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NHL Trade Deadline: Examining 8 Hypothetical Deals for Teams in the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division
With the NHL Trade Deadline now just 17 days away, fans are gearing up for what can only be described as a second Christmas. It’s obviously not what it used to be prior to the salary cap era, but it still tends to provide plenty of excitement.
This year, in particular, should be interesting given the state of the league. Because of so much parity, we’ve got an overabundance of teams still in the playoff mix. We obviously expect a few more teams to declare themselves sellers over the next couple of weeks and we’ve still got an expansion draft on the horizon, so fans have their fingers crossed that we could still see an uptick in activity closer to the NHL Trade Deadline.
Atlantic At a Glance
The Atlantic Division is the lesser in the Eastern conference. Not because the Atlantic is inherently bad, though this is a down year, but just that the Metropolitan has become the best division in hockey.
The Atlantic has to compete in the East with the Metro, and this year they’ve not been as successful. There are really only three spots the Atlantic has access to because it seems the Metro has both wild card spots firmly locked up.
So the three spots reserved for the Atlantic are going to be hotly contested.
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The Habs are the current leaders in the Atlantic division. It seems that whenever Carey Price is healthy, the team simply wins. Which makes sense, as even with Price’s cold start to 2017, he’s still the greatest goaltender in the NHL right now.
But the Habs need to continue building a team in front of Price. Right now, it seems like Montreal could be a contender for the Eastern Conference Finals, but not a true Stanley Cup threat. The Habs need to figure out why that reason is (coaching) and fix it.
But they also need to address the team itself. Here’s a way how:
This is basically trading an expiring contract and a pick for another expiring contract, but here’s the thing: Montreal needs to move on from Desharnais. The fit wasn’t there, and Montreal needs to get deeper on the blue line. Johnny Oduya is worth it, and he will bring more ability to the Habs, including the ability to score in the playoffs. Oduya exhibited that ability in two Blackhawks cup runs.
Oduya’s been on IR for two weeks with an injury that was supposed to last 2-4 weeks, so he will be coming back soon. Plus, it means Dallas is less likely to mind giving him up.
The Canadiens need to load up for a Cup run, and adding someone who’s been in the Finals before could be crucial.
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Here’s the crazy thing about the Ottawa Senators this season – they could catch the Montreal Canadiens and take the Atlantic division title. They have four games in hand as of the writing of this article, and are 8 points down.
There have been crazier things than a 4 game winning streak this season, and Craig Anderson returned Saturday. That could be crucial for the Senators, especially as we reach the three-quarter pole.
The Senators also have a completely solid top 4 in terms of defense. That group includes Erik Karlsson, Cody Ceci, and Dion Phaneuf. They’re the fifth best defense in the conference according to goals allowed.
The problem is, Ottawa has a negative goal differential. They have been exceptional all year, winning 10 more games than regulation losses. But they’re still not generating more goals than they’re allowing. That’s a reflection on the offense. So:
Senators Get: Lee Stempniak, LW; Dependant Pick (Carolina makes playoffs = 1st, if not, 2nd)
Carolina needs goaltending. The Senators may have their goaltender duo in Mike Condon and Craig Anderson going forward. They have to re-sign Condon, considering how great he’s been for the team in the absence of Anderson. That makes prospect O’Connor expendable.
Stempniak is signed through next offseason, and Ottawa needs more forwards to carry over into next season. Plus, Stempniak gives them another good forward to extend their depth and give them more goal scoring ability.
Toronto Maple Leafs
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The Leafs are doing it. Right now, they have the ability to make the playoffs, which a lot of people didn’t believe would happen this year. But between the coaching ability of Mike Babcock and the playing ability of the Leafs’ young core, they have turned the potential into action.
I still think of Toronto as being a year or two away, but as of this moment, they could be ready now. They need a bit more depth in some positions, but they’re a young exciting team.
It’s time for Detroit to embrace the tank. The streak will end this year, and it’s time to cash in. Getting some picks out of Toronto is a worthwhile investment in the future, and Polak can help the Red Wings tank for Patrick.
The Maple Leafs need another defenseman. Green brings both sides of the puck, as he has kept his Corsi and Fenwick up on a bad team, and he has 26 points. The Maple Leafs need an offensive defenseman like Green. Plus, around the time the Maple Leafs will need cap for Matthews, Marner, William Nylander, Zach Hyman, and Morgan Rielly, Green’s contract ends.
The Bruins recently (mistakenly) fired coach Claude Julien, perhaps signaling their intention not to make the playoffs this year. This could be a year for the Bruins to sell pieces at the NHL Trade Deadline, if they decide that getting younger is what the situation requires to make it back to the playoffs.
In fact, selling is very much what the Bruins should be doing this year. After all, the Bruins will require defense eventually. Also, Boston is built to be Claude Julien’s team. We don’t know what style the next coach will have or whether the current roster will meet that style.
This is a simple one, and one that is not only within the realm of possibility but approaches the realm of probability.
The Flames need depth scoring, and Moore has been adept throughout his career at providing that. The Bruins need to start selling off pieces and fast, and it should start with Moore. His 18 points from the fourth line would be extremely beneficial for a team pushing to make the playoffs, and with the talent that Calgary can surround Moore with, it’s a perfect fit.
Boston should be willing to take whatever they can get for an expiring contract, and it signals the first shift in rebuilding. The Bruins can test the market and their fanbases’ readiness for a rebuild with this signal, and it’ll go over better than if the Bruins sold off a key piece like Zdeno Chara right away.
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Man, the Florida Panthers. What happened to them this year? Oh right, they fired their actually talented coach prematurely, after he had lifted an injury-prone team to .500. They replaced him with their GM, who showcased why other teams don’t do that.
They’ve remained injury prone, and in all likelihood, they won’t make the Stanley Cup playoffs. But they can still make a move for their future. That means they’re either looking at dealing for a prospect/pick combo or looking for a carry over deal.
Florida Gets: Stars Dependent Pick (Inside top 5, Round 2, outside Round 1), Patrick Nemeth, Antti Niemi, G
Dallas has to change their goaltending fortunes. Nothing would be better for them than long-term contract, affordable contract James Reimer.
And for the Panthers, its either trade Reimer or send him for free to Vegas. Out of those situations, the one where they get something in return is the favorable. The Panthers can work with a pick, a defensive prospect, and a backup goaltender as replacement for Reimer this season.
Going forward, the Panthers will have Luongo and an abundance of goaltending prospects to juice something out of.
Tampa Bay Lightning
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The Lightning fell off a cliff when Steven Stamkos got hurt. They’ve been decimated by injuries this season, and right now, they’re tied with Buffalo and Detroit. Neither of those teams are really thought of as great this season.
The Lightning need to be sellers at the NHL Trade Deadline. It’s time to invest in their future, and there’s one piece they can sell that’ll help with that.
Lightning Give Up: Ben Bishop, G
Lightning Get: Matt Nieto, RW; Calvin Pickard, G; Two Colorado Second Round Picks
The Avalanche can’t get a save. Seymon Varlamov hasn’t worked out like the Avalanche expected him to, and Calvin Pickard is nothing but a backup. But bring in Ben Bishop and the Avalanche have a start to their new team, something to build around.
Pickard’s a good backup, and the Lightning should prepare to roll with Andrei Vasilevskiy in the future. Matt Nieto brings a cheap option in depth offense for the Lightning once they lose someone like Alex Killorn in the expansion draft, and the two second round picks don’t hurt either.
Sabres Get: Columbus Second Round; Justin Scott, C
The Sabres get a prospect and a pick for their current captain, who can go to Columbus and help provide more scoring to a team destined for the playoffs. Plus, Jack Eichel will sometime soon become their captain, and pushing him more into the leadership role will help prepare for that time.
The Blue Jackets get a scorer who can help provide depth to a team that lacks an offensive arsenal. They also get more leadership, and someone who can play in John Tortorella’s system.
Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings are surprisingly out of the playoffs for the first time in over 2 decades. It might be time to admit that the string of shallow playoff runs was a mistake, and start a rebuild on the team. A few of the pieces are already there: Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, Xavier Ouellet, and Danny DeKeyser.
The Red Wings even have some goaltending back. It won’t take a long process to make them capable of more than just shallow runs.