Pacific Division at the trade deadline: Vegas the ultimate X factor

The Golden Knights have had much to celebrate during their record-breaking inaugural season. Will GM George McPhee make any big additions ahead of the trade deadline? Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The National Hockey League trade deadline arrives on Monday, Feb. 26. So far, we've taken a look at the Metro, Atlantic and Central divisions, which means it's time to take a deep dive into the Pacific.

How deep will the Oilers go in their roster refurbishment? Which California team is the next one to make a significant move? And do you realize we live in a world where the expansion Golden Knights might actually be ... buyers?

Note: Salary cap information is from Cap Friendly, while personnel information is from media reports and our own reporting.


Anaheim Ducks

Deadline cap space: $15,850,622

Biggest needs: Scoring winger

Assets in play: The Ducks have all their picks for the next two years, save for a third in 2019 and both seventh-rounders. They also own the Devils' third this season. They have a trio of veteran unrestricted free agents: Center Antoine Vermette (35, UFA, $1.75M, modified no-trade), defenseman Kevin Bieksa (35, UFA, $4M, no-move) and defenseman Francois Beauchemin (37, UFA, $1M).

Deadline game plan: The Ducks are one of those teams in that nebulous space between contention and regression, between buying and selling. If GM Bob Murray seeks to add a piece, Rangers forward Michael Grabner (30, UFA, $1.65M) would seem like an ideal fit with his speed. But Murray sounded downright pessimistic about this Ducks group and using the trade deadline to give them a boot to the rear. Which is weird when the window to win would seem to be right now, given the age of the core.

Calgary Flames

Deadline cap space: $9,454,110

Biggest needs: Top scoring winger, depth center

Assets in play: The Flames are in a bit of a pickle when it comes to draft picks. They don't own their first or their second this year, their second next year and potentially a third next year as well (if they make the playoffs). So it could be a player-for-player route for Calgary instead. Among their UFAs are center Matt Stajan (31, UFA, $3.25M, partial no-trade) and defenseman Matt Bartkowski (29, UFA, $612,500). But the real intrigue is around goalie Jon Gillies, 24, the Providence product who's ranked behind Tyler Parsons in the goalie pipeline.

Deadline game plan: Mike Hoffman from Ottawa (28, 2020 UFA, $5,187,500) would be an ideal fit, with the ability to play both wings and serve as an asset on the power play -- the Flames are 27th in the league, at 16.6 percent. Other than that, perhaps a rental center that, as Eric Duhatschek writes, "could win a few more faceoffs and take some of the defensive pressure off rookie center Mark Jankowski." Paging Carolina's Derek Ryan (31, UFA, $1.425M) ...

Los Angeles Kings

Deadline cap space: $9,454,110

Biggest needs: Depth winger

Assets in play: The Kings have all their picks for the next three years, minus a fifth and a seventh this season. Among their UFAs are forward Torrey Mitchell (33, UFA, $1.8M) and defenseman Christian Folin (27, UFA, $850,000).

Deadline game plan: Will the Kings do anything as impactful as the trade that netted them defenseman Dion Phaneuf and forward Nate Thompson for veteran winger Marian Gaborik and center Nick Shore? Well, the Kings were reportedly in pursuit of Evander Kane at one point. Rick Nash is hanging out there, too, and that's an L.A. Kings-style player if we've ever seen one. But it's most likely going to be a less impactful forward, what with the Kings' other deadline "acquisition" -- a healthy Jeff Carter -- on the way back.

San Jose Sharks

Deadline cap space: $26,177,789

Biggest needs: Center

Assets in play: Sharks are missing their second- and third-rounders this year, but otherwise have all their picks for the next three years. Among their UFAs are forwards Jannik Hansen (31, UFA, $2M) and Joel Ward (37, UFA, $3.275M), and goalie Aaron Dell (28, UFA, $625,000).

Deadline game plan: The Sharks are in a playoff spot, but a tenuous one. As they wait for Joe Thornton to return from injury, they could be in the market for a center -- even if GM Doug Wilson is usually loathe to rent players. But it should be a quiet deadline in theory, with Wilson ready to liberally spend that projected $24.3 million in cap space he'll have this summer -- throwing much of it at center John Tavares, one imagines.

Vegas Golden Knights

Deadline cap space: $37,871,465

Biggest needs: Bottom-six forward.

Assets in play: The Golden Knights have their first-, second-, fifth- and sixth-round picks this season, along with a fourth from the Penguins, a fifth from Carolina and a sixth from the Leafs. In 2019, they have seven draft picks -- a first, three seconds and three thirds -- in the first three rounds. They also have a first and three second-rounders in 2020. Granted, they don't really have much of a prospect pool, so keeping the majority of these picks is paramount. That's if they're buying.

Deadline game plan: None of us expected the Knights would be challenging for the conference title and potentially the Stanley Cup, so none of us really knows what GM George McPhee is thinking here. Are pending UFAs David Perron and James Neal in play? Or has Vegas gone from playing with house money to hedging their bets a bit?

If the Knights are looking to add to their roster, while keeping Neal and Perron, it'll most likely be secondary scoring in their bottom six. The top two lines have generated 60 goals at 5-on-5 this season; every other line that has played at least 50 5-on-5 minutes together has generated 17. Whether it's a player-for-player "hockey trade" or picks, McPhee has the assets to acquire an expiring contract that can help.

But do the Knights need help? This team has defied expectations as a group of players who were rejected by their former teams. They have a collective chip on their shoulder. They were meticulously selected by management for good chemistry on and off the ice, and that chemistry has resulted in the best expansion season in NHL history. Does McPhee mess with that formula when it has proven to be this potent?


Arizona Coyotes

Deadline cap space: $74,758,827

Likely available: D Niklas Hjalmarsson, (30, 2019 UFA, $4.1M, no-trade); F Brad Richardson (33, UFA, $2,083,333); D Luke Schenn (28, UFA, $1.25M);

Would they actually deal... Forward Max Domi (22, RFA, $863,333)? Domi has four goals in 57 games. Four! His name has been kicked around the Canadian media being potentially available, with Elliotte Friedman going as far as to say that "the Coyotes are prepared to give him a fresh start, pending a fair offer. If it doesn't come before the deadline, expect it at the draft."

Deadline game plan: Every player on this roster outside of Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Clayton Keller is available in some way, shape or form. Could that include someone like Hjalmarsson, acquired in a high-profile deal last summer? For what it's worth, the plugged-in Craig Morgan is on record that the Coyotes won't be major players at the deadline.

Best-case scenario: A few more people stop asking about Ekman-Larsson as another deadline passes with him still on the Coyotes.

Edmonton Oilers

Deadline cap space: $36,499,575

Likely available: LW Patrick Maroon (29, UFA, $1.5M); C Mark Letestu (33, UFA, $1.8M); LW/RW Anton Slepyshev (23, RFA, $925,000); pretty much everyone not named Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl.

Would they actually deal... Defenseman Oscar Klefbom (24, 2023 UFA, $4.167M)? He's having a dreadful season (14 points in 51 games), and has a portable contract with that term and cap hit. In the right deal, it's feasible that Edmonton deals him. It's also feasible he becomes the next Justin Schultz if they do.

Deadline game plan: Maroon is a goner, although it's possible he returns to the Oilers as a free agent this summer. He could earn a decent return, too, as the cheaper alternative to the likes of Nash and Kane (with a bit of sandpaper, too). Letestu should also be moved to a team looking to bolster its bottom six, perhaps back to the Penguins. The big question: Will GM Peter Chiarelli start to reshape this roster now, or do those dramatic moves wait until the draft?

Best-case scenario: Getting a first-rounder for Maroon, and then getting him back as a free agent this summer.

Vancouver Canucks

Deadline cap space: $1,572,500

Likely available: LW/RW Thomas Vanek (34, UFA, $2M); D Erik Gudbranson (26, UFA, $3.5M).

Would they actually deal... Defenseman Chris Tanev (28, UFA 2020, $4.45M, modified no-trade)? Recovering from a micro-fracture in his leg, he should be back playing before the trade deadline. He'd be a coveted player if available; then again, he could be part of the solution in Vancouver.

Deadline game plan: If it's the trade deadline, then Vanek is on the move. Gudbranson is trickier, as GM Jim Benning -- fresh off signing a new contract extension -- has been vocal about trying to re-up the physical defenseman. One thing is for sure: Every veteran player on the roster who isn't a Swedish twin should stay near the phone on deadline day, because the youth movement is on in Vancouver.

Best-case scenario: We're not huge Gudbranson fans, so finding someone willing to surrender a first-rounder for him in a trade would be ideal. But really, the best-case scenario is that the Canucks have a productive deadline that helps change fan perception that re-upping Benning was a mistake.