Injuries to defense create desperation
The good teams are struggling to find quality replacements.
The number of injured defensemen in the NHL keeps growing, making the search for replacements very difficult and very costly.
"There is no market," said Flyers general manager Bob Clarke, who made two deals this week for defensemen after four of his were knocked out.
The pool wasn't plentiful to begin with, but Clarke acquired Danny Markov from Carolina on Tuesday for promising young forward Justin Williams.
"You have very little chance of winning in the NHL if your defense is giving up all kinds of scoring chances," Clarke said.
And that was the situation facing Clarke, who lost Eric Desjardins and Dennis Seidenberg to long-term injuries and then Marcus Ragnarsson and Jim Vandermeer to less serious ailments.
On Thursday, Clarke shipped a seventh-round draft pick to the New York Islanders for Mattias Timander. Philadelphia was so thin on the back line that Timander went straight from the AHL to the Flyers' starting lineup.
Rangers coach and general manager Glen Sather has been on the phone trying to help his team's defense. He managed to acquire Jamie Pushor on Friday from Columbus for an eighth-round pick.
"We're working on it," Sather said. "There are a lot of guys looking for defensemen."
Darius Kasparaitis is expected to miss the rest of the season, and Greg de Vries is sidelined by a knee injury.
Sather didn't have the depth to make a trade like the Flyers did for Markov, and Vancouver sent Jiri Slegr to Boston last week before the Rangers' injury situation turned worse.
St. Louis has blues
St. Louis has been hit hard, too.
Barret Jackman, last season's rookie of the year, dislocated his shoulder and is expected to miss the rest of the season. Al MacInnis played only three games before a potentially career-ending eye injury.
"You can't fill those holes, I don't care who you get," Clarke said.
And the defensemen being offered are coming at a high price, despite not being among the league's elite.
"You might get an older guy who is making a lot of money if you're willing to give up a young player," Clarke said. "The hardest thing now is they want you to pick up all the millions and give them equal player value. In reality, the Islanders probably should've given us a seventh-round pick for taking 500,000 in cash."