San Jose (36-18-7) 79 PTS. STAND PAT/BUYER
The playoff race in the Pacific is shaping up to be a tight one and surely it will be fun to watch. As it stands now SJ leads the division albeit by a small margin but I do not think they will be knocked off their pedestal. A rather complete team, if anything stands out when staring at the roster as a questionable position it is the backup goalie. Those that own Martin Jones LOVE his workload (this guy!) but also know at some point rest has to be coming. More so when the postseason rolls around – if I was a GM would I be comfortable with Aaron Dell as my backup? A guy with no experience in the league prior to this season, God forbid Jones goes down. Because SJ is a contender I doubt they move any roster pieces but if they could land a more established backup for picks for instance they just might. Someone like a Keith Kinkaid would offer more confidence. A veteran presence for the bottom six might be nice as well for the Sharks but this is a team that does not need severe tinkering. The bottom six is young overall but they can handle themselves and they have plenty of savvy veterans to look up to already. Should they decide to add said salt and pepper presence it has Shane Doan written all over it. But would he be willing to leave the desert for a chance at glory? GM Doug Wilson certainly likes to make moves at the deadline so do not be shocked if he shores up the roster for a Cup run.
Edmonton (33-22-8) 74 PTS. BUYER
My heart resides in the East but man would I love to see this squad be the one to land Kevin Shattenkirk. As terrifying as Connor McDavid is on his own can you imagine the potential with a rearguard who can get him the puck in full flight. Not only this but an offensive minded defensemen is the last piece for this squad. Okay so it's not the last piece but boy are they vastly improved and the addition of Shattenkirk or Barrie for example would really change the landscape further in the West. The reality is nobody is going to pay Kevin's price. It is just too substantial. Nor can I see St. Louis dealing him if they are in contention. They have no means to replace his 55-point pace and would severely hamper their chances this season without him. But what about Tyson Barrie, who nobody seems to be talking about but could very much be on the move? Wherever he goes for a change of scenery will do him wonders. Barrie is always a threat from the back end with a brilliant offensive mind and could certainly be their PP QB. Looking long term, Barrie does not turn 26 until July so he instantly becomes a part of the core of any new squad he gets shipped too. Colorado GM Joe Sakic's current price on all his players will more than likely not be met and he has little choice but to sell so expect the price to drop. As far as Edmonton's forward depth goes, much like their defense they have certainly improved. Chiarelli has done a good job addressing this team's ability to contend. They are one of the deepest teams in the league down the middle and have some quality wingers flanking them. The Patrick Maroon trade was an absolute steal for the Oilers and should be heralded much more so than it is. Like the Sharks, they could stand to add a veteran presence to the bottom six to "show them the way". Jarome Iginla certainly comes to mind (can you imagine? Calgary would riot)
Anaheim (32-21-10) 74 PTS. BUYER
No team is deeper down the middle than the Ducks but they could certainly stand to add at least one other wing that can bolster their secondary scoring and such was done with the weekend acquisition of Eaves. There is no denying the fact that Corey Perry's goal scoring prowess is in full decline, which is unfortunate but at least he is producing as a setup man. Nonetheless you need goals to win and it's not to say that the Ducks are a complete mess in that department, but at least they recognize the need to improve here and have made a move to do so even if it is very risky with Eaves being a very established Band-Aid Boy. Nonetheless, for a conditional second rounder taking a flyer on him staying healthy and continuing to produce I like the move. After all – he has more goals than anyone on the Ducks not named Richard Rakell and 11 of those coming on the man advantage. Bernier and Josh Manson are the trade chips in the fold so maybe another move is coming in the pipeline for say Radim Vrbata anyone? No concerns with their defensive depth and the goaltending is solid. Forward depth has begun to be addressed somewhat and a rain dance will be performed by GM Bob Murray in hopes to get the "25-year-old Perry" production down the stretch.
Calgary (33-26-4) 64 PTS. STAND PAT
Here comes Calgary. In what has been a below expectation season overall we are starting to see some positive results for the Flames. Two weeks ago we could have potentially thrown this squad into the sellers' barn, but now riding a four-game win streak and stars playing like stars this team is in the running and shouldn't change the tires so to speak. Brian Elliott seems to have finally reclaimed his crease and is looking more and more like the guy that led the league last season in SV%. Now with a defense that is starting to lose its Swiss cheese persona the team is turning it around and can be optimistic for perhaps the first time this season. Mark Giordano may be in the beginning stages of decline but at least Dougie Hamilton is establishing himself as top-notch blueliner just in time. Because this positive upswing is coming so late in the season, GM Brad Treliving might be hesitant to alter the landscape. A team much like Nashville right now, the hype people had in the preseason seems to be finally coming to fruition. Should they decide to sell the likes of Kris Versteeg or Troy Brouwer to potentially land some picks or prospects but it all boils down to whether or not Brad wants to roll the dice on ruining a positive trend.
Los Angeles (30-27-4) 64 PTS. STAND PAT
If the Kings go off on a run here to make the postseason as a wild card and win another Cup I will not watch hockey anymore. In a move nobody saw coming, the Kings traded for Ben Bishop and sent Peter Budaj off on a walk of shame after a one night stand (thanks for everything Peter!). Many pundits are quite perplexed by this deal but there is no doubting it established the best goalie tandem in the league by a landslide. It also makes us question if perhaps Jonathan Quick was rushed back from injury and this serves also as an insurance policy if he goes down again. Despite this move, this team is still probably not strong enough to win – the team cannot score goals outside of Jeff Carter with any consistency. Which is really unfortunate but what did you expect when you gave Marian Gaborik's corpse that awful contract. Anze Kopitar's all-too-well documented first-half lull sealed their fate regardless of the Bishop deal. Devin Setoguchi will never be a premier scorer again and Tyler Toffoli looks lost at times although his two-goal game on the weekend was great to see. A lot of things went wrong for this squad this season but after so many seasons of things going oh-so right perhaps we can write this off as the price paid for those glory seasons. There are plenty of UFA's on their squad such as Setoguci and Teddy Purcell so they may at least attempt to trade them but neither hold any real value. If the Kings end up making another move it would not surprise as they are neck and neck with Calgary in the wild card race. But it just seems senseless to do so unless they are bringing in a premier scorer – which would cost too much of their future.
Dishes, Taxes, Death and the inevitable fire sale for these two squads – these are the guarantees of life. Both squads will be looking to offload veterans. The time is now to rebuild in British Columbia so finding new homes for the likes of Ryan Miller, Alex Edler and Alex Burrows in return for picks and prospects is the way to go. Bo Horvat is the future of this squad and it would be wise to start building around him now. Savvy moves such as acquiring Sven Baertschi certainly fit this plan. Picks and prospects are the name of the game in Vancouver in an effort to accelerate the timeline for their return to relevance.
Arizona has already kicked off their sale period by shipping out Michael Stone and GM John Chayka got a golf clap from me for the massive haul he got for Martin Hanzal. Hanzal's trade is the most intriguing so far because it just skyrocketed the value of the more premier options at the deadline. Shattenkirk may not move now. Not if Hanzal is getting a team a first, second and conditional pick that could become another second. Radim Vrbata is the sell-high candidate of all sell-high candidates so I am completely expecting him to be shipped out to a contender. His nine-game point streak right now just screams SELL SELL SELL. Chayka is on the clock going into his first deadline as the GM and has already made moves that make the elder echelon of NHL GM's take notice. Kudos to him for getting the ball rolling and setting the standard.
Chris Liggio filled in for Kevin Wickersham, who will be back next week.
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