NHL Trade Deadline Preview: West

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Weeks of rumors, innuendo, and e5s will finally come to a head on Wednesday. At 3pm Eastern, the NHL trade deadline will pass. You can follow all the activity with our NHL Trade Deadline Tracker.

Entering play Tuesday night, 23 NHL teams are either in a playoff position or within six points of one. While this is great for the playoff races, it's not so good for the deadline. It minimizes the number of potential sellers, drives up the trade market for the few players who should be available, and leaves us wondering if any big deals will go down. Here's a look at how the Western Conference looks heading into the deadline.

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San Jose Sharks

Record: 42-10-9, 93 points, 1st in West
Cap situation: Around $950,000 available
Needs: Defensive depth?

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson appeared on NHL Live Tuesday, and if he was planning anything notable, he did a good job of hiding it. I don't see a move this team could make, even if they wanted to.

Detroit Red Wings

Record: 41-14-8, 90 points, 2nd in West
Cap situation: Just over $100,000 available
Needs: Goaltending

The Wings could use some help in net, but they don't have any cap flexibility, and I see them standing pat.

Calgary Flames

Record: 37-19-6, 80 points, 3rd in West
Cap situation: Under $75,000 available
Needs: Two-way forward, defensive depth

With Daymond Langkow at least out for the Flames Eastern road trip, they should at least consider finding a way to add someone. The problem is the virtual lack of cap space. Calgary would have to give up equal salary to bring in a guy like Ryan Smyth, and there's no guarantee that doing so wouldn't open up another hole somewhere else on the roster.

Chicago Blackhawks

Record: 35-17-9, 79 points, 4th in West
Cap situation: Just short of $80,000 available
Needs: Scoring depth

The Blackhawks could try to make a move up front, but like Detroit, they lack any real cap flexibility.

Vancouver Canucks

Record: 32-22-8, 72 points, 5th in West
Cap situation: Just over $2.3 million available
Needs: Forward, top six defenseman

The Canucks could use a guy like Smyth, but it doesn't seem like anything more than a longshot. If they were floundering in the bottom half of the West, there may be talk of a Sedin trade, as the Canucks appear to be in trouble with that negotiation this summer. Vancouver could also use a guy like Leopold to help them out on defense. I'd be surprised if any kind of move was made, though. The Canucks know they can ride Roberto Luongo to the playoffs now.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Record: 31-26-6, 68 points, 6th in West
Cap situation: Around $6.6 million available
Needs: Puck-moving defenseman, top-six forward

Columbus has to find a way to score more goals. With Steve Mason still playing very well in goal, the Jackets can win a 2-1 or 1-0 game. However, if they want to succeed in the playoffs, they need to get a bit stronger up front. They could also use another defenseman with solid offensive instincts. A guy like Jordan Leopold could be a really good fit. Up front, there have been rumblings that Columbus was interested in Ottawa's Antoine Vermette or Toronto's Nik Antropov, but no deal appears imminent.

Edmonton Oilers

Record: 31-26-5, 67 points, 7th in West
Cap situation: Around $2.2 million available
Needs: Defense

I'd love to see Edmonton move for a defenseman to replace Lubomir Visnovsky, but nothing appears to be on the horizon. My guess is that they stand pat and hope they can slide into the playoffs with their young, speedy forwards and goaltender Dwayne Roloson.

Anaheim Ducks

Record: 31-28-5, 67 points, 8th in West
Cap situation: Just over $165,000 available
Needs: Forward depth, defense
Selling points: Defense

The Ducks are still rumored to be looking at a Chris Pronger deal, a concept that was made more realistic when they got Ryan Whitney from Pittsburgh last week. There is too much money invested in Jean-Sebastien Giguere to put him on the bench, but the defense and goatending have been quite subpar. It wouldn't be a surprise if Pronger was dealt to shake things up and free up more money for this summer.

Nashville Predators

Record: 31-28-4, 66 points, 9th in West
Cap situation: Just over $11.3 million available
Needs: Scoring

The Predators are in an interesting spot. Teams are generally not selling, but Nashville has surprised many with their play of late (seriously, 8-0?). They are on a 6-3-1 run in their last ten games, and they've charged into a spot where they could make a move to build a playoff team. However, what would that move be? Is Nashville going to give up young talent for a rental, or try to take on a contract like that of Smyth? Regardless, the Predators need to find more offense. They aren't going to face Detroit every night.

Minnesota Wild

Record: 30-26-5, 65 points, 10th in West
Cap situation: Just over $2.4 million available
Needs: Scoring
Selling points: Defense, backup goaltender

With Niklas Backstromin the fold for four more years, the Wild now have a decision to make with backup Josh Harding. Will they trade him before the deadline, or wait until the summer? Also, defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron is a free agent this summer, and since the Wild have some depth on the blue line, he could be expendable at the deadline. I know Wild fans are probably sick of hearing about the team not making deals for fresh scorers, but I don't see anything good coming up before the deadline. Of course, Harding could change all of that, because he has instantly become the most tradeable healthy player on the team.

Dallas Stars

Record: 29-26-7, 65 points, 11th in West
Cap situation: Just over $1 million available
Selling points: Top-six forwards

The Stars are slumping once again, and now there is talk of a selloff of sorts in Dallas. I don't buy it, but with how few teams are making legitimate scoring threats available, guys like Brad Richards and Mike Ribiero could bring a good return. Not only that, but trades could give Dallas some cap flexibility for this summer as they try to rebuild after the Sean Avery disaster.

St. Louis Blues

Record: 28-26-8, 64 points, 12th in West
Cap situation: Just over $3.8 million available
Needs: Defense
Selling points: Forward

I include the Blues on this list for a couple reasons. They've somehow gotten within three points of a playoff spot thanks to a 7-2-1 run. Also, they popped up over the weekend in the Pronger rumors. If all else fails, the Blues could decide they're not in the race and move Keith Tkachuk as a result.

Los Angeles Kings

Record: 26-27-9, 61 points, 13th in West
Cap situation: Short of $12.5 million
Needs: Scoring depth

The Kings have more cap room than anyone in the Western Conference, but it's not likely that they'll make a move. Management seems committed to the young talent, and the Kings have a ton of it that we haven't even seen in the NHL yet.

Phoenix Coyotes

Record: 27-31-5, 59 points, 14th in West
Cap situation: Short of $10.5 million available
Selling points: Forward, defense

Two names to think about here: Derek Morris and Olli Jokinen. A big-name guy like Ed Jovanovski isn't going anywhere, and neither are any of their young stars. Morris is a good, but not great, defenseman, and the Coyotes have been holding him out of the lineup lately as they look at a trade. I don't think Jokinen has been a good fit with this club. I've already mentioned that there simply aren't a lot of top-six forwards on the market, and Jokinen is going to be a valuable player as the deadline approaches.

Colorado Avalanche

Record: 28-35-1, 57 points, 15th in West
Cap situation: Short of $3.75 million available
Selling points: Forward, defense

Smyth has a lot of money coming due on his contract, and the Avalanche will have a hard time moving him and getting anything good in return. Leopold, on the other hand, is a free agent this summer and only carries a $1.5 million cap number for the season. I would be absolutely stunned if the Avalanche didn't move him. They will be targeting young goaltending with any move they make, as the system isn't rich and they don't have a number one on the NHL roster right now.

NHL Trade Deadline Preview: West originally appeared on NHL FanHouse on Tue, 03 Mar 2009 14:30:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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