Hockey Prospectus is taking a look at the NHL division by division and suggesting ways each team should approach the forthcoming trade deadline.
April 3 marks the NHL's trade deadline, and every team in the league -- both the playoff-bound and those likely headed to the draft lottery -- has needs to address. To prepare for the final flurry of transactions, we're going team by team to see which players could help fill some holes on contenders or provide some foundational stability for teams building for next season and beyond.
One statistic you'll come across in the analysis below is GVT, the main player-valuation metric used by Hockey Prospectus. For a detailed explanation of GVT, click here. All numbers here are accurate as of the morning of March 28.
The Southeast Division is easily the weakest in the NHL at the moment, but it is also one of the most competitive. The Winnipeg Jets and Carolina Hurricanes have been trading blows for the top spot in the conference for the past month and the surging Washington Capitals have recently returned to the race, too. While the battle for first place in the Southeast should be exciting to see, the teams in the race are in a bit of a tough spot at the trade deadline. It's very likely that the Southeast will send only one team to the postseason, which means that Carolina, Winnipeg and possibly Washington will need to decide if risking part of their future is worth getting the No. 3 seed in the East or if they would rather stay put and go with the crew they have assembled now. It's especially difficult for a club like Washington, which needs to decide if it wants to be a buyer or a seller this deadline.
Should these teams choose to be buyers, here are some possible acquisitions they can make to give their clubs a boost.
The problem: The offseason acquisitions of Alexander Semin and Jordan Staal have paid off for Carolina, as the Canes are a much-improved team at even strength compared to last season. Only five teams have scored more five-on-five goals than the Hurricanes and they post a strong plus-12 goal differential at even strength, too. Special teams and defense have been their downfall, though. Both Carolina's power play and penalty kill are in the bottom five of the NHL and the Canes' rate of 2.38 goals-against per game is the 10th worst in the NHL. The injury bug has also hit Carolina very hard, as Tim Gleason, Joni Pitkanen, Jeff Skinner, Cam Ward, Justin Faulk and Jamie McBain have all missed considerable time, and the Canes are going to be without Faulk and Ward for at least a few more weeks.