For the next three weeks, it’s acceptable, even desirable, for Stanley Cup contenders to covet their neighbor’s high-grade defenseman or scoring winger.
With the Feb. 26 NHL trade deadline approaching, here are what the top eight teams in points might be considering:
Tampa Bay Lightning: This is a strong team top to bottom, but it could be bolstered by a right-shot defenseman who can play in coach Jon Cooper’s top four. It felt as if Detroit Red Wings defenseman Mike Green was auditioning for fans when he played in the NHL All-Star Game in Tampa. He has a no-trade clause, but he likely would accept a deal to the Lightning.
Vegas Golden Knights: They might have the most difficult decision about whether to make a move. They clearly don’t want to disrupt this team’s enviable chemistry. Their offense is strong, and their goaltending is exceptional. If they make a move, it might be to add an offensive-minded defenseman.
Boston Bruins: They are the NHL’s hottest team, but the Eastern Conference is an arm’s race and the Bruins might add a veteran defenseman.
Nashville Predators: The Predators are a more complete team than they were last season when they reached the Stanley Cup Final. Center Mike Fisher has agreed to come out of retirement, which is like making a trade. They don’t need to make a trade, but general manager David Poile has a history of making big trades.
Winnipeg Jets: The Jets will want to show they are all in and make a couple of moves to add more playoff experience and defensive depth.
St. Louis Blues: Blues general manager Doug Armstrong has been looking at his scoring options. They are among the teams that have looked at Ottawa Senators winger Mike Hoffman. Would they consider Evander Kane as a rental? Not at the Buffalo Sabres' current asking price.
Washington Capitals: Considering how many players they lost in the offseason, the Capitals have performed better than expected. They deserve help down the stretch. The Capitals could use another defenseman. Green, who used to play in Washington, could help this team.
Toronto Maple Leafs: The Maple Leafs want help on the blue line, and Vancouver Canucks defenseman Erik Gudbranson could be a target. If the New York Rangers are considering dealing Ryan McDonagh, the Maple Leafs would be a splendid fit. They need a player who can block shots and play defense the way McDonagh can.