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NHL trade deadline: 4 teams who could make huge moves

Erica Commisso
NHL trade deadline
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

As the NHL trade deadline quickly approaches, some NHL teams are realizing their playoff dreams are fading away while others are making a final push to enter the postseason.

With key players becoming unrestricted free agents at the end of the year (like Claude Giroux), non-contenders could also look to become sellers to accelerate a rebuild. Some rebuilding clubs might also want to do right by veterans, finding them an opportunity to compete for the Stanley Cup.

When is the NHL trade deadline?

The NHL trade deadline is on Monday, March 21. Teams have until 3 PM EST to submit trades to the NHL for approval. While deals can be announced shortly after the 3 EST deadline, all calls must be submitted to the league office before the hour strikes.

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With that knowledge in mind, here are four teams to keep an eye on at the NHL trade deadline.

The Carolina Hurricanes are in the buying market

NHL: Seattle Kraken at Carolina Hurricanes
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With Tony DeAngelo and Brendan Smith injured, Canes’ general manager Don Waddell said he is on the lookout for a defenseman ahead of the trade deadline. Naturally, he didn’t want to be too direct about it. Carolina is in a good place for the postseason, and both Smith and DeAngelo aren’t suffering from season-ending injuries.

As March 21 closes in, Waddell ise would looking to add depth to change a unit that enters with the highest goals-against team average in the league.

“If we were going to spend some money in any place at this point, I think it’d be at defense,” he told NHL Network Radio. “Now, saying that, we’ve all said we’re going to give this some time here. The deadline is March 21, a lot can happen; we have a lot of games (seven before then), as everyone does in the next few weeks. That could change if something else happens with our team. If today was the deadline, I’d say we’d be looking at defense.”

Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell on plans for upcoming NHL trade deadline, via NHL.com

Of course, having a deep roster is key in the playoffs, as injuries and other roster gaps could be a big reason that teams, ultimately, do not win the Stanley Cup. Trading for depth on the blue line ahead of the NHL trade deadline could help pad the Hurricanes for potential future success.

The Chicago Blackhawks must be active sellers

NHL: Florida Panthers at Chicago Blackhawks
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Even though they just acquired Vezina Trophy winner Marc-Andre Fleury, analysts suggest the Chicago Blackhawks could move him ahead of the NHL trade deadline. The Hawks have been broiled in controversy from the start of the season, which could contribute to their tough campaign on the ice. They gave defenseman Seth Jones a massive contract in the offseason, but even he couldn’t save the sinking Blackhawks.

Trading Fleury could mean receiving a couple of draft picks in return, which would be key in kickstarting Chicago’s rebuild. Fleury could be an attractive pick-up for teams at thedeadline, as goaltenders seem to be struggling this season, and some (like Fleury’s former team, the Vegas Golden Knights) have significant injuries in the blue paint. He could be a key ingredient in carrying a team into postseason success, as he’s a multiple Stanley Cup winner and has been proven as a solid netminder, even as a veteran.

What will the Dallas Stars do at NHL trade deadline?

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Dallas Stars
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A few weeks ago, the Dallas Stars seemed destined for a second straight year of missing the playoffs. But, they are heating up when it matters most. As the deadline nears, with eight wins racked up quickly, Dallas is staring at the top wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

Of course, the Stars still have a handful of games ahead of deadline day, which could decide their fate and actions ahead of March 21. If they continue to win, they will likely become buyers at the deadline, looking to add depth for another playoff run. They did make the Cup final in the NHL’s shortened season (losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning), so that taste of an unlikely, Cinderella-style playoff run is still in their mouths. And, Jason Robertson is playing like he wants it.

But, if they fall out of playoff contention ahead of NHL trade deadline day, they could become sellers, with the likes of John Klingberg, Braden Holtby and Joe Pavelski all on the trading block. Pavelski leads the Stars with 53 points (21 goals, 32 assists) in 50 games, though a majority came early in the season. Klingberg, a power-play specialist, has posted 26 points (one goal, 25 assists) in 43 games.

Anaheim Ducks must find a direction out of limbo

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at Detroit Red Wings
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Also fighting for a playoff spot in the Western Conference, the Anaheim Ducks have to make some lineup calls. Ryan Getzlaf, Rickard Rakell, Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson are all in the final years of their contracts, and could each make attractive signings for teams looking to make a playoff run.

A few short seasons ago, Rakell proved he was capable of potting 30 goals, as he has done it more than once while the Ducks were playoff contenders. Lindholm has grown into a solid blueliner, and the veteran Manson brings grit and physicality to his game, both of which are valuable assets in the playoffs.

Getzlaf, like Giroux, is a veteran who brings leadership to a locker room, making him appealing to younger clubs headed to the playoffs (Colorado Avalanche). But, if goaltender John Gibson stays healthy and the Ducks win key games, they could return to a playoff spot and need these players for a playoff run. Like the Stars, the Ducks will need the next two weeks to dictate their NHL trade deadline day actions.