Metro Division at the trade deadline: A division of shoppers


The NHL trade deadline arrives on Feb. 26. The league's playoff races are jammed with teams that feel they're a few pieces away from getting off the bubble or one piece away from contending for the Stanley Cup. In short, there are more teams looking to buy.
Luckily there are also a slew of sellers out there to fulfill those needs. In the end, it all comes down to two factors: cost and opportunity. Is the price of a rental on an expiring contract worth it? Does it make more sense to make trades around the NHL draft, when prices get back to less ridiculous levels? This week we take a snapshot of the NHL trade deadline, focusing on the game plans for all 31 teams. Salary cap information is from Cap Friendly, while personnel information is from media reports and our own reporting.
We begin with the Metro Division:
Deadline cap space: $16,001,327
Biggest needs: Offense, offense and more offense
Assets in play: In terms of draft assets, the Hurricanes have all but their 2018 fifth-round pick over the next three seasons. They have center Derek Ryan (31, UFA, $1.425M), who will be an attractive rental for someone. They also have deadline darling Lee Stempniak (35, UFA, $2.5M). But much more importantly, they have a cadre of young defensemen who could be used to snag the top-six scoring they desperately need. In particular: Veteran Justin Faulk (25, 2020, $4,833,333) is getting chatted up as a potential defensive solution for several teams.
Deadline game plan: Is new owner Tom Dundon a game-changer for the deadline? Not necessarily. "We're definitely willing to add if it would make the team better without unnecessarily sacrificing the future," he said recently. The Hurricanes are 25th in the NHL in goals per game at 2.64. They have one player with more than 20 goals in Sebastian Aho. They need to add offense in order to solidify their playoff chances, as they moved into the last wild card on Sunday. The question is: Would that manifest as a rental, or perhaps as someone like forward J.T. Miller (24, RFA, $2.75M) of the New York Rangers, who is 24 and a restricted free agent?
Deadline cap space: $4,940,408
Biggest needs: Re-energizing the offense, trading Jack Johnson
Assets in play: Defenseman Jack Johnson (31, UFA, $4,357,143) has a long-gestating trade request with the team. The Jackets have all their picks, save for a fifth-rounder this season and a second-rounder in 2019. They also have some struggling forwards whom they might toss into the pot.
Deadline game plan: The Blue Jackets are a baffling deadline team. Yes, Johnson is in play, but the Jackets will do a deal likely only if they get a roster player back who can help. The rest of the deadline will be spent fielding offers for struggling players -- Alexander Wennberg (23, 2023, $4.9M) and Boone Jenner (24, RFA, $2.9M) among them -- and figuring out whether to flip them for an upgrade at their respective positions; or, more to the point, to simply shake up a roster in an offensive malaise. One thing to keep in mind: GM Jarmo Kekalainen loves a bold player swap but is loath to pay big deadline rental prices.
Deadline cap space: $7,981,325
Biggest needs: Top-six scoring