DETROIT MI - DECEMBER 08: Kevin Klein #8 of the Nashville Predators watches the game winning goal by J-P Dumont #71 (not shown) go past Jimmy Howard #35 of the Detroit Red Wings at the Joe Louis Arena on December 8 2010 in Detroit Michigan. The Predators defeated the Red Wings 3-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The NHL's Central Division At The 2011 Trade Deadline: Rumors And Expectations

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Chicago Blackhawks At The 2011 NHL Trade Deadline: Rumors, Needs And Expectations

Is it already time to throw in the towel for the defending Stanley Cup champions? What was an up-and-down season now seems to be more on the negative side. Everyone expected the Hawks to take a hit when their secondary scoring essentially disappeared in their post-Cup dismantle, but their weaknesses have certainly been exposed.

GM Stan Bowman recently added Michael Frolik to try and punch up the offense while the Hawks are publicly trying to extend Brent Seabrook before he hits restricted free agency. And while Chicago’s power play may be clicking at a high percentage, their penalty kill is one of the worst in the league.

Status: On the bubble. Chicago is part of the messy logjam between 3rd and 12th in the Western Conference. If they have a bad week, the Hawks may just cut their losses and attempt to create cap flexibility with an eye on the Brent Seabrook contract.

Need: A time machine to bring back Duncan Keith and Dave Bolland from last year. Barring that, penalty kill help for both forward and defense

Players On The Block: Nick Boynton ($0.5 million), Tomas Kopecky ($1.2 million), Marty Turco ($1.3 million).

Prediction: Stan Bowman tries to make a deal with Satan to make Marian Hossa and Brian Campbell disappear ($13 million in cap space for a combined 50-or-so points this season). Satan declines, and the Hawks trade away draft picks for depth players.

Further Reading From Second City Hockey

This story was written by Mike Chen.

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Columbus Blue Jackets At The 2011 NHL Trade Deadline: Rumors, Needs And Expectations

The Columbus Blue Jackets’ season has literally been up and down, almost with a freakish regularity. If you look at their game log, you’ll see alternating streaks of good and bad -- and most of this syncs up with the statistics of their goaltending.

Even though the Jackets seemed left for dead a few weeks ago, they’ve entered that proverbial "find a way to win" mode, which means that they’re clawing their way back into the jumble that is the Western Conference. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll be buyers or sellers, though.

GM Scott Howson has encountered criticism after consecutive seasons where promising first halves have faltered; he faces a tenuous situation -- make a splashy deal to create waves through the market or gather what assets he can.

Status: On The Bubble. Like many Western Conference teams, a losing streak in the week before the deadline could dictate what moves are made.

Need: Scoring by committee, a power play quarterback, and something to make Steve Mason consistent.

Players On The Block: Rostislav Klesla ($2.95 million), Jan Hejda ($2 million), Mike Commodore ($1.895 million, re-entry waivers)

Prediction: The Jackets move Jan Hejda for some forward depth and no one takes Mike Commodore.

More Reading From The Cannon

This story was written by Mike Chen.

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Detroit Red Wings At The 2011 NHL Trade Deadline: Rumors, Needs And Expectations

Despite encountering a few bumps along the way, the Detroit Red Wings come in with a significant lead over the Nashville Predators for the Central Division crown. They’ve had their share of injuries, and things haven’t necessarily gone as smoothly as they’d like, but barring a total collapse, Detroit should be steady-as-she-goes until the playoffs roll around even though the team’s goals-against is higher than GM Ken Holland would like to see.

With an injury to Chris Osgood and some inconsistent play from Jimmy Howard ever since the Evgeni Nabokov debacle, goaltending seems to be once again be the big need in Detroit. The question remains: will that be for a co-starter or simply emergency backup?

Status: Buyer

Need: Goaltending, defensive forwards to help the uncharacteristically shaky penalty kill.

Available: Ruslan Salei ($1.1 million), Patrick Eaves ($0.75 million)

Prediction: Ken Holland has publicly voiced his confidence in his current group and there’s little reason to believe that was false bravado. Look for Detroit to make a move for a backup goaltender and that’s about it.

Further Reading From Winging It In Motown

This story was written by Mike Chen.

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Nashville Predators At The 2011 NHL Trade Deadline: Rumors, Needs And Expectations

Those pesky, ever-resilient Nashville Predators -- every time it seems like they’re primed to disappoint, they show once again why Barry Trotz is one of the best coaches in the NHL. They play a hard-working and gritty game, which is why new acquisition Mike Fisher is a perfect fit. He may hover around 15-20 goals for the rest of his career but he certainly fits the two-way Nashville mold and ads strength up the middle.

Still, he’s not the game-breaker that Nashville so desperately needs. And despite having big guns like Ryan Suter and Shea Weber on the blue line, the power play still suffers.

Status: Buyer

Need: Scoring, power play forward, second-unit power play defenseman

Players On The Block: JP Dumont ($4 million)

Prediction: Nashville rolls the dice and makes some secondary depth picks in the hopes that scoring-by-committee approach works into April and May.

Further Reading From On The Forecheck

This story was written by Mike Chen.

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St. Louis Blues At The 2011 NHL Trade Deadline: Rumors, Needs And Expectations

The St. Louis Blues were really good for about a month this season. After that month, goaltender Jaroslav Halak came back down to earth, then got injured, and the rest of the team kind of disappeared.

Even though the Blues could still make a theoretical push for the playoffs -- a five-or six-game win streak could put them back in the thick of things -- their management has seen the writing on the wall and begun the rebuild while assets maintained their value. That means goodbye to underachieving Erik Johnson, defensive-forward Jay McClement and UFA-to-be Eric Brewer.

Status: Sellers

Needs: Scoring in all forms, defense to eat up the minute lost by Brewer and Johnson, penalty kill help to replace McClement.

Players On The Block: Barret Jackman ($3.625 million), Ty Conklin ($1.3 million).

Prediction: Some team wildly overpays for Ty Conklin but Jackman continues to wear the bluenote.

More From St. Louis Game Time

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