With the NHL’s holiday roster freeze now in effect until midnight ET on December 27, here’s a look at the teams that could be active in the trade market soon after the freeze is lifted.
Arizona Coyotes. With 27 points in 32 games, the Coyotes are eight points out of playoff contention in the Western Conference. They could start dangling pending unrestricted free agents, such as center Martin Hanzal and right winger Radim Vrbata, as rental players. Trade speculation has dogged the 29-year-old Hanzal all season. The Ottawa Sun‘s Bruce Garrioch speculates the asking price for Hanzal could be a prospect and at least a second-round pick. There’s also talk struggling sophomore Anthony Duclair could be available.
Colorado Avalanche. With the league’s worst record (23 points in 31 games) this season, it’ll take a miracle for the Avs to rally back into playoff contention. GM Joe Sakic has preached patience but that could be coming to an end. A significant roster shakeup is in order. UFA Jarome Iginla could hit the trade block. Core players, such as left winger Gabriel Landeskog or center Matt Duchene, are starting to surface in the rumor mill.
Detroit Red Wings. After 25 consecutive playoff appearances, the Red Wings are in danger of falling out of postseason contention. With 32 points in 33 games, they’re five points out of a wild-card berth. The Wings are hampered by a popgun offense and limited skill on the blueline. GM Ken Holland recently told Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News he’s spoken with other GMs in search of help for his struggling team. With so many teams carrying limited salary-cap space, Holland has yet to find a deal.
New York Islanders. Dead last in the Eastern Conference with 30 points in 32 games, the Isles sit 11 points out of playoff contention. Newsday’s Arthur Staple suggests they start freeing up salary-cap space now by peddling some players to contending clubs. Problem is, they don’t have a lot to offer. GM Garth Snow attempted to move goalie Jaroslav Halak earlier this season but couldn’t find any takers. Staple wonders if defensemen Calvin de Haan and Thomas Hickey might attract some interest.
Tampa Bay Lightning. Projected to be a Stanley Cup contender this season, the Lightning sit two points out of a playoff berth with 35 points in 33 games. Injuries to veterans such as Steven Stamkos and Ryan Callahan haven’t helped, but they’re also getting inconsistent goaltending from Ben Bishop and must add another experienced top-four defenseman. It’s widely assumed Bishop, a pending UFA who was nearly dealt last summer to the Calgary Flames, could be swapped for a rental blueliner to bolster their playoff chances.
Vancouver Canucks. With 31 points in 33 games, the Canucks are four points out of a playoff spot. After nearly three seasons of trying to rebuild on the fly, management must finally acknowledge their roster needs a significant overhaul. GM Jim Benning’s had no success in his search for a 20-goal winger. He’s also painted himself into a corner by saying he won’t move of his players carrying no-trade clauses unless they ask him first.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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