The NHL 56-game season has snuck up on some teams, and now with COVID-19 issues in the North Division, specifically with the Vancouver Canucks, the landscape has changed drastically, and what was the case a few weeks ago for teams has changed. I’m not even currently guessing what the return will be for the buyers or the sellers.
The sellers’ list will continue to grow by the time the calendar page lands on April 12th. In the meantime, some teams could fool themselves into thinking they still have a chance. Here are some ideas I have for the potential buyers and sellers:
New York Rangers – They’ve gone on their hottest streak of the year, and they’re still four points out, and they have played three more games than the Boston Bruins. David Quinn is iffy about using Alexandar Georgiev. Fans of the Blueshirts have been through this too many times before. Play the youngsters like Alexis Lafreniere and Vitali Kravtsov a ton down the stretch and when they trade Brendan Smith (while eating some salary), bring Tarmo Reunanen back up. They could do a lot more than that, but this is the bare minimum when they finally admit it.
Philadelphia Flyers – Even if they beat the Bruins the next three games. And they won’t, the Bruins have too many games left against the Buffalo Sabres. They will make it. It just might be closer than Bruins fans are used to. The Flyers can’t string together 60-minute games with their season on the line. They have more than a few players they can trade, but Nolan Patrick could fetch the best price.
Blue Jackets – Torts is likely gone at the end of the season, and Patrik Laine has been a massive disappointment. They MUST trade David Savard and Laine. They have to get back players besides picks. This trading deadline will help decide what the team’s future will look like.
Los Angeles Kings – It was a nice season. Some of their young talent has progressed. They can bring Quinton Byfield up when they make some deadline moves. I’d leave Alex Turcotte with Ontario in the AHL for the rest of the season. The least they can do is trade Andreas Athanasiou. He’s only making $1.2 million, and his seven goals and seven assists have given him some value.
Vancouver Canucks – With the current COVID-19 outbreak and the likelihood that they will never play all 56 games, they’re out of it, and so are the Flames. The best chip they have to trade is Travis Hamonic. Jake Virtanen is second, but teams may balk at taking on an extra year at a tight deadline where we continue to hear that teams don’t want to take on money at the deadline. Will they be out of protocol in time to make a trade?
I’ll add this for the Flames. I think David Rittich is their best trade chip unless they eat some of Derek Ryan’s salary.
The Blackhawks may be buyers, but they should decide at the very last minute. They need a veteran defenseman. Get one at the last minute if you must. Could they use some offensive help? Yes, but they’re already down a third-rounder in 2021. How deep do you want to go in this pond?
Colorado Avalanche – Get one of the many goalies who will be available. My #1 for them would be Jonathan Bernier.
Dallas Stars – They have four games in hand on Nashville and Chicago. They are laying in the weeds, and they could buy Taylor Hall from the Sabres, who are the most obvious sellers in the NHL. They have players, assets and Tyler Seguin is close to practicing. The health of Alexander Radulov up in the air. I expect GM Jim Nill to be busy giving it a shot to get back to the Stanley Cup again.
New York Islanders – The one thing they need most is goal scoring. Buy big, get Kyle Palmieri. Pay the Devil’s price, and then you’ll have a Cup-worthy team. Palmieri could pay Butch Goring type results as far as being a great fit.
Toronto Maple Leafs – Get Lawson Crouse. Sure, you’ll have to sign him, but that’s the kind of player the Leafs need. A young one, not like the other aging pieces they’ve signed. Stand pat at goaltender unless Frederik Andersen is out for the season.
Boston Bruins – If the Bruins think they can get out of the East then get David Savard. That’s what they need the most especially if Brandon Carlo has another concussion and misses more time than expected.
Carolina Hurricanes – They need a goalie. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Florida Panthers – Get a veteran defenseman. Maybe Niklas Hjalmarsson
if they can get Arizona to eat money or make a player swap to balance to books. This kind of player could set them on a great path.
Montreal Canadiens – They have a lot of draft picks and one of the best rosters for the playoffs. But they are capped out. They have to be creative if they want to tinker.
The Tampa Bay Lightning, Vegas Golden Knights, and Washington Capitals will do something but could get by. Will Henrik Lundqvist play this season for Washington? Now that it’s being billed a longshot, that tells me it could happen. It probably won’t, but you never know.
The Sharks should stand pat. If they make it, great. But don’t spend any more assets on a playoff hope that may fall short. They have six picks in 2021 and five in 2022. They may sell at the last minute.
The Nashville Predators should stand pat. They’ve spent too much future currency, and if they make it great, if not, there is a price to pay for that as well.
The Penguins should stand pat unless Tristan Jarry is out long-term. Then they will dip into the goalie market as well.