The west is a little less difficult to parse than the east. In the east there are three clear groups of teams currently in playoff position or just outside it. In the west there are just two groups. Those with a viable shot at the Cup, and those who have a shot at playing past the second week of April. The first group comes down to Vancouver, Detroit and maybe San Jose, the other group is the everyone else.
Detroit Red Wings: Buy. A solid backup goaltender is a must. Not as much for the playoffs as for the rest of the season. Jimmy Howard is on pace for 74 games at this point. That is eleven more regular season games than either of his first two seasons. It’s also an incredible workload for any goalie. Given how long most playoff series go, that could translate to a 100 games played for a goalie if things go the way the team would like. Getting a few more games off before the post season can’t hurt, and a viable backup in case things go wrong in the post season is it’s own reward.
Vancouver Canucks: Swap. Attitude is needed, as is a tweak or two on the blueline.
San Jose Sharks: Swap/Buy. If they can shift Nittymaki elsewhere for a bit off offensive punch that’s ideal, if not they may have to expend a few assets. Getting Havlat will aid the effort, but this could be the last disco for Thornton, Marleau and Boyle.
St Louis Blues: Buy. Offense is a must. As good as Elliott and Halak have been all season, getting around some of the top teams in the west on two goals against in the playoffs is going to be all but impossible.
Nashville Predators: Stand. They have the goods to get the job done, as long as they stay healthy they have no excuse for not playing in at least the second round. If they decide they can’t resign one or both of Suter and Weber they need to bring back an oil fields worth of income.
Chicago Blackhawks: Buy. Anything on the backend will help. The goaltenders are both outside the top 30 in save percentage, but I can’t hold out much hope for defense that has both O’Donnell and Montador on it. Getting someone to help out their 27th ranked penalty kill might just be something to look into at the same time.
Los Angeles Kings: Swap. Send a prospect or defenseman out for a top six offensive minded forward. They backend is impressive, but Kopitar, Richards, Brown are outnumbered trying to carry an offense all by themselves. As good as Quick has been this season it would be a crime not to get enough offense to make a run.
Minnesota Wild: Swap. They have enough viable defensemen tor trade to bring in all the offense they need without having to sacrifice a single draft pick, juniors or college prospect. Even with all the injuries they have had they’ve shown the mental toughness to stay afloat which will do them good in the playoffs. A touch more offense on the roster might even push them back to being a team that sells out every game again.
Colorado Avalanche: Sell. A fundamentally flawed team. A number of physically and mentally fragile players in key positions. Turn out the front office and start over.
Dallas Stars: Stand. They’ve got a solid, if oddly unknown team, unless they can get big names for a reasonable price they are a bit too average to go deep but will be better next year if Benn, Eriksson and Bachman continue to develop.
Calgary Flames: Sell. Yes they’ve just pulled off two trades, one with Chicago, one with Montreal that have made them nominally more talented, but short of adding one of the leagues top ten centers, and a good middle pairing defenseman, they’d be lucky to make the playoffs and see seven games in the first round.
A look at the east.