It's only a month into the 2019-20 NHL season, and several clubs are already off to rough starts.
Some teams, like the Ottawa Senators and Detroit Red Wings, are rebuilding clubs that aren't expected to be serious playoff contenders. However, interestingly, they've already been active in the trade market. On Oct. 7, the Senators acquired center Vladislav Namestnikov from the New York Rangers. Over two weeks later, the Wings picked up winger Brendan Perlini from the Chicago Blackhawks.
Others, such as the San Jose Sharks and New Jersey Devils, were expected to be top playoff contenders this season; however, their lousy records in the early going threaten to scuttle their playoff hopes. That could force their respective general managers into the trade market for a season-saving deal.
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There's a belief around the league that GMs start getting more active in the trade market around the American Thanksgiving weekend. Here's a look at five clubs that could be shopping for help by then.
San Jose Sharks
Despite a star-studded roster featuring the likes of Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns and Logan Couture, the Sharks entered this week at the bottom of the Western Conference standings with just four wins in 15 games. A sputtering offense hasn't helped. Their 2.50 goals-for per game, but in the end, porous goaltending is the biggest concern.
Martin Jones and Aaron Dell combined for a woeful 3.63 goals-against per game. In turn, GM Doug Wilson could soon be in the hunt for an upgrade between the pipes.
New Jersey Devils
The Devils were expected to become one of the league's top teams after adding P.K. Subban, Wayne Simmonds, Nikita Gusev and top prospect Jack Hughes over the 2019 offseason. Instead, they managed just three victories in their first 13 contests.
Like San Jose, goaltending is an issue for New Jersey. Cory Schneider and Mackenzie Blackwood's combined 3.92 goals-against per game is among the league's worst. The Devils' special teams also need work. They rank among the bottom 10 teams on the power play and penalty kill.
Here’s the Devils first power play goal of the season on a rifled shot by Palmieri pic.twitter.com/R1f1xRMhpQ
— Alex Chauvancy (@a_chauvancy23) October 18, 2019
Entering this season with a defense corps already depleted by the off-season departures of Jacob Trouba, Tyler Myers and Ben Chiarot, the Jets suffered a further blow when Dustin Byfuglien took a leave of absence to ponder his future. He's now sidelined by ankle surgery for at least four months as his relationship with the front office is reportedly deteriorating.
With Byfuglien facing an uncertain future in Winnipeg, the Jets need some experienced blueline depth to remain in playoff contention. GM Kevin Cheveldayoff could prefer waiting to see how things shake out with Big Buff. Another uneven month like October, however, could force him into the market.
— LA Kings (@LAKings) October 23, 2019
New York Rangers
Off-season acquisitions in Artemi Panarin, Jacob Trouba and promising prospect Kaapo Kakko were supposed to accelerate the rebuilding Rangers into postseason contenders. With 11 points in 12 games, though, there's room for improvement.
Their puck-possession stats are among the league's worst, their PIMs per game (12:30) are among the highest and they're giving up too many shots-against per game (35.4, which ranks second league-wide). Left unaddressed, those issues could send the Rangers sinking out of the playoff picture.
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The Wild are a mess in the State of Hockey this season. With just five victories in 15 games, they're near the bottom of the Western Conference standings (third-worst). Finding a solution is the first major test facing first-year GM Bill Guerin.
It won't be easy — Minnesota needs help at both ends of the ice. They carry too many aging veterans on expensive contracts, many with no-movement clauses. Guerin has preached patience, but that could soon be tested if things don't turn around soon. In fact, the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch recently reported young forwards Kevin Fiala, Ryan Donato and Joel Eriksson Ek could be available.