boast to it's Stanley Cups chances.

    These three teams might be the big deal makers come February 28th. Then again, they may not, but each has an interesting future ahead of them.

    Honorable mention: Montreal Canadiens.

    The Habs have only six forwards, two defenseman and one goalie under contract for next season. They will have just over $25 Million in cap space available.

    The situation they're in is that they only trail Boston by one point for third in the Eastern Conference and currently sit tied for fifth in the East. Boston has one game in hand.

Rick Nash and The Columbus Blue Jackets

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    COLUMBUS, OH - FEBRUARY 11:  David Jones #54 of the Colorado Avalanche chases after Rick Nash #61 of the Columbus Blue Jackets during the second period on February 11, 2011 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
    John Grieshop/Getty Images

    The thought that Rick Nash could be traded seems like an incredibly stupid idea right from the onset.

    The fact of the matter is that Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Scot Howson needs to do something to bring this franchise out of the funk it has been in for almost its entire existence.

    This is not to say that the Blue Jackets are awful, but merely a lost franchise that Howson is trying desperately to save.

    Attendance seems to be an issue, lack of postseason success another, and the most important element seems to be finding someone to play with Rick Nash.

    While having a corner-stone like Nash would be paramount on any NHL roster, the facts seem to suggest that Nash needs help. He has been doing a great job of doing it alone in Columbus.

    With young players like Derrick Brassard playing with Nash, it seems as if there is a chemistry there that could provide a strong foundation, however, last season after Brassard was lost for the balance of the season due to shoulder injury that occurred during a fight with Dallas Stars winger James Neal, Nash was left once again to "shoulder" the load.

    As this trade deadline is fast approaching, there are indications that Howson is looking to unload struggling and inconsistent starting goalie Steve Mason. It appears that Mason has fallen out of favor in Columbus.

    Ironic, as Mason was hailed a saving grace during the Blue Jackets run a few seasons ago and helped the club reach new heights. The club was also playing a more disciplined brand of hockey under former coach Ken Hitchcock. Those days seem long ago.

    Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel will need more time to develop his finger print on this roster, there seems to be a pressing need for that to occur as soon as possible.

    If the Blue Jackets want to be taken seriously, then maybe the following scenario might help there cause.

    With a self-imposed team salary cap, or budget as I like to call it, the Blue Jackets need a bang for their buck and they need value. This seems like a franchise that doesn't throw good money after bad like say the New York Rangers in the mid-90's.

    They are a careful group that wants to advance the franchise and move its location out of 12th place in the Western Conference. The Blue Jackets are just four points out of eighth in the West... but who isn't really?

    Division rival Chicago is one point ahead of them, the reinvented Calgary Flames are three ahead, while LA and Minnesota are slugging it out with San Jose, Phoenix and Anaheim.

    The situation seems to be this. You have to beat these teams to move up. Nashville and Calgary have gone on big runs this season and have seen their chances of postseason play increase. St.Louis (another division rival) and Chicago have been in the mix.

    As time goes along until February 28th, we may see the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche join the Edmonton Oilers as the teams who are looking towards next season.

    Is that were Columbus is heading?

    This team needs a BIG deal to get over this hump. The situation might be too much, too late for this season.

Matt Duchene and The Colorado Avalanche

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    DENVER, CO - JANUARY 10:  Matt Duchene #9 of the Colorado Avalanche controls the puck against the Detroit Red Wings at the Pepsi Center on January 10, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. Duchene earned the number one star as he scored two goals as the Avalanche def
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Matt Duchene is one heck of a player.

    The Colorado Avalanche seemed destined to be one of the great stories coming out of last season's great performance. This young, skilled team seemed to have a lot of great things going for themselves.

    They got great goaltending from free agent Craig Anderson, great hustle from Chris Stewart, Ryan O'Rielly and TJ Galiardi.

    Improved defensive corps with the addition of Kyle Quincey and emergence of Kyle Cumiskey to enhance a group led by Adam Foote and Scott Hannan. While vet JM Liles was showing signs of regaining his previous capabilities.

    This young team brought the most out for veteran Milan Hejduk and allowed a skilled Paul Stastny the chance to play more quality minutes, which improved his production.

    These Avs were not a one line pony show. They worked hard and there enthusiasm helped carry them to a successful season.

    That was then... this is now.

    While some teams fall back, others fall apart. This version of the Avalanche have been decimated by injuries. They have added some great players to help improve the club. The likes of Kevin Porter, Philippe Dupuis and Kevin Shattenkirk have been great to see develop while this club goes through this ugly stage and rash of major injuries.

    A league leader in many games lost, this club has done well in spite of all these injuries. Adding Ryan O'Bryne, Matt Hunwick and Tomas Fleischmann through trades to help this club through have done nothing but solidified their depth when that time come to be healthy again.

    While they are likely, but not entirely out of the Western Conference playoff picture. The opportunity to take advantage of their situation might be more rewarding than you'd think.

    This club has Milan Hejduk, Tomas Fleischmann, Peter Forsberg, Adam Foote and both goaltenders Craig Anderson and Peter Budaj heading to UFA status come July 1st.

    Raises will be needed for TJ Galiardi, David Jones, Kevin Porter, Philippe Dupuis, Matt Hunwick, Ryan O'Bryne, Kyle Cumiskey and Ryan Wilson.

    Let's just say the Avs have 13 players under contract and one goalie, Trevor Cann under contract for next season.

    To suggest a major overhaul is absurd. But the challenge and opportunity to make a big deal to help the continuous improvement of this club should be looked upon.

    After all, the Avs might need a No. 1 goalie for next year. Is Anderson going to be offered a new deal?

    Other players who have helped the Avs this season like Greg Mauldin, Ben Walter and David Van Der Gulik are UFA's at season's end.

    The Avs front office might be in a position to move some young talent, but most likely, they might be looking to add veteran or two.

    Either way, it looks like a busy time in Denver.

Andrew Ladd and The Atlanta Thrashers

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    TORONTO, CAN - FEBRUARY 7:  Andrew Ladd #16 of the Atlanta Thrashers skates in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on February 7, 2011 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada. The Leafs defeated the Thrashers 5-4. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Ima
    Claus Andersen/Getty Images

    A team with as much change as the Atlanta Thrashers have under gone seems to beg the question

    Why make more deals?

    Everything looks different to everyone, or should I say everyone has an opinion. We are certainly seeing that due to the Penguins/Islanders events of only a few days ago.

    The Thrashers have changed not only players, but staff and management as well. They are a totally new setup in Atlanta, and while most of the leadership comes from a gentleman who guided this franchise since startup, Don Waddell is still involved with the organization.

    Then if we all agree that the Thrashers have made more than enough changes already this season, changes for the good of the franchise, what really should stop them from pursuing their goals?

    Should the Thrashers decide that all they need is time, then let it be so. Time is still an important factor as not to judge to quickly on the current state of the team.

    The interesting part of that is within two seasons, the Thrashers will only have six players under contract.

    Nik Antropov, Bryan Little, Artem Brumistrov, Patrice Cormier, Ron Hainsey and Toby Enstrom.

    Evander Kane and Ondrej Pavelec will be RFA's. Johnny Oduya, Rich Peverley and Jim Slater are scheduled to be UFA's.

    Should the Thrashers lockup any of these players right now? This offseason might provide some great insight to that.

    While coming up this July, Fredrik Modin, Chris Thorburn, Eric Boulton, Brent Sopel and Freddy Mayer will be scheduled as UFA's.

    Niklas Bregfors, Spencer Machacek, Anthony Stewart and Arturs Kulda are RFA's and will need new contracts.

    Let's not forget Captain Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien and Zach Bogosian are RFA's, as well. All will possibly looking for long term deals.

    Or are they?

    The current question seems to stem from Bogosian. A highly-touted draft selection from the class of 2008, Bogosian was selected third overall behind Steve Stamkos of Tampa Bay and Drew Doughty of the LA Kings.

    Rumors are swirling about Bogosian's availability and coming off of an entry level deal, Bogosian might be moved either at or by the deadline should the right deal present itself.

    Logic would say to hang onto Bogosian. The fact that he is a RFA allows the Thrashers a bit more time than if he was scheduled for UFA status. Currently, they only have Hainsey, Enstrom and Oduya under contract for next season, and they are arguably, along with Bogosian, the Thrashers top four defenseman.

    There is speculation that the under-achieving Niklas Bergfors and stay-at-home defenseman Brent Sopel are drawing interest.

    Is there an opportunity here for the Thrashers to add someone now and continue on their schedule of getting this team into the playoffs?

    Last night the Thrashers lost a key game against division foe and Eastern Conference rival Carolina 3-2. The Thrashers could have pulled even with the Canes and laid a share on the eighth and final playoff position in the Eastern Conference.

    Atlanta has keys games with division foe's Carolina and Florida. They also have key dates against Montreal and Buffalo. They play all these teams twice more, while the Rangers one more time.

    Could we see Atlanta make another major move that helps them today, as well as in the future?