After the Winter Olympics end, NHL teams will have just three days to tweak their rosters ahead of the March 3 trade deadline. Through ESPN Insider, ESPN The Magazine's E.J. Hradek and Puck Prospectus evaluate every team's roster and the surrounding whispers from NHL Rumor Central. This is how the Atlantic Division teams can improve in order to make a run at the playoffs, the Stanley Cup ... or for next season.
Pittsburgh's problem: Power-play scoring
One of the life's great mysteries is how a team with Crosby, Malkin and Sergei Gonchar can consistently feature one of the worst power-play units in the NHL (17.2 percent in 2008-09, 20th in the league; 16.0 percent in 2009-10, 26th). Although there certainly must be a great mind out there who could fix the Penguins' man-advantage blues -- Dan Bylsma has had a season and a half to prove he can't -- perhaps Shero could fix the problem by adding just the right player to the mix.
The guy to get: RW Teemu Selanne
We're going off the board a little here. Although Selanne has declined as an even-strength player, he would bring Pittsburgh the elite finishing skills -- pardon the pun -- that it sorely lacks on the man advantage. Adding Selanne (75 power-play goals and 70 even-strength goals since the lockout) would instantly boost the Penguins' troubled power play to respectability. Anaheim could use some solid players on the cheap in building toward its next contender if it decides to sell at the deadline.
For ESPN The Magazine's E.J. Hradek's take on possible trade acquisitions for the Pittsburgh Penguins as well as tradeable assets, click here.
For ESPN Rumor Central's take on possible trade targets for the Pittsburgh Penguins, click here.
New Jersey Devils
New Jersey's problem: An offensive defenseman
E.J. has his eye on the Devils' biggest flaw. Although they could use a better second-line center man, their scoring deficiencies really stem from an offensively inept group of defensemen. Aside from Andy Greene, New Jersey is devoid of any scoring-savvy blueliners. Only one Devils D-man has more than 11 points! Although it's nice to pick up a talent like Kovalchuk, in a team game like hockey, you cannot function with 40 percent of your skaters not contributing to the scoring effort.
The guy to get: D Tomas Kaberle
Yes, the Maple Leaf has a no-trade clause, but we think he'd prefer to skate for a shot at the Cup. The 31-year-old Czech's dynamic offensive skills would be just what the doctor ordered for the Devils: He ranks third in points (46) among NHL defensemen. As E.J. noted before, though, the Devils may be loath to part with more prime prospects, and that could be what it takes to pry Kaberle loose.
For ESPN The Magazine's E.J. Hradek's take on possible trade acquisitions for the New Jersey Devils as well as tradeable assets, click here.
For ESPN Rumor Central's take on possible trade targets for the New Jersey Devils, click here.
New York Islanders
New York's problem: Building for the future
The Isles were red-hot and looking like a surprise playoff contender only a few short weeks ago, but going 1-8-0 in a nine-game stretch shattered any such illusions. Wilting with the team has been 2009 first overall draft choice John Tavares (13 goals and 11 assists in his first 30 games but 4 goals and 5 assists in his next 30), who still should be a solid player for New York down the road. The Islanders need more young talent, which they could obtain by trading any veterans of value who won't be part of the solution in two to three years.
The guy to give up: D Mark Streit
The Islanders would have maximized Streit's trade value by dealing him this past offseason, but there's still time to get solid value for the 31-year-old Swiss defenseman who deserved to be a Norris Trophy finalist last season. Colorado, a surprise contender in the West, has been carried by the goaltending of Craig Anderson and could use quality upgrades everywhere else, especially on defense, if it's to advance in the Western Conference playoffs. Streit instantly would become the Avs' best defenseman and likely would bring a nice bounty of young prospects, with which Colorado is suddenly flush, in return.
For ESPN The Magazine's E.J. Hradek's take on possible trade acquisitions for the New York Islanders as well as tradeable assets, click here.
For ESPN Rumor Central's take on possible trade targets for the New York Islanders, click here.
New York Rangers
New York's problem: Lack of legit top-six forwards
The Blueshirts, who rank in the last quartile of NHL teams in scoring, would be in real trouble without MVP candidate Marian Gaborik, whose offensive stats (35 goals, 34 assists, 69 points, plus-11 rating) dwarf those of any other Ranger. Think about it: Ryan Callahan ranks second among Rangers with 15 goals, while only five Rangers have scored more than 10. Even with the pickup of Calgary Flames castaway Jokinen, New York still has room for another legitimate top-six forward, something it sorely lacks.
The guy to get: LW Alexei Ponikarovsky
With the focus on the bad and worse contracts of Michal Rozsival and Redden, New York doesn't get credit for its fine young defensive corps of Matt Gilroy, Daniel Girardi, Michael Del Zotto and Marc Staal, including quality defensive prospects Bobby Sanguinetti, Michael Sauer and Ryan McDonagh. Ergo, the Rangers have the depth to deal a replaceable player such as Dan Girardi -- who will be a restricted free agent in 2010-11 -- to a team such as the Leafs, who could use such a controllable asset. Ponikarovsky, Toronto's best impact forward after Phil Kessel, could provide the Broadway Blueshirts with that needed scoring punch.
For ESPN The Magazine's E.J. Hradek's take on possible trade acquisitions for the New York Rangers as well as tradeable assets, click here.
For ESPN Rumor Central's take on possible trade targets for the New York Rangers, click here.
Philadelphia's problem: Reliable goaltending
Holmgren rolled the dice going into the 2009-10 season, completely revamping his entire goaltending corps and turning what had been an unheralded strength into a complete uncertainty. Underrated goaltenders Martin Biron (29-19-5, .915 save percentage) and Antero Niittymaki (15-8-6, .912 save percentage) were moved out and replaced by bargain-basement choices Emery (12-13-4, .890 save percentage in 2007-08 before last season's exile to the Kontinental Hockey League) and Brian Boucher (.899 career save percentage in 264 games). Emery's at first promising, now injury-plagued campaign prompted Holmgren's pickup of Michael Leighton from the scrap heap. But how long can journeyman Leighton, with a career .901 save percentage, keep up a .925 clip?
The guy to get: G Tim Thomas
Never mind Turco, the Flyers need an elite fix at goaltender to push them to the level of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference. Who's to say Turco, Biron or Dwayne Roloson would be substantially better than a healthy Emery or a hot Leighton? If the Bruins and Flyers can persuade Tim Thomas to drop his no-movement clause, both teams could benefit from a trade. Last season's Vezina Trophy winner could make all the difference for Philadelphia, and the Flyers could part with some scoring -- an area in which Boston badly needs help -- in return. Although Simon Gagne has struggled to put it together this season for the Flyers, a proven scorer of his caliber is sorely needed on the lowest-scoring team in the NHL.
For ESPN The Magazine's E.J. Hradek's take on possible trade acquisitions for the Philadelphia Flyers as well as tradeable assets, click here.
For ESPN Rumor Central's take on possible trade targets for the Philadelphia Flyers, click here.
A version of this story originally appeared on ESPN Insider .
Timo Seppa runs the statistical hockey site Ice Hockey Metrics. Follow Timo on Twitter at @timoseppa.
Timo Seppa is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
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