February 27, 2011 :: 4:23pm ET
Trade Deadline: Tracking the
LOS ANGELES, CA -- With seven points
separating seeds four through 12 in the Western Conference as NHL
action started on Sunday, one smart move could earn a team a
post-season berth in the most competitive playoff race in years.
While Brad Richards is on the minds and lips of Western insiders, the
acquisition of depth players is more likely to occur given the number
of high profile deals already in the books. The Fourth Period's
analysis of the movement by contenders starts here:
Dallas - Joe Nieuwendyk has the
biggest chip to play, holding game changer Brad Richards. If only Joe
could read the future and know when Richards will be fit to return
from his concussion, things would be much easier for all. The Stars
backed up badly in the past few weeks, going from 1st in the Pacific
to out of the top eight in the West, only partially due to Richards
absence. Given the Stars bounce back wins against Detroit and
Nashville, there's a mindset that the organization may roll the dice;
do nothing and hope to get a deal done before July 1. If the trigger
is pulled, only the Rangers and Kings have lined up for a rental.
Los Angeles - If you ever go to the track with Dean Lombardi,
it's likely all his bets would be for "place" as no franchise comes in
second on deals more than the Kings. They fell short on Mike Fisher
and their only acquisition since December, Marco Sturm, was lost on
waivers to Washington on Saturday, creating additional space in the
gaping wide hole that already existed on left wing. They are reported
finalists on Brad Richards (who could play left wing but would be
their best center) and Ales Hemsky, a right wing that the organization
would love to pair with Anze Kopitar. With the Kings truly two Top 6
forwards away from Cup contention, not sure Lombardi empties vault
here. Discount those Zach Parise rumors to zero percent, please.
Vancouver - Those nagging rumors about backup goalie Corey
Schneider persist but GM Mike Gillis reaffirmed he is not being
shopped. The West's best team has been dogged by injuries, especially
on defense but with excellent depth throughout the roster, only a 6-7
defense or 4th line center will be added at best with minor chatter of
interest in Chris Phillips.
Detroit - GM Ken Holland states there's little happening in
Motown and we believe him. The biggest issue they have is ay backup
goaltender but with Chris Osgood on the road back and Mike Modano on
ice, there's little to do roster-wise.
Columbus - Matt Calvert's late season goal rush
notwithstanding, a huge run has put them in shouting distance for the
post season, something thought unlikely just a couple of weeks ago.
Their injury situation affects what they will buy as they've lost
Rostislav Klesla to a knee injury and both Derick Brassard and
Kristian Huselius are out. Rich Nash would be thrilled if GM Scott
Howson unearthed a Top 6 forward as GM Scott Howson added depth with
the waiver claim of defenseman Craig Rivet.
Nashville - Not for lack of trying, GM David Polie is always
looking for the smart, not big deal to add to his roster. Their
biggest move already occurred with the acquisition of Fisher, but they
are trying to wrestle Ladislav Smid away from the surprisingly tough
minded Steve Tambellini in Edmonton. A four game losing streak in
which they've only scoring 4 goals has raised the sense of urgency for
a deal in Music City with JP Dumont as bait.
Anaheim - Jonas Hiller's vertigo
has made the entire roster Ducks dizzy. Without reliable goaltending,
the Ducks have fluttered out of the top eight. While GM Bob Murray has
the security of a new four year contract, don't look for him to go
crazy as the final hours to the deadline tick down. The deal for Dan
Ellis and recall of Ray Emery aren't substitutes for Hiller, as they
only buy time in the hopes his condition clears. They'll ride and die
with the current roster for the stretch.
Minnesota - The last deal GM Chuck Fletcher made for a roster
player was the acquisition of Brad Staubitz on June 21, 2010. Mikko
Koivu's ill timed broken finger along with injuries to Kyle Brodziak
and Cam Barker should have Fletcher sniffing for offense as the
deadline nears. The 3rd worst offensive team in the West could use a
winger like Edmonton's Hemsky or Penner to boost their chances but
will still primarily rest on the shoulders of goaltender Nicklas
Backstrom and Brent Burns given management's record of non-dealing.
Phoenix - As long as GM Don Maloney doesn't trade coach Dave
Tippett, the Coyotes are ready for the playoffs. Although the
ownership situation finally drags to a positive ending, don't look for
the vault to be open for a major acquisition. At best, the Coyotes
will pluck a depth defenseman from a non-contender.
San Jose - While Doug Wilson is a major risk taker, the final
24 hours by the South Bay look to be uneventful. An 8-2 run that's
vaulted them into the Pacific lead has muted trade whispers around the
likes of Devin Setoguchi, while Antti Niemi is tuning up the band for
the post season with his stellar second half. With Ian White
solidifying the blue line. Wilson could look for another net minder to
Calgary - Though interim GM Jay Feaster says he's looking to
add, he's not even made a waiver claim since his appointment on
December 28. A long run from next to last in the conference has them
in the top eight, but since they're among the lower ranked defensive
teams in the West, Feaster is likely looking for blue line help for
the final run, possibly Jim Vandermeer from their Alberta neighbors.
Chicago - The up and down Blackhawks are trying to add some
defensive help at the deadline. With all the twists and turns on the
roster, GM Stan Bowman hasn't made a major trade since the lead role in
September. Chicago would love to ship Tomas Kopecky away for a depth
defenseman, but have come up dry. Brent Seabrook's extension likely
means more roster moves, but they'll come over the summer, not on
Dennis Bernstein, the man behind SCORE! Media and an NHL Analyst with ESPN Radio, is the Senior Writer for The Fourth Period Magazine and a Columnist for TheFourthPeriod.com. You can also visit
Dennis on Twitter.