Wednesday, April 7, 2021

In the final days before the deadline, who’s under the most pressure to make a deal?

We’re down to less than a week until the trade deadline, and do you know who needs to make a deal? (Checks notes.) Everyone. Pretty much every team needs to find a move or two, at least according to their fans. And those fans are probably right, because there are no perfect teams in the modern NHL, so there’s always room for improvement.

But while everyone should do something, not all trade deadline pressure is created equal. Some teams want to make a move. Some should make a move. But some teams need to do something, and preferably something big. If they don’t, well, those GMs aren’t going to have a very good month.

We really don’t know what to expect over the next few days. The cap is tight, almost nobody has money to spend, the playoff bubble somehow has like three teams, and there may be more sellers than serious buyers. What does that mean? No idea, but let’s run through the entire league and work our way up to the ones under the most pressure to get something done. We’ll use some categories along the way, as we make our way through all 32 teams. Yes, 32. We’ll get to that.

The situation we’ve never seen before

Before we get to the rest of the list, we have to single one team out.

#32. Vancouver Canucks

In theory, Jim Benning and the Canucks should be staring down several tough deadline decisions after a disastrous season. But with a team-wide COVID-19 outbreak impacting players, staff, and families, all bets are off. How do you trade somebody away during this sort of situation? How do you bring somebody into it? I’m not sure you can. We’ve never this before, and here’s hoping we never see it again. The league and its business marches on, but if Benning decided that the Canucks had far bigger things to worry about right now, nobody could blame him.

Sellers without much to sell

The deadline can be kind of fun when your team is bad and you’re just collecting picks and prospects. But when you don’t really seem to have any big names on the block, you’re mostly left to make minor deals.

#31. Ottawa Senators

The Senators will almost certainly do something, because Pierre Dorion is low-key one of the most active traders in the league. But this isn’t the Mark Stone/Matt Duchene storm of 2019, so unless Dorion’s got a surprise up his sleeve, he’s probably taking calls on Erik Gudbranson and maybe Ryan Dzingel, and those names don’t scream blockbuster. The Derek Stepan injury hurts here.

#30. Detroit Red Wings

The Wings have a little more to offer, with the annual Luke Glendening sweepstakes and at least some potential for a Jonathan Bernier move. But for the most part, Steve Yzerman can make a few minor moves and then focus on losing the lottery again the offseason.

Contenders that are already really good

There’s always deadline pressure on the contenders, who are expected to make that one last move that will put them over the top. But these teams are already close to the top, which means that if they chose to stand pat (or swung big and came up empty), they could justify it.

#29. Tampa Bay Lightning

Julien BriseBois had a strong deadline last year, adding Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman, and both are still on the roster. You only get so many shots at a Cup, so you could understand if BriseBois wanted to keep pushing all-in and chase down a name like David Savard. But if he said he was sticking with what he’s got, could you blame him?

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