Dynasty Hockey League

Western Conference Trade Deadline Primer

In this seasons trade deadline primer, it appears this is the season of the Avalanche although the recent injury to MacKenzie Weegar is going to strain this roster as they will be running with only 5 defensemen up to the cap bump. As the past has taught us, regular season powerhouses are always vulnerable to post-season upsets and this year should likely yield an upset or two before a champion is eventually crowned.

Anaheim – presently sit in 12th and have already started the uploading process of expiring veterans with the pending move of Marcus Foligno. Other pieces of interest include Grant ($400k salary for 70 OV is one of the best contract values in the league), Mikael Granlund, Michael Stone and perhaps even Skinner could be moved as the GM looks collect picks, prospects and cash. This is a team on the cusp of being a contender.

Calgary – the Flames are currently tied for 5th and although they have the pieces to make major moves, there is a tendency to want to wait for all the youth to mature rather than acquire immediate high-end help to push all in. Managed correctly, that is a great plan to be a prolonged contender but they likely need to make a few moves before being a serious contender. Their biggest need to secure a chance for a deep playoff run would be to add a 4th line centre and learn from the experience. Again, this is a team with a bright future.

Chicago – losers of their past 8 games, the 13th seeded Blackhawks are not going to make the playoffs but after a full season at the helm, still no one has any ideas as to what the GM is planning for this team. Last season, rumours had Galchenyuk, Gostisbehere and Rittich available if the returns are right but although the GM had offers on all these pieces, he appears to have priced them out of the market and is stuck with three assets with declining value. A further miss on pending UFA Backstrom would be another lost opportunity to collect pieces for the future than could significantly impact the team in the long run.

Colorado – great regular season due to an off-season effort to strengthen a previous fugly defense; however, their mettle is about to be tested with the Weegar injury. Colorado will need bottom-pairing or farm talent such as Kulak, Coburn and Pysyk to elevate their games tremendously until the cap whereby we anticipate Colorado air-lifting in help. To do so will cost them picks as they possess a relatively barren prospect pool after being a contender for as long as I can remember. Solid team that should roll in the early rounds of the post-season.

Columbus –full-on tank in process with a new GM. We wish him luck as most pieces with any value have already been moved for 3rds and prospects. The team will continue to trade anything of value – well, almost anything. Any trade this team does make should be for cash returns given the wealth of prospects and picks they currently possess. The sit 14th and are holding an anvil over open water.

Dallas – presently tied for 5th in the conference after a 3 and 7 slide which was odd as I love the depth of this roster. The belief is that the GM is gauging the market but has been hesitant to make a major move to strengthen the team as given Dallas’ depth. Such a move will have to be for a star and those pieces tend to be pricy. I believe that Nicklas Backstrom could be a good addition for this roster at a reasonable price but given they have close to $7M in cap space at the bump, could they make a run at one of the league’s top goalies?

Detroit – as in past seasons, I have no idea what the 4th seeded team should do at this junction other than seek a star player to build around as they are another team that relies on depth rather than high-end skill packed on to the top line. Moves for high tier players tend to happen more often in the off-season and Detroit will need to stop squeezing nickels in order to find such a player. Regardless, they will make the post-season and maybe win a round.

Edmonton – we expect the tire fire that all teams must endure in order to complete a scorched earth rebuild will soon end in Edmonton. There are some nice pieces for the future to build around and another will soon arrive in the Y31 draft. Still this trade deadline will see the Oilers likely ship out Stepan and Thornton for more youth or lottery tickets as they battle Columbus, Philadelphia, the Rangers, Islanders and Pittsburgh for the top odds in the draft lottery.

Los Angeles – after another terrible start, LA has climbed to 9th in the conference. An early entrant to the trade deadline market place this season has seen LA do tremendous in acquiring Bergeron to fit a top-6 need and not so well in snagging DeAngelo. With $4M of cap space and a few solid trade chips, LA are poised to still be a big player at the trade deadline.

Minnesota – many expected Minnesota to crap right out this season but they have surprised most by holding a spot just outside the playoff bubble until recently. However, the slide is occurring as the Wild sit in 11th and the GM has made no secret that any and all vets can be moved regardless of contract duration. We expect that Tyler Johnson and Zuccerello will be the easiest pieces to move but wonder if an Evander Kane trade will bankrupt any party?

Nashville – never under estimate the value of goaltending as Connor Hellebuyck has carried a team void of pro caliber defensemen into the 2nd seed in the Western conference. Although the addition of Niskanen was sorely needed, our belief is that Nashville continues to hold the second spot but will be upset in the first round of the playoffs by a more balanced team.

St. Louis – it is interesting to see that St. Louis has no bench and have been double-teaming its top line all season but given the SIM settings, they have avoided any significant injuries and reside in 3rd. The goal of the Blues is to outscore their opponents and rely on Makar, Pionk and Price to shut the door on the opposition. As it’s worked for the most part, why change? If anything occurs with St. Louis at the trade deadline it’s expected that reserves will be added off waivers rather than through trades.

San Jose – the 7th seed Sharks have surprised many as the formula they have employed is built around one of the best defenses in the league. The forwarsd are above average but that goaltending is horrible. Still, if the season ended today they would face Nashville in the first round and my money would be on San Jose. Good goaltending is pricy but San Jose have the cap space and assets to land an improvement and also find the elusive fourth centre.

Vancouver – for a second consecutive season, Vancouver sits in a perilous spot heading into the trade deadline. Last season the Canucks crapped out and this team likely faces the same fate as Los Angeles seem to have righted the ship after another terrible start. So do the Canucks become sellers at the trade deadline as they have several pending UFAs and likely not enough cash to resign them all. Our belief is that the Canucks are a team about to transition to a re-tooling but it’s tough making the decision to commit to that while still in the last post-season slot.

Vegas – the 10th seed Golden Knights are expected to be motivated sellers at the trade deadline but must be cautious as to not price themselves out of the market. The market for $6M pending UFA defensemen is limited at the trade deadline and although the asking price is likely fair in the off-season when all teams have cap space, I don’t see a long line-up of potential suiters. There are plenty of buyers, but few have cap space to add significant pieces at this point of time in the season. Props to Vegas for making a solid effort this season when must expected the GM to just mail it in after arriving so late in the off-season.

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