NHL Trade Deadline 2013: Predicting Which Teams Will Become Sellers

Donald Wood@@Donald_WoodFeatured ColumnistMarch 5, 2013

Feb 23, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; New York Islanders defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky (11) during the game against the Buffalo Sabres at the First Niagara Center. Islanders beat the Sabres 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 NHL trade deadline is scheduled for April 3, and with just over a month until the big day, the standings are starting to depict which teams will be sellers.

While the trade market hasn’t heated up just yet, the farther teams fall away from contention, the more willing these franchises will be to start moving players with expiring deals or hefty contracts.

All of the following teams will falter and miss the playoffs, resulting in the front office dumping salaries and trading players away before the deadline. The trade market is quiet now, but that will be shattered as April 3 approaches.

All contract information provided by CapGeek.com.


Buffalo Sabres

The Buffalo Sabres sit at 9-12-2 so far this season and just three points out of eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings.

On the surface it looks like the team has a chance to make the postseason, and mathematically they do, but the turmoil of firing long-time head coach Lindy Ruff (h/t ESPN) midseason has only caused more chaos for the struggling team.

As the Sabres continue to struggle and fall out of contention, expect the franchise to make the smart move and possibly sell off a few of the team’s impending free agents like Jochen Hecht, Robyn Regehr or Jordan Leopold.

Buffalo could string together a few huge wins and reverse the fortune of the organization, but if the team didn’t do it under the leadership of Ruff, the Sabres will likely continue to falter and become key sellers at the deadline.


Calgary Flames

Another team on the outside of the playoff picture looking in is the Calgary Flames, and while the team has started playing well recently, the lack of consistent production will doom the veteran-laden team’s postseason dreams.

This means the Flames will likely be sellers at the deadline, and Calgary could be holding the biggest trade piece of 2013—impending free agent Jarome Iginla.

Iginla is the most talented player rumored to be traded (h/t Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun), and the fact that his contract is up at the conclusion of this season only adds credence to the idea that Calgary could part with their long-time leader.

If the Flames fall out of the hunt for the playoffs before the April 3 trade deadline, there is a serious chance a future Hall of Famer could be moved.


New York Islanders

At 9-11-2 so far this season, the New York Islanders have proven that the team’s young core of offensive stars will be great going forward, but their mixture of veteran offensive defensemen and porous goaltending isn’t getting the job done.

When the Islanders inevitably fall out of the playoff chase as the contenders continue to separate themselves from the pretenders, look for impending unrestricted free agents like forward Brad Boyes or the veteran tandem of Lubomir Visnovsky and Mark Streit to be on teams’ trade radars.

Visnovsky and Streit are both mediocre defensive defenders at this point in their careers, but with booming shots and offensive prowess, these two stars could turn a contending team into a Stanley Cup favorite.

Teams on the cusp of contending for a championship will be looking to add a defender that can play point on the power play and add an offensive touch to a secondary defensive pairing. The calls will start coming for New York about an asking price.