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Teams have 2 weeks to squeeze in deals
The NHL’s Christmas holiday “trade freeze” goes into effect Dec. 19, leading to anticipation there might be some dealing done leading up to that deadline.
A couple of noteworthy trades were made this week as the Washington Capitals dealt forward Tomas Fleischmann to the Colorado Avalanche for defenseman Scott Hannan while the Boston Bruins cleared salary cap space for the return from injury of center Marc Savard by shipping blueliner Matt Hunwick to the Colorado Avalanche for a prospect, followed by a reported Thursday deal that sends Marco Sturm and his $3.5 million cap hit to the Los Angeles Kings for a conditional draft pick.
Those moves have only stoked expectations that more trades could be coming over the next two weeks.
Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke is reportedly in the market for more offensive depth and has the cap space to take on additional salary.
Burke would prefer a top-line center, though at this time of the year such players are difficult to land via trade. If he’s going to make a deal it’ll have to be by Dec. 10 as his self-imposed holiday freeze usually starts 7-10 days before the league deadline.
The Ottawa Senators have been shopping around since late-October for a physical, shut-down defenseman. However, GM Bryan Murray is hampered by limited cap space plus he doesn’t have much to offer except perhaps young players like Nick Foligno and Peter Regin — whom he’d prefer to keep.
New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello was spared having to shop players earlier this season to become cap-compliant when several players were placed on long-term injury reserve, but with his team struggling now at both ends of the rink he could be tempted to shake things up.
The Devils' poor play led one New York pundit to suggest shopping goaltending legend Martin Brodeur to a Cup contender, but Brodeur won’t make that request and Lamoriello isn’t going to ask him.
Veteran forward Patrik Elias has been suggested as a trade candidate but he carries an expensive contract plus a “no-movement” clause.
The Los Angeles Kings' offense has cooled of late, contributing to their slide down the Western Conference standings.
They’ve been linked to Calgary Flames superstar Jarome Iginla, but Flames management insists Iginla won’t be shopped this season. Regardless, if the Kings offense continues to sputter, even after the addition of Sturm from the Bruins, GM Dean Lombardi could be forced to search for a clutch scoring forward.
Winger Wayne Simmonds and defenseman Jack Johnson have been mentioned as possible bargaining chips but Simmonds was a deal-breaker in a proposed trade last season with Atlanta for Ilya Kovalchuk while Lombardi would prefer to re-sign Johnson by next summer.
Speaking of the Flames, while management is standing by Iginla, their playoffs hopes are in danger of flickering out.
GM Darryl Sutter already made one trade this season, dealing defenseman Ian White and nephew Brett Sutter to Carolina for blueliner Anton Babchuk and checking forward Tom Kostopoulos, but it’s done little to halt the Flames' decline.
If Iginla’s untouchable, then Sutter doesn’t have much to shop. Rumors peg defenseman Robyn Regehr as trade bait but he’s got a “no-movement” clause and a salary just over $4 million per season.
Several other teams might be worth watching in the days leading up to Dec. 19.
The Florida Panthers currently have the league’s worst power play. GM Dale Tallon has preached patience as he evaluates his roster but that could be coming to an end soon if they keep struggling with the man advantage.
Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson recently insisted he’s not in the market for a puck-moving defenseman. His Jackets have played well for the most part this season, but like the Panthers could use a boost on the power play.
Offense continues to be a problem area for the Nashville Predators. The fourth-lowest scoring team in the league, they need a boost if they’re to gain ground in the tightly packed Western Conference.
A lack of second-line scoring depth has plagued the St. Louis Blues this season. Management in the past maintained the “build from within” line but they might consider trade options if the offensive production fails to improve.
One reason the usually dominant San Jose Sharks have struggled is a lack of skilled, puck-moving blueliners. Dan Boyle is their only defenseman whose point total is in double digits, which could push management into the trade market at some point to address this problem.
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