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Trade Deadline Preview: Atlantic Division needs, availability and trade bait

The big names on the board are Senators standouts Mark Stone and Matt Duchene, but with three should-be buyers in the Maple Leafs, Lightning and Bruins, the Atlantic Division is one to keep an eye on.

BOSTON BRUINS

Cap Space: $4.0 million

Needs: Secondary offense to supplement arguably the best line in the NHL. Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak had combined for 42 percent of the Bruins’ goals.

Availability: Boston has a glut of NHL-caliber defensemen on its roster, which is never a bad thing. If the Bruins don’t deal one of them for offensive help, the worst-case scenario is they’ll be well stocked at that position for a playoff run.

UFAs: Z. Chara (D), N. Acciari (C), S. Kampfer (D)

Trade Bait: If the Bruins are going to get the kind of impactful offensive player they need for the post-season, teams that are calling are going to be inquiring about young defensemen Matt Grzelcyk or Brandon Carlo. Grzelcyk is 25 and has an attractive salary-cap hit of just $1.4 million for one more season, while Carlo is coming out of his entry-level deal.

BUFFALO SABRES

Cap Space: $3.3 million

Needs: The Sabres were expected to be dynamic, but offensively, they’re middling at best, largely because their supporting cast of forwards has been so disappointing. They’re also young and raw on defense and sometimes it shows.

Availability: The Sabres have four first-round selections over the next two years, but it’s doubtful they’d part with any picks or prospects.

UFAs: J. Skinner (LW), J. Pominville (RW)

Trade Bait: This is a tough one for the Sabres because of the uncertainty. If they’re out of the playoff race by the deadline, they’ll need to have a long talk with Jeff Skinner to see what his future plans are. If they aren’t in and Skinner can’t commit, he would be one of the most coveted rentals on the market: he was on pace for 50 goals and 75 points.

DETROIT RED WINGS

Cap Space: $0.0 million

Needs: Everything everywhere. The Red Wings are the midst of a painful rebuild that has no clear end in sight.

Availability: There is a lot from which to choose, but the problem is the rest of the league isn’t interested because the players are too old/unproductive and on long-term deals.

UFAs: G. Nyquist (RW), J. Howard (G), T. Vanek (LW), N. Kronwall (D), N. Jensen (D), L. Witkowski (RW)

Trade Bait: His days of being a high-20s goal-scorer are behind him, but there’ll be a market for Gustav Nyquist. And of course there’s wash-rinse-repeat Thomas Vanek, who was born to be dealt at the deadline. GM Ken Holland has been loathe to trade players at the deadline for pennies on the dollar, but he won’t get much other than futures for what he has to offer.

FLORIDA PANTHERS

Cap Space: $3.2 million

Needs: In their first 47 games, the Panthers gave up three or more goals 32 times. They need players who can help them to defend better.

Availability: They have a glut of offensive D-men. Might they be willing to part with Mike Matheson to bring in someone who knows what it’s like to play meaningful games and win them?

UFAs: J. McGinn (LW), T. Brouwer (RW), B. Kiselevich (D), M. Haley (LW)

Trade Bait: If the Panthers want to get serious about fetching a big return, they might want to consider dangling sharpshooter Mike Hoffman. The 29-year-old won't exactly be a rental as he has one more year at $5.19 million remaining on his contract, but teams looking to add an impact winger could do a lot worse than Hoffman.

MONTREAL CANADIENS

Cap Space: $9.7 million

Needs: Even though the Canadiens have rebounded more quickly than anyone could have imagined, it’s still all about the future in Montreal. They addressed their center situation but need more depth at forward and defense.

Availability: GM Marc Bergevin has already clearly stated he has no interest in trading a high pick or prospect, so that really just leaves depth players and a few veterans.

UFAs: J. Benn (D), A. Niemi (G)

Trade Bait: If you believe Jordie Benn is never going to be as good as he has been this season, and that would be a fair statement, now would be the time to move the pending UFA for perhaps a second-round draft pick. Benn is having a career year at 31 and has been a defensive stalwart while also making a surprising offensive contribution. He’s on pace for career highs in goals and points.

OTTAWA SENATORS

Cap Space: $7.5 million

Needs: You can’t get a new owner or arena at the deadline, so the Sens will settle for picks or prospects, particularly D-men. They could use a replacement first-rounder for this year.

Availability: There is no shortage of talent available for teams interested in a high-quality rental.

UFAs: M. Duchene (C), M. Stone (RW), R. Dzingel (LW), A. Nilsson (G), M. Paajarvi (LW), J. Falk (D)

Trade Bait: Any team looking for secondary scoring, and there’s a lot of them, would love to add Matt Duchene if it looks as though he won’t re-sign long-term. Or Selke candidate Mark Stone. Or the underrated Ryan Dzingel, who will turn 27 this March and is on his way to a career year. The Senators are very well positioned to obtain futures at the deadline.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

Cap Space: $1.7 million

Needs: The top-four on defense is set, but what the Lightning need is depth, preferably a quiet, stay-at-home blueliner who can provide stability.

Availability: The Lightning have some good young forwards with plenty of promise and more on the way, which will make it hard to find spots for all of them in the future.

UFAs: A. Stralman (D), D. Girardi (D), B. Coburn (D)

Trade Bait:Adam Erne was a kid who was a tweener until this season when he secured a semi-regular spot with the Lightning. Based on his pedigree, if he were in an organization that wasn’t so loaded at forward, he might flourish. And he might be able to land the Lightning that under-the-radar guy every great team needs to get over the hump.

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

Cap Space: $4.0 million

Needs: The Leafs bolstered their top four on ‘D’ with experienced two-way stalwart Jake Muzzin. He’s a left shot, though. Will Toronto keep looking for a righty or have a lefty play the right side?

Availability: Toronto has an abundance of youthful talent, both on their roster (Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson) and among their futures.

UFAs: J. Gardiner (D), R. Hainsey (D), P. Lindholm (LW), M. Marincin (D)

Trade Bait: It’s strange that their most tradable commodity would be a defenseman given they just acquired one, but 19-year-old Timothy Liljegren is already a second-year pro with a Calder Cup to his name. The Leafs’ Stanley Cup window is wide open at the moment and they would be able to deal Liljegren and still have 2018 first-rounder Rasmus Sandin.

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