- Rob Vollman, ESPN Insider
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 headed to 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.
Four of the five Central Division teams made the playoffs last year, a historically typical result that could be cut in half in this abridged 2013 season due to the struggles of the Nashville Predators and the suddenly mortal Detroit Red Wings. This year's Stanley Cup champions could nevertheless still emerge from within, especially if the surging St. Louis Blues or nearly unbeatable Chicago Blackhawks get the key pieces they need at the trade deadline.
Here's how the Central teams can optimize their rosters at the trade deadline for the final push:
The problem: There aren't a lot of problems with the Blackhawks, one of the league's top-five possession teams for years, especially with the improvement in special teams and goaltending this season. While many big-name players might want to come to Chicago for one final shot at the Stanley Cup before they retire, the Blackhawks need to focus their limited cap space on the player who would mean the most to them -- a second-line center.
19mPierre LeBrun and Joe McDonald