NHL Teams Have Lingering Wish Lists
With a prospects tournament, a World Cup of Hockey and training camps just around the corner, there are NHL teams that could use a little lineup tweaking before the real season gets underway. Here are teams that could use an extra signing or two:
The Ducks are trying to "keep up with the Joneses" in the Pacific Division (namely the LA Kings and the San Jose Sharks), and they have a nice bargaining chip in defenseman Cam Fowler. As a matter of fact, if and where Fowler goes could be the biggest deal left on the NHL trade ledger this offseason. A number of teams need a good defenseman. What the Ducks need is scoring punch at left wing. They're knee deep in defensemen, and Fowler would be the first to go if they can pick up a good scorer to team with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.
The Bears could be one of those teams in the mix for Fowler. They have a couple of aging defenders in Zdeno Chara and John-Michael Liles, who couldn't quite get them over the hump last year. They went after St. Louis's Kevin Shattenkirk, but couldn't afford him at the price of three prospects. They might afford Fowler.
Detroit Red Wings
The Wings need D too, because Niklas Kronwall is on the hurt list all the time, and they're afraid Mike Green won't work out. Tomas Tatar would be a candidate to trade for Fowler. But they, too, couldn't work a deal with the Blues for Shattenkirk. The Ducks might bite for Tatar.
New Jersey Devils
New Jersey seems to have more options. They've gotten scoring help in the offseason, but even though they picked up Ben Lovejoy from Pittsburgh, they say they need more depth on defense. With $12 million in cap space, they could just buy Fowler. Or they could go after Tampa's Nikita Kucherov, because the Lightning need the cap space.
Calgary's not in the Fowler picture. The only bidding the Flames are currently considering involves one of their own; they need to re-sign Johnny Gaudreau. He led the Flames and tied for sixth in the NHL with 78 points (30 goals, 48 assists) last season. They've made good work of their offseason by picking up two good goalkeepers in Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson, as well as improving their prospects list. Re-upping Gaudreau would improve their outlook considerably.
Just sign Dmitry Orlov. After that, sit back and watch the fun. The Caps will be loaded for bear again this season, with Orlov the only small piece of the puzzle remaining. The playoffs are almost certain. Beyond that, who knows?
This team may be one good center away from jumping into the Pacific Division fray. They improved their depth on defense and on the wings. Veteran Antoine Vermette is about the only center of first or second-line caliber. They have $2.3 million in cap space to shop for someone, somewhere.
The Canucks need more than just tweaking, and their fans may have to wait for wins. Generally, they need scoring and depth on defense. They have solid forwards who just don't put up points. They also picked up Erik Gudbranson from the Panthers to shore up defense, but they could start better with a solid center. They're still mulling options.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs need some scoring depth, but don't look for them to get greedy. They've already added a lot of young talent in executing their rebuilding strategy. Their long-awaited hopes for Steven Stamkos to return home are officially gone. So, it looks like the Leafs will be patient and wait to see how their kids work out. We'll see how long the wait lasts.
The Devils should be in good shape as is. But if they were able to pick up Fowler, that would certainly put them in the fast lane with the beasts in the tough Metropolitan division. They won't be up there with Pittsburgh, Washington and Tampa Bay in the East, but look for the Devils to improve on the NHL betting board and make the playoffs. If the Ducks deal Fowler and get their scorer, give them the edge in the Pacific and make them a contender in the West.
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