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. After taking a look at some of the listed buyers in the Eastern Conference, I’ll be focusing this article on buyers out of the west. Which Western Conference teams are already thinking about going shopping?
Calgary Flames Will Look For a Top-Nine Winger
As per Julian McKenzie and Hailey Salvian, a slower start to the season won’t deter the Calgary Flames from buying before the NHL Trade Deadline. A team that overhauled the top of their lineup by bringing in Jonathan Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar, and Nazem Kadri, they are a team that many expected to compete. Their first-line trio of Elias Lindholm, Adam Ruzicka, and Tyler Toffoli isn’t as good as their former first-line of Matthew Tkachuk, Johnny Gaudreau, and Lidholm, but it is getting the job done.
The two scribes write, “Despite whatever early-season challenges they’ve faced, the Flames are in a wild-card spot and are trending in the right direction. Regardless of playoff position, we expect the Flames to seek a top-nine scoring winger at the deadline. General manager Brad Treliving has been searching for one since training camp.”
Colorado Avalanche Will Be Aggressive
Following a Stanley Cup win, the Avalanche are looking to repeat but have lost a couple of key players from their championship roster. They are playing below expectations so far this season but there’s plenty of time for them to work themselves back up the standings.
Peter Baugh writes, “The Avalanche are in a window of Stanley Cup contention, and they will do what they can to maximize their chances of repeating as champions.” He adds, “This isn’t a front office that acts rashly — Joe Sakic never traded a first-round pick until 2021, when he needed to acquire a goalie — but it’s one unafraid of making aggressive moves.”
Baugh suggests the team could use another middle-six forward, “ideally one who can play center, and extra defense is never a bad thing.”
Oilers Will Be Looking to Fill A Couple of Holes
As per Daniel Nugent-Bowman, “The Oilers have underachieved so far while playing in a poor division and having the best player in the world on their team.” It hasn’t helped that they’ve dealt with some injuries in their top nine, but their defense has been a weakness and their toughness a question mark following Evander Kane’s gruesome injury.
Nugent-Bowman writes, “Logically, they still should make the playoffs without much of an issue, but general manager Ken Holland needs to find a way to add to this team, namely on defense. It’ll be difficult because the Oilers are using long-term injured reserve cap space and don’t have many moveable contracts.”
Heading into this season the Oilers were seen as a team that would be aggressive in their search to get into the Stanley Cup Final. That hasn’t changed as the window to win with the prime years of Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid is open now.
Los Angeles Kings Need a Defenseman
The Kings are a better team than many envisioned they’d be this early into their rebuild. Eric Stephens writes, “But they’ve long had a need for a top-four defender with a left-hand shot to balance out the right-heavy blue line.” He also mentions they could use a proven third-line center or another scoring winger as a rental.
If they are in the hunt come the trade deadline, expect GM Rob Blake to make a push. They are finally at a point where they need to consider adding to their roster when it counts.
Vegas Will Try to Work Their Cap Magic
Golden Knights Owner Bill Foley hinted to Jess Granger last month that the club could be in the market for a winger around the $3 million cap hit range. With the way the team has played to start the season, their pre-existing reputation for spending money to get better in the moment will only be elevated. They just need to find the funds to make their move.
The Dallas Stars are reportedly interested in adding another top-six forward but their cap space situation could make that difficult. The idea would be to move goaltender Anton Khudobin, but that’s not a trade they’ve had any success making in the past. The Stars could end up standing pat.
The St. Louis Blues might be a team to watch, but mostly because they may elect not to trade some players that were rumored on the outs when the team was really struggling. If they hang onto Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko, that could be the equivalent of them being buyers.
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