It’s that time of year again in the hockey world. That special time in January that everything around the NHL trade deadline starts to heat up. With the deadline soon approaching (it is on Feb. 28th this year), the rumors and speculation will only continue to increase over the next 4-5 weeks. There have already been some moves recently: the Stars trading for Langenbrunner and Coyotes sending Wolski to the Rangers for Rozsival. Now things are sure to get interesting as it seems ever day there is a new rumor out there about who is going to be next. So this weekend I wanted to list some of the teams that could be the “buyers” this year and what they could be looking for. The next post will cover sellers for you, and who you could be surprised to see on the move.
Pittsburgh Penguins: The Pens are obviously one of the top teams in the league and one of the top teams in the East. That happens when you have Crosby, Malkin, and a pretty good set of defensemen. The goaltending is good for the Penguins, the defense has been great with the addition of Martin and Michalek in the summer. The team is top five in goals for and goals against. But every year the Penguins have the same problem: they are always looking for a top 6 forward to play on the wing. They have three great centers, but are always in need of someone to play on the wings. The problem is that so much money is tied up in their top three centers and their defense. So it will be interesting to see how they try to make a move or who they will have to move. Kunitz, Guerin, and Ponikarovsky have been past additions via trade. While Guerin was good, he retired. And the other two never were as good as hoped.
Los Angeles Kings: The Kings have been the disappointing team this season in the Pacific, the opposite in some ways to the surprising Stars who they trail by 10 points right now. The Kings entered the season as an expected top 4-5 team in the West after a great season last year and having a lot of young stars in Doughty, Kopitar, Brown, Johnson, and a pair of goaltenders. But the Kings are having consistency issues this season and some growing pains. It is obvious that they are after more scoring power. They acquired Marco Sturm from the Bruins already, but it still has not been enough. They have one thing the Penguins don’t though, in that they can take on salary if they want to. The Kings and Penguins could be competing for some of the same names, as the Kings appear after left wing help but they also could be after a defenseman too who could be the 4th or 5th guy.
Dallas Stars: Hard to believe to some people with their ownership issues and self-imposed cap limit, but the Stars could be shopping. They have already added some leadership and forward depth by adding Jamie Langenbrunner to play on the 2nd/3rd lines and be a right-handed shot on the powerplay. The Stars have plenty of forwards and scoring ability, with the coming up of Eriksson, Neal, and Benn over the last few seasons to join their group of veterans in Richards, Morrow, Ribeiro, and Ott. Now the Stars may be ready to return to power in the West as a playoff team for years to come. Richards has been told the team will not trade him, and that will play out as ownership issues change. For now the Stars seem a second pairing defenseman away. They have underrated Robidas and two-way man Daley, but after that it has been a patchwork defense for the last few years. They may not be able to make a move, but GM Joe may try anything to not give up any of their top players and get some help. If so, they could go from having a decent chance at winning the Pacific to being a threat in the packed West.
Boston Bruins: The Bruins have been getting the goaltending this season and are leading the Northeast right now. The things is, that the winner of the NE will be the 3rd seed, but the 2nd place team could be fall anywhere from the 6th to 10th ranked team in the East. The Bruins will probably be shoppers, looking for defensive help as well as the deadline nears. They could seriously target a dman that could come in and be their 3rd or 4th guy.
Philadelphia Flyers: The Flyers may not have any cap room to move around for something big, but the loaded Flyers are still going to be shopping. The Flyers lead the East and are the 2nd place time in the NHL as of right now. But the Flyers might have a big hole that could stop them from going anywhere past the 2nd round. The Flyers (and their fanbase) are not completely settled on their goaltending situation. Big name vets that could be on the market like Vokoun could draw a lot of interest from Philly, and up until the deadline there will be a lot of talk about it.