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 Central Division teams can improve in order to make a run at the playoffs, the Stanley Cup ... or for next season.
Detroit Red Wings
Detroit's problem: Scoring
It wasn't long ago that offense was a strength for this team. Aside from forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, this team is hard-pressed to find players who can create good scoring opportunities. The Red Wings are a subpar 19th in goals-for per 60 minutes (2.2).
The guy to get: RW Teemu Selanne
With Anaheim's struggles and Teemu Selanne about to become a free agent, Detroit might be able to fit him into its crowded cap picture. Selanne (his .49 goals per game) would automatically become one of the better scoring threats for Detroit. The Wings won't be able to compete for the Central Division crown no matter what they do, but this would give them a better chance of making the playoffs.
For ESPN The Magazine's E.J. Hradek's take on possible trade acquisitions for the Detroit Red Wings as well as tradeable assets, click here.
For ESPN Rumor Central's take on possible trade targets for the Detroit Red Wings, click here.
Chicago's problem: Goaltending
The Chicago Blackhawks are great on both offense and defense, but if they want to win a championship they'll need someone other than Cristobal Huet and his disappointing .903 save percentage in net. Luckily for the Blackhawks, the defense has been amazing, which has masked how bad the goaltending has been. Still, in a potential Blackhawks-Sharks Western Conference final, Chicago would not be looking forward to having Huet square off against Evgeni Nabokov, the current leader in our player rankings. Despite whispers in ESPN's NHL Rumor Central stating that the Hawks are considering a big-time blueliner like Scott Niedermayer, Chicago should focus its resources on improving its primary weakness rather than its primary strength.
The guy to get: G Dan Ellis
In an ideal world, the Blackhawks would trade for either 26-year-old Pekka Rinne, who despite his struggles could be a good long-term solution, or acquire Turco. Unfortunately, the Predators are not looking to rebuild, are likely heading for a midseed playoff berth, and all indications point to Rinne being their long-term starter assuming he re-signs. As for Turco and his $5.4 million salary, Chicago would need to find a way to fit him into its payroll with only room for nearly $500,000 left to play with under the cap. Rinne's Nashville teammate, Dan Ellis, who was great two years ago, might be easier to obtain and Nashville could use a guy like Patrick Sharp, one of the big contracts that has been rumored to be heading out of Chicago.
For ESPN The Magazine's E.J. Hradek's take on possible trade acquisitions for the Chicago Blackhawks as well as tradeable assets, click here.
For ESPN Rumor Central's take on possible trade targets for the Chicago Blackhawks, click here.
Nashville's problem: Goaltending
Ironically, the Predators' goaltending has been bad this season. Whichever goalie they trade, they could certainly stand to bring in a talented veteran between the pipes. Nashville will need to improve on its goals-allowed per game of 2.77, which is only 17th best in the NHL.
The guy to get: G Marty Turco
With just over $13.5 million remaining in cap room, the Predators would have no problem taking on Marty Turco's $5.4 million salary for the remainder of the season, particularly if he'll help snag some playoff revenue. Turco would greatly help their chances of getting into the playoffs and winning a playoff round. After a disastrous 2008-09 campaign, Turco has rebounded to post a respectable .915 save percentage.
For ESPN The Magazine's E.J. Hradek's take on possible trade acquisitions for the Nashville Predators as well as tradeable assets, click here.
For ESPN Rumor Central's take on possible trade targets for the Nashville Predators, click here.
St. Louis Blues
St. Louis' problem: Scoring
If there's one team that has more scoring troubles than Detroit, it's St. Louis. Last year many players had career seasons, but this season reality has set in: This is not as good of a team as many thought it was. The Blues are 20th in goals-for (163) and tied for 19th in goals-for per 60 minutes at even strength (2.2).
The guy to get: C Saku Koivu
Puck Prospectus isn't ready to give up on the postseason just yet. Only four points out of the final playoff spot, the Blues would get a solid offensive addition in Koivu. He won't turn St. Louis into a Stanley Cup contender and paying part of his $3.25 million salary isn't ideal, but he'd be around for only the remainder of the 2009-10 season. He would improve the Blues' shots-for per 60 minutes at even strength, which currently is 28.6, bring up the Blues' goals-for, and add another dynamic element to this St. Louis offense.
For ESPN The Magazine's E.J. Hradek's take on possible trade acquisitions for the St. Louis Blues as well as tradeable assets, click here.
For ESPN Rumor Central's take on possible trade targets for the St. Louis Blues, click here.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Columbus' problem: Um, everything?
The Columbus Blue Jackets are a bit of a mess right now. This team has too many holes to contend right now and should instead focus its energy on trading some key players who could improve the team's young core for the future.
The guys to give up: LW Kristian Huselius, LW Fredrik Modin, C Samuel Pahlsson and LW R.J. Umberger
Moving Huselius, probably the third-best player on Columbus, could be an unpopular move. However, the left winger is already 30 years old and is making $4.75 million for the next two-and-a-half seasons. In this NHL economic market, you'd expect twice the production Huselius has provided this season. The Blue Jackets should look to collect draft picks and prospects in exchange for the overpaid player. Another player whose departure would anger many Blue Jackets fans is Umberger, but his production-to-salary ratio is out of balance as well. With his salary rising by $500,000 for each of the next two seasons, he will hurt this organization more in the long term than help. If Columbus really wants to improve this team, it would consider dealing him as well.
For ESPN The Magazine's E.J. Hradek's take on possible trade acquisitions for the Columbus Blue Jackets as well as tradeable assets, click here.
For ESPN Rumor Central's take on possible trade targets for the Columbus Blue Jackets, click here.
A version of this story originally appeared on ESPN Insider .
Andrew Rothstein is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
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