February 27, 2017

NHL Atlantic Division Trade Deadline Predictions

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s that time of year again where analysts and fans speculate on the most active day of the season in the trade front. It’s a fun subject to talk about because most of us turn into ‘fortune tellers’ and we assume our own predictions are best even though our knowledge is just based on pure speculation, just like the analysts you see on television. At this time, we can only speculate, and that’s what we’re going to do as the March 1st, 2017 trade deadline is fast approaching.

This season, there are more star players that are expected to be traded this season than in 2016. In 2016, most GM’s were in conservative mode as a lot of teams held on to their core of players only to let them go as free agents. This year it will be different. There are too many good players to pass up for a crucial Stanley Cup run.

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Boston Bruins

Salary Cap: $3.6 million

What They Need: Secondary Scoring

Buyer, Seller or Neutral: Neutral

The Bruins have been jumping between 6th and 10th place for most of the season and right now they have the last playoff spot. Why not make the team better to prepare for a playoff run? For some reason the Bruins are indicating that they are going to take a conservative approach to the deadline and that is puzzling. History repeats itself when patterns are repeated. The last two seasons they were in a similar position at this time of year and they did very little to improve the team. Both times they ended up in 9th place in the East. That’s also the worst place to finish because you barely miss the playoffs plus you don’t get a good draft pick either.

It looks like they’re going to repeat this mistake for the 3rd year in a row when they really should be getting some secondary scoring in the form of Martin Hanzal, Radim Vrbata, or Thomas Vanek. I guess we’ll see what will happen for sure come March 1st.

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Buffalo Sabres

Salary Cap: $2.3 million

What They Need: Offensive Defenceman

Buyer, Seller or Neutral: Seller

The Sabres are just ohhhh so close to showcasing a great product on the ice. They most of the pieces together except for one: An offensive defenceman. The Sabres already have Ristolainen who is having a fantastic year for himself but they have no other defenceman that can help out on the offence. Dmitri Kulikov was supposed to produce points for the Sabres but he is not fitting in the team. He could be shipped out as well as Brian Gionta and Cody Franson.

Getting like Shattenkirk would be huge for the Sabres but isn’t likely. They would most likely get prospects and picks for next year instead. Give this team one more year with one more weapon and they very scary to play against.

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Detroit Red Wings

Salary Cap: $0.6 million

What They Need: Draft Picks and Prospects

Buyer, Seller or Neutral: Seller

For 25 years in a row, the Red Wings have made the playoffs. Sadly, they won’t be making it this year. It was a great run and it was a run that saw Detroit win 4 Stanley Cups in that period. It was a great time for the Red Wings and their fans. The ending of this streak is very symbolic because like how the playoff streak will come to its death, there has already been the tragic deaths of Red Wings legend Gordie Howe and team owner Mike Ilitch. The thing about death is that for a new era to begin, an old one has to die first. Good times will come to Detroit once again but it won’t be soon. But for now, they can start with the transformation.

On a lighter note, the Wings have already traded Tomas Jurco to Chicago. They are now believed to be working on dealing Brendan Smith, Steve Ott and Thomas Vanek. The Red Wings have always been the top team when it comes to scouting and with the help of more draft picks, they’ll increase their odds in finding a hidden gem like they have done many times before.

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Florida Panthers

Salary Cap: $10.1 million

What They Need: Forward Depth

Buyer, Seller or Neutral: Buyer

The Panthers have been hot lately and have climbed back to the playoff race. Huberdeau is back from injury and he is not disappointing. He has 9 points in as many games and the Panthers couldn’t have won without him. The Panthers play a ‘score by committee’ type of game and they need some depth if they want to continue playing this way. The Panthers have cap space and if they’re serious to push for the playoffs this year, then they would aggressively pursue Martin Hanzal, Thomas Vanek and/or Rdim Vrbata. They can’t take on a long-term contract like Matt Duchene or Gabriel Landeskog because Aaron Ekblad and Jonathon Huberdeau are getting major pay hikes next season.

The Panthers are healthy at the right time and they can be very dangerous if they get the right guy to help them at the deadline. They could overtake the Bruins and Maple Leafs for a playoff spot if they have a great March.

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Montreal Canadiens

Salary Cap: $0.8 million

What They Need: Size Up Front

Buyer, Seller or Neutral: Neutral

The Canadiens are a tough cookie to crack sometimes. They started off the season with a 13-1-1 record and they have been mediocre ever since. This is actually a great team on paper with a tremendous balance between speed, skill and physicality. They have replaced head coach Michel Therrien with Claude Julien recently with hopes of getting this team to play well together. This is a great move short term and one that will help the Habs with their playoff push.

It was difficult to find a glaring hole with what the Canadiens need but they are a small team up front. A guy like Martin Hanzal or Brian Boyle would be a great to this team moving forward but it is unlikely that the Habs will be active traders at this deadline because they’re so close to the salary cap.

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Ottawa Senators

Salary Cap: $6 million

What They Need: Elite Sniper

Buyer, Seller or Neutral: Buyer

The Sens are one of the few teams that can take on a Matt Duchene contract. It turns out that they need an elite sniper on the team. The Sens are a hard working, blue collar team with loads of character but they need more skill and Duchene fits the bill on what they need. Bobby Ryan is on IR and won’t be back for awhile so they need somebody right now if they want to make the playoffs. It was hard to determine whether the Sens will be Buyers or remain neutral but it is recommended that they should be buyers especially when division rivals like the Leafs and the Florida Panthers are right up their tail. Duchene’s contract is still up for another 3 years so getting him would be a great move short term as well as long term.

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Tampa Bay Lightning

Salary Cap: $1 million

What They Need: Minor Roster Retool

Buyer, Seller or Neutral: Seller

I’ve just heard word that the Lightning traded Ben Bishop to the L.A. Kings as I writing this piece so I’ll go about this a little bit differently.

This season for the Lightning is a write-off. There have been way too many injuries for them to be competitive during the season but it does create an opportunity to retool the roster for next season. They will get rid of expiring contracts in exchange for picks and prospects for the near future. Brian Boyle is probably the next to go.

When this team is healthy, they are very, very dangerous. They are faster and more skilled than any other team in the East. They also could of won the Stanley Cup against the Sharks last season if they wouldn’t of got carried away against the Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals.

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Toronto Maple Leafs

Salary Cap: $0.8 million

What They Need: Two-Way Defenceman

Buyer, Seller or Neutral: Buyer

For the first time in a long time, the Leafs can afford to be buyers this season. The Leafs are rumoured to be the most aggressive team on the trading front this year. The Leafs rebuild is already a year ahead of schedule and Leafs fans can thank head coach Mike Babcock for that. They already score a lot of goals but the defence needs to improve if the Leafs have any hope to be contenders.

The Leafs are in the hunt for Kevin Shattenkirk of the Blues and they are most likely to acquire them. If they don’t get Shattenkirk they will still try to get Brendan Smith of the Red Wings. They will try to get a depth forward if they can’t get a defenceman but that isn’t recommended, at least in my opinion.

 

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