Atlantic Division deadline preview: Four buyers, four sellers


The National Hockey League trade deadline arrives on Monday, Feb. 26. So far, we've taken a look at the Metro and Central divisions, and you may have noticed a trend: Many, many buyers. Not many sellers.

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In fact, we basically had three sellers between the two divisions: One team that sent a letter to fans promising painful farewells to beloved players; one team that won three Stanley Cups and then took a humbling step back this season, partially because everyone the roster outside of the mascot has a no-move clause; and also the Colorado Avalanche.
Not so in the Atlantic Division, where there are three solid playoff teams, an also-ran -- and then the rest of the division is like the night market in Marrakech. Let's take a look, shall we?
Note: Salary cap information is from Cap Friendly, while personnel information is from media reports and our own reporting.
Deadline cap space: $4,133,153
Biggest needs: Top-four defenseman, scoring winger.
Assets in play: The Bruins have all of their picks for the next three drafts, save for a fifth-rounder this season. They also have a robust collection of young players they could toss into a deal, from forwards Jake DeBrusk, Anders Bjork and Austin Czarnik to defenseman Brandon Carlo. In a perfect world, they also find a way to make buried minor leaguer Matt Beleskey (29, unrestricted free agent in 2020, $3.8M cap hit) disappear in a deal.
Deadline game plan: The Bruins and Oilers have been scouting each other, leading Joe Haggerty to believe that a trade could be brewing that would send Patrick Maroon to the B's. Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli would certainly have some knowledge of the Bruins' prospect pool. Maroon would come cheaper than Rick Nash, whom the New York Post says is on the Bruins' radar.
The other interesting name in the Bruins' orbit is Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh (28, 2019, $4.7M, limited no-trade clause), who would bolster the left side for Boston and arrives with another year on his deal. Outside of the whole "New York making a trade with Boston" thing, this feels like a good fit.
Deadline cap space: $4,711,668
Biggest needs: Veteran scoring winger.
Assets in play: The Panthers have picks in every round for the next three years, including the Arizona Coyotes' second-round pick this season. They have winger Radim Vrbata (36, UFA, $2.5M) and defenseman Alex Petrovic (25, RFA, $1.85M) on expiring contracts.
Deadline game plan: We don't have a 'tweener' category here, but that's pretty much where the Panthers are. They have a few assets available they'd like to move, but GM Dale Tallon said the goal is to keep the team's core together and add to it.
What might they add? Elliotte Friedman recently said they would be a "stealth candidate" for Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty. That would be a smart move: Florida is a good market for him, and he'd be a very solid addition to their top six.
But mostly, expect the Panthers to stand pat instead of dabble at the deadline. Another way to read Tallon's comments: This team has seven players signed through 2022, which limits the mobility of those contracts. So there's your core.
Deadline cap space: $8,954,035
Biggest needs: Top-four defenseman, depth winger.
Assets in play: The Lightning have all of their draft picks over the next three seasons. They have some intriguing prospects, and could throw defenseman Slater Koekkoek (23, RFA, $800K) into a deal.
Deadline game plan: Adding a defenseman is the priority. Mike Green is the most obvious choice and fit, given the Lightning's needs and the way he possesses the puck. Or perhaps the Lightning turn to Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson (31, UFA, $4,357,143), who has asked for a trade.
But McDonagh is the better option than both of them. He has loads of playoff experience, playing a shutdown role. He has several players singing his praises in the Lightning room in former teammates Ryan Callahan, Anton Stralman and, most of all, former defensive partner Dan Girardi. Best of all: His cap hit is reasonable ($4.7M) and his contract ends in 2019 -- just as the Bolts will need to commit to another round of blockbuster contracts with Nikita Kucherov and Andrei Vasilevskiy.
I kinda love McDonagh on the Lightning, in a "last piece of the puzzle" way.
Deadline cap space: $4,711,668
Biggest needs: Top-four defenseman, scoring winger.
Assets in play: The Leafs have all of their picks in 2019 and 2020. This year, they have their own pick in every round but the third and sixth, but have picks from the San Jose Sharks in the second and third rounds. They also have wingers Josh Leivo, Nikita Soshnikov and fourth-line veteran Matt Martin in play.
Deadline game plan: The Leafs have indicated that despite their unrestricted free agent status, James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak and Leo Komarov are not being shopped.
Among defensemen available, Mike Green makes the most sense. He's a possession player and a right-handed shot, two things coach Mike Babcock covets, and adds another experienced presence on a team that already has a few of them. There's a lot to love with this possible deal, including the assets the Leafs could offer the Wings. And GM Lou Lamoriello loves building from the crease out.
There's also talk the Leafs have looked into Vancouver Canucks defenseman Erik Gudbranson (26, UFA, $3.5M), despite indications this would be an ill-advised move. But the priority in Vancouver is to get him re-signed.
Deadline cap space: $25,851,373