Last week, we provided a complete overview of the Central Division's buyers and sellers. Here's an update on where things stand a week later as the trade deadline closes in, from the divisional leaders on down:
The Blackhawks are in good position heading into the deadline, looking primarily for depth, which is typically how general manager Stan Bowman handles the deadline. Dustin Byfuglien's new contract with the Winnipeg Jets effects Chicago in that it all but assures Winnipeg will move Andrew Ladd. Bowman has proved he's not afraid to bring back a former Chicago contributor (hey, Kris Versteeg!), and Ladd would provide the kind of depth the Blackhawks need up front.
Dallas Morning News beat writer Mike Heika threw an interesting name into the trade mix when he suggested the Stars would be willing to move the talented Valeri Nichushkin in a blockbuster. The Stars could use additional experience on defense, and dangling Nichushkin should get the attention of other general managers. The problem is that he's not the kind of player you deal for a rental, and there aren't many nonrental defensemen available.
The Blues suffered a blow when Alex Pietrangelo went down because of a knee injury. He was put on injured reserve and could sit out a month, which will limit GM Doug Armstrong's trade deadline options. Pietrangelo's injury makes it really, really hard to trade Kevin Shattenkirk, even if that might be in the best long-term interests of the team. It's looking more and more likely that any Shattenkirk deal will take place in the offseason.
Adam Vingan of the Nashville Tennessean suggested Scott Hartnell as a nice fit in Nashville, and I agree. The Predators need help on the wing and Hartnell is certainly a player with whom GM David Poile is familiar. The Columbus Blue Jackets are definitely willing to move him, and the expectation in Columbus is that there will be interest in him. He's trending the right way, averaging 0.35 goals per game with the Blue Jackets for the best ratio of his career. The problem is that he has three years remaining on a contract that has a cap hit of $4.75 million per season. The positive is that the Predators aren't a cap team, and Hartnell's actual salary starts declining in the final two years of his deal, down to $3 million in 2018-19.
The Avs are right in the middle of the Central Division turtle race, fighting for the next spot behind the big three of Chicago, Dallas and St. Louis. For a team as talented as it is up front, Colorado has struggled to score goals, especially at even strength, where it ranks 22nd with an even-strength goals-for percentage of 48.1. If it continues, it might just frustrate coach Patrick Roy and executive vice president of hockey operations Joe Sakic enough to take a serious run at disgruntled Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin, even if the bigger need is on defense.
Nothing new here: The Wild still need help up front. GM Chuck Fletcher is trying, and he would like a center, but there aren't any available. There's going to be pressure to acquire a player such as Boston Bruins forward Loui Eriksson, but the last thing the Wild need is another aging forward, even if Eriksson would be the best of the group. The Wild need an injection of speed and skill into its top six, and that's not easy to find.
The new deal for Byfuglien means it's open season on Andrew Ladd trade speculation, and it's absolutely in the Jets' best interests to move Ladd to the highest bidder. The more interesting decision surrounds defenseman Jacob Trouba, whom the Jets might be more willing to trade now that Byfuglien is locked up long term. The Jets have to decide if Trouba is worth the big price tag he could demand this summer as a restricted free agent, or if they're better off using him in a deal for Travis Hamonic or another cost-controlled veteran.