By my reckoning, at this point in the season, these are the teams that will probably not make the playoffs: Edmonton, Anaheim, Columbus, Calgary (with Dallas and Phoenix leaning); also, Tampa Bay, NYI, Carolina, Montreal, and maybe Buffalo. Most of these teams would have to go on incredible, as well as improbable, runs in order to squeeze into the playoffs.
Of course, there are other teams on the bubble that will certainly drop. If Gillis is going to deal before the deadline, these are the most likely teams that will be sellers.
In my mind, the Canucks' most pressing need is for a solid, tough, top-4 D-man (what else is new, ay?
)Our D is good, but somewhat fragile! And, as we know, that fragility will be tested during the playoffs. We have good depth guys for the 5th and 6th D. Actually we have bone-fide surplus at that position!
The problem is that all of those guys would be a bit worrisome if they had to fill in at the top 4 (this year). Of course, the problem has been Ballard (sigh). He was supposed to be a top 4 guy - and he just isn't!
Unfortunately, he can only be depended upon to play regularly on the bottom pairing. And (to all those Ballard apologists), yes, he can fill in sometimes at 3 or 4. But only during the regular season!! He is just not dependable enough to be there during the playoffs.
I'm not going to belabor the Ballard trade. Suffice to say, at the time, getting Ballard (even at the overpayment) was the only certain supposed top 4 D Gillis could count on. I do think, however, that MG should have traded him during the summer or at the start of the season (MG should have listened to his coaches, and not Ballard's agent!). So, moving on with this...Ballard's underperformance has made the need for a real top 4 D critical. Salo's injury has moved it into the urgent level!
So, what to do?
If you look at the rosters from the non-playoff teams (above), can you see anyone who could fulfill that top 4 D position? And, could be available for a reasonable sum? And, please, don't say Gleason! That guy is not a top 4 D on a team like the Canucks! And forget young RFA studs. Why would any (losing) team trade those assets? The pickings are few and far between! Actually, very disappointing. But, what if MG was able to trade Ballard (to an Eastern team, like Philly) for picks/prospect etc. MG would then have the cap space to actually get serious about acquiring someone like Suter! No guarantee of closing a deal, but, at least he would be a legit bidder. And, who knows, maybe Ballard could be a part of the package that gets Suter! Stranger things have happened recently.
Anyway, if anyone can come up with another bone-fide top4 D who we could trade for at the deadline, I would love to hear!