Don’t look now, hockey fans, but the NHL trade deadline almost is upon us.
March 1 marks the last day teams can execute any transactions. Some teams will make deals to prepare for the future, while others will try to improve their playoff aspirations by way of trade.
With that said, here are four postseason contenders that must make a move by Wednesday’s trade deadline.
New York Rangers
The Rangers are in a very good spot at present, currently in the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference standings. New York has the right recipe for a legitimate Stanley Cup run. They are putting the puck in the net, averaging 3.27 goals per game, and have one of the league’s best goaltenders in Henrik Lundqvist. However, in order to take that next step, the team needs to bring in a puck-moving defenseman. Another viable blueliner to join the likes of Ryan McDonagh and Brady Skjei could help the Rangers immensely. New York already is well-situated for the postseason, but it might need to make a move in order to contend with the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins.
Nashville’s playoff chances looked bleak to start the season, as the team struggled mightily out of the gate. That tone has changed, though, thanks to a rapid scoring pace from the team’s top lines. The Predators currently occupy third place in the Central Division. Nashville can’t rely on its top-six forwards for the whole season, so adding another consistent scorer would help the team tremendously. Stanley Cup runs require production from everyone on the roster, and the Predators need to make an addition if they have any hopes of playing in June.
The Canadiens have made arguably the most noteworthy move in the NHL this season with the firing of head coach Michel Therrien and subsequent hiring of Claude Julien. Montreal has been rather inconsistent since its hot start to the campaign, but still sits atop the Atlantic Division. The Habs have one of the best netminders in the league in Carey Price, and a roster talented enough to compete in the playoffs. However, the team’s back-and-forth tendencies manifests the team’s need: A marquee scorer. While a deal of this caliber would be costly and could impact the future, it also could make Montreal legitimate Stanley Cup contenders.
Los Angeles Kings
The Kings got a head start on the trade deadline festivities with a goalie swap with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Los Angeles acquired Ben Bishop from Tampa Bay in exchange for Peter Budaj, as well as another player and draft picks. While the Kings solidified their goalie situation, it wasn’t really an area that needed to be addressed in the first place. Jonathan Quick has returned from injury, and Budaj was playing very well in place of him. Los Angeles should have focused its attention on scoring, as it ranks in the bottom of the league in most offensive categories, such as goals per game and power-play percentage. The Kings already have made the case they are buyers at this year’s trade deadline, and that trend should not stop now.
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