NHL Trade Rumors: Eastern Conference Buyers
NHL Trade Rumors: Some Teams Are Buyers and Some Teams Are Sellers. These Eastern Conference Teams Need to be Buyers This Trade Season.
It’s the second greatest time of the year for NHL fans: trade deadline time. Only behind free agency, this is the time of year where teams that could make a move actually do. There’re a lot of teams looking to be buyers this time of year.
But what should they be buying? Who should avoid being buyers, no matter how tempting? That’s the kind of question this piece will look to answer as we aim to cover NHL trade rumors. Let’s start with which teams are in the position to make a run, and who will want a trade.
In the East, there are a few teams still in the hunt. The Bruins and Maple Leafs are competing for that last spot in the Atlantic, while in the Metropolitan the Flyers are trying to secure the second wild card. Let’s say, for convenience sake, that Montreal, Washington, Columbus, Pittsburgh, and the New York Rangers have all secured playoff spots.
Because they have. With 65 points, the Rangers are last out of those five teams. The closest team to the Rangers is Ottawa, who is five points behind them and is competing for the second spot in the Atlantic.
So those five teams are safe. Pittsburgh could make a move with Marc-Andre Fleury (read this piece on those implications). New York could make a move to get rid of defensemen who weigh the team’s cap down. That’s about all that should be expected from those five teams.
But Ottawa, Boston, Toronto, and Philadelphia could all make moves to shore up their teams for long runs.
Need: Scoring Depth
The Senators need more scoring from the bottom six forwards, especially on the fourth line. There, Chris Kelly leads the group with 9 points in 49 games. That’s not great, especially if the Senators want to go far. With their defense (led by Erik Karlsson), a better Mike Condon, and Craig Anderson, there’s really no reason the Senators can’t at least make the second round of the playoffs.
The Senators could look to the Devils‘ P.A. Parenteau, the Red Wings‘ Thomas Vanek, or the Coyotes‘ Radim Vrbata for this area. With thirteen million in cap space, all of these relatively cheap players are potentials.
In 49 games, P.A. Parenteau has 23 points. Vanek has 31 in 38. Vrbata has 35 in 50. All of these are much better than anything the Senators currently have in terms of depth. P.A. is on a one year deal worth 1.25 mil. Vrbata is on a one year worth 1 mil. Vanek is on a 1 year worth 2.6.
The Senators should be buyers on depth, but high-scoring veterans could also attract the Senators’ eye.
Need: Top End Defense, Bottom End Offense
The Bruins are another team in need of depth. But the Bruins have a more important need: Defense. After Torey Krug, or even before him, Zdeno Chara is (arguably) their best defenseman. For a big guy nearing 40, that’s not a great thing. While Chara hasn’t lost height, he’s lost speed and agility that once made him one of the most dominant defensemen in the league.
Not a lot of teams will be selling defense. St. Louis may be keeping Kevin Shattenkirk now that they’ve fired head coach Ken Hitchcock and are desperate to make the playoffs. With plenty of cap space, however, Chicago‘s Brent Seabrook could be an interesting look for the Bruins.
With a long term contract, Seabrook would provide plenty of veteran leadership and continuity for the Bruins defense. It also helps solidify the Bruins top 4 defense not only for now, but for the future.
The question is, what would Boston have to give up for Seabrook? Probably too much, especially with Chicago also seeking a playoff spot. Expect the Bruins to look into being buyers of much more conventional trade deals, like Brendan Smith (Detroit) or Michael Stone (Arizona).
Need: 4th Line, Defense
The Maple Leafs need better depth past the third line, especially as they push towards their first playoff berth since the 2013 collapse. They also don’t want to give up any of their youth, which shouldn’t be a factor in trading for pure depth. With a restrained cap, the Maple Leafs shouldn’t be thinking about much more.
A player like Parenteau would be perfect for the Leafs, and his ability to bring scoring to their fourth line would help Babcock be able to roll four lines even more efficiently. Plus, he fits under Toronto’s cap restraints.
On the defensive side, the Maple Leafs need young defensemen to line up with Morgan Rielly for the future. The Leafs could have some interest in players like Seabrook or Shattenkirk, but both of them could command more than the Leafs are willing to part with. The Maple Leafs could be buyers, but then again, they may not be.
Need: Goaltending, Forward Depth
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Neither of the goaltenders for the Flyers’ goaltenders (Steve Mason & Michal Neuvirth) are really cutting it for the Flyers this year. The goaltenders are both at or below .900 save percentages (SV %) on the year, and Mason’s 2.90 goals against average (GAA) is the best on the team, as Neuvirth has a 3.00.
Neuvirth is one of the worst goaltenders in the league this year in both categories, and Mason is not far behind. They have a real need for a goaltender, and with Ben Bishop and perhaps a few others (for the right price) available, the Flyers should be on the market.
The most interesting trade for the Flyers would be for Chicago’s Scott Darling. The Flyers would have to find a new goaltender after this year anyway, and they could extend Darling quite easily. The problem is prying the young goaltender away from Chicago, who could want him just in case on a playoff run.
But, with Chicago possibly losing Darling in free agency, it may not take more than one of Philadelphia’s young defensemen, like Travis Sanheim or Samuel Morin. That’s a type of deal Philadelphia should absolutely be buyers in.
The Montreal Canadiens may be looking for a bit more depth on their forward corps. They shouldn’t be, as their forwards and defense are working well in conjunction with Carey Price to get the Canadiens to the playoffs in a key position. What they lose might be more valuable than anything they could get back.
Same goes for the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Washington Capitals. These teams need to trust in their systems because they’ve gotten them this far.
Besides the possibility of a Marc-Andre Fleury trade, Pittsburgh needs to largely be removed from the deadline this year. New York could try and move Dan Girardi to a tanking team and Marc Staal could find himself available, but other than a defensive renovation, the Rangers are largely set.
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