Trade deadline fixes: Atlantic
Finding help for the Rangers, plus ideas for the Pens, Devils, Islanders, Flyers
Hockey Prospectus is taking a look at the NHL division by division and suggesting ways each team should approach the forthcoming trade deadline.
April 3 marks the NHL's trade deadline, and every team in the league -- both the playoff-bound and those likely for the draft lottery -- has needs to address. To prepare for the final flurry of transactions, we're going team-by-team to see which players could help fill some holes on contenders or provide some foundational stability for teams building for next season and beyond.
One statistic you'll come across in the analysis below is GVT, the main player-valuation metric used by Hockey Prospectus. For a detailed explanation of GVT, click here. All numbers here are accurate as of the morning of March 25.
Like most of the NHL, the Atlantic Division is a muddle that may not make itself fully clear until the last week or two of the truncated season. The Penguins are the odds-on favorites to walk away with the division's -- if not the Eastern Conference's -- top seed, but the other four teams could shake out in any order.
The problem: Coming into the season, the Rangers were thought by many to be a top contender for the Stanley Cup, in large part due to an abundance of strength on the blue line in front of their all-world netminder, "King" Henrik Lundqvist. Not so fast. As the team has struggled to keep its head above the postseason cut line, the blue line has sagged. Between a puck to the eye for Marc Staal and relatively predictable offensive regression for last year's breakout hero Michael Del Zotto, the Rangers don't have a single blueliner among the top 30 in offensive GVT, which has contributed to the team's 29th-place ranking among all teams in goals scored per game.