The NHL trade deadline is one of the most exciting days on the NHL calendar and, in terms of player movement, its only competition is July 1st, when free agency begins. However, that day doesn’t really hold a candle to trade deadline day. The deadline happens during the season, when fans of most NHL fanbases are hoping their team can trade for a piece that might help them become a contender for hockey’s biggest prize, the Stanley Cup. If you’ve watched the marathon of coverage provided by the NHL Network or TSN, then you’re likely aware that there have been a variety of huge deadline deals that have propelled a team to go on a serious run to the cup. The most obvious example being the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes, who picked up Mark Recchi and Doug Weight at the deadline, who combined to score 32 points in the playoffs.
If you’re looking for a more recent example, look no further than the 2014 Los Angeles Kings, who picked up Marian Gaborik before the deadline and he gave them 14 goals and 22 points as they won their second Stanley Cup in three years. He’s been terrible this year, but his pickup was instrumental in the Kings getting themselves another ring.
However, if you’re too aggressive, you might overpay and severely regret it. Just ask the San Jose Sharks, who gave up Josh Gorges and a first round pick for Craig Rivet in 2007. The Habs got a solid young defenseman and a pick that turned into their current captain, Max Pacioretty. On the other hand, the Sharks got a defender who was -5 during their playoff run, which ended in the second round.
Many of the players listed below will be moved, but will be they be the missing piece required to make a Cup run? That remains to be seen.
*This list will update as each player is moved.
15. Keith Yandle
This might seem like a strange choice to kick off our list since the Rangers are contenders for the Stanley Cup and would likely be trying to find pieces to help them make another run. However, the Rangers won’t be able to keep Yandle next year and are incredibly deep on the back end. At the moment (December 29th), Yandle is playing with Kevin Klein on the third defensive pairing and they could use some more scoring punch up front. A move to the Western Conference for a forward with an expiring contract makes plenty of sense and Yandle should have plenty of suitors.
14. Eric Gryba
Around the deadline, certain kinds of players become incredibly valuable to teams trying to make a playoff push. In this case, we’re looking at the kind of player who’s responsible in his own end and who can punish players trying to get to the front of the net. Erik Gryba has been steady for the Oilers this season, averaging 17:45 per game and delivering 72 hits in 34 games (at the time of writing). With an expiring contract, it’s highly likely the Oilers will look to get something in return for Gryba, who can help teams in need of defensive depth.
13. Kris Versteeg
Don’t you feel like Kris Versteeg is perpetually involved in trade rumors? The first of a hew Hurricanes to make our list, it wouldn’t be surprising for Carolina to move some expiring deals before the deadline in an attempt to build for the future. Versteeg will be a free agent next summer and wouldn’t really be considered the kind of player that the Hurricanes would want to build around. With that in mind, any team looking for forward depth would be interested in Versteeg, who’s pr oven to be an effective player in the playoffs, with 42 points in 84 playoff games.
12. Roman Polak
For the sake of this article, we chose Roman Polak, but in reality, we could’ve chose any Maple Leafs player on an expiring contract. With the Leafs lacking any pieces to make a credible playoff push in the near future, Toronto will likely listen to offers for most of the veterans on the roster. For this entry, we’ll take a look at Roman Polak, since teams are always looking for blueline depth at the deadline and Polak is more than capable in his own end. This year, he’s the only Leafs defender with a positive rating (9) and would be a solid addition to any team looking to make a run.
11. Jonathan Drouin
Well, when a player makes a trade request, it’s easy to conclude that they’re a player that might be traded. However, this is a truly unique case. Jonathan Drouin was the third overall pick in 2013 and is an incredibly talented young forward who’s yet to break into Tampa’s stacked lineup. He’s also signed for another year on a cheap deal, before he becomes a restricted free agent, meaning the Lightning are in absolutely no rush to move him. To add one final layer, they might be losing Steven Stamkos in the summer (or before in a trade, if they panic), so they shouldn’t be moving talented young forwards.
However, Drouin requested to be moved and teams don’t like to hang on to players who make public requests like that…