During last month’s NHL holiday roster freeze, we listed the Detroit Red Wings, New Jersey Devils, Los Angeles Kings, Chicago Blackhawks and Ottawa Senators as clubs expected to become sellers once the calendar flipped to 2020.
In the weeks since several other teams have found their playoff hopes fading as they lose ground in the standings. With the Feb. 24 trade deadline less than six weeks away, here’s a look at those likely to join the list of sellers in the coming weeks.
Mired at the bottom of the Western Conference standings with the lowly Kings, the Ducks lack the scoring punch to rise into playoff contention. Only the Detroit Red Wings have tallied fewer goals (100) than the Ducks (116) this season. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Saturday they’re willing to use their salary-cap space to help cap-strapped teams, provided they’re willing to part with good, young assets. They could attempt to peddle pending free agents like Ryan Miller and Michael Del Zotto.
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Despite the best efforts of superstar center Jack Eichel, the Sabres are slowly sinking out of playoff contention in the Eastern Conference. They’ve already shaken things up earlier this month by shipping defenseman Marco Scandella to Montreal for a fourth-round pick, then flipping that pick to Calgary for winger Michael Frolik. Blueliner Zach Bogosian and forward Evan Rodrigues have requested trades. Pending UFAs such as wingers Conor Sheary, Zemgus Girgensons and Jimmy Vesey could soon be shopped for draft picks.
Two eight-game winless skids since late November sent the Canadiens tumbling out of playoff contention in the Eastern Conference. Le Journal de Montreal’s Michel Bergeron suggested shopping high-salaried stars Carey Price and Shea Weber, but that’s not going to happen. Pending UFAs like Nate Thompson and the recently-acquired Scandella could be shopped, along with recently-signed Ilya Kovalchuk if he keeps up his point-per-game pace. Leading scorer Tomas Tatar could also hit the block if GM Marc Bergevin anticipates a difficult contract negotiation before his UFA eligibility next year.
It’s been an up-and-down season for the Wild. They overcame a poor start to play themselves into playoff contention by mid-December, but a recent string of losses has them once again sliding toward the lower reaches of the Western Conference. First-year GM Bill Guerin has yet to make a significant trade, but his hand could be forced if the Wild fail to regain their lost ground in the standings. There’s talk the Pittsburgh Penguins could attempt to revisit last spring’s failed attempt to acquire winger Jason Zucker.
New York Rangers
The rebuilding Rangers are showing improvement this season, but they still need work to become a reliable playoff contender. Power forward Chris Kreider is due to become a free agent in July. He’ll attract plenty of attention if he hits the trade block, but there’s no indication that the Rangers intend to go that route just yet. Meanwhile, Sportsnet’s Friedman added Saturday they’re willing to listen to offers for backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev. Contenders in need of goalie depth, such as the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs, could come calling.
San Jose Sharks
Like the Wild, the Sharks overcame a lousy start to climb back into the playoff race, only to stumble in recent weeks. Now hovering near the bottom of the Western Conference, and with leading scorer Logan Couture sidelined by a fractured ankle, GM Doug Wilson could go into sell mode soon. The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz considers pending UFAs Brenden Dillon and Melker Karlsson as trade candidates. Winger Kevin Labanc will seek a raise after taking a one-year, $ 1-million contract last summer, which could also make him trade bait.