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NHL Trade Deadline Shaping Up to Have Way More Buyers Than Sellers

NHL Trade Deadline

The NHL trade deadline is April 12th, just two weeks away. Every team has some hard decisions to make over the next fourteen days. With just 20 games remaining on the 2021 schedule you would think that most teams would know where they stand. However, that is not the case this year. A look at the current standings shows that there are really only six teams who can be considered “out” of the playoffs.

Many of the teams that are on the bubble certainly can’t be considered buyers. They just might be holding on to the last possible second to see how things play out though. And no matter what way you look at it, for this 2021 NHL trade deadline there are way more buyers than sellers.

NHL Trade Deadline April 12th

NHL Trade Deadline: Buyers and Sellers In Each Division

With just two weeks to go before the April 12th trade deadline, the race for the playoffs in each division is tight and full.

The North Division

In the North Division, only the seventh-place Ottawa Senators can be considered sure-fire “sellers” at this time. The Vancouver Canucks and the Calgary Flames are both just two points back of the Montreal Canadiens. One or both of these situations may change in the next two weeks, but the playoff push still goes on for these two teams. On TSN’s most recent trade bait board only Senator’s forward Ryan Dzingel appears in the top 25 at number 11.

Obviously, the top teams in the division will look to solidify their positions. They are all considered buyers and it will be a scrum to pick up whatever deals are available. Given the COVID quarantine restrictions for players coming into Canada, this could make things more difficult in the North division over some of the others.

The East Division

The East Division is the one most open for business right now. Both the Buffalo Sabres and the New Jersey Devils are on the sell list. The New York Rangers sit in sixth just five points back. Their fortunes could tip in either direction in the coming days/weeks. There are some big fish on the big board with these teams, as the true contenders are looking to the East.

In Buffalo, forward Taylor Hall, defencemen Brandon Montour and Colin Miller sit high on the target list. The Sabres have already started to sell over the weekend. The Devils also have a big named forward in Kyle Palmieri that has the vultures circling. Defenceman Dmitry Kulikov would be a great pick-up for a team looking for a solid bottom four add heading into the playoffs.

Lots of buyers reported in this division with the top four teams all considered threats to win the division. Specifically, the Boston Bruins are still in need of that second-line scorer to pair with David Krejci. They also need to hold off the Philadelphia Flyers who are just three points back in fifth. It’s as lively a division as there is in the NHL right now. The top three teams will all be looking to add likely at the deadline too. It is anyone’s game at this point.

The Central Division

The Central Division is the most unsettled division in the NHL right now. Only the Detroit Red Wings can be thought of as true sellers. The Predators sit in fourth place and they are/were to be one of the biggest sellers at the trade deadline. Defenceman Mattias Ekholm sits at number one on the trade board, and Mikael Granlund has risen to number three. And Filip Forsberg‘s name has been batted around in rumours all through the month of March. Hard to imagine Predators GM David Poile selling with the team playing well and a legitimate shot at the playoffs.

The Chicago Blackhawks are tied with the Preds in points while the Columbus Blue Jackets have free fallen into sixth. They are still just six points out of fourth. Meanwhile, the Dallas Stars are in seventh and six points out, but they have played four fewer games than the Preds, Hawks and Jackets. Is your head spinning yet? The top teams in the Central are all considered to be buyers although cap space may be an issue, especially for the Lightning. The Florida Panthers just lost Aaron Ekblad for the rest of the season. He was injured last night in the 4-1 win vs the Blackhawks which is a huge loss. Maybe they look to replace him?

From the Red Wings, forwards Luke Glendening and Bobby Ryan are two offensive targets. Defenceman Marc Stall at number 19 will add experience and depth to a contender in a playoff where you can never have enough defensemen. Goaltender Jonathan Bernier is by far the highest-rated goalie on the list, coming in at number five. Will it be a feeding frenzy in Detroit?

The West Division

The wild West Division is another that has had its trade bait scenarios turned upside-down recently. Mainly, the Arizona Coyotes have climbed to within one point of the St. Louis Blues for the fourth and final playoff ticket. Look down a little further and the sixth-place Los Angeles Kings might seem like sellers.  However, they too are just six points back with three games in hand. Even the San Jose Sharks are still swimming with two games in hand and eight points back.

That leaves the Anaheim Ducks, who have Rickard Rakell as the catch of the day on the coast, sitting at number 12 on TSN’s bait board. He left last night’s game with an apparent head injury and his status is unknown at the time.

Given how well both the Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche are playing,  any other team really have a chance in the West? Nobody is about to give up, least of all the Minnesota Wild. They are right in the mix just four points out of first and will look to bolster their own chances.

Off the Board Trade Bait

The playoffs aren’t the due all and end-all for the NHL trade deadline. Many teams will try to shed bad contracts like Jeff Skinner in Buffalo or Matt Duchene in Nashville. Other teams may look to shake things up and move a disgruntled player. Or move a young player who hasn’t reached his potential, like Jake Debrusk in Boston. And then there is the Seattle Kraken situation. Teams have to be aware of what players they will need to expose in the expansion draft and who the Kraken may covet. Trading for assets as opposed to losing a player for nothing must be seriously weighed against playoff chances.

There is no shortage of intrigue and rumours in the 2021 season and anybody can get traded if Wayne Gretzky got traded, right? Does someone make an offer Buffalo can’t refuse for Jack Eichel? Will Johnny Gaudreau start another rebuild in Calgary? All these questions will be answered in the next two weeks. As of right now, there are far more buyers than sellers on the market for the 2021 NHL trade deadline.

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