The NHL trade deadline is quickly approaching. We recently covered which teams should be sellers at the deadline and now it’s time to shift our focus to the teams who could be building for a Cup run. Here’s a list of three teams who could be buyers at the deadline.
For better or worse, general manager Jim Rutherford always seems to be active on trade deadline day. Last deadline he made arguably the worst deal of the day, trading young defenseman Simon Despres for Ben Lovejoy, in what was supposed to a win-now move.
Pittsburgh already made their big move this offseason by trading for winger Phil Kessel, and I don’t think they’ll be looking to make a game-changing move. However, they will almost certainly address their bottom-six depth. Right now their bottom-six consists of players like Bryan Rust, Oskar Sundqvist and Conor Sheary, a group that could really use veteran upgrades. Without dealing top picks and prospects, the Penguins can acquire players like Maple Leafs winger Brad Boyes and Oilers winger Lauri Korpikoski who would even out the bottom of their lineup. That would help the team tremendously.
St. Louis Blues
The Blue have enjoyed another impressive season but are looking to avoid a third straight first-round playoff loss. St. Louis received bad news when Alex Steen, their most effective two-way player, went down with an injury which will sideline him for at least a month. The club is set up the middle at center, but could use help on the wing.
I’d expect the Blues to be in on players like Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Ladd, or if they’re looking for a cheaper upgrade, Toronto Maple Leafs right winger P.A. Parenteau and Calgary Flames left winger Jiri Hudler are both decent depth scorers who would come at a cheaper price. With the emergence of Colton Parayko, the Blues can shop defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk around to make a deal happen – but in order to trade him, they’d need to get a very good top-six winger in return. The Blues need to make moves to get them over the hump, and I’d expect them to be one of the more active teams come deadline day.
New York Rangers
The Rangers are going to be active during deadline day, as coach Alain Vigneault told Newsday they’re making roster decisions now with the future in mind.
“”After Marek Hrivik was summoned to replace the waived Daniel Paille (at the same salary), Vigneault said: “Any money that we can save, we’re gonna save, because that means we’ve got more money to put to one or two players at the end, so unless we really need somebody, we’re going to stay this way and see what we can do come that deadline.””
The Rangers are in win-now mode, so I don’t think they’re going to ship out pending UFA Keith Yandle, especially since Ryan McDonagh suffered a concussion. I do think the Rangers will make a big move in acquiring a veteran offensive piece. One guy who makes sense is Eric Staal.
The 31-year-old center is having a tough year with 32 points in 61 games and isn’t the same player who was putting up between 60-100 points like he has in past seasons. Still, he’s a valuable offensive player and a veteran center. While the Hurricanes are sitting just outside playoff contention, shipping the pending unrestricted free agent out now to get the best value for him would be a smart move. It would be a tough move for the Rangers to make given the cost and the market for him, but if general manager Jeff Gorton wants to make his first trade deadline bold, Staal would certainly accomplish that goal.
What seems more realistic is the Rangers going a cheaper route and taking a chance on a player with offensive upside at a smaller cost – say Mikkel Boedker from the Arizona Coyotes or Radim Vrbata from the Vancouver Canucks.