The trade deadline is just four days away 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 the 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 Western 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. A similar article on the Eastern Conference solid playoff teams can be seen by clicking here.
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 bubble teams can be seen by clicking here, and the Eastern Conference bubble teams by clicking here.
Shopping List: The Blackhawks have been remarkable this season with only five regulation losses all season long. The Hawks have been a Stanley Cup favorite since their record setting run to start the year. What does this team need? The truth is not much, as when healthy they have one of the best, and most balanced teams in hockey. However the salary cap and parity has meant that no perfect team exists, and everyone can use a tweak. For the Hawks, items on the shopping list could include a 2nd line centre capable of adding some extra scoring, and a depth defenceman. As we’ll see though, these will be Items on many teams’ wish lists.
Shopping List: Winning two in a row over the Hawks, the Ducks might just be Kryptonite for Blackhawks. With just seven regulation losses this season. They have the 2nd best record in the West and have been on the Hawks tails all season long. The Ducks recently made big deals with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf to keep them in Anaheim uniforms for a long team. The defence is led by Francois Beauchemin who is having the best season of his career and may even get Norris Trophy consideration. In Victor Fasth, and Jonas Hiller, they have a one-two punch in goal. This team is solid top to bottom. If they are looking to make tweaks, the places they may look to tweak will also be 2nd line centre, and depth on defence.
Shopping List: The Canucks are back in a familiar position, once again leading the North West division. The team has dealt with the goaltending controversy of Schneider vs Luongo all season long, and many wonder if the trade deadline will finally lead to the team moving one of their netminders. Luongo was the better goalie early in the year, but Schneider has been the go to guy of late. If one of them moves, the smart money is still on Luongo. As for additions, the Canucks will likely look for depth at centre, especially for their second line due to the fact that Ryan Kesler just hasn’t been able to stay healthy this season. Are we sensing a theme here? The sky is the limit for any team that has a 2nd line centre to trade.
Shopping List: When it came to the NHL free agent sweepstakes last July, the Minnesota Wild shocked the world pulling the two biggest fish out of the pond when they signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to matching 13 year deals. The moves have paid off for the Wild who have moved from the Northwest division basement to challenging Vancouver for the penthouse. If they look to add to the squad, another minute eating defenceman would be the biggest need.
Los Angeles Kings
Shopping List: Last year’s Stanley Cup Champions started this seaoson suffering from the Stanley Cup hangover. After taking a few weeks to get it going, the Kings have recently started to look more and more like the team that dominated all comers and took home the big silver chalice last season. The Kings are a solid club from top to bottom, and there isn’t a heck of a lot of room for trade deadline improvement here. I doubt they will want to mess with the chemistry, and will likely not make major moves. There could be room for a depth addition, but don’t expect a blockbuster move out of the Kings this season.
Detroit Red Wings
Shopping List: Surprisingly, the Wings biggest issue this season has been their powerplay, which just isn’t scoring at the rate we are used to seeing from Detroit. It appears that even with Niklas Kronwall having the best offensive season of his career, they still need help at the backend. At the same time, the Wings could use someone to play top four minutes on the backend in all situations. In this way we clearly see that Detroit’s biggest need is on the blueline, and we should expect Ken Holland to be making calls inquiring about the very best defencemen who are available.
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