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If you talk to any NHL general manager, they will tell you there is never a moment of quiet in which they don't look at what things might be done to improve their team's lot in life. That's what the good ones do, anyway. That's why Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero may still be trolling for a deal before Wednesday's deadline. It's why Boston's Peter Chiarelli would still be looking for a nugget even if he'd acquired Brenden Morrow and/or Jarome Iginla.
But the bottom line is, as the deadline approaches, there are teams for whom the urgency meter is rising, rising, rising. That's life. Here's a look at five teams for whom the deadline looms large:
It's not that the Bruins are in dire need of a makeover, but they are certainly a team that could use a tweak as they continue their efforts to reel in surprising Montreal at the top of the Northeast Division. Chiarelli knows how important his moves at the 2011 deadline were to the Bruins' Stanley Cup march. He needs to add some grit/skill up front and, given his history, we have little doubt he'll get his man. Or maybe two of them. Ryane Clowe is certainly on Chiarelli's radar, but what about Jaromir Jagr, who may or may not re-sign with the Dallas Stars? Why not add to the numerous intersecting storylines involving the Penguins and Bruins by bringing the former Penguins scoring star back East?
If ever there was a team that was in need of a shot in the arm via the trade route, the offensively starved Rangers are it. They rank dead last in the league in scoring and seem to have misplaced their rough-and-tumble, take-no-prisoners identity of a year ago when they went to the Eastern Conference finals. Dan Boyle's name has come up repeatedly as a possible trade target, but that doesn't mean it'll happen. Hard to imagine the Rangers missing the playoffs, but it's also hard to imagine them being in this predicament at this point in the season.
Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman could simply welcome injured wingers Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp back to the lineup and call it a day on Wednesday, and the Blackhawks would still be the best team in the Western Conference. But we're guessing Bowman has more up his sleeve. It's easy to see that some depth down the middle would be a priority for Bowman, so Derek Roy has to be a consideration even though they did add Michal Handzus for a fourth-round pick Monday afternoon. If Tyler Bozak of the Leafs is in play that might work, too, as Bowman has lots of attractive young assets at the AHL level.
The Canucks are in a nip and tuck race with red-hot Minnesota for the top spot in the Northwest Division and have an even more glaring need down the middle than the Western Conference-leading Blackhawks. With Ryan Kesler out and David Booth gone for the season, GM Mike Gillis would like to add some help down the middle. The reality is there just is not much available. Gillis also has the albatross formerly known as starting netminder Roberto Luongo to deal with, if not before the deadline, then in the offseason. Interesting times in Vancouver as the Canucks try to position themselves for a long playoff run.
A year ago, Ken Holland gave up a first-round draft pick for Kyle Quincey, and the Wings were done in five games. Hard to imagine Holland going down that road again this year. That said, the Wings would love to add a nice, mobile defenseman to the mix. Some days the Wings look like they're a team that could make a run come playoff time. Other days they look like they did Sunday, when Chicago ate their lunch to the tune of a 7-1 beating. Does Bouwmeester or anyone else change that dynamic appreciably? Not an easy question to digest.