While there many entertaining moments throughout an NHL season, there a few times during a season where it’s particularly exciting. The beginning of the season is an exciting time as it the first chance to see your favorite team’s offseason acquisitions in action. The end of the season is just as captivating as the beginning, as watching teams battle it out for the final playoff positions is a pure joy. The playoffs are obviously the most exciting of all, as there is no better hockey to watch than playoff hockey.
The last but not least exciting moment during an NHL season is when is starts getting closer to the NHL trade deadline. This is the last chance for teams to improve their lineup before playoff time, and last chance for struggling teams to get assets for expiring contracts. For the most part, we know what players are available to be traded. These are usually the players who are set to become unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. This year you have players like Martin Hanzal and Jarome Iginla that are most likely guaranteed to find new teams before the deadline. However, every once in a while a player gets traded that nobody expected would be moved. A somewhat recent example of this when the Edmonton Oilers shocked the hockey world by trading their captain Ryan Smyth.
Here are 15 players who might unexpectedly be traded before the NHL trade deadline.
15. Ondrej Pavelec
If you’re not a fan of the Winnipeg Jets, you might have forgotten the fact that Ondrej Pavelec is still around. Prior to this season, Pavelec had been the team’s starting goaltender dating back to when the team still played in Atlanta. However, the Jets have built up their goaltending depth to a point where Pavelec found himself third on the depth chart. So far he has spent the entire 2016-17 season playing for the AHL’s Manitoba Moose, where he is splitting time with Eric Comrie.
While Pavelec’s career NHL numbers have been mediocre at best, he has proven that he can go on long hot streaks. The Jets making the playoffs in the 2014-15 season, probably wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Pavelec’s stellar play down the stretch. If a team is battling for a playoff position, and their goalie goes down with an injury, Pavelec could be a season-saving acquisition. Trading him also wouldn’t cost much, and his contract is over at season’s end which makes him a low-risk acquisition.
Potential Landing Spot: Edmonton Oilers
14. Tomas Plekanec
Tomas Plekanec has been a member of the Montreal Canadiens for such a long time that it would be hard picturing him wearing any other jersey. He first made his debut with the team way back in the 2003-04 season, and has been one of the most consistent Montreal players for the past decade-plus. However, this season has been a bit of a struggle for the veteran. Through the first 40 games of the season, Plekanec has managed just 17 points, which includes scoring just a measly three goals.
Plekanec may not be the same player he was earlier in his career, but he still could be a solid third line center. The main stumbling block that will make Plekanec a hard sell to other teams, is that fact his cap hit is $6 million, and he still has one more year on his contract after this. The only way Plekanec will be traded this season is if the Canadiens can find another team with a bad contract they want to get rid of as well.
Potential Landing Spot: St. Louis Blues
13. Ryan Miller
Prior to the beginning of this season, the Vancouver Canucks probably wouldn’t have any second thoughts about trading Ryan Miller. They were coming off one of their worst seasons in recent memory and it was looking like they were about to go into full-on rebuild mode. Having a high paid veteran goalie on their team seem liked a bit of a waste. However, after a bit of a slow start this season, the Canucks have started to turn the corner and Miller has played a big role in the resurgence. Vancouver is once again in a battle for a playoff position, and trading the pending free agent might not be the best idea.
If come trade deadline time the Canucks are no longer in playoff contention, Miller’s name will no doubt be in trade talks. The thirty-six year old goaltender has proven he’s still capable of being relied on as a number one goalie. If a playoff team’s starting goalie gets injured, Miller would be a great replacement. Even with the team considering resigning Miller, they would be better off trading him now and try to resign him in the off season.
Potential Landing Spot: Dallas Stars
12. Ben Bishop
The Tampa Bay Lighting have a tough decision to make. Their current number one goalie Ben Bishop is going to be an unrestricted free agent comes seasons end. They have to trade him before the deadline or risk losing one of top goalies in the league for absolutely nothing. Although it does help that the Lighting have another great goalie behind Bishop in the less experienced Andrei Vasilevskiy. If Tampa can manage to make the playoffs they are a better team with Bishop, who has played 36 playoff games in his NHL career compared to Vasilevskiy’s twelve.
Another reason the Lighting should think about trading Bishop is the fact they simple can’t afford pay him the money he is going to want and still stay under the salary cap. There are a few teams in the NHL who are looking for a new number one goalie and they would be willing to pay a hefty price for a guy of Bishop’s talent. The Lightning don’t have any particular weak spots in their lineup but It wouldn’t hurt for them to add some defensive depth.
Potential Landing Spot: Dallas Stars
11. Shane Doan
Shane Doan has played an incredible 21 NHL seasons in his career and they have all been with the Arizona Coyotes franchise. Throughout his career there has been a few times where he was free to join pretty much any team he wanted, but he decided to stay loyal to the Coyotes.
After having a down year in 2014-15, when he recorded just 36 points, Doan had a bounce back year in 2015-16. He led the Coyotes in goals with 28, which was the second highest total of his career. The 2016-17 season hasn’t been too kind to Doan and Coyotes. The team is near the bottom of the standings, and Doan has recorded just 11 points in 38 games.
While it’s clear at the age of forty that Doan has slowed down quite considerably, he still would be a great depth add for a Stanley Cup contender. If Doan doesn’t want to leave the desert this season, he is probably giving up his last chance to be a Stanley Cup champion.
Potential Landing Spot: Chicago Blackhawks