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Boston Bruins: Just a minor tweak
The Bruins are an unstoppable machine at the moment with an incredible 34-5-4 record through their first 43 games. They still have the big hit 1-2 at center with Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, Charlie McAvoy gives them the best bona fide defensive duo, and they have a Vezina player in goal in Linus Allmark. They don’t need to change things around often, which is good because they’re pushed to the salary cap and don’t have a deep farm system to deal with. If they can pick up some depth points or depth guns for cheap, go for it. If this is not the case, then there is no need to force anything. They are good enough as constructed.
Buffalo Sabers: Stand by and see what happens
This is the most entertaining sword season in over a decade. They have an incredible offense, energetic style of play and are looking to finally have a young core to build around. Doing the qualifiers now might not be enough, but that’s okay. It wouldn’t be another uninteresting year, but there’s no point in abandoning a young asset to make what might be a futile push in the postseason when the Sabers finally move in the right direction. See what this kit can do, identify your needs for the outdoors and fix it next.
Detroit Red Wings: Sell suspended free agents
This year for the Red Wings should have been a huge step forward, but it didn’t happen. And that should come as a huge blow for Red Wings fans hoping to see Yzerplan start to rally. The playoffs seem like a long shot and they have 10 unrestricted free agents suspended after this season, including Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi. Ideally, a Larkin contract extension would be on the table, but there could be a difficult decision coming if nothing is agreed.
Florida panthers. Sell strategically
This season has been a nightmare for the Panthers, as the playoffs may be starting to wind down. This is not a team that needs an overhaul, but it is absolutely suffering from a salary cap crisis and needs to accumulate more experimental capital. They shouldn’t be dealing with a key player like Aleksander Barkov or Matthew Tkachuk, but they should at least shop around for some other players to see if they can free up some space and bring in some young assets.
Montreal Canadiens: Sell Strong
There is a clear core to build here led by Cole Cofield, Nick Suzuki and this year’s first selector, Juraj Slavkowski. These guys are obviously off the table, but everyone else? Put up a “For Sale” sign. Sean Monahan and Evgeni Dadonov seem like obvious candidates, but any veterans like David Savard, Joel Edmundson and Jake Allen should also be bought.
Ottawa Senators: Trade Cam Talbot
The Senators have been aggressive every season but still have a lot of real flaws on defense and in the bottom six offensive linemen. They don’t have a lot of UFAs pending, but goaltender Cam Talbot might be the most valuable of their obvious trading chips, and some contenders could use it.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Go for it
Every year lightning is pressed up to the cap. And every year they find a way to add someone who specializes in the trade deadline. There’s always a way to make it happen if you’re creative enough, and no one is more creative than the Lightning front desk. At this point, we might take their success for granted. After making three consecutive Stanley Cup Final appearances, they remain a standout team but fly under the radar a bit. They can get there again. Go for it while you can.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Upgrade the defense
In the preseason, it would have been easy to guess that the goal would be the situation the Leafs would need to address at the trade deadline. But Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov exceeded all expectations. Alternatively, defense may be the goal. Whether it’s a blockbuster like Jakob Chychrun (Arizona) or a rental like Vladislav Gavrikov (Columbus), Toronto could use some depth there. The pressure is on to win this season, and a defensive upgrade could help.