From December 19th through midnight on the 27th the NHL implements a league wide roster freeze. During this freeze a team can not call up or send down players and most importantly they are not allowed to trade. This is a sentiment for the players since it wouldn’t be much of a Christmas gift to be traded, but now it’s open season and the freeze is over. Let the crazy rumors and head scratching trades begin.
There are a few teams that have been itching for the freeze to end: the Anaheim Ducks, the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Chicago Blackhawks. Two of these teams are dead last in their conference and the bottom two teams in the league, so why would they be dying for the freeze to end? Luckily for Anaheim they play in the worst division in all of hockey, so they might be last in the Western Conference, but they are only five points out of a playoff spot. The Ducks, who are basically the same team that was one game away from playing for the Stanley Cup last season, can’t seem to find their groove this year. They are struggling with scoring inconsistency and lack an elite goaltender. Frederick Andersen is not the answer. I told people that before the season started. He had a good playoff run, but an eighty-two game season is an entirely different monster. Look for the Ducks to make a move sooner rather than later if things don’t change in a hurry. If the Ducks don’t make a trade I expect Bruce Boudreau to be out behind the bench.
Columbus is in a different boat. They’ve already fired one coach this season and I don’t expect them to make it two, therefore Columbus needs to make a trade. If I’m Jarmo Kekalainen I sell. I trade Johansen, I trade Hartnell, I trade Foligno. Stock up on prospects and picks, or a top 4 defenseman if you can. Then, hope to win the Auston Matthews sweepstakes and build around him. I know Columbus fans are tired of the whole rebuild idea, but with the current situation they’re in, it’s probably the best option. Ryan Johansen is a world-class talent, but it’s just not working out for him in Columbus. Both the organization and player need to cut ties and start fresh.
The Chicago Blackhawks are a team you wouldn’t expect to see on this list. They’re third in a stacked Central Division and have played okay in their last ten games (6-4). The Blackhawks are missing something though. Something that with the loss of Brandon Saad made blatant. The Chicago Blackhawks are lacking a top line left-wing. Andrew Shaw, Ryan Garbutt, Marko Dano, and Teuvo Teravainen. Those four have split time at the top line left-wing this season, with Teravainen fitting the best, but still not fitting well enough. Yes, the Blackhawks could also use help on the blue line, but I believe the need for a wing outweighs the need for a defensemen. Mikkel Boedker, Jeff Skinner, and James van Riemsdyk could all be options for the Hawks, although the latter is probably a pipe dream. If the Hawks can find a winger to play with Toews and Hossa they will find some scoring consistency and once again make a run at the Stanley Cup.