With the NHL trade deadline on Feb. 27 fast approaching, we have taken a look at the situations with each of the seven Canadian clubs. The Vancouver Canucks have slipped into our hot seat on Saturday.
The Situation: The Canucks will make the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season, but can they find their way back to the final? Of the previous six losers in the Stanley Cup final, only the 2007-08 Pittsburgh Penguins have been able to get back to the final the next spring and win ... Vancouver has a challenging week ahead with five games in seven nights, beginning with an outing at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday ... Canucks general manager Mike Gillis bolstered his second line with an October acquisition of left wing David Booth. Since he returned from a knee injury last month, Booth has played much better with six goals and 10 points in 12 games ... There has been speculation that the Canucks are one of the teams in the hunt for Rick Nash. Vancouver does have plenty of desirable young players to give up in such a trade, but Nash's $7.8-million US salary will be difficult to fit in the Canucks payroll with all the other high-priced talent ... The Canucks are more apt to make a simpler move, like adding depth on the blue line or a bottom-six forward.
Playoff hopes: No stress here. They have a 15-point bulge over the Calgary Flames for the Northwest Division lead and remain in second place in the Western Conference, four points behind the Detroit Red Wings with two games in hand.
Schedule: 25 games remaining (14 home, 11 road)
At Home: Toronto, St. Louis, Buffalo, Dallas, Winnipeg, Montreal, Phoenix, Columbus, Los Angeles, Colorado, Dallas, Calgary, Anaheim, Edmonton.
On the Road: Edmonton, Nashville, Detroit, New Jersey, Dallas, Phoenix, Minnesota, Chicago, Dallas, Colorado, Calgary.
Restricted free agents: Mason Raymond, Dale Weise, Cory Schneider.
Unrestricted free agents: Byron Bitz, Aaron Volpatti, Andrew Ebbett, Sami Salo, Aaron Rome, Alexander Sulzer.
No-trade clauses: Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Manny Malhotra (limited), Kevin Bieksa, Dan Hamhuis, Sami Salo, Roberto Luongo.
Cap space: No space.
On the farm: There isn't much room on the big club right now. Defenceman Chris Tanev was promoted to replace an injured Keith Ballard, and the Canucks know that forwards Mark Mancari, Steven Reinprecht, Billy Sweatt, Mike Duco and Victor Oreskovich have NHL experience and can help in a pinch. Smallish 5-foot-9, 180-pound forward Jordan Schroeder, the Canucks 2009 first-round pick, has yet to play in the NHL. But he's likely to get a shot down the stretch.
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