February 18, 2012

NHL Trade Deadline Update - The Flames have the most to gain in Western Canada

With the Vancouver Canucks 15 points ahead of 9th place Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers 15 points behind 8th place L.A. Kings, the role of buyer and seller has been determined for the 3 Canadian teams. The Oilers plan to continue the youth movement and the Canucks are gearing up for another run at Lord Stanley's mug. That just leaves the Flames.

Calgary is in a dog fight for the playoffs as 9 points separate 6th to 13th. The Phoenix Coyotes are tied with the Kings for 8th with 65 points each and just 2 points behind sit the Flames. Calgary has no cap space and adding a piece to get over the hump will not be easy. The Flames desperately need a second line center and players that could be offered up in a trade would be Lee Stempniak, who is an unrestricted free agent this summer, and Blake Comeau who is under performing at a $2.5 million cap hit. Moving Matt Stajan may be a pipe dream as he has a no trade clause, however getting someone to take on his $3.5 million salary may be harder than getting him to waive the no trade.

The Vancouver Canucks have been coasting through the regular season as they sit 2nd in the west 4 points behind Detroit. There is no cap space, so to add a player without shedding some salary will be impossible. The Canucks are mentioned to be involved in the Rick Nash trade rumors but the price maybe too high as Cory Schneider and Cody Hodgson plus more are said to be the asking price. Vancouver is already deep and with Sami Salo and Aaron Rome the only UFA's this summer, don't expect much movement. Shipping Keith Ballard and his $4.2 million contract out of town would be an amazing feat by GM Mike Gillis.

Perhaps the most exciting team in the NHL is also one of the youngest, the Edmonton Oilers are clearly out of the playoff race and the youth movement has been on for a few years. With a young group of exciting forwards already in place, look for the Oilers to target prospects for their blue line. Ales Hemsky is the best asset the Oilers have that they would be willing to part with, as his contract expires at the end of this year. Ryan Smyth's contract is up as well but he has made it clear he wants to be in Edmonton. Expect him to resign at a discounted price. Unloading Shawn Horcoff and his huge salary would be a blessing, however Horcoff has a no movement clause through next season. It looks like Oilers fans will have to put up with him for another season.

- Mike Lord

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