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Which Pacific Division team will make a big deadline move?
@ESPN_Burnside: The big question as we head into the final weekend before the trade deadline is which California city Pierre will be headed to for the first round of the playoffs. With the Anaheim Ducks winning their sixth straight Wednesday night -- a 1-0 blanking of the Sabres by Frederik Andersen -- and the San Jose Sharks squeaking out a loser's point against the Colorado Avalanche, the top of the Pacific Division is as tight as can be. The Los Angeles Kings' once-monumental lead has shrunk to two points over the Ducks and four over the Sharks. All three teams have played 59 games. San Jose has already added defenseman Roman Polak, and the Kings would like to add a piece at least along the blue line. The Ducks are interesting given how well they've played, going an incredible 13-1-1 in their past 15 games, but GM Bob Murray could move a surplus of defensemen to make a bigger addition up front. Sami Vatanen's name has been mentioned, and he scored the lone goal in Thursday's win. So, which of the big boys in the Pacific faces the most pressure to make a move by Monday afternoon and, more important, where does Pierre begin his California dreaming this spring?
@Real_ESPNLeBrun: Scotty, I think it's safe to say I'll be hanging my hat somewhere in Los Angeles, Anaheim and/or San Jose come springtime, because some traditions are just worth cherishing, right? It's going to be some pretty exciting big-boy hockey between the California teams, and it's clearer than ever that none of the three will be caught by anyone else in the Pacific. The question is, which team wins the Pacific to avoid an all-California first-round matchup and get a date with the likes of Colorado, the Nashville Predators or Minnesota Wild as a wild-card entry? The Ducks have been the hottest team in hockey since the Christmas break, going 20-4-2 since then. My goodness. Shouldn't Bruce Boudreau be in the Jack Adams conversation? Both the Kings and Ducks have at least one trade in them before Monday's deadline. The game is on.
@CraigCustance: Pierre, maybe because I'm only slightly obsessed with the trade deadline, that's the most interesting part of the California debate: Who adds the most? San Jose struck first with the Polak addition, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Sharks solidify their goaltending with another move. Still, the Ducks and Kings are two teams firmly on my radar in the next few days. Both GMs -- Anaheim's Murray and L.A.'s Dean Lombardi -- have a history of being bold this time of year, and both have the motivation to add with teams primed to make a postseason run. I can see the Kings adding both a forward and defenseman, and we had an interesting debate the Hockey Today podcast about whether the Ducks should add a defenseman if they spin Vatanen (or another D-man) for forward help. I'm of the mind that they should, even with the organizational depth they have on defense, because Murray may prefer having veteran depth rather than going too young on defense. My preseason pick for the Stanley Cup final was the Washington Capitals versus the Anaheim Ducks, and I've never felt better about it than I do right now.
@ESPNJoeyMac: Scotty, I wouldn't be shocked if Pierre has already booked his room at the Anaheim Suites. The Ducks have morphed into the powerhouse everyone thought they would be, but have they peaked too early? We've seen that happen before. As for buying or selling at the deadline, Murray should stand pat. The team is loaded with depth at every position, so there's no need to make a move just for the sake of making one. Sure, most GMs will always try to improve their team, but Anaheim is hitting its stride and has become a Cup contender once again. I'm hoping the Ducks reach the Stanley Cup finals, because I also picked them to come out of the West in our preseason poll and a off-day trip to Disneyland with the boys would be fun.
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