The Athletic took a look at the league and categorized the teams into buyers and sellers, even well ahead of this year’s NHL Trade Deadline. I’ll be breaking down some of the results and offering some commentary on this, despite there being months to go and the standings potentially changing things for a number of NHL rosters.
Let’s start with a few Eastern Conference buyers:
Boston Bruins Are All In
Currently sitting first in The Atlantic Division, this is an all-or-nothing year for the Bruins. Fluto Shinzawa wrote, “This could be the last championship run for Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci” He adds, “It is management’s mandate to make this roster as bulletproof as possible while the window remains open.” I couldn’t agree more.
The fact the Bruins have gotten off to such an incredible start only exaggerates the need to buy this season and give the team and its veterans the best possible chance of winning. Don’t be shocked if some big names are linked to the Bruins as the season unfolds. There will be challenges to make adding a big name work for cap reasons, but if there’s a team motivated to figure that out and move picks to get who they need, the Bruins are that team.
Carolina Hurricanes Will Be In On Everything
Cory Lavalette writes, “The Hurricanes haven’t played their best hockey this season but still find themselves as one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. They’ll get a big in-house addition before the trade deadline once Max Pacioretty returns, but Carolina will also likely look to bolster its lineup for the stretch run.” Lavalette is right and the track record of the Hurricanes is that GM Don Waddell is in on every conversation that happens.
The Hurricanes don’t always get the player, but they do make sure they’re part of any discussion before a big name moves to a new destination. That will be no different this season as the Canes expect to be contenders. Lavalette adds, “The biggest need at this moment — assuming everyone is healthy — is probably a third-pairing defenseman who can provide a little offense and run the second power-play unit.” They gave that up when they let Tony DeAngelo walk. They’re looking for that kind of a replacement.
New Jersey Devils Need to Stay Hot
Shayna Goldman writes, “The Devils have had one of the best starts in the league. If they continue at this rate, they should be a lock for the playoffs. But a “safe bet” is a bit more of a comfortable projection than a lock, given we know how quickly things can go south.” She notes that the team should be a buyer and they might want to buy sooner than others if the winning streak starts to turn into a losing streak.
This is a young, possibly fragile team. The emotional swings will be high and the Devils don’t want to see the momentum turn in a negative way. They might look at smaller pieces just to tell the group they see what’s going on at all times.
Goldman notes, “As such, the team should be a buyer — but they probably aren’t going to be too aggressive just yet. It’s the start of their playoff window, which should keep them a bit more reserved. Maybe “buying” looks like keeping Damon Severson as an internal rental instead of flipping the pending unrestricted free agent at the deadline.”
New York Rangers Could Make Big Splash
Arthur Staple writes, “In a crowded Metro division, no one can match their combination of elite goaltending and high-end skill.” The Rangers are a team that could try to make some noise at this year’s trade deadline. They’ve been linked to big fish like Patrick Kane since the start of rumors he’d be on his way out of Chicago and, like managers before him, GM Chris Drury isn’t shy about making moves.
One quick move that sets up another gives the Rangers space to add something significant.
Toronto Maple Leafs Will Be As Aggressive as Possible
They’ll have to work some of the cap magic they’re known for to pull off everything they want to, but both Kyle Dubas’ and Sheldon Keefe’s jobs may depend on getting out of the first round of this year’s playoffs. As such, expect the Maple Leafs to be extremely aggressive.
Jonas Siegel writes:
This team has so much at stake this season that there’s no doubt of their buyer — aggressive buyer — status. And the Leafs, despite ranking near the top of the league amid a bumpy, injured-riddled start, have clear needs right now. They will almost certainly need to add an impact defenceman to replace Jake Muzzin, along with a higher-end forward to play in their top six. More depth in goal wouldn’t hurt either.
Other Notable Mentions
The Florida Panthers were listed as buyers, but they’ll be capped out and what they can afford to add will be an intriguing story worth watching. The New York Islanders are listed as buyers but Lou Lamoriello has been relatively quiet. It’s hard to know what he’s got up his sleeve. The Pittsburgh Penguins were mentioned as a playoff bubble team, so much of their interest at the deadline could be based on where they sit in the final weeks.
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