To Buy or To Sell: Trade Deadline Bubble Teams (West)

By
Updated: March 25, 2013
Mike Smith

Its less than 10 days to the NHL trade deadline, and we’ve already seen our first major deal of the season with Brenden Morrow going from the Dallas Stars to the Pittsburgh Penguins.   In this shortened season, the playoff races are closer than ever, and this means that for a number of teams the decisions on whether to be a trade deadline buyer or seller are tougher than ever.  Complicating matters is that last season we saw the Los Angeles Kings, the 8th seed in the Western Conference, go on a dominant playoff run and win the Stanley Cup.  The adage that you just have to make the playoffs and anything can happen was proven true.  So does this result influence a team to make a last ditch effort to make the playoffs this year?

In any event, lets look at the bubble teams who have big decisions to make in the coming weeks.

We’ll start with the Western Conference today, and move on to the Eastern Conference Wednesday.

St. Louis Blues
Currently in 7th Place
To Buy: The Blues have a solid lineup from top to bottom.  However they likely could use one more solid top four defenceman to round out their core.  If they buy, expect it to be an addition on defence.To Sell: Andy MacDonald would create a great return, and is a UFA this summer.  Offensive centres are just impossible to find right now.  Jamie Lagenbrunner, and Wade Redden are cheaper vets who would be UFAs too.
Opinion:  The Blues are a better team than their record shows.  This is a real contender if they can make the playoffs, and they are capable of going on a Kings like run.  Buy, make the playoffs, and try to go on that run.

Dallas Stars
Currently in 8th place, 1 point up on 9th
To Buy:  The Stars have given up 90 goals this season, third worst in the Western Conference.  The biggest current need on the team is a shut down blue liner.  If they buy, this is what the team should be after.
To Sell: Its rare to see a current playoff team become a seller, but the Dallas Stars have done just that by moving captain Brenden Morrow to the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Earlier in the season, they traded their top scorer (at the time) in Michael Ryder to the Montreal Canadiens.  If the Stars do decide to go into full sell mode they have two top notch forwards who are UFA’s to be and would attract heavy interest at the deadline.  They are Jaromir Jagr, and Derek Roy.
Opinion: Normally I wouldn’t advise a team in a playoff spot to sell, but it appears the Stars have already made that decision.  If you are gonna be a seller and move your captain in Morrow, might as well do it all and get primo returns for Roy and Jagr too.

San Jose Sharks
Currently in 9th place, 1 point out of 8th, with one game in hand.
To Buy: After a fast start to the season, The Sharks are floundering.  If this team is going to make the playoffs they need an infusion of life.  My suggestion, go out and get an agitator, someone to stir things up and improve the bottom 6 and provide an Energy Line for the team.  When the Sharks have momentum, they are great, when they don’t have it, they can’t seem to turn things around.  If they add, they need a guy who can stir that pot and change the momentum quickly.   At 71 goals for, the Sharks are also worst in the conference.  Time to add some net front presence who can create havoc for opposing goalies.
To Sell:  Potential July UFAs include Ryan Clowe, Michal Handzus, and Doug Murray.  Also rumored on the market is Dan Boyle (signed through next season).
Opinion: Go for it San Jose.  Your core in Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle, Patrick Marleau, Martin Havlat, etc… isn’t getting any younger.  The window on this team is closing, but not quite shut yet.  Time to risk it and go all in on the boys you have.

Nashville Predators
Currently in 10th place (tie), 1 point out of 8th, Sharks have 2 games in Hand vs Nashville; Dallas has 1 game in hand.
To Buy: The Preds need a game breaker at forward, but the cost of one is expensive, and I don’t know that Barry Trotz will want to mortgage the future for this season.
To Sell: Brandon Yip, Scott Hannan, and Chris Mason are the three biggest profiles UFAs to be.  There isn’t much to sell here.
Opinion: Stay the course, and maybe make a minor tweak if one is available.  However this isn’t the year to go all in for the Preds.  Also given what they have to sell, its not the year to do that either as the returns will be minimal.  Nashville is in no-man’s land, and will need to look at continuing to build through the draft, as they have always done.

Columbus Blue Jackets
Currently in 10th place (tie), 1 point out of 8th, Sharks have 2 games in Hand vs Nashville; Dallas has 1 game in hand.
To Buy: At 75 goals for, they are third worst in the West.  They need goal scoring wherever they can find it.  Bobrovsky and the defence are carrying the team right now, and a little more offence would go a long way.
To Sell: Vaclav Prospal and Adrian Aucoin are aging and UFAs on July 5th.
Opinion: The Team is on fire and making a push for their second ever playoff spot.  They own 3 first round picks (their own, the Rangers, the Kings).  It would not be a big deal to trade one of those picks or their later round picks to make the push and get into the playoffs.  Columbus fans deserve this, reward them for their loyalty with a ticket to the dance.

Phoenix Coyotes
Currently in 12th place, 3 points out of 8th
To Buy: 87 goals against are 4th worst in the conference.  They could use more defensive depth.
To Sell:  You can buy the whole team if you want, no really, you can Mr. Jamison, Hulsizer, Reinsdorf, just not you Balsillie.  Okay, but seriously, the UFAs here are Steve Sullivan, Matt Lombardi, Raffi Torres, Boyd Gordon, and Mike Smith.
Opinion:  Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING hinges on Mike Smith.  One of the best goalies in hockey, the Coyotes need to make a decision on him, and make it quick.  Either sign the guy to an extension or trade him, because you can absolutely not afford to lose him for nothing in July.  If you keep him, you can make a playoff push, but if you trade Mike Smith away, you might as well trade the rest of the UFAs too and rebuild this thing for next year.

Thanks for Reading and as always feel free to comment below.

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photo credit: bridgetds via photopin cc

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