After the Winter Olympics end, NHL teams will have just three days to tweak their rosters ahead of the March 3 trade deadline. Through ESPN Insider, ESPN The Magazine's E.J. Hradek and Puck Prospectus evaluate every team's roster and the surrounding whispers from NHL Rumor Central. This is how the Pacific Division teams can improve in order to make a run at the playoffs, the Stanley Cup ... or for next season.
San Jose Sharks
San Jose's problem: Goaltending depth
There haven't been too many problems for the Western Conference-leading Sharks this season. The team has been excellent at both scoring and preventing goals, at even strength and on special teams. Blue-line depth was an area of concern the Sharks addressed by adding Wallin. Perhaps the only remaining weakness is at backup goaltender. Thomas Greiss has played only 18 career NHL games and, in three seasons in the AHL, had a save percentage of just .901. Nabokov leads the NHL in our current player power rankings; if he goes down, the Sharks will be a significantly weaker team. Coming off the Olympics, it would be nice for Nabokov to get some rest.
The guy to get: G Martin Biron
Adding Biron would give the Sharks a solid backup goaltender, and he likely would be a cheap pickup, given his poor numbers this season (4-11-2, 3.24, .899). However, Biron's win-loss record looks worse than it should because of horrible goal support, and Biron's .917 save percentage over the past two seasons gives him a good recent track record. Biron would never play a meaningful game anyway, but San Jose should ensure that it won't be completely derailed by an injury to its workhorse starting goalie.
For ESPN The Magazine's E.J. Hradek's take on possible trade acquisitions for the San Jose Sharks as well as tradeable assets, click here.
For ESPN Rumor Central's take on possible trade targets for the San Jose Sharks, click here.
Los Angeles Kings
L.A.'s problem: Offensive depth
The Kings' weakest area likely is goaltending. Jonathan Quick has shouldered a heavy workload with 55 starts, but his .907 save percentage ranks below league average. The problem is that any cheaply available veteran goalies are not likely to be much of an upgrade on still-developing Quick, and acquiring a young potential star such as Jaroslav Halak of the Montreal Canadiens would cost the team a front-line player. The Kings don't have any scoring stars other than Anze Kopitar and rely on a goals-by-committee approach (seven players have at least a dozen goals). They might be better off adding some offensive depth to improve their position in the high-scoring Pacific Division.
The guy to get: LW Alexei Ponikarovsky
Ponikarovsky has been a bright spot on the lowly Leafs with 41 points this season. Perhaps most impressive of all Ponikarovsky's numbers is this: Despite playing his entire career in Toronto, Ponikarovsky has been a plus-player for the past eight seasons in a row. He leads the team with a plus-5 rating on a squad that has a minus-46 goal differential. Ponikarovsky will fit right in with the Kings' strong forwards and give the team superior depth for its playoff run.
For ESPN The Magazine's E.J. Hradek's take on possible trade acquisitions for the Los Angeles Kings as well as tradeable assets, click here.
For ESPN Rumor Central's take on possible trade targets for the Los Angeles Kings, click here.
Phoenix's problem: Power play
The Coyotes have been a surprise team that has been built on goaltending and defense. The top three players in our GVT value metric this season have been goalie Ilya Bryzgalov (21.8 GVT) and defensemen Keith Yandle (8.6 GVT) and Ed Jovanovski (7.4 GVT). Phoenix actually ranks about average in scoring at 5-on-5, but goals have been scarce on the power play. None of the team's forwards has scored more than five goals with the extra man. With a 15.2 percent power-play efficiency, 29th in the league, the Coyotes will be looking for a top-6 player who can add some scoring punch on special teams.
The guy to get: LW Andrew Brunette
The Minnesota Wild are unlikely to qualify for the playoffs but remain on the fringes of the race. It might be difficult to pry Brunette out of Minnesota, but Phoenix can include young Mueller to sweeten any trade package. Brunette is a consistent power-play scorer (10 PPG this season), a responsible defensive player and a veteran with playoff experience. Brunette's 8.1 GVT rating is better than that of any of the Coyotes' current forwards, and his 47 points would tie him with Phoenix captain Shane Doan for the top spot on the team.
For ESPN The Magazine's E.J. Hradek's take on possible trade acquisitions for the Phoenix Coyotes lames as well as tradeable assets, click here.
For ESPN Rumor Central's take on possible trade targets for the Phoenix Coyotes, click here.
Anaheim's problem: Defense
Anaheim has struggled this year with goal prevention. Even with top goalie Jonas Hiller in net, the team is 24th in goals against. The Ducks' downfall has been their porous defense, which has allowed 33.2 shots against per game. Anaheim depends heavily on its top three of Niedermayer, Whitney and Wisniewski, all of whom play more than 24 minutes per game. Sheldon Brookbank (2.7 GVT), Steve Eminger (1.2 GVT), Nick Boynton (1.0 GVT) and Brett Festerling (0.1 GVT) have not contributed much to their team this season. Anaheim needs to add blue-line talent or it will continue to struggle to keep pucks out of the net.
The guy to get: D Jan Hejda
Hejda is one of the league's better defensive defensemen. His numbers do not look impressive on first glance, but that is because he is used in such a heavy defensive role. Hejda plays against the other team's top lines and routinely starts his shifts in his team's defensive zone. He is signed to a reasonable contract at $2 million per year and is signed through 2010-11. Columbus is out of the mix and likely to be a seller. Hejda won't be cheap, but the Ducks need to move to address their blue line both for this season and for the presumably post-Niedermayer future.
For ESPN The Magazine's E.J. Hradek's take on possible trade acquisitions for the Anaheim Ducks as well as tradeable assets, click here.
For ESPN Rumor Central's take on possible trade targets for the Anaheim Ducks, click here.
Dallas' problem: Defense for the future
Dallas has a strong group of forwards and has been above average offensively this season, yet it has struggled in its own end (23rd in goals against). Lehtonen was acquired to shore up the team's inconsistent goaltender situation, leaving the blue line as the team's primary weakness. The defense corps is young and inexperienced (only two defensemen are over age 26). Veteran Stephane Robidas is having a great season with a 7.9 GVT, but the rest of the defense corps has been patchy. Dallas is spending the least money on defensemen of any NHL team ($8.7 million cap hit), and the Stars would be advised to invest more into the position to improve their playoff chances beyond this year.
The guy to give up: G Marty Turco
With the acquisition of Lehtonen and a capable backup in Auld, the Stars need to cut ties with their expensive longtime No. 1. Turco is no longer a top goalie and is turning 35 this summer, and his .915 save percentage this season is the best it has been since 2002-03. He might not fetch much, but the Stars should cash in on whatever value he does have left as they move in a different direction with their goaltenders. Ideally, the Stars would pick up a defensive prospect to replace Ivan Vishnevskiy, whom they moved out in the Lehtonen deal.
For ESPN The Magazine's E.J. Hradek's take on possible trade acquisitions for the Dallas Stars as well as tradeable assets, click here.
For ESPN Rumor Central's take on possible trade targets for the Dallas Stars, click here.
A version of this story originally appeared on ESPN Insider .
Philip Myrland is an author of Puck Prospectus and runs the statistical hockey website Brodeur Is A Fraud. You can contact him at BrodeurIsAFraud@Inbox.com.
Philip Myrland is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
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