Entering the 2018 trade deadline, the Central Division is in a unique spot. Dominated by two teams, the Toledo Walleye and Ft. Wayne Komets, four teams are in the midst of a battle to win the remaining two playoff spots.
Although the four teams are solid, trades at this time could make or break their playoff contention; whether it be simply getting in, or lasting past the first round. Per usual, the disadvantage at least one of these teams have is the dominance and needs of their AHL affiliate, which hinders some moves they would otherwise make (or lack thereof) if it were for more certainty from their parent club.
Toledo Walleye (40-14-3-2, 85 pts — 1st in Central Division)
Home Record: 24-4-1-0
Road Record: 16-10-2-2
Last 10 Games: 7-2-1-0
Greatest Need: Toledo needs a physical defenseman like a Sean Zimmerman, and Head Coach Dan Watson has said it himself that he’d like to see one added to the roster.
Deadline Prediction: They will likely get a defenseman by giving up a forward such as Tyler Barnes or Austen Brassard. The two haven’t been on the same point totals as years past. Toledo could also move a forward like Christian Hillbrich, who’s limited at 6’7″, yet could be attractive to other teams. Even though it’s unlikely to happen, the Walleye could trade one of their high forwards and franchise players, like A.J. Jenks or Kyle Bonis, which would basically be saying they are all in.
Ft. Wayne Komets (29-15-2-1, 81 pts — 2nd in Central Division)
Home Record: 21-5-2-1
Road Record: 18-10-0-0
Last 10 Games: 7-2-0-1
Greatest Need: If anything, the Komets need some help defensively. As their record proves, the team’s offense is solid as-is.
Deadline Prediction: Unless they want a defenseman, it’s unlikely they’ll make a trade.
Cincinnati Cyclones (33-21-2-0, 68 pts — 3rd in Central Division)
Home Record: 19-8-2-0
Road Record: 14-13-0-0
Last 10 Games: 7-3-0-0
Greatest Need: The Cyclones greatest need is a top-two defenseman. Although the bulk of Cincinnati’s points has come from two skaters, one of whom is currently in the AHL. The highest scoring of them has notched 60 points, and the other has 59. The next third highest scorer has more than 20 less points; only 37. That being said, the Cyclones forward depth is strong enough on its own. The team needs stronger defense if they want to see a long playoff run, much less make it at all. Eric Knodel is the only defenseman who has cracked the top ten in scoring on the team. Therefore an offensive-defenseman could be a good addition to Cincinnati’s roster.
Deadline Prediction: It’s not entirely clear if a trade will be made in Cincinnati. However, if one were to occur, it would likely be to obtain a top-two defenseman and/or another reliable forward. Possible trade bait for the Cyclones could be forwards Rob De Fulviis, Dominic Zombo, and Winston Day Chief. All four of those guys are reliable scorers, and are overall consistent. As for defensemen, the only one who could entice potential suitors is Chris Leone. Next, to Knodel, who is tied down to Cincy due to his contract with the Rochester Americans, Leone is the strongest defenseman.
Kalamazoo Wings (28-24-3-2, 61 pts — 4th in Central Division)
Home Record: 17-10-1-2
Road Record: 11-14-2-0
Last 10 Games: 2-7-1-0
Greatest Need: Kalamazoo’s greatest need is a goal scorer. Justin Taylor is fine, but his efforts aren’t enough. The defense could also use some reinforcements, as it tends to go in spurts, being hit or miss on most nights.
Deadline Prediction: The Wings could benefit greatly by adding consistent players on both the forward and defensive lines. With Kalamazoo being in the thick of the Central Division Playoff race, this is their time to add much-needed reinforcements if they want to see their season extended.
Kansas City Mavericks (29-27-0-2, 60 pts — 5th in Central Division)
Home Record: 15-15-0-2
Road Record: 14-12-0-0
Last 10 Games: 4-5-0-0
Greatest Need: The Mavericks biggest need is scoring and forward depth. The acquisitions of C.J. Eick and Corey Durocher have helped, but injuries and inconsistencies have made the offensive output spotty at best.
Deadline Prediction: Kansas City would potentially trade a defenseman to get some scoring punch. Third-year Maverick, and top-five KC scorer, Bryce Aneloski, could get the team a nice return.
Indy Fuel (27-28-2-1, 57 pts — 6th in Central Division)
Home Record: 15-13-0-0
Road Record: 12-15-2-1
Last 10 Games: 5-5-0-0
Greatest Need: Defensive depth.
Deadline Prediction: The Fuel will likely stay fairly quiet at the trade deadline. In the past two weeks, they’ve made a few moves, adding forward Matheson Iacopelli and Logan Nelson, as well as acquiring defensemen Jaynen Rissling from Wheeling, and signing Brendan Mitchell from SPHL’s Evansville Thunderbolts. They have a solid group that has fantastic chemistry on the ice. Moving players would likely disturb the already good chemistry.
Quad City Mallards (20-34-3-1, 44 pts — 7th in Central Division)
Home Record: 14-13-3-1
Road Record: 6-21-0-0
Last 10 Games: 3-7-0-0
Greatest Need: For the Mallards, they need a hard reset on the season. Nothing has gone well for them so far; after the goalie revolving door that brought on the record losing streak, nothing can right the ship in the standings that has found them in the basement. Short of someone finding a time machine laying around in storage at the TaxSlayer Center, there’s no way to come back from the disastrous season the team has had. They need to focus on finding college guys who will sign contracts over the summer, as well as work on getting core players to return for the 2018-19 season. Signing Triston Grant, Gergo Nagy, and Ryan McGrath could be a top priority for the Mallards heading after the season.
Deadline Prediction: The Mallards likely will not be making any moves at the deadline.