The Bruins have reserved their spot on buyer’s row, the Sabres have underwhelmed, the Canadiens are showing an intent to deal, the Senators will look to conservatively add and the Maple Leafs are a losing streak away from possibly becoming a seller. These are the factors influencing what the Northeast Division teams could leading up to Feb. 27.
Boston Bruins Buyers or Sellers?: The Bruins are in the buyer’s line, their spot having been reserved for some time. But, like last season, don’t expect general manager Peter Chiarelli to make a deal just for the sake of dealing. He’ll look to fill his needs with players who can fit into his plan.
Needs: Boston will likely be shopping for scoring, having lost Nathan Horton and his 17 goals to a concussion back in late January and versatile forward Rich Peverley on Wednesday, who will be sidelined for 4-6 weeks with a knee injury. Peverley and Chris Kelly were deadline acquisitions last year and proved to be worthwhile additions. Last October, Peverley signed a three-year extension with the Bruins.
Surplus: Defenseman Steven Kampfer suited up for just 10 games with the before he was assigned to AHL Providence last week. He picked up 10 points in eight NHL games last season and could be garnering some interest. With reports that the Bruins have offered new deals to Kelly and the team’s fourth line, it seems unlikely Chiarelli will move anyone from his current roster — barring an offer he can’t refuse.
In the System: Center Zach Hamill has had brief tastes of the NHL over the past three seasons. His longest stint came this season, dressing for 16 games in which he picked up two assists. Despite his 20-game NHL resume, the Bruins’ first-round pick (eighth overall) in 2007 hasn’t been able to stick long-term.
Buffalo Sabres Buyers or Sellers?: The Sabres were expected to be lining up with the buyers at this point of the season. Instead, an extremely underwhelming season has the club lounging among the sellers, or at the very least standing pat come deadline day.
Needs: Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek have been scoring. The rest? Not so much. Derek Roy — 11 goals and 29 points. Drew Stafford — nine goals and 27 points. Brad Boyes has just three goals and 13 points in 45 games. The Sabres need offense in a big way.
Surplus: Beyond the ongoing Ryan Miller chatter, it’s been speculated that Roy and/or Stafford are available. Both still have term left on their current contracts — Roy with one more year after this at $4 million while Stafford has three more at the same money. Boyes could be more attractive with his deal expiring at the end of this year. Paul Gaustad’s faceoff prowess and occasional offensive contribution might also see him change addresses. Defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani has struggled to stay in the Sabres lineup. The 24-year-old has played just once since Jan. 24 but owns a Sabres-best plus-10 differential — along with 11 points — in 44 games this season.
In the System: The Sabres have some talent, notably on defense, in Rochester with 21-year-old Brayden McNabb and 22-year-old T.J. Brennan. Both have seen NHL action this season, although McNabb earned the longer stint at 20 games to Brennan’s eight. Right winger Corey Tropp earned some NHL experience with 13 games in a month’s time from November to December.
Montreal Canadiens Buyers or Sellers?: While Canadiens players haven’t given up hope on a playoff berth, management has made it pretty clear it intends to sell after dealing Hal Gill to the Nashville Predators. More bodies are expected to be cleared out by the deadline; a fire sale, however, is unlikely.
Needs: The Canadiens’ AHL cupboard in Hamilton is pretty bare these days — both up front and on defense — with several players making the NHL jump over the last couple of years. Montreal could also use scoring at the big league level, their mid-ranking offense powered almost entirely by Max Pacioretty, Erik Cole and David Desharnais.
Surplus: Travis Moen’s name has been tossed around as likely the next Hab to be on the move. Like Gill, the 29-year-old is a veteran brings leadership, a Stanley Cup and playoff experience to the table and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. A team looking for defensive depth could come calling for Chris Campoli. Inconsistency and recent complaints about his ice time could also earn winger Andrei Kostitsyn a ticket out of town if general manager Pierre Gauthier can find a taker. While fans would ship both Scott Gomez and Tomas Kaberle off for a bag of pucks, Gauthier isn’t likely to find a partner for either.
In the System: The Canadiens don’t have much to offer from the Hamilton Bulldogs and given their current status, it would be surprising to see them send any of their top junior/college prospects anywhere. Pacioretty, Desharnais and defenseman P.K. Subban have all said so long to their AHL days and 2009 first-rounder Louis Leblanc hasn’t looked out of place during his two call-ups thus far.
Ottawa Senators Buyers or Sellers?: General manager Bryan Murray has said he will look to improve his team but won’t give away the farm to do so. The Senators are still in rebuild mode, despite their overachievements this season.
Needs: Murray would like to add scoring but it all comes down to the asking price.
Surplus: Bobby Butler could be one to be dangled as part of an offer. It’s been a rough year for the Senators sophomore — two goals in the first two months of the season, both in the same game — but he has picked up his play of late. As of Saturday, Butler had six points in his last four games.
In the System: The Senators have been piling up prospects and according to ESPN, sellers have been asking for the promising ones. But for those hoping to pry away the likes of Jared Cowen, Mike Zibanejad and perhaps goaltender Robin Lehner are out of luck. “I’m not doing that, I can tell you that,” Murray has said. “I’m not looking for a short-term fix.”
Toronto Maple Leafs Buyers or Sellers?: The Maple Leafs have been able to hang on to the eighth and final playoff berth by virtue of no one else seemingly wanting it. For now, they mingle with the buyers but a losing streak and a slip down the standings could change things before the deadline.
Needs: Someone who can stop the puck. The Maple Leafs are averaging nearly three goals against per game as goalies James Reimer and Jonas Gustavsson struggle with consistency. Toronto could also use some help on the penalty kill, where it ranks 29th in the NHL, besting only the Columbus Blue Jackets. General manager Brian Burke has said his desire is for a top-six forward but he won’t be alone in that line.
Surplus: Burke’s phone could be ringing with teams looking for NHL defensemen, or at least those with some big league experience. Mike Komisarek sat out six games as a healthy scratch before returning to the lineup on Feb. 14. The 30-year-old still has two more years at $4.5 million per season on his deal. A more affordable defensive option for teams could be Cody Franson — 24 years of age and a restricted free agent at season’s end — or possibly 6-foot-6 Keith Aulie, who has struggled in his second NHL season.
In the System: Nazem Kadri’s name has come up often over the last couple of years and might continue to be with Toronto being listed as a potential landing spot for Blue Jackets winger Rick Nash.