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Detroit Red Wings

Red Wings Rivals Look to Upgrade Rosters Before Deadline



jacob markstrom, calgary, New Jersey Devils

Scoreboard watching includes a second step this season with Red Wings players and coaches needing to pay attention to both rival scores and trade rumors to know how the playoff races are going.

Steve Yzerman‘s history of unpredictability makes it challenging to guess what he will do.  But there is plenty of chatter about teams competing with Detroit for an Eastern Conference playoff spot. Here is what’s up with Detroit rivals:

New Jersey Devils

GM Tom Fitzgerald is aggressively looking for a new starting goalie. He came close to landing Calgary goalie Jacob Markstrom. 

However, the deal fell through. It doesn’t feel like the Devils are giving up. Could they work out something with the Nashville Predators for Juuse Saros? Perhaps they will circle back to Markstrom. What this team does matters to the Red Wings because the Devils have playoff-caliber talent.  They are also looking for a quality defense. The Red Wings expect the Devils to be in the playoff race right until the end.

Tampa Bay Lightning

The general consensus is that the Lightning are not a lock to make the playoff group this season. They boast a winning culture, some key difference makers and a premium goalie in the Steve Yzerman-drafted Andrei Vasilevskiy. But their depth has eroded over the last three years. The loss of defenseman Mikhail Sergachev to injury recently was a major blow.

They are tight against the salary cap ceiling, but putting Sergachev in long-term injured reserve frees up some space to trade for a defensemen. They could look at the possible rentals like Chris Tanev, Joel Edmundson, etc.

Toronto Maple Leafs

The Maple Leafs have a four-point lead for third in the Atlantic Division, but there is still no guarantee they will make the playoffs. GM Brad Treliving has embarked on the annual Maple Leafs quest to land an impact defenseman.

We can guess Treliving covets his former player, Chris Tanev, but will have to give up a first rounder to get that accomplished. He doesn’t want to do that.

New York Islanders

The New York Islanders will be buyers at the NHL trade deadline. They have exceptional goaltending in Ilya Sorokin and they have quality defensemen. They need scorers. The Islanders are 20th in the NHL with a 2.94 goals-per-game average.

Time to dust off the Vladimir Tarasenko rumors. Anthony Duclair seems like another possibility. The Islanders don’t have cap space. Creativity will be required on any deal.

Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers want to stay in the playoff race, but also turn their potential UFAs into assets. That’s a tricky scenario. They may be trying to keep Sean Walker, even though they may be able to land a first round pick for him in the trade market. Philly Hockey Now’s Jonathan Bailey’s take is the Flyers should trade him and then re-sign him in the summer.

The Flyers own third place in the Metropolitan Division, but are worried about the Devils as much as the Red Wings are

Florida Panthers

The Panthers are no longer in the bubble group, but the bubble teams are still keeping track of what GM Bill Zito is doing. The latest rumor is that Zito is looking at the acquisition of Calgary’s Noah Hanifin. If that deal gets done, it will make the Eastern Conference more challenging in the playoffs.