As the shortened 2013 NHL season quickly reaches it half way point, now more than ever fans are starting to discuss who might get traded. With the NHL’s trade deadline now less than a month away, trades could start happening quickly, but it is going to take something big to make the market break open.
For the St. Louis Blues, the trade deadline may be of little consequence. While the Blues have been involved in rumors all season long, they currently sit at seventh in the West and second in the Central Division with just 21 games played so far. Currently the point difference between being in 3rd place to 14th place in the West is just six points. The Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks are running away with the Conference and the Columbus Blue Jackets are once again picking up the rear, but the Western Conference is a tightly packed group this season and every point matters.
With very few teams in the league willing to move proven players, there are starting to be signs of some sellers in the market. Once again the Columbus Blues Jackets may be willing to ship out any number of players and with a new management staff and general manager, the Blue Jackets will most likely be looking to add prospects that can help this team in the future rather than an overnight solution. In the East, the Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers are fairing even worse than the Jackets.
The Panthers GM Dave Tallon seems to recognize that he will need to start replacing some of the veterans with a younger cast and will look to cut his salary in the process. While the Blues and Panthers most likely will not be talking, Stephen Weiss will most likely be on the move and the Blues could be interested. At 29 years of age and playing in the Center, the Blues could use a guy like Weiss on their Top 9 to move around on the roster. With David Backes and Patrik Berglund as the main centers on this team, a third could truly help fill out the roster and possibly spell an end to Andy McDonald‘s time in St. Louis. As unlikely as it is, the Blues will most likely look for other partners to do business with as Weiss will have more than a few teams interested and Armstrong will not be willing to overpay for anyone. With Weiss scheduled to have wrist surgery and be out for the rest of the season though, I don’t think any team will be taking a chance by trading for him. The Panthers still might look elsewhere on their lineup to find players they can move.
The Washington Capitals will want to be doing something and quick. A team that just a few seasons ago was vying for the Stanley Cup is now tied for last overall in the NHL and is on their third coach in the last two seasons. Management will likely stick with Adam Oates behind the bench, but that means the players will be the ones to get moved. While there have been talks that Alex Ovechkin could probably use a change in scenery to become the player he once was, don’t look for Washington to trade their star player anytime soon. The coaching staff and management both agree the Ovi is a player they want to stick with as they see him regaining his form in the future.
The Capitals will have their hands full this offseason when Mike Ribeiro, Joey Crabb, Matt Hendricks, Wojtek Wolski, Eric Fehr, Aaron Volpatti, Roman Hamrlik, Tom Poti, and Jack Hillen all become unrestricted free agents. Add to that list Marcus Johansson, Karl Alzner, Tomas Kundratek, and Michal Neuvirth as they will become restricted free agents as well. If the Captials are hoping to rebuild this team, now might be the time to do it since only 13 players are signed through the 2013-14 season. With that many players possibly looking to walk, the Capitals could be the team to watch at the deadline.
Following the trade deadline the St. Louis Blues will have just 14 games left in their season, but with 28 available points it could be a big month. Take into consideration that seven of those games will be against division rivals, the Blues will want to make the most of the end of the year. The Blues season will end on April 27th at home against the Chicago Blackhawks in what could be a look into the first round of playoffs for the two teams.
No matter what happens in the next month it is sure to be entertaining. Keep your eyes peeled for upcoming trades and let us know if you think the Blues or any other teams should be looking to move players now rather than later.
As always, LET’S GO BLUES!