Hockey Prospectus is taking a look at the NHL division by division and suggesting ways each team should tackle the forthcoming trade deadline. On Monday, we looked at the Atlantic Division. On Tuesday, we addressed the Northeast Division and on Wednesday we examined the Southeast. On Thursday it was the Central Division. On Friday we headed up to the Northwest, and today we're taking a look at the Pacific.
Feb. 27 marks the NHL's trade deadline, and every team in the league -- both the playoff-bound and those likely for the draft lottery -- has needs to address. To prepare for the final flurry of transactions, we're going team by team to see which players can help fill some holes on contenders or provide some foundational stability for teams building for next season and beyond.
The Problem: A horrendous start to the season (only 24 points through Christmas -- 29th in the NHL) put the Ducks in a hole that may prove impossible to dig out of, 27 points in their last 20 games notwithstanding. Still, sitting eight points out of the playoff picture with only 25 games to go strongly suggests that the Ducks' 2011-12 is a washout. With a strong core (Getzlaf, Perry, Ryan, Hiller) all locked up at least through next season, the Ducks would be advised to move players who do not project to be a part of their next winning team for a young, but ready future contributor.
The Fix: As good as their recent run has been, the Ducks have only managed to pass the Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference standings in that time. Now is a good time to add a young player who can mature with next season's Ducks squad, and GM Bob Murray should make a play for Nashville Predators' young blueliner Roman Josi. The Ducks' current blue-line corps has only two members (Francois Beauchemin and Luca Sbisa) under contract past next season to team with emerging young players Cam Fowler, Justin Schultz and Sami Vatanen. Josi, not yet 22 years old, was a second-round pick of Nashville in 2008. He made his North American debut last season, leading AHL Milwaukee defensemen in scoring (40 points). Playing mostly with the Predators this season, Josi has made his mark playing third-pairing minutes, although he did not look out of place seeing extra ice time when Ryan Suter was hurt. Josi should improve Anaheim's chances next season while allowing the Ducks to be patient with Schultz and Vatanen.
Josi: 0.4 GVT
The Problem: A team that is average to below in most team-based stats can look back on a blistering start with fond nostalgia. One month into the season, the Stars led the division, with one of the league's lowest payrolls, riding the coattails of a resurgent Kari Lehtonen in net. After they were finally bought by Tom Gaglardi, the offense dried up and Lehtonen resumed his career path as a good-when-healthy-but-often-injured netminder. Loui Eriksson, Michael Ryder and Jamie Benn provide offense from the wings, but they have only one center with over 20 points (Mike Ribeiro, 36 points). Brad Richards has not been replaced, and the Stars lack a player in the system who projects as a top-six center.
The Fix: If any team can afford to take on salary, now and into the future, it is the Stars. As low as the payroll is now, even more comes off the books this offseason. Other than Benn, soon to be a restricted free agent, none of the expiring contracts should worry GM Joe Nieuwendyk. In spite of their payroll, the Stars are only four points out of the playoff picture, with a game in hand on the No. 8 seed. They should go all in on disgruntled Columbus Blue Jackets C Jeff Carter. Although rumors have been swirling that it would take a package comparable to what Columbus gave to Philadelphia (Jakub Voracek, a 2011 first-rounder and a 2012 third-rounder) to land the young sniper, Dallas has the pieces to make that happen, even after dealing blueliner Niklas Grossman to Philadelphia. A package along the lines of a 2012 first-round pick, G Jack Campbell and D Mark Fistric can make this happen. Carter will provide Dallas with the offensive push needed to get into the playoffs now, and serve as the focal point of the offense for years to come.
Carter: 1.8 GVT
Los Angeles Kings
The Problem: At the time this article was written, the Kings were holding the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. If their offense was as good as their defense and goaltending, they would be challenging for the President's Trophy and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. The Kings have the worst goal scoring in the NHL, both at 5-on-5 and overall. Their power play is not much better, eclipsing only Phoenix and Montreal. In 18 games since the calendar turned over, the Kings have been held to one or fewer goals an ugly 11 times. They need help putting the puck in the net.
The Fix: Dean Lombardi should make another call to Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini and acquire RW Ales Hemsky. Although Hemsky has struggled mightily with injuries in recent seasons (he's missed a combined 108 games since the start of 2009-10), the Czech sniper can still provide a big boost on offense. Even including his down numbers this season (4 G, 20 A, 24 P in 43 games), that scoring pace (0.57 points per game) would still put him fourth on the struggling Kings squad, behind only Anze Kopitar, Justin Williams and Mike Richards. Assuming continued health (by Hemskian standards), this trade would round out a second scoring line for the Kings, and provide much-needed help for Jonathan Quick, who is having an excellent season in net on the West Coast.
Hemsky: 2.6 GVT
The Problem: The Coyotes, clinging to life in the playoff hunt (ahead of the Kings on goal differential), are being hampered by a lifeless power play, currently ranked dead last in the league at 12.9 percent efficiency. Although the team is still bankrolled by the NHL, the board may be convinced that a few extra dollars for an unlikely playoff push would help recoup additional funds and increase the potential value of the franchise in the eyes of an investor. That said, any dollars added to the payroll would have to be minimal or, at the very least, on an expiring contract.
The Fix: The Coyotes need to make a call to the Buffalo Sabres' embattled GM Darcy Regier to ask about RW Brad Boyes. Seemingly not the same player who scored 76 goals (including 27 on the power play) for St. Louis between 2007-08 and 2008-09, the veteran winger is nearing the end of a four-year contract with a $4 million cap hit. Boyes has disappointed in Buffalo, contributing only 27 points in 62 games, much less than what was expected as a deadline pickup last season. However, the former first-round pick still knows his way around the net and has a history of success on the man advantage, including 27 power-play goals in his two big seasons.
Boyes: 2.3 GVT
San Jose Sharks
The Problem: By virtue of leading the Pacific Division, the Sharks currently have the third playoff seed, providing home-ice advantage in the first round. Take away the artificial divisional seeding and the Sharks are only fifth in the conference. A critical factor separating them from true dominance is a below-average penalty kill. San Jose is currently 27th in the NHL at a putrid 78.3 percent, and improving that by even 5 percent the rest of the way could reasonably save the team four or five goals against by the end of the season. In other words, that would equal an additional two points in the ledger and a better chance to succeed in the demanding postseason.
The Fix: Having already picked up Dominic Moore from Tampa Bay, San Jose should still be looking for a tough blueliner who can ease the defensive minutes of an aging Dan Boyle -- and D Mike Komisarek can be had from the Toronto Maple Leafs. There is risk inherent in picking up the final two-plus years of Komisarek's contract ($4.5 million cap hit), but the defensive defenseman allows San Jose to ease Boyle away from defensive responsibilities, where the aging blueliner is becoming less and less of an asset, and have him start more shifts in the offensive zone. Komisarek, who, although he has had a greater share of defensive zone starts than any other Toronto rear guard, has lost the trust of the Toronto staff. He would serve as an upgrade in the grit department in San Jose, a bigger, more dependable version of Jim Vandermeer.
Komisarek: 0.6 GVT
A version of this story originally appeared at ESPN Insider .
Ryan Wagman is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
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