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Golden Knights, Avalanche and Rangers headline teams to watch at the NHL trade deadline


There is no clear Stanley Cup favorite in the NHL this season, which has the potential to spice up activity before the league's trade deadline Friday as many of the top contenders look to load up for a playoff run.

The defending champion Vegas Golden Knights are chief among them and now have cap space after putting captain Mark Stone on long-term injured reserve. Western Conference rivals Colorado, Edmonton and Dallas are also in the mix. And there are a few expected buyers in the East from Toronto, Detroit and Boston to the New York Rangers.

There is no shortage of quality players potentially available, from Pittsburgh winger Jake Guentzel and Philadelphia defensemen Nick Seeler and Sean Walker to Calgary goaltender Jacob Markstrom. Washington's do-it-all depth center Nic Dowd, signed through next season, has also been generating buzz.

“It’s not by mistake that people are talking about him,” former Capitals teammate and current Flyers forward Garnet Hathaway said. “And I think it’s a long time coming.”

Some teams to watch:


Needs: No. 2 center, defensive depth, backup goaltender.

Possible pickups: Anaheim's Adam Henrique or Seattle's Alexander Wennberg would fit perfectly in the second-line center void that still exists from Nazem Kadri's departure after the Avs won the Cup in 2022. On defense, potential options include the Flyers guys, Washington's Joel Edmundson, Calgary's Noah Hanifin and Arizona's Matt Dumba. Maybe there will be a reunion between Colorado and former franchise stalwart Erik Johnson, now with Buffalo. Alexandar Georgiev is the guy in net, but Montreal's Jake Allen or another veteran goalie would be a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency option.


Needs: Whoever can help them repeat.

Possible pickups: Able to use the space created by putting Stone's $9.5 million salary on LTIR opens the door for a big move and Vegas' front office has made plenty of those in recent years. Guentzel is the big fish and Penguins teammate Reilly Smith could be primed for a return to Las Vegas. The Golden Knights also could use experienced blue liners and value a mix of size, durability and puck moving; Montreal's David Savard would fill that perfectly.


Needs: Fourth-line center, top-nine winger, depth defenseman.

Possible pickups: Guentzel has played with Sidney Crosby, so he'd undoubtedly produce on wing with Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl. Capitals 20-goal scorer Anthony Mantha would come cheaper with the expectation he slides in on Edmonton's second or third line. General manager Ken Holland has said he won't trade for a goaltender, but he could absolutely add a D-man and has plenty of choices, from Walker, Seeler and Edmundson to Columbus' Andrew Peeke or a reacquisition of Tyson Barrie from Nashville. Dowd would also make a ton of sense, potentially in a package with Mantha and/or Edmundson.


Needs: Middle-six center, depth winger.

Possible pickups: The Rangers could use a center like Henrique or Wennberg to slide in behind Mika Zibanejad and Vincent Trocheck and ahead of Barclay Goodrow. Picking up another winger or two, especially with Blake Wheeler's regular season-ending injury, would slide Jimmy Vesey down to the fourth line and give New York some depth. Ottawa's Vladimir Tarasenko, who GM Chris Drury traded for at last year's deadline, would work here, along with Washington veteran Max Pacioretty or St. Louis' Pavel Buchnevich, a former Rangers winger sent to the Blues a few years ago. If Drury swings big, young forward Kaapo Kakko and/or young defenseman Zac Jones could be on the way out.


Needs: Right-shot defensemen, goalie insurance.

Possible pickups: Toronto already reacquired fdefenseman Ilya Lyubushkin from Anaheim because of injuries, but GM Brad Treliving is likely not done. The Leafs have been looking at Washington's Nick Jensen, a smooth skater on the right side, and they could certainly use more physicality on the back end, even if that's with a left-handed shooter or two. It couldn't hurt to get a goaltender in case Joseph Woll and Ilya Samsonov falter; Washington's Charlie Lindgren is signed through next season at the bargain basement cap hit of $1.1 million.


Needs: Backup goalie?

Possible pickups: GM Danny Briere has said he is not buying at the deadline, giving up top prospects or high draft picks for rental players. Getting a veteran netminder at a low acquisition cost (San Jose's Kaapo Kahkonen?) would supplement young Swedes Samuel Ersson and Felix Sandstrom. The Flyers have played so well under coach John Tortorella that Briere calls it a “great problem to have” to balance contending now and eyeing the future, and that should keep him busy in the coming days.


AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl