The NHL’s Feb. 26 trade deadline is a little over two weeks away. As the date approaches, there’s growing speculation over which clubs could be potential buyers. Earlier this week, we examined the five Eastern Conference teams most like to jump into the trade market. Here’s a look at the top-five potential Western Conference buyers.
A Western Conference Finalist in two of the last three seasons, the Ducks sit just outside of a wild-card berth with 62 points in 55 games. General manager Bob Murray has a history as a trade-deadline buyer and could be busy leading up to Feb. 26.
Injuries walloped the Ducks lineup earlier this season, forcing them to play catch-up in the conference standings. While the roster is getting healthier, they could use some additional scoring punch. They’re 22nd in goals-for per game (2.76) and power-play percentage (18.3).
TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports Murray’s seeking a second- or third-line scoring winger and suggests Vancouver’s Thomas Vanek could be a fit. On Monday, NBC Sports’ James O’Brien included the Ducks among his list of possible suitors for New York Rangers winger Rick Nash. Other options could include Rangers forward Michael Grabner or Buffalo Sabres left wing Evander Kane.
Sitting outside a wild-card spot with 62 points in 53 games, the Flames have been dogged by inconsistency throughout this season. They recently followed up a seven-game winning streak by going 0-2-4 before defeating the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.
While the Flames possess offensive stars such as Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, secondary scoring is an issue. They’re 20th in goals-for per game (2.79) while their power-play percentage (17.2) sits 24th overall.
The Ottawa Sun‘s Bruce Garrioch reports the Flames have scouted the Senators for the past two weeks, perhaps watching forwards Zack Smith or Jean-Gabriel Pageau. TSN’s Frank Seravalli suggests Rangers winger Michael Grabner could bring some speed to their bottom two lines.
With 72 points in 52 games, the Predators are jockeying with the Winnipeg Jets for the Central Division lead. Having reached the Stanley Cup Final last spring, they could load up for a championship run.
While the Predators are a well-balanced club, there’s speculation they could seek a top-six scoring forward. Over the last two years, GM David Poile earned a reputation for making bold moves. He could pull off another significant trade by the deadline.
Newsday‘s Steve Zipay included Nashville among the list of possible destinations for New York Rangers winger Rick Nash. TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports the Predators have been checking out the Detroit Red Wings, suggesting forward Gustav Nyquist could become available.
St. Louis Blues
The Blues continue to transition toward a younger lineup. With 67 points in 55 games, they’re jostling with the Dallas Stars for third place in the tough Central Division.
Offensive depth at left wing, however, is an issue. Winger Robby Fabbri is out with a season-ending knee injury while Jaden Schwartz (ankle) recently returned from a 20-game absence. It’s affected the Blues’ scoring punch. Their 2.76 goals-for per game ranks 23rd in the league and their power-play percentage (16.0) has tumbled to 28th.
TSN’s Dave Poulin suggests the Blues could be a destination for Rangers winger Rick Nash, citing their depth in young assets to offer up as trade bait. On Jan. 29, The Athletic‘s Pierre LeBrun speculated the Blues could get into the bidding for wingers such as Montreal’s Max Pacioretty, Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman, and Buffalo’s Evander Kane.
After years as an also-ran, the Jets are among the conference’s best clubs. GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is rarely a trade-deadline buyer, but he could make a move or two to boost his team’s chances for a lengthy playoff run.
As with the other clubs on this list, the Jets could seek a top-six forward. Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos believes they could pursue a left wing for their top line and suggested the Rangers’ Rick Nash as a good fit. On Jan. 19, however, the Winnipeg Sun‘s Ken Wiebe suggested they could use a depth center and perhaps another defenseman.
With defenseman Jacob Trouba sidelined, there’s an assumption Cheveldayoff could pursue a short-term replacement. Kypreos’ colleague Elliotte Friedman, however, feels they have sufficient right-side depth to make due during Trouba’s absence. He thinks they could consider bringing in a left-side rearguard.
Stats and standings (as of Feb. 7, 2018) via NHL.com.