As the NHL season is nearly at it’s halfway mark, and we are about 36 days until the All-Star break and 66 days until the trade deadline, the buyers and sellers of the NHL have to start coming out. As of now, their has to be some teams that are potential buyers at the trade deadline, and some teams that are sellers. For the sake, of enjoyment and readability, we’ll discuss the buyers for today.
Buyers: Washington Capitals
Need: Top Five/Six Defenseman
The Capitals were a team that faced some scrutiny prior to the start of the season, and after 35 games they have in a way silenced the doubters. They currently sit tied for the top spot in the Metropolitan division and rank 8th in the NHL. The Capitals offense plus Braden Holtby has been a major reason for their success, luckily their blue line has not caused too many blunders to result in some poor losses. With a defense consisting of Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, John Carlson, Dimitry Orlov in the top four it does in fact rank up well among other teams. But the Capitals lack defensive depth as Christian Djoos, Madison Bowey, and Taylor Chorney are not going to be reliable defenseman come playoff time. The Capitals are playing exceptional right now and it would make total sense for them to go out and try to buy low on a five, six defensemen to really solidify that d-core and add some balance to the blue line. The Capitals have a couple of 2nd, 3rd, 4th round picks they could shed for a defenseman, and maybe a prospect, but who would they go after. That is unknown right now.
Buyers: New York Islanders
Now the Islanders are an exciting bunch to watch this season and have a ton of offensive depth right now, but a statistic I’m sure many of you have already heard is that the Islanders score the second most goals(123) in the NHL but also allow the second highest goals against(124). One cannot simply sit there and defend the Islanders goal tending, Tomas Greiss has been terrible and Jaraslov Halak has been terrible, plain and simple. Halak has 9 wins, allows 57 goals, 3.07 GAA and .903 save percentage. Greiss has 9 wins, allows 64 goals against, 3.83 GAA and .883 save percentage. Greiss as we can tell has been worse then Halak this season but both are terrible. Greiss is borderline posting the worst numbers for any goaltender in the league. The Islanders need to address this problem ASAP before it gets too late. A defenseman would not hurt also as Calvin De Haan went down for the season(allegedly) the Islanders are now playing Dennis Seidenberg more, which has not panned out too well thus far. The Islanders NEED a goaltender desperately though because if this team wants any shot at a playoff run, doing it with either goalie is not going to work. Example, look at Thursday night, Islanders scored four goals(again) and lost. The Islanders have allowed four or more goals in 15 of the 35 games this season. They need a goalie bad.
Buyers: Los Angeles Kings
Need: Depth Scoring
The Kings are an unexpected gem this season, currently first in the Pacific division and riding high right now. With the way the Kings season is going, I don’t think there is any sign of them falling off, with the goal tending they have received, plus the production from Anze Kopitar, the Kings look to be a playoff team. The Kings were another team that had relatively low expectations coming into this season, after Kopitar’s fluke of a season in 2016-17, and not really upgrading their team too much in the off season the Kings were more than likely a team you may have wrote off(I did). Well after 36 games the Kings have a 22-10-4 record, Kopitar has 17 goals, 23 assists, Quick is posting Vezina like numbers with 17 wins, 2.23 GAA and .928 save percentage and they have 7 players with 18 plus points. It makes complete sense for the Kings to go out and get another depth scorer, Marian Gaborik is old and injury prone, Jussi Jokinen is well not the best anymore. It would be smart for the Kings to go after someone to help them on the front end even more.
Buyers: Vegas Golden Knights
Need: More Scoring? Five/Six Defenseman?
This is something I never thought I would write, the Golden Knights buyers during their first season ever. Now to come clean, I had the Golden Knights finishing bottom of the pack and not a playoff team whatsoever. I have been proven wrong, and I know many others can back me up and say they too did not see this start from Vegas. Well, after 33 games the Golden Knights are second in the Pacific division, two points behind L.A, and are ranked 3rd in the NHL. Now, Vegas has plenty of scoring depth and players that have been off to unreal season thus far, along with defenseman who have been playing great. But, it never hurts to go out and add even more depth to the line up, it would not hurt Vegas to go out and get another top six forward or bottom six forward, or even a five, six defenseman. I mean they do have a million draft picks lined up for the next several years, giving up a few won’t kill them. But to the understanding that they are building for the future still, and have a lot of contracts to sign after this season, maybe giving up some of those picks is not the smartest. Hey, I’m no George McPhee or head coach, but if the team is rolling like this, the confidence is high and the window is there than why not give it a shot. They have a ton of young talent, and it would be amazing to see this team make a playoff run. Not saying it is going to happen, but hey, it is not the dumbest idea.