The March 4th trade deadline looms large for many teams either in the playoff hunt or attempting to position themselves for a run at the cup. Several moves have occurred already and many more are expected as the GM's begin to wheel and deal. The Preds are indicated to be buyers at the trade deadline according to a report in the Tennessean, and the need is for forwards that can add offensive pop to the line up. It is expected that defense is going to be in high demand at the trade deadline, and with the playoff races in the Eastern and Western Conferences extremely tight, there may not be as many sellers as in seasons past. Let's take a look at some of the prominent names who might be available:
Matt Stajan C and Nik Antropov C/RW Toronto
Stajan is signed through the 2009-10 season with a salary of $1.75 million; Antropov is a UFA after this season. Brian Burke is in the process of rebuilding the Maple Leafs, and it is apparent that Antropov does not fit in his plans. Stajan could be trade bait for the right offer.
Tim Connolly C Buffalo Sabres
A UFA at the end of the season, Connolly is at a contract impasse with the Sabres. He is extremely talented, but physically has been injury prone throughout his career.
Michael Nylander C Washington
A UFA at the end of the season, he has shown an unwillingness to waive his no trade clause.
Ryan Smyth LW Colorado
The Avalanche are expected to be sellers at the deadline as they look to re-tool an underachieving squad. Smyth has a $6.25 million cap hit for next season.
Eric Cole F Edmonton
Cole is a UFA at the end of the season and has been playing good hockey for the Oilers. His current salary is $4 million, and he is expected to be able to command a nice increase after the season.
Marian Gaborik F Minnesota
He of the fragile groin is a UFA at season's end. He could be had for the right offer, but the Wild have said they want to try to re-sign him.
The Preds have a multitude of draft choices to use as bargaining chips- 12 in next year's draft that is projected to be heavy with talented youngsters. Additionally, the team is $11,260,000 under the salary cap. They also have depth at D, with Alexander Sulzer ready to come off the IR and good young players in the system, such as Cody Franson and Jonathan Blum. On the current roster, Ville Koistinen has made it known that he wants to be traded to a club that would afford him more playing time; Greg Zanon is a UFA at the end of the season, and is expected to command a salary greater than the current $750,000 he is being paid; and Greg de Vries is an experienced player that could add depth to a club that needs help on the blueline. I am NOT saying these players will be traded. I am saying that they could be bargaining chips should the right offer come along.
I would be surprised if the David Poile makes a huge trade at the deadline. This team is starting to click on all cylinders and has great chemistry. If, however, the right forward were available that fit in to the long terms plans of the club, I would expect the the Preds to attempt to add scoring to the line up to make that final push to the playoffs. The next 48 hours should be interesting.