A Look At The National Hockey League’s Western Conference On Trade Deadline Day
As I mentioned in my post featuring Trade Deadline Day in the Eastern Conference, I am not an NHL “insider”, just a fan of the game that loves to talk about hockey. With that in mind, here’s a peek at what might happen with teams in the NHL’s Western Conference.
Let’s just get the Mark Stone trade to Winnipeg done already. It’s been a topic of conversation for what seems like weeks. Winnipeg General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff is a very cautious fellow as we have all learned, but the Jets need this trade. They are sputtering. Should they acquire Stone, you have to think the Jets are the Western Conference favourites. Nikolaj Ehlers has just returned from injury, which should provide a big boost.
Missed out on Ottawa Senators forward Matt Duchene, which no doubt made GM David Poile quite sour. But no glaring weaknesses on this team, other than a wonky power play, which is a mystery. From their own blueline back they are rock solid. Wayne Simmonds from the Philadelphia Flyers would be a great fit here. Poile is not afraid to go after a big fish. If one GM pulls off a shocker trade today, my money is on Poile.
St. Louis Blues
Well, well, well. What took them so long? What a run going on here. With David Perron and Brayden Schenn out with injuries, Blues might look to acquire some depth up front. If the clock strikes midnight on goaltender Jordan Binnington, do they trust Jake Allen to handle the load down the stretch? Go get Ryan Miller again out of Anaheim and thank me later.
Poor Dallas. They make a “win-win” deal with the New York Rangers for Mats Zuccarello, and instantly lose him for a month with an upper body injury. And Jamie Benn gets hurt the same game. If Minnesota GM Paul Fenton is crying himself to sleep at night over the state of his Minnesota Wild, Stars GM Jim Nill is going to need therapy. Nill said prior to the Zuccarello injury that he was done trading, but does he spin back for one more look around today? Likely not.
Three straight wins has put Minnesota back in a wild card spot. Made a good deal in getting underrated Ryan Donato out of Boston a few days ago for Charlie Coyle. Any thought of trading veteran Eric Staal has likely stalled, as he doesn’t really want to move which would make interested teams shy away. Couple of key injuries to Matt Dumba and Mikko Koivu could have Fenton kicking tires around the league. But gut feeling here is they gamble with what they have.
Left for dead 10 days ago, the Avalanche have peeled off four straight wins by a combined 19-4 score against some tough opponents to get back in the hunt. Secondary scoring has been an issue here for most of the season. Look for an upgrade there. They should talk to Patrick Roy about coming out of retirement too to help out in net. But no surprise if Colorado sits tight today. Just not their time yet.
Chicago Black Hawks
Might be too little, too late for Chicago this year, after a tough loss on Sunday to the Stars. They sit five points back with teams to climb over. Could make for an interesting day for GM Stan Bowman. Goalie Cam Ward likely available for the right price. Bowman would love any interest in Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, but highly unlikely they can be moved with their contracts. Marcus Kruger anyone?
Boredom could end up being Calgary’s biggest issue down the stretch. But they are kicking tires and making sure no Mark Stone is unturned. Can their goaltending take them through to June? Getting Stone might hide some of those crease blemishes. Solid roster from top to bottom if they opt to sit this one out.
San Jose Sharks
Show me the way, San Jose. GM Doug Wilson knows this may be the best team he’s ever had. Hot on Calgary’s heels for first place in the division, Wilson added more firepower late Sunday night, acquiring Gustav Nyquist from the Detroit Red Wings for two draft picks. Not many weaknesses on this roster. There have been questions about goaltending all season, but Martin Jones is a proven playoff performer.
Vegas Golden Knights
Losing six of their last seven will have GM George McPhee searching for a roster spark, as this offence has simply dried up. Could Vegas make a play for Artemi Panarin? They could. Not sure if they can put together a package that would appease Columbus that provides immediate help in return, but Vegas does have the picks and prospects to help pull it off. They are bound to be buyers today. They got a taste of success last year. Still hungry.
The Coyotes will likely come up a bit short this year, but they are trending in the right direction. Hindsight is 20/20, but that Dylan Strome trade to Chicago might haunt this franchise for years. Richard Panik could be moved today, but otherwise expect a quiet day in the desert.
A healthy Canucks squad could have been the surprise of the Western conference this year. Having said that, not much here that Vancouver would be willing to part with that would help a contender. Just too many injuries at the wrong time. Stay the course, and watch out next year.
Oh those Oilers. You could say the Oilers have already made their best move, firing former GM Peter Chiarelli. But even if you give interim GM Keith Gretzky the authority to make more moves today, where does he start? Alex Chiasson and Zack Kassian are certainly available. Finding a home for winger Milan Lucic, no matter how much money Edmonton has to eat, should give Gretzky the job full-time. Like a Red Kelly number retirement, this is going to take a while.
Duck. Duck. Lose. Things are quite ugly in Anaheim too. Long, heavy contracts attached to aging and underachieving players makes things difficult for GM Bob Murray. The Brandon Montour trade was a bit of an odd start to the dismantle, but there is not many untouchables in this Duck hunt.
Los Angeles Kings
The tank is in full force in L.A., losers of seven straight games. GM Rob Blake is open for business, and he started early with the Jake Muzzin to Toronto trade a few weeks ago. Players like Tyler Toffoli and Kyle Clifford should draw some interest today. But the team is likely stuck with Ilya Kovalchuk and Jeff Carter for the time being. Unloading Jonathan Quick would be beneficial, but it’s unlikely they can.
Follow me on Twitter @cbradley2928
Statistics provided by hockey-reference and theScore
Featured Photo Image Credit: Nikos Michals