In the Central, any and all teams could be in a position to make the playoffs. Each year the Central is regarded as one of the tougher divisions in hockey. This year is a bit different in the sense that you have Nashville and Winnipeg at the top; St. Louis right in the middle, and Dallas, Colorado, Chicago and Minnesota all right there trying to get the two wild-card spots. Each of these teams would be looking to add at the deadline but for a select few buying may not be in this year’s plans.
Here is one trade each team in the Central division should make before Monday’s trade deadline.
- Winnipeg Jets- Acquire Matt Duchene –
UPDATE: The Senators have trade Matt Duchene to the Blue Jackets
The Jets have been at the top of the Central for the vast majority of the year. They also hold one of the league’s best offenses. So why trade for Matt Duchene? Well, the answer is simple. You can never have too much scoring.
Duchene has 27 goals on the season and would make the Jets the clear cut favorites in the Central if they weren’t already. A deadly combination of Mark Scheifele and Matt Duchene would wreak havoc the rest of the season. The Jets also have the cap space to take on Duchene’s $6 million cap-hit.
The Jets have all the piece necessary in order to acquire Duchene. They have good, young prospects and high draft picks. A combination of those is what it would take to get Duchene from Ottawa. If they do get Duchene and Laine starts putting the puck in the net again. This Winnipeg team will be deadly.
- Nashville Predators- Acquire Matt Duchene or Mark Stone – The Nashville Predators sit 2nd in the Central division and are in need of an offensive boost. A move for Duchene or Stone would be great for this team. Maybe if they are lucky enough they could get both. We know that Duchene is likely on his way out of Ottawa. Stone was recently offered an extension an if he chooses to decline it then he may be on his way out as well.
Duchene would be the Predators number two center and would immediately spark the offense. The same can be said for Mark Stone. Stone would slot well on the right side and would give Nashville another scoring threat. Stone has 28 goals on the year and would be a great addition for the Preds. If they were to acquire one of these two they could possibly try to sign them to an extension.
The Predators need help scoring. Acquiring Duchene, Stone, or both would greatly improve this team going forward. They have young players and good prospects in order to get a deal done. The addition of another pure goal scorer would increase this team’s chances of advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals for the second time in three years.
- St. Louis Blues- Acquire Semyon Varlamov – In the last couple of weeks the St. Louis Blues have saved their season. Winners of 11 straight games and now sit third in the Central division standings. As they look to continue their success they may want to look to add some reinforcements to saddle up for a playoff run. Current goalie Jordan Binnington is playing lights out hockey. Bringing in Semyon Varlamov as a backup might not be a bad idea.
Varlamov on the year has appeared in 40 games with the Colorado Avalanche. In those games, he has a 2.79 GAA and a .911 SV%. While the Blues do have Jake Allen, he is known for being inconsistent. Varlamov could come in and be Binningtons backup for the rest of the season. He is set to be a free agent at the end of the year so his $5.9 million cap hit would come off the books.
A trade for Varlamov would require sending Jake Allen to Colorado and throwing in another piece to the Avs. The Blues could very well stand pat at the deadline and feed of their growing success. But Varlamov could be a great acquisition to shore up the goalie position.
- Dallas Stars- Acquire Gustav Nyquist – The Dallas Stars need to make a trade to help with secondary scoring. Dallas averages just 2.5 goals per game which is ranked in the bottom three in the league. They should not go big at the deadline to get an Artemi Panarin or a Matt Duchene. There are a few smaller moves that they could make in order to get better secondary scoring. One of those guys could be Gustav Nyquist.
Nyquist on the season has played in 60 games for the Detroit Red Wings. In those games, he has 15 goals and 33 assists. That would put him in the top three in goals, assists, and points compared to the rest of the Dallas Stars. Nyquist would be a great addition to the 2nd line on the right wing and would work well with Jamie Benn
Dallas needs to play smart at the deadline and not put all their eggs in one basket. A few moves probably should be made but Nyquist would be a nice start. If Dallas wants to stay in a playoff position they are going to need to make a move and not stand pat like they did last season.
- Chicago Blackhawks- Stand pat – The Chicago Blackhawks are another team that has saved their season is recent weeks. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are playing some of the best hockey they have played in a while. Paired with the up and coming Alex Debrincat this team could find itself in the playoffs this season.
In all honesty, the best move for the Hawks is to not make a move at all. They have a lot of young guys that could make NHL impacts in the upcoming years. Those are not pieces you want to give up to get a rental just to see a first-round exit. The team still needs to upgrade their defense at the very minimum. They allow 3.49 goals per game which is 30th in the league. That can be an offseason acquisition.
All in all the Hawks should not make a move at all for the sake of their future. At this point, they may very well make the playoffs and kudos to them. Kane and Toews are playing tremendous hockey and this team could be a strong contender next year with some offseason additions.
- Colorado Avalanche- Trade Sven Andrighetto – Colorado is currently the 2nd wild card in the Western Conference. However, they have a good young team and would be silly to trade away young assets to try and win now. They don’t have many pieces that are very valuable. But they do have players that they could at least get something for.
Sven Andrighetto will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season. He has four goals and five assists on the year. He carries a small cap hit of $1.4 million. What he could bring to a team is depth. He could be a nice bottom-six guy to round out some rough edges.
While the Avalanche shouldn’t ask for a big return for Andrighetto they could at least get something for him. If they have intentions of resigning him this offseason then they should keep him. Otherwise, give him a chance with another team to see if he can spark some game there.
- Minnesota Wild- Trade Eric Staal – The Wild have entered full sell mode. They started with shipping off Charlie Coyle to the Boston Bruins Wednesday evening. The Wild should continue to look and sell some of their other pieces before Monday’s deadline. Next in line should be Eric Staal
Staal is 34 years old and is in his third season with Minnesota. He is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Staal carries a modest cap hit of $3.5 million. Staal has 17 goals and 20 assists on the year. Barring anything unforeseen he should reach the 20 goal mark for the 11th time in his career.
There are a few others the Wild could consider shipping off but Staal is the guy that should be dealt next. With the Wild starting to sell days before the deadline makes you think they have a few more moves up their sleeve.
Cover photo credit: hookedonhockeymagazine.com
Chris Bugajsky covers the Dallas Stars and the NHL for Full Press Coverage. Follow Chris on twitter @CBugajsky14.