Its less than one week to the NHL trade deadline, and we’ve already seen our first deals of the season with the Pittsburgh Penguins going hog wild and adding Brenden Morrow from the Dallas Stars, Douglas Murray from San Jose, and this early morning blockbuster with Jarome Iginla from Calgary.. In this shortened season, the playoff races are closer than ever, and this means that many teams see themselves as legit Cup Contenders. What one key addition will help take a team from playoff contender, to cup contender?
Today’s piece is about teams who have a solid grasp on a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. This is not to say that their can’t be an 18 wheeler going off the cliff in the last month of the season. However, these teams should be looking at themselves as playoff bound at the deadline, and looking to load up for their run at the cup.
Earlier in the week we looked at bubble teams who will need to make the tough decisions about being buyers or sellers. The Western Conference can be seen by clicking here, and the Eastern Conference by clicking here.
Shopping List: Winners of 13 straight and sitting in first place in the conference, despite an injury that keeps last year’s Art Ross and Hart Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin on the shelf, the Penguins didn’t need a lot. However they went out and added a lot, in Brenden Morrow, Douglas Murray and Jarome Iginla. Given these three big trades, I have to believe the Penguins are done shopping for the playoffs.
Shopping List: The Habs are second in the conference, and have been high in the standings all year long. Utilizing a true team concept the Canadiens feature three scoring lines, and the highest scoring defence unit in the league, all backstopped by solid goaltending in Carey Price. GM Marc Bergevin has gone on record saying that he will not mortgage the future for a pricey trade deadline rental, but would be willing to trade for a player who helps beyond just this season. What do the Habs need? With Raphael Diaz on the shelf with a concussion, one more defenceman is needed as Rookie Jarred Tinordi played under 7 minutes in the Habs shootout win over the Bruins, while PK Subban logged 30 minutes and Andrei Markov 28. They need to spread this load around. Up front the Canadiens could use another scoring forward with size, this becomes an even bigger need if Rene Bourque (also out with a concussion) can not return to the lineup soon. However the imminent return of Brendan Prust should help add a little grit to the forwards.
Shopping List: The Bruins sit just 1 point behind the Canadiens in a dog fight that should go down to the wire to decide the Northeast Division Champions. The trade of Tim Thomas to the Islanders earlier in the season was made with the intent of freeing up the necessary cap space to add players at the deadline, so the question becomes what are they after. The Bruins are clearly looking to add at forward, as seen by the attempted trade for Jarome Iginla. With Iggy off the market, the Bruins may switch gears and decide that their first two lines are in good shape, and its the third line (with the injury to Chris Kelly, and the fact they’ve been looking for a third member of the trio all season long) that needs the addition. The Bruins are also expected to be looking for a puck moving defenceman who can help on the powerplay.
Shopping List: Decimated by injuries, there has been no better coaching job in the NHL than the one done by Paul Maclean. He has taken a lineup that has been without a good young defenceman (Cowen), their top goal scorer from last season (Michalek), their number 1 centre (Spezza), their top goaltender (Anderson), and last but not least the team MVP and Norris trophy winning defenceman (Karlsson), and has them in the playoff hunt. At times the Senators have been dressing what looks like half an AHL lineup. The team still keeps on winning games though, and Cowen, Michalek, Spezza, and Anderson could all potentially return to the lineup for the playoffs. In shopping for trade deadline help, the Sens have been so ravaged by injuries that they could use the help anywhere they can get it, however, goal scoring forwards have to be the priority.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Shopping List: Just when it looked like the Leafs might be teetering on the brink of another late season collapse, 5 points in their last three games have seemed to right the ship and leave the team solidly in 6th place in the East. Its been a real coming out party for Nazem Kadri this season, and the return of Joffrey Lupul from a long layoff with a broken forearm has added some much needed punch to the Toronto offence and righted the ship, just when it looked like a mini-slump might become something more. Heading towards their first playoff spot since 2004, the Leafs could use some depth additions. An experienced goalie to back up James Reimer might be on the agenda, as the Leafs goaltending duo of Reimer and Scrivens has zero NHL playoff experience right now. The defence core has played well all season, but is also very inexperienced come playoff time, with only Dion Phaneuf, John-Michael Liles, and Cody Franson having significant playoff experience (Note: Mark Fraser has 1 career playoff game). Upfront we all know that the Leafs have been shopping for a franchise centre to play with Phil Kessel for 4 years now, but it doesn’t seem one is available at the deadline, and the price would be astronomical anyway. Expect that the Leafs will only make a minor move if any there. To boil it all down, I don’t expect a big move out of the Leafs, only a minor tweak, or two, but shopping for a depth player with playoff experience can be done for any position.
Thanks for reading. Check back tomorrow for the Western Conference.
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