With just hours of deadline shopping remaining, rumors run rampant as to which players might end up where. While speculation is titillating, it has little to do with the actual needs of the true contenders. With that in mind, let's take a top-down look as it pertains to reality.
First, let's be clear that in the Eastern Conference the current top four teams -- Bruins, Capitals, Devils and Flyers are clearly the best. Same thing out west where the Sharks, Red Wings, Flames and Blackhawks -- okay, throw in the Canucks, too -- comprise the true contenders. The rest of the teams vying for the postseason surely will make deadline decisions, but they shouldn't be rash. This isn't their year.
Here's a look at what's on the true contenders' shopping lists:
Like many contenders, a puck-moving defenseman capable of working on the power play seems to be GM
They're really looking to add depth to their blueline. Experience and skating ability are of prime concern and, of course, getting a player who would fit their well-established mode of operation and team code of conduct figures prominently in any decision. In this season of bringing back former Devils --
They are healthy for the first time after returning forward
They don't appear to need much of anything, but would like to add a depth defenseman -- a redundant wish at this time of the season. Having said that,
Same as above. They'd like to augment their already impressive blueline corps. Questions continue concerning the goaltending, but cap considerations and loyalty to
This fun, fast, young bunch out of the Windy City is "ahead of schedule" according to GM
So, that's the view from the top. That's not to discount moves made by other playoff hopefuls. Not at all. After all, seven other teams will makes the playoffs and a host of others still have aspirations. A move by any of them may make the difference in getting into the postseason derby at all, or could mean moving up in terms of seeding. That's important stuff and the reason why the deadline has become such a pivotal day on the calendar.
Make no mistake, though, there is a class system at this time of year even among the trade deadline buyers: those seeking to win it all and those trying to ensure that they at least get to play an 83rd game.