With the NHL trade deadline right around the corner, some teams will be looking to add a pending unrestricted free agent as a rental player to boost their lineup in the playoffs, while others will be looking to shed salary and stockpile draft picks and prospects for the future. I’m taking a look at every team and making some loose predictions as to what we may see by 3 pm EST on Monday the 29th. Keep in mind, nothing is set in stone and teams can choose to be buyers or sellers depending on what may come across any general manager’s desk.
Boston – The Bruins could move Loui Eriksson, but considering how well they have been playing, they may also choose to keep the band together if they do not like the return for Eriksson. Eriksson’s status as a pending unrestricted free agent and age (31 this summer) makes him a prime target to be traded out of Boston.
Buffalo – The Sabres will most likely stay the course with the team they have and continue to add with high picks in the draft. Unless Evander Kane does something more to fall out of favor with the team, I don’t expect them to make any major moves, instead focusing on winning the draft lottery for a chance at current top prospect Auston Matthews. The Sabres recently made a deal, trading defenseman Mike Weber to the Washington Capitols for a 3rd round pick in 2017.
Detroit – I don’t expect much from the Red Wings. They have been made the playoffs every season since 1990, and I have to imagine they know what they’re doing. I could see a rental forward, or possibly moving Jimmy Howard, as it seems as though they are more comfortable with Petr Mrazek in net. However if they attempt to move Howard, his $5.29 million dollar cap hit is a hefty one.
Florida – With the Panthers playing so well, you can bet that they will be looking to add to their lineup on the deadline. I would expect them to add a capable rental player in the form of a forward, possibly Eric Staal from the Hurricanes.
Montreal – The apparent rift between PK Subban and coach Michel Therrien has produced rumors that general manager Marc Bergevin is testing the waters to gauge interest for the talented defenseman. Unless the right deal comes his way, I don’t see Subban moving at the deadline. Aside from the wishful thinking of some in regards to Subban getting moved, Dale Weise will most likely be in play for the Canadiens due to his inexpensive contract. Granted they are not in bad shape in the future, not having a heathy Carey Price has really hurt this team this season. They could be active this deadline as the playoff are almost out of reach.
Ottawa – Patrick Wiercioch and/or Shane Prince appear to be the most movable assets that the Senators have. They are a bubble team that could end up being buyers or sellers depending on where they stand the day of the deadline.
Tampa Bay – What hasn’t been said about Jonathan Drouin? It’s no secret that the relationship between player and team has soured. Steve Yzerman has been looking for a young affordable right handed defenseman that can match the potential that Drouin has. Matt Dumba from Minnesota or even Darnell Nurse from Edmonton could be the player that punches Drouin’s ticket out of Tampa. In a perfect world, Tampa Bay would like to shed a few high contracts like that of Matt Carle and Valtteri Filppula, but between the price and the term, that would be a hard sell. Yzerman has also said he will not trade star center Steven Stamkos, not that it would do a lot of good, as Stamkos has a no-movement clause and controls his destiny.
Toronto – The Maple Leafs are like a flea market at this point. They appear to want to move any pending unrestricted free agent this season. Recently they were able to shed the contract of the high-priced Dion Phaneuf, making room to make a possible big splash in free agency this summer. They have also moved Roman Polak and Nick Spaling to San Jose for 2nd round picks in 2017 and 2018 and Raffi Torres, and Shawn Matthias to Colorado for a 4th round pick in 2016 and minor league forward Colin Smith. They could be in for Stamkos or a summer spending spree. Time will tell…
Carolina – The Hurricanes are in a tough spot. They could benefit from making some moves for the future, but they are also still in the playoff race. Captain Eric Staal has been rumored to be willing to waive his no-movement clause to help the team, while other reports say he wants to stay. Cam Ward is playing well now, but early in the season, it had appeared that he lost the starting goaltender position. The Hurricanes have a lot of questions to answer and not much time to think about them.
Columbus – The Blue Jackets have been slowly putting the pieces together over the last few years to be a yearly contender for the playoffs. They have a few assets already, and earlier this season, they moved Ryan Johansen for Seth Jones. I expect Columbus to be quiet and not make any significant moves this deadline, unless Scott Hartnell is moved, but I think he comes with an expected asking price that could scare off some teams.
New Jersey – I don’t see much movement from the Devils, simply because they do not have much of a logjam at any one position. The Devils are in the middle of a big push for the playoffs, and they also may just see what happens at the draft.
New York Islanders – It appears that defenseman Travis Hamonic may be the odd man out for the Islanders. He is signed for some term without a hefty cap hit, and could be moved for a forward, possibly one with some term on his contract. Hamonic also requested a trade earlier this season for personal reasons to be be closer to family. Long time Isle Kyle Okposo could be in play since he’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer, but could also be seen as a playoff asset.
New York Rangers – The Rangers are looking to move defenseman Keith Yandle. His contract is going to expire at the end of the season and he’s going to be an unrestricted free agent. I expect Yandle to be moved, even if it is for picks, as the Rangers don’t want him to walk away and not get anything in return. The Rangers originally picked up Yandle at last year’s deadline from Arizona, acquiring him along with defenseman Chris Summers and a fourth-round pick in 2016 in exchange for defenseman John Moore, forward Anthony Duclair a conditional first-round pick in 2016 and a second-round choice in 2015. Giving up so much had to have left a sour taste in the mouth of the Rangers’ brass.
Philadelphia – The Flyers are in a tough spot as their team is not preforming to expectations, but at this point it, wouldn’t make sense to sell off the team and rebuild. They are currently not in a playoff spot, but they’re not bad enough to get a high draft pick. They are another team that is on the bubble where they could be buyers or sellers depending on how active the market becomes.
Pittsburgh – Starting in 2003, the Penguins began a rebuild through the draft by adding Marc-Andre Fleury, Evgeni Malkin, and Sidney Crosby. Recently they have had a “win now” attitude at the deadline by trading draft picks for rental players. That being said, I expect the Pens to move their first-round pick for someone, much like they did when they acquired Jarome Iginla in 2013. Pittsburgh also made a questionable trade last season when they dealt Simon Despres for Ben Lovejoy, who they had just traded two seasons before.
Washington – The question at this point isn’t if the Capitals will be in the playoffs, but whether or not they’ll win the Presidents’ Trophy. The Capitals have already acquired defenseman Mike Weber from Buffalo for depth. I would expect the Caps to try to add another player, maybe Keith Yandle or Shane Doan, but they are not looking to give away a lot. If they can add someone to make them that much tougher to play against in the playoffs, the price is right, and the Capitals feel the addition will help them in the playoffs, deals will be done.
Chicago – The Blackhawks are likely done after acquiring Andrew Ladd from the Winnipeg Jets. Chicago paid the price for Ladd, sending top prospect Marko Dano, their 2016 first-round pick, and a conditional 2018 third-round pick to Winnipeg in exchange for the Jets’ captain, as well as forward Matt Fraser and defenseman Jay Harrison. The Jets will also retain 36% of Ladd’s remaining salary. Ladd’s addition will help bolster offense and make Chicago a scoring threat in the post season. The only question is where he lands next season.
Colorado – The Avalanche are in the hunt for the playoffs, and given their current situation in the standings I would expect them to stay the course and not be very active this deadline, with the exception of the Shawn Matthias trade from Toronto.
Dallas – The Stars are right there with the Blackhawks in the standings and have a solid team. There is no reason for a shake up within the team, and thus will not be very active. The addition of Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis wouldn’t hurt, but Dallas may also choose to address the blue line in free agency during the summer.
Minnesota – The Wild need help and not the kind of help that you fix at the trade deadline. If anything, I could see the Wild parting ways with Matt Dumba for a forward, possibly Jonathan Drouin from the Lightning. Plain and simple, the Wild need offense, and I am not sure Drouin will scratch that itch as fast as they would like. Either way, they would need to part with some of their defensive surplus to help their forwards. Whether that happens at the deadline, the draft, or later in the offseason remains to be seen. Dumba could also be moved for Loui Eriksson, but it depends on who the Wild feel would be the better scoring fit.
Nashville – The Predators moved Seth Jones for Ryan Johansen earlier this season. The Preds never truly had a number one center and now that they have Johansson, I do not expect them to be very active at the deadline.
St. Louis – The Blues are looking to move Keven Shattenkirk. It has been rumored that they have been in talks with the Lightning about Drouin, but given their cap situation, it appears that a deal will likely not be reached between the two. Shattenkirk will still have a year left on his contract, so he’s not a rental at this point, but maybe a deal can be struck with Arizona for Mikkel Boedker. A move like this could work for both teams.
Winnipeg – The Jets have signed All-Star defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, and now have moved Ladd to Chicago for Marko Dano and a pair of picks. With these picks, the Jets could be very active in the draft, perhaps making a run for top prospect Auston Mathews.
Anaheim – The Ducks are looking good in the standings and could easily make another deep run in the playoffs. They could be in the market for a rental forward like Boedker or Eriksson.
Arizona – Like the Canadiens, the Coyotes have been without their starting goaltender for much of this season. Mike Smith has missed significant time with injury, but with Louis Domingue playing so well, Anders Lindback could be moved, but not for much. Mikkel Boedker has also been rumored to be on the move. The Coyotes really need help defensively as Oliver Ekman-Larsson cannot do it all. Their young forwards Max Domi and Anthony Duclair appear to be adjusting well to the NHL, and while the team has taken a few steps back after a good start, they are not out of the playoffs yet.
Calgary – The Flames need to build their defense and should be looking for a goaltender for the future. Surely they will not want to move young forward assets and this could be a quiet deadline for the Flames, as their moves would be better suited for the draft or offseason. The aging Kris Russell and Jiri Hudler would be the most likely to depart from Calgary this deadline.
Edmonton – Connor McDavid has been injured for a large part of the year, but when are the Oilers going to leave the basement of the NHL? It has been rumored that every player has a price except for McDavid. Players like Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov, and Jordan Eberle have been tossed around. Even Teddy Purcell said in a recent interview he was nervous about the deadline. The Oilers and Maple Leafs are right next to each other in the standings, yet the Leafs are in full-blown rebuild mode, while the Oilers just can’t seem to get it together with all their first-overall picks. Things could get interesting in Edmonton on the 29th.
Los Angeles – I don’t expect much movement from the Kings. The team is balanced and doing well in the standings, no need to mess with a good thing. Although the Kings have a history of making moves at the deadline, such as Jeff Carter in 2012, Marion Gaborik in 2014, and Andrej Sekera last season. With Gaborik currently injured, the Kings could be buyers this deadline.
San Jose – Much like the Kings, if it’s not broke don’t fix it, and that certainly is the case for the Sharks. The team has plenty of talented players in all positions, and Martin Jones has exceeded expectations in his first season as a starting goalie, although Jones could use a capable backup. Patrick Marleau has had his name thrown out in deadline rumors a few times and this season is not much different. The problem with that was the right price was never right for Marleau. The Sharks have traded for Roman Polak and Nick Spaling from Toronto in exchange for 2nd round picks in 2017 and 2018 and Raffi Torres.
Vancouver – Time has not been kind to the Canucks. Moving players like Ryan Kesler and Roberto Loungo in the past has not helped the team at all. Bo Horvat was a player that was mentioned as a piece in the Jonathan Drouin trade, and if the price was right, that might have happened. I wouldn’t say the Canucks are in the same position as the Carolina Hurricanes, but they are not too far away. If they can stockpile picks, it may be best to do that sooner rather then later, as the playoffs are quickly moving out of reach. One guy that could be on the move is Dan Hamhuis. He could be a capable defenseman for a team looking to make a playoff run and could help the Canucks’ future plans with a prospect, pick, or both. Follow Stephen on Twitter