Nashville Predators general manager David Poile ended an 18-year quest for a long-term No. 1 center last week when we he acquired Ryan Johansen from the Columbus Blue Jackets for prized young defenseman Seth Jones.
The Los Angeles Kings also acquired center Vinny Lecavalier and defenseman Luke Schenn from the Philadelphia Flyers for prospect center Jordan Weal and a third-round pick. The Flyers agreed to pay half of both of their former players' salaries.
The Predators and Kings made those deals with the playoffs in mind, and they may have signaled the unofficial start of the trading season. Here are five teams that should make a deal before the Feb. 29 trade deadline:
1. Montreal Canadiens: The Habs are 4-13-0 since Dec. 3, and their struggles can't be blamed on the absence of goalie Carey Price.
General manager Marc Bergevin has been looking to acquire another scorer. The team is averaging fewer than two goals per game over the past 19 games. This is not a new development for the Canadiens, who knew coming into the season that their forward depth was an issue.
If the Winnipeg Jets can't re-sign Andrew Ladd, a pending unrestricted free agent, and decide to trade him, he would be a good fit for the Canadiens as a rental.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning: Lightning winger Jonathan Drouin wants to be traded, and GM Steve Yzerman will be looking to give his team a boost.
The Lightning are looking for a skilled, young defenseman in return. But Yzerman would be open to making any deal that could inspire the Lightning to play the way they did last spring when they reached the Stanley Cup Final.
What we've learned from the Chicago Blackhawks' three title runs in six seasons is that there is a benefit to freshening up a championship roster. The Lightning only added Erik Condra in the offseason.
3. St. Louis Blues: The loss of Jaden Schwartz to injury showed the Blues that they could use another scorer. They are among many teams interested in Drouin.
The Blues have depth on defense. Would they move Kevin Shattenkirk for the hope that Drouin will blossom into a star?
The Central Division is competitive, and the Predators already made a major move. Plus, the Blackhawks are showing they have a real shot at winning the Cup again. The Blues have to be feeling some pressure.
4. New York Rangers: The most logical player for the Rangers to trade is defenseman Keith Yandle and yet he seems like a player they shouldn't move.
The Rangers' situation is complicated because they should view themselves as a contender looking to go for it all. But their defense has been an issue.
Yandle, 29, is a skillful puck-moving defenseman who would come in handy in the playoffs when goals are difficult to create. But the Rangers aren't playing like a top contender (4-5-1 in their past 10). Yandle, who costs the Rangers half of his $5.25 million cap hit, isn't likely to be re-signed.
The Rangers could probably land a good return, something that would reduce the sting of parting with a first- and second-round pick, plus Anthony Duclair and John Moore, to Arizona to get Yandle at last year's deadline.
5. Anaheim Ducks: Haven't we been waiting most of the season for the Ducks to make a major move?
A Stanley Cup favorite entering the season, the Ducks have struggled. But as poorly as they have played, they are still in the race in the Pacific Division. They could pull a Kings and barely squeak into the playoffs and then make a big run.
To do that, the Ducks have to find a way to help their offense, which has produced fewer than two goals per game and ranks last. If the Jets move Dustin Byfuglien, his booming shot could be a benefit. Plus, his size would help if the Ducks have to match up against Los Angeles.
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