A look at buyers and sellers

Market thin for teams wanting to add

Let the shopping begin.

With the NHL trade deadline set for Feb. 28 at 3 p.m., many of the league’s 30 GMs are still trying to figure out whether they’re going to be buyers or sellers.

At last year’s deadline, there were 31 deals involving 55 players.

It would be hard to believe that is going to happen again.

Fans sitting in front of their TVs waiting for a blockbuster trade are likely to be disappointed.

Of course, with Mike Fisher and Francois Beauchemin having been traded, the market is already thinned.

In the East, it looks like four teams will be battling for the last two playoff spots. In the West, it might take 95 points to get into the post-season.

What will hamper this year’s deadline is the lack of big names available.

It would appear the Stars aren’t going to move centre Brad Richards, who would have easily been the best player available.

The list of confirmed sellers is small. The Senators, Islanders, Devils, Blue Jackets, Maple Leafs and Blues have all thrown in the towel for this season, which means they’ll deal.

Those teams will focus on trying to move pending unrestricted free agents to clear off some cash.

The Senators and Leafs are willing to talk just about anybody on their roster.

“Lots of small trades,” predicted a league executive. “It’s pretty much the same every year, isn’t it? Depth players for draft picks. You don’t usually see the big names go anywhere.”

That’s usually what the deadline is: Teams looking to add depth while trying to make sure their competitors don’t bulk up.

The biggest players suddenly could be the Penguins.

Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero has always had the ability to make shrewd moves.

He’s going to face a huge challenge this season with Sidney Crosby (post-concussion) sidelined and Evgeni Malkin (knee) gone for the season.

There is no timetable for Crosby’s return. With Richards likely off the market, that takes away a huge piece for all of the contenders who want a forward.