Blackhawks, Canucks Expected to Be Buyers in Western Conference at NHL Trade Deadline

Blackhawks, Canucks Expected to Be Buyers in Western Conference at NHL Trade DeadlineThe NHL trade deadline is less than two weeks away. As usual, there’s likely to be a frenzy of deals in the days and hours leading up to that Feb. 27 cut-off point, and every team in the league will be burning up the phone lines looking to get in on the action.

Which teams will be looking to add the final pieces for a long playoff run? Which teams are hoping to cash in on the market to build a foundation for the future? And which teams are caught in the middle still trying to figure out which direction to go with the clock ticking?

Here’s a look at how each team is approaching the annual trade deadline, starting with the Western Conference.

Buyers 

Chicago Blackhawks

Overview: The Blackhawks are less than two years removed from a championship, but those halcyon days seem much longer ago with the Blackhawks in the midst of a nine-game losing streak.
What they’re seeking: The inconsistent play of Corey Crawford and Ray Emery in goal is the biggest issue facing the Hawks, who could be in the market for an upgrade in net.
What they have to offer: While Patrick Kane‘s name has surfaced in rumors, Chicago isn’t likely to make that kind of blockbuster deal at the deadline. Instead, they’re more likely to part with picks and prospects to try to add some new blood to the lineup and perhaps try to target Islanders’ veteran goalie Evgeni Nabokov to address their problems in net. The Hawks already committed to Crawford with a three-year, $8-million deal after last season, but Nabokov is on an expiring deal and could be a stopgap to get Chicago through Crawford’s current struggles.

Vancouver Canucks

Overview: The Canucks have a commanding lead in the Northwest Division and are in striking range of Detroit for the top spot in the conference, but after coming up a game short against Boston last spring, the focus is solely on getting the franchise’s first Cup.
What they’re seeking: Boston’s physical play in the Final exposed Vancouver’s weakness in that area. They’ve tried to address the lack of toughness with a rotating cast of marginal tough guys and agitators on the fourth line, but really need someone with size and sandpaper that has enough skill to play in the top six. Ryan Malone could be a perfect fit if Tampa decides to sell, while Buffalo’s Paul Gaustad and Montreal’s Travis Moen could be fallback options.
What they have to offer: They could go big and get into the Rick Nash sweepstakes if they’re willing to put goalie Cory Schneider into play. That would leave them no safety net for Roberto Luongo though, and considering the other parts that would have to go to Columbus, does a team that was one game away from the Cup want to overhaul its roster that much?

Detroit Red Wings

Overview: The Red Wings lead the league in points and have rattled off a record 21 straight home wins, an impressive feat even if aided by a few shootouts. But even with the most skilled lineup in the NHL, GM Ken Holland is always looking to add more.
What they’re seeking: The Wings will be looking mostly for depth as insurance against injury, always a concern with a roster as old as Detroit’s. They would also be served to acquire some additional grit and some semblance of toughness, but that seems anathema to Holland. The Wings have never won a Cup without an enforcer, but with the NHL placating the pacifists this year with a dramatic reduction in fighting, that could change this spring.
What they have to offer: The Wings won’t break up their core, but their ability to draft and develop players gives them plenty of ammo to add pieces if they desire.

Los Angeles Kings

Overview: Thanks to goalie Jonathan Quick, the Kings are in a playoff spot despite scoring the fewest goals in the league.
What they’re seeking: Quick can’t do everything, and Los Angeles needs to add some firepower to its offense. They’ve been burned before, overpaying for the disappointing Dustin Penner last year and so far not reaping many rewards from the summer’s blockbuster to land Mike Richards, but they could go all in and try again by making a play for Nash.
What they have to offer: With Quick in place, the Kings could use their other talented young netminder, Jonathan Bernier, as the centerpiece of a package for Nash. Failing that, they may have to settle for shopping off one of the lower shelves for more modest offensive help.

St. Louis Blues

Overview: The Blues have been one of the biggest surprises of the season since Ken Hitchcock took over behind the bench in early November.
What they’re seeking: With how well they’ve been playing, the Blues don’t have any glaring needs and won’t want to mess up their current chemistry with any major deals. Adding depth with some complementary parts should be their goal at the deadline.
What they have to offer: Again, no reason to shake up the current roster too much, so the Blues would likely dangle picks and prospects in any potential deals.

San Jose Sharks

Overview: The Sharks are enjoying another solid regular season atop the Pacific Division, but after years of disappointing playoff showings it’s only the postseason that truly matters in San Jose.
What they’re seeking: The Sharks made their big moves in the offseason with a series of trades with Minnesota that brought in Brent Burns and Martin Havlat. Any moves now will be more complementary additions.
What they have to offer: The Sharks couldn’t get a bite on Antero Niittymaki, who cleared waivers and was assigned to Worcester. They’d likely have to dip into their pool of picks and prospects for any additions.

Sellers

Columbus Blue Jackets

Overview: The Blue Jackets are open for business, as the league’s worst team has no choice but to begin yet another major rebuild.
What they’re seeking: The Blue Jackets need help everywhere, but the greatest need is in net, where Steve Mason has never come close to regaining his Calder Trophy form from 2008-09.
What they have to offer: Columbus has the biggest chip on the market in Rick Nash. It’s hard to believe the Blue Jackets will trade the face of the franchise, but with that franchise sputtering again, he could get moved. Columbus would also love to get out from under Jeff Carter‘s contract, but that will be a tougher sell. Smaller deals shipping away pending free agents like Samuel Pahlsson could help the rebuild as well.

Edmonton Oilers

Overview: After a promising start, the Oilers and headed back to the lottery, with only Columbus’ complete ineptness likely keeping Edmonton from yet another No. 1 overall pick.
What they’re seeking: The Oilers need help everywhere, but especially on defense as they’ve already assembled an impressive corps of talented young forwards with Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle.
What they have to offer: The Oilers re-signed Andy Sutton and claim they won’t deal veteran Ryan Smyth or suddenly red-hot Sam Gagner. That limits their options, but Ales Hemsky is one of the few scoring forwards definitely available and could draw a solid return in this lean market.

Minnesota Wild

Overview: The Wild have sunk fast after roaring out of the gates, and now are forced to look toward future seasons.
What they’re seeking: Minnesota needs scoring help in a big way. Dany Heatley hasn’t lived up to expectations in yet another location, and the wild lack secondary scoring.
What they have to offer: Defenseman Marek Zidlicky has clashed with coach Mike Yeo and would like out, but he’s 35, has another year at $4 million on his deal and isn’t the offensive force on the blue line he once was (0-12-12 in 38 games), so he may be a tough sell.

Still on Fence

Nashville Predators

Overview: The Predators are in a tough position. They’re within striking range of the top spot in the West, but they also face some major decisions with pending free agents.
What they’re seeking: More than anything, Nashville would just like to keep what it’s got, but after paying big to re-sign goalie Pekka Rinne, it will be tough to find room in the budget for both of their top defensemen with Ryan Suter slated to be an unrestricted free agent and Shea Weber a restricted free agent this summer. It’s about more than money though, as Suter and Weber want to see a commitment to winning, and that would entail adding some much-needed offensive help at the deadline.
What they have to offer: Nashville has a chance to go deep in the playoffs, so don’t expect them to deal Suter even at the risk of losing him for nothing in the summer. They may have to mortgage a bit of their future though to add the offensive help they seek to both win now and help convince Suter and Weber to re-sign.

Phoenix Coyotes

Overview: What may be the last season in the desert could be a complicated one at the deadline, with the Coyotes in the mix for a playoff spot but also potentially willing to sell off some assets to bolster their future, wherever that may be.
What they’re seeking: This depends on which direction they go. Mike Smith has been surprisingly solid in goal, so if Phoenix decides to add immediate help it will likely be to bolster the blue line or offense.
What they have to offer: There’s no shortage of enticing pieces the Coyotes could put on the market. Ray Whitney and Shane Doan are both experienced veterans up front that are still extremely effective and attractive as rentals in the final years of their deals. Phoenix could create quite a bidding war for either, but would they really be willing to part with their leading scorer or captain in a playoff race?

Anaheim Ducks

Overview: The Ducks looked destined to be sellers after their brutal start to the season, but they’ve come alive under Bruce Boudreau and are making an unlikely run at a playoff spot with a 14-2-3 run. The hole may be too deep to dig out of, but they could be close enough to disappoint a lot of contenders hoping to pluck the Ducks’ carcass for some useful additions at the deadline
What they’re seeking: The Ducks’ turnaround hasn’t necessarily turned them into buyers, but they may try to augment their lineup a bit if they continue to close in on that final playoff spot as the deadline nears.
What they have to offer: Anaheim could have offered plenty, and a slump over the next 10 days could put some names back on the market. Don’t expect any of the likes of Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf or Corey Perry to be moved, but if the Ducks do stumble again Teemu Selanne may be willing to go to a contender and Lubomir Visnovsky could become the top blueliner on the market.

Calgary Flames

Overview: The Flames are ninth in the West, just one point behind Phoenix, so hold off on that fire sale for now.
What they’re seeking: Calgary can’t afford to not try to make a run at the playoffs after missing the postseason the past two years, but they have to be careful not to mortgage the future in any deals as they are a lot more than just a player or two away from making a legitimate run.
What they have to offer: If nothing else, staying in the race should end the Jarome Iginla rumors, but the Flames to have a dozen players with contracts up after this season and they have to decide who is in their long-term plans and who might be worth dangling for some picks or prospects at the deadline.

Colorado Avalanche

Overview: The Avalanche are also hanging around within striking range of the final spot out West, though it’s hard to imagine them making it out of the first round against any of the top teams in the conference.
What they’re seeking: Any kind of short-term pickup that Colorado could make at the deadline isn’t likely to get them deep into the playoffs. They should be looking bigger picture and try to acquire assets for the future, especially after giving up a first-round pick and a conditional second-rounder for Semyon Varlamov.
What they have to offer: If they want to be sellers, Avs could be players at the deadline with David Jones (27 goals last season) the most enticing of their pending free agents.

Dallas Stars

Overview: The Stars are on the outside looking in and a current 1-3-1 slide may be enough to turn them into sellers.
What they’re seeking: The Stars don’t have a lot of star power after losing Brad Richards to free agency last summer, but they have some solid parts in Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson to build around.
What they have to offer: Brenden Morrow‘s injury likely eliminates any chance of a major deal, but the Stars still could be active with pending UFAs Adam Burish and Jake Dowell capable of adding some grit to a contending team’s bottom six and Nicklas Grossman a solid depth defenseman.

Have a question for Douglas Flynn? Send it to him via Twitter at @douglasflynn or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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