NHL trade deadline: U.S. teams
Buyers and sellers.
It's nomenclature that still sticks around NHL circles despite recent trends. With more teams in the playoff hunt later in the season because of parity and the charity point for an overtime loss, there just aren't many bona fide sellers in the old sense of the term.
Teams can be reluctant to drop everyday roster players because they're still clinging to faint playoff hopes, and there's also the difficulty of making a team's pieces fit ahead of what will be a salary cap curb. Because of that, many teams are buying and selling.
The designations are at least mildly inadequate these days, so we instead take the trade temperature of the 24 U.S. clubs ahead of the March 4 trade deadline.
Anaheim Ducks: Warm
Anaheim followed Carolina as Stanley Cup champion, and they seem to now be imitating the Hurricanes as a team that could just as easily miss the playoffs as do damage there. To compound the problems, they have two future Hall of Famers on the blue line who can't just be shipped off to some cellar-dwelling club.
Atlanta Thrashers: Mild
Would have been warm, but Mathieu Schneider has already been dealt. Niclas Havelid and Marty Reasoner could attract interest, but it's hard to see anyone taking Ron Hainsey's salary.
Boston Bruins: Warm
The rumours have involved forward Erik Cole or a player of his ilk. Given their injury woes this season, the Bruins would be tempting fate not to obtain a No. 7 defenceman with NHL experience.
Buffalo Sabres: Cool
Goalie help in the wake of the Ryan Miller injury is just as likely to come via a waiver claim than a trade. When the name of available Maxim Afinogenov comes up, for some reason we're hearing the voice of Sydney Pollack in Tootsie: "No one will hire you."
Carolina Hurricanes: Warm
GM Jim Rutherford just can't stop believing in this club. While the Hurricanes do have a bunch of veterans, it's probably true that Carolina should go all out for their first playoff berth since winning the Cup in 2006. A couple veterans may go, but players would likely come back in return, not futures.
Chicago Blackhawks: Mild
Chicago is the clear "nothing to lose" team in the Western playoffs and shouldn't tinker too much. Washington obtained Sergei Fedorov at last year's deadline, and it's the type of deal the Hawks might want to approximate — only Nikolai Khabibulin and Andrew Ladd have Cup experience in the club.
Colorado Avalanche: Hot
There are few untouchables on this struggling team. Jordan Leopold comes with no future commitment, which can't be said for fellow defencemen Brett Clark and John-Michael Liles. Forwards Marek Svatos, Milan Hejduk and Darcy Tucker could also be targetted by other clubs. Ryan Smyth has a no-trade clause so rumours involving him must be taken with a grain of salt.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Warm
The Blue Jackets have been looking for a top-flight centre but don't want to take on a significant contract in the process. It's unlikely such a player exists in the NHL. Columbus is on the precipice of its first ever playoff berth and is finally drafting wisely, so it's in a position to add a veteran or two.
Dallas Stars: Mild
Paying Sean Avery not to play is coming into play, as injuries are mounting for the Stars, but they don't have the means to do much.
Detroit Red Wings: Cool
Brad Stuart just came back from injury, and Tomas Holmstrom should be back for the playoffs. As for goaltending, it's not as if both Chris Osgood and Ty Conklin have struggled. Mike Babcock showed last year no compunction about making a switch in the playoffs.
Florida Panthers: Warm
The activity around the Panthers is hot as Jay Bouwmeester is the biggest name in the unrestricted free agent pool. GM Jacques Martin will likely receive some tempting offers, but regardless of whether he moves, the Panthers will likely add a roster player or two to bid for their first playoff appearance in years.
Los Angeles Kings: Mild
The Kings have drafted well and often in the last three years, so it will be interesting to see if they sacrifice a prospect for a player closer to his prime.
Minnesota Wild: Warm
The Wild are trying to re-sign goalie Niklas Backstrom, but it doesn't appear Marian Gaborik is long for the team. Martin Skoula is an unrestricted free agent and several teams are struggling on the power play, which is what Marc-André Bergeron brings to the table.
Nashville Predators: Mild
Could unload a veteran or two. The Predators should be playoff contenders next season barring anything unforeseen as they are young and deep on the blue line and appear to be set for awhile in net. They need scoring help to complement those strengths but are more likely to find that in the summer than by the deadline.
New Jersey Devils: Warm
Spring is around the corner, which means the Devils are the chic Eastern Conference pick again even though they haven't done anything since 2003. In fairness, they have the best shot since that date and will be looking to bolster their squad. They have a chip in Scott Clemmensen that has increased dramatically in value in just weeks.
New York Islanders: Mild
Chris Campoli and Mike Comrie have already been traded, and Doug Weight and Mike Sillinger are injured. Brendan Witt and Bill Guerin have been through this before and may go through it yet again, although the latter has a no-movement clause.
New York Rangers: Warm
They don't have a lot of room to work with thanks to overpaying Wade Redden, Markus Naslund and others, but GM Glen Sather is feeling the heat. Will Ryan Callahan, Nigel Dawes or Brandon Dubinsky have to go because the veterans are immovable? It will also be interesting to see if they give Dallas some minor compensation to avoid the coveted (by them) Sean Avery being claimed elsewhere on waivers.
Philadelphia Flyers: Cool
The Flyers had to waive 55-game player Glen Metropolit to make cap room, so they'd have to be pretty creative to make a deal. Martin Biron's recent play might have assuaged concerns in net.
Phoenix Coyotes: Warm
Defenceman Derek Morris figures to attract the most interest among the team's veterans. Steven Reinprecht is a UFA but is loved by the Coyotes for his leadership and two-way abilities.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Hot
It will be a disaster if the team with the top two leading point-getters misses the playoffs. Chris Kunitz may not be the last to arrive to provide help for Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. The Dany Sabourin for Mathieu Garon deal is still a head scratcher.
San Jose Sharks: Cool
After making significant moves the last two deadlines, general manager Doug Wilson should stand pat and send a psychological message to his team and its Western rivals that the Sharks are good enough to win the Cup. If anything, the team could use some young legs to occasionally spell their energy-line veterans, depending on Torrey Mitchell's progress.
St. Louis Blues: Warm
The question is whether the Blues will pawn off Keith Tkachuk for the second time in three seasons, although they shouldn't be expecting the bounty of three picks Atlanta coughed up in 2007. Jay McKee has been a healthy scratch in recent games.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Warm
Imagine if new GM Brian Lawton/Len Barrie/Oren Koules did nothing on deadline day after their whirlwind year of almost weekly transactions? Yeah, we can't either. The real question is if anyone flashier than usual deadline suspects Mark Recchi or Vinny Prospal will move.
It would be surprising if there's a big market for Michael Nylander, who's expensive, aging and slumping. Washington has matched up extremely well against Boston and New Jersey this season so it's unlikely they'll tinker much, even if hockey observers elsewhere look at their goaltending situation as not rock-solid.