It's that time of year. Once the All-Star break is in the rear view mirror...IT IS ON!
Each year I put together a super secret formula on a spreadsheet taking into account 8 factors. to arrive at..."The Eklund Buyer/Seller Rating"
The factors I use to determine the final numbers are:
* How many points the team is from either making or missing the playoffs?
* How many other teams the team would have to pass or be passed to miss or make the playoffs?
* How many key injuries does the team needs to fill?
* How much Cap Space does the team has to deal with?
* How many pending UFAs does the team have to possibly deal if they are out of contention?
* How high were the team's expectations going into the season?
* How long has it been since the team has either seen the playoffs or made it into the second round?
* How patient is the fanbase?
The first three numbers I will change every week until the deadline at least once as positioning changes and the gaps widen or narrow. The other 5 factors are pretty much set...unless a player is signed to an extension.
Here's how it works:
The higher the number the more a team is a buyer.
Teams above a 30 ranking I would consider definitive buyers.
Teams above 20 are potential buyers.
Teams below 10 are likely sellers.
Teams with a negative number I would consider a definite seller.
Rankings (Let's start with the definite sellers and work backwards with the 30th ranked team first)
#30- Columbus (-26.5)
Shouldn't be a shock at all, but that number is the worst I can remember this soon in the season. A team that has to pass 7 other teams and is 23 points out of a playoff spot, yet only has 3.5M in capspace to play with at the deadline...
#29 Carolina (-3)
Again 14 points out and a market that appears to be willing to stick with a re-build. They trust Rutherford in Carolina, that's for sure. I fully expect Ruutu to be moved...likey this week. San Jose and Chicago are taking the lead. It appears Toronto is not in this one anymore.
#28- Tampa (1.9)
Barely hanging over the zero mark right now. This coming week could be everything.
#27 Anaheim (2)
Anaheim is my sleeper to make a run. When I look at the teams they are chasing I feel Anaheim is much better than all of them. It would take a true miracle, but it reminds me of the Devils run last year. They could make a big move, but not when the team is playing so well as of late.
#26 Buffalo (2.2)
A terrible record combined with high salaries and a very frustrated fan base means the core could be shaken. No trading Miller though.
#25 Edmonton (4)
The Oilers need a d-man in the worst way. I wouldn't really call Edmonton "A Seller" as much as I would call Edmonton "A Trader." They need to make real hockey trades and not dump players for picks or potential.
#24 Calgary (4.2)
Very little cap space to deal combined with 8 Pending UFA's tempting them to make moves towards the future could push Calgary to sellers. Many feel they should be sellers, but to their credit they are still bent on making the show.
#23 NY Islanders 8.1
The Isles are right on the bubble of a ten rating which would put them into the Neutral category. The Isles have tons of Cap Space, but they also have 12 pending UFAs.
Neutral Teams (not considered buyers or sellers at this point...)
#22 Phoenix (13)
The Coyotes have tons of space and a fan base not really pushing too hard for a team without an owner to go hog wild.
#21 New Jersey (16)
The Devils have some space to deal with and could get a ton for Parise if they choose to shop him around...They are right on the playoff bubble.
#20 Montreal (20)
The Habs are not yet throwing in the towel. It would be simply unacceptable in this town, plus with only 5 pending UFA's and roughly 13 million in cap space to deal with the Habs may not be very good sellers anyway.
#19 Dallas (22)
Many want the Stars to be sellers, but also remember this is a team who needs to make the playoffs for financial reasons...they are trending towards a buyer.
#18 Washington (22.6)
The Caps made quite a few moves this summer, and are right up against the cap. They definitely would like to be able to make a hockey trade though. Especially if they can move Semin who has pretty much run out of chances in DC.
#17 Toronto (25.9)
This is definitely the most "buyerish" I have ever had the Leafs over the past few seasons. There is little doubt they are looking big. They want a big player size-wise, but with limited cap space Burke will need to be creative. Been a long time since the post season as well.
#16 LA Kings (26.1)
The Kings need offense in a big way. Could Carter be heading to LA to join his best bud Richards? I heard today it's possible.
#15 Florida (27)
The Panthers have had a truly remarkable season, but it won't much matter if they end up in their usual 9th or 10th on the outside looking in. Can't recall Florida ever being in the top 15 of this ranking.
#14 Winnipeg (29)
The Jets need to fill some holes and the excitement around the team is likely to push them to do so. They can to use their copious amounts of Cap space. The Jets are only a point away from being classified as definite buyers. If they play well over this week it will likely be assured.
#13 Colorado (31)
The Avs are sitting right on the bubble with Gobs of cap space to play with. Expect them to use it to attempt to assure themselves a spot in the dance.
The Penguins have a nearly 7 million dollars to play with and they are currently one of the hottest team's in hockey with Malkin just being lethal on the ice. Mario likes to make trades.
#11-San Jose (34.9)
The Sharks are sitting in a nice spot and only have 5 pending UFAs to worry about. The Sharks have been very solid. Quietly solid for them...which could be a good thing.
#10- Minnesota (37)
As much as they have struggled the Wild have just been destroyed by injuries. The fanbase has retained its high expectations from the early, healthy Wild. They are in a 'must make the playoffs' frame of mind as well.
#9- Vancouver (38.4)
The Canucks have very little cap space to work with. Just under 2 million. Yet they are also willing to make hockey trades, and after their trip to the Final and how well the team played after its slow start I expect a few guys like Mason and Ballard to be available.
#8 -Ottawa (40)
The Sens are in an absolutely fantastic spot, despite their pre-All-Star weekend slumping. Getting contributions from guys on their ELC's has meant they have a ton of cap space and only 5 pending UFA's. The Sens will go hard after a rental or two.
#7- Boston (41.1)
The Bruins aren't trading Thomas. No way, no how. They are sitting in second in the Conference, hot as hell, and with over 7 million in cap space to find a perfect complimentary player.
#6- NY Rangers (42.4)
The Rangers are riding a Vezina season from Lundqvist and doing so with great work ethic and grind out wins. They have had some defensive injuries that made them look towards guys like Gleason..
#5- Philadelphia (43.2)
The Flyers have about 3.2 in cap space to play with as it now stands, and they were definitely looking to create more space according to rumors. With Gleason, Beauchemin and Suter not moving don't be surprised to see the Flyers go for a big time forward at the deadline. They have a lot of depth from which to deal.
#4- Nashville (48)
Been a long time since the Preds were this highly ranked in my buyer/seller system. The last time they were they went out and grabbed Forsberg. Last year the Preds got past their first round ghosts and this year they are very hungry for more...and to show Suter and Weber their commitment.
The Hawks are way too strong of a team to be sitting on this kind of space ($23M according to CapGeek) The Hawks need to address defense and may well also get a strong third goalie just in case...heard Sanford from Columbus may be a target.
#2-St Louis (52)
Have to admit I was shocked to see the Blues ranked as the second most likely team to be a buyer...I guess I have been conditioned to the Blues not making many aggressive moves. Well right now the Blues are solid in the playoffs by 10 points and have over 25M in cap space. And they have Hitchcock...who loves the deadline and loves to target certain players.
#1-Detroit Red Wings (62)
The Highest ranking of a buyer since I started, it is safe to say the Wings will be buyers...and aggressive buyers. When was the last time a team who led their Conference had over $20M to play with and only 5 pending UFA's? It hasn't happened since the Lockout and salary caps took over. The Wings, Blues and Hawks have the luxury of taking on players who aren't rentals...and that's where this gets really fun.
So to summarize....
2 Definite Sellers
6 Probable Sellers
2 Neutral teams
7 Probable Buyers
and 13 definite Buyers
So it is a sellers market for sure....for now.