With the Olympic break giving the hockey world a reprieve from endless trade speculation and innuendo, NHL GMs have had plenty of time to analyze their roster strengths and weaknesses and put themselves in position to strike as soon as the roster freeze lifts after the Winter Games.
From that moment until 3:00 p.m. ET on March 5, those same GMs will be in a mad scramble to address their various roster holes and either strengthen their rosters for a hopeful postseason push or sell off extraneous pieces as they build toward better days in future seasons. Hockey Prospectus has scoured the league to find good fits for each of the 30 teams.
The Atlantic Division has six teams with a realistic shot at playoff contention, four of which are near locks for the spring dance, and two other clubs that should be in full-fledged sell mode. We now look to each team in the division and provide one analytics-based trade suggestion that will help that organization achieve its short- and/or long-term goals.
Note: Goals versus threshold (GVT), is Hockey Prospectus' proprietary player valuation metric.
The need: A puck-moving defenseman
Unfortunately for Boston, but fortunately for its competitors, the Bruins do have a real hole in their roster. Dennis Seidenberg is typically a first-pairing blueliner, playing opposite man-mountain Zdeno Chara and featuring heavily in all man-power situations. In late December, the German veteran tore both the ACL and the MCL in his right knee, and will not be back until next season. While the loss is nearly insurmountable, the knowledge he will not return this season at least gives his team additional cap space to work with as Seidenberg's $3.25 million cap hit will be mitigated by his inclusion on the long-term injured reserve list.
As much as some teams are loath to trade within their own division, a good short-term fix could be available in Sunrise, as bargain signing Gilbert has been very productive with three goals and 22 assists this season. His $900,000 cap hit should be palatable for GM Peter Chiarelli, and best of all, his presence will not prevent the team from continuing the NHL growth of youngsters Dougie Hamilton or Torey Krug. A team with serious aspirations for a Stanley Cup run should not be forced into relying too much on the likes of Kevan Miller or the increasingly brittle Adam McQuaid. Gilbert will be able to slot in to the top four and play on both special teams.