The NHL trade deadline is like Christmas to hockey fans. Within just a few hours, every GM is scrambling to make a trade that will either boost his team's Cup chances or secure the club some future assets. Whether your team is a Cup contender or vying for the draft lottery, there is no such thing as boredom on trade deadline day.
And man, is the 2018 trade deadline shaping up to be something special. There are a plethora of stars and studs that could be traded. Some of them just need a fresh start (hello Matt Duchene), while some are veterans looking to chase a Cup (hello Joe Thornton, Sedin twins).
The 2018 trade deadline is shaping up to be arguably the most enticing and active one in recent memory. Or am I just being too optimistic? Take a look at these 15 moves that will go down, and see for yourself.
15 Canucks Ship Vanek To Senators
The Vancouver Canucks inked perennial 20-goal man Thomas Vanek to a one-year deal during the offseason. Though Vanek has the potential to fix Vancouver's anemic offence, many believe the deal was done so the Canucks would have a decent trade chip at the deadline. Vanek - who's been traded three times in his career already - will surely be targeted at the deadline. The Canucks are rebuilding and probably don't see Vanek fitting into their long-term plans. The Ottawa Senators would be an ideal fit for Vanek, in more ways than one.
Last season, the Senators gave up a top prospect in Jonathan Dahlen to acquire Alexandre Burrows from the Canucks, and it helped them reach the Eastern Conference Final. Look for Ottawa to get a cheap scoring addition from Vancouver once again, for a second or third round pick.
14 James Neal Reunites With Penguins
Neal got off to a red-hot start for the Vegas Golden Knights, scoring five goals in his first three games. But don't get too caught up in Vegas' hot start; this team has played some weak opponents and they're going to end up as sellers this trade deadline. Neal is undoubtedly their top trade candidate, given his 30-goal history and the fact he's a pending UFA.
The Golden Knights won't want to lose Neal for nothing, so they'll likely offer him up to the highest bidder at the deadline. The Penguins have some young forwards and draft picks to offer here. Adding Neal would make the already-dangerous Penguins even better. Why not go hard for the three-peat? Neal going back to the Pens (where he once scored 40 goals), makes too much sense.
13 Red Wings Move Jimmy Howard
The retooling Detroit Red Wings have two quality goaltenders in Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek, but they're up against the cap and have yet to re-sign RFA Andreas Athanasiou. GM Ken Holland has to find a way to clear cap space, and moving out Howard or Mrazek make plenty of sense.
Though Howard has been the better goalie in recent years, he's also eight years older and has two more years left on his deal at $5.291 million a season. Howard would be an enticing option to a playoff hopeful in need of a No. 1 goalie, like the Philadelphia Flyers Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames or New York Islanders. Assuming the Red Wings are once again sellers at the deadline, look for Holland to move out Howard as he clears up space and hands the starting reigns to Mrazek for the long term.
12 Matt Duchene Stays Put
The Colorado Avalanche have looked to ship out star Matt Duchene since last season's trade deadline, but GM Joe Sakic has a tremendously high asking price that hasn't been met. At this point, it's tough to see a GM overpaying for Duchene, and it's hard to imagine Sakic receiving equal value in return.
Plus, the Avalanche have gotten off to a blistering 3-1-0 start on the season. Is it a mirage? Maybe, but Colorado looks a lot more motivated and constructed. Give second-year head coach Jared Bednar credit where it's due. With Nate MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, Tyson Jost, Cale Makar, Alex Kerfoot and Tyson Barrie, the Avalanche have a promising young core. Don't expect a rebuild in 2018, which means Duchene will stay put in the Mile High City. For now.
11 Winnipeg Jets Chase Emelin
The Jets are almost never in position to buy at the trade deadline, but 2018 could be different for GM Kevin Cheveldayoff. Even when Winnipeg made the playoffs in 2015, their only big buys were Drew Stafford and Tyler Myers, which came at the cost of shipping away sniper Evander Kane.
Winnipeg has all the talent to be a championship contender, but the blue line is leaky despite talents in Myers, Dustin Byfuglien, Jacob Trouba and Tobias Enstrom. The Jets need another shutdown blueliner, and there are guys available at the deadline. Chris Tanev from the Vancouver Canucks could be available. So could Alexei Emelin, Jason Garrison, Josh Gorges and Dan Hamhuis. Look for the Jets to add one or two blueliners as they boast their depth and take another shot at the postseason.
10 Sabres Trade Evander Kane To Kings
The Sabres traded for Evander Kane at the 2015 trade deadline, and his tenure in Buffalo has been mixed. On one hand, Kane has reached the 20-goal mark twice with the Sabres, but he's also ran into off-the-ice troubles; allegedly harassing multiple women. Buffalo is also off to an awful start in 2017-18, and it's tough to see them extending Kane - a pending UFA - to a long-term extension when they have to save cap space for their younger players.
Looking at suitors, Kane makes plenty of sense for the Los Angeles Kings. Their championship window is closing and they struggle like crazy to score goals. Adding Kane as a rental player will boost their offence and their playoff chances. He's a low-risk, high-reward pickup, so they may as well go for it.
9 Bruins Become Sellers
The Bruins NEARLY missed the playoffs for the third consecutive year. This team hasn't been the same since winning the Stanley Cup in 2011; having won just a single playoff series dating back to 2014. It's clear this team's window is closing, and a rebuild may soon be on the way.
With the Atlantic Division looking extremely difficult in 2018, it's unlikely the Bruins punch another ticket to the playoffs. They have some pending UFAs that should be traded, including Zdeno Chara, Riley Nash and goalie Anton Khudobin. Though the B's are usually buyers at the deadline, it's hard to see them doing so in 2018.
8 Blackhawks Go For Jagr
The Chicago Blackhawks have always been buyers under GM Stan Bowman, and it's worked for the most part, producing Stanley Cup champions in 2010, 2013 and 2015. But it backfired in 2016, when he gave up prized prospect Marko Dano and a first round pick for Andrew Ladd and two other players. Chicago went out in the first round as Ladd struggled to make an impact.
With the 'Hawks winning the top seed in the West last season, Bowman chose to stay pat; claiming how he didn't want to keep mortgaging the future for the present. But Chicago's time to win is now, so Bowman will have to be a big-buyer again. There'll be plenty of players available at the deadline, so look for Bowman to add two or three veterans to help Chicago chase a fourth championship in the decade. If Jagr can show he still has legs he could be a great addition to an already incredible team.
7 Maple Leafs Chase Chara
The Toronto Maple Leafs have arguably the most explosive offence in the NHL. Auston Matthews is a star on his own, but other guys like Nazem Kadri, William Nylander, Mitch Marner, James van Riemsdyk, Connor Brown and Tylzer Bozak all add ample scoring as well. Frederik Andersen has already proven that he's a top-notch goalie in the NHL, but the Maple Leafs defence is mediocre at best. GM Lou Lamoriello has to upgrade it if he wants Toronto to compete for championships now.
There are lots of defensive blueliners out there, including the aforementioned Tanev, Hamhuis and even Chara. If those guys are available in a trade, the Maple Leafs will need to act on it. But either way, expect Toronto to add more depth on defence as they try to end a 51-year Cup drought.
6 Canucks Ship Out Sedins
Daniel and Henrik Sedin have been the two greatest players in Vancouver Canucks history. They each have a scoring title and were instrumental in helping the Canucks reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2011. However, it makes no sense for Vancouver to keep the fading twins around much longer.
They're both 37 years of age, well past their primes and take up valuable ice time from the rebuilding Canucks. If Vancouver is willing to move them, the Sedins should waive their no-movement clauses to join a Stanley Cup contender. The Canucks would have to eat some significant salary, but there will be takers. Contenders looking for more scoring like Nashville, Dallas, Ottawa and Montreal would all be solid fits. But all that matters is the Canucks stop building their team around two past-their-prime players and rebuild already. Trading the Sedins is a no-brainer, from this point of view.
5 Anaheim Ducks Trade Lindholm
The Anaheim Ducks have been an annual playoff team, but keep getting ousted earlier than expected. A large reason for that is because Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler are all well over 30 and are asked to handle way too much of the offence.
On the flip side, Anaheim is elite because they have great defensive depth in Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson, Brandon Montour and Sami Vatanen. But with the Ducks up against the cap, GM Bob Murray should look at moving one of them while adding another forward. Look for the Ducks to sacrifice one of their many young blueliners by adding a legitimate goal-scorer. It's a risk, but a necessity.
4 Montreal Canadiens Trade Future To Win Now
Every year, Carey Price makes the Canadiens a playoff team despite a mediocre blue line and a horrible offence in front of him. In order to fix the scoring woes, GM Marc Bergevin traded for rising star Jonathan Drouin, who's gotten off to a slow start in Montreal. With a roster that's built to win now, Bergevin has to look at adding more scoring at the trade deadline. No excuses.
The aforementioned Vanek and Sedins from Vancouver are possible options. Could they also make a play for Duchene, or even pending UFA John Tavares? Other pending UFAS like Joe Thornton, Rick Nash, James Neal and Evander Kane are options. Perhaps even Josh Bailey or Cam Atkinson? There will be lots of scoring trade chips at the trade deadline. Look for Bergevin to get desperate and trade some draft picks away for a couple scorers, as the Habs look to finally go on a deep run in the playoffs.
3 Vegas Trades Marc-Andre Fleury
Fleury made a great gesture and waived his NMC so the Pittsburgh Penguins could protect Matt Murray, allowing the Golden Knights to take the three-time Stanley Cup champion in the expansion draft. Fleury is one of the NHL's elite goalies, but will the 32-year-old commit his long-term future to Vegas when he's a free agent in 2019?
Unlikely. The deadline will be a good time for the Golden Knights to trade Fleury and maximize the return, when he's under team control for another year. Fleury could help teams like the Jets, Islanders, Flyers, Flames and Lightning who may feel inclined to add a proven No. 1. The Golden Knights are a new franchise that is also rebuilding. If they trade Fleury, they're easily looking at receiving three significant assets in return. Look for his tenure in Vegas to be short, as Fleury gets dealt to another championship contender.
2 Joe Thornton Becomes A Blueshirt
The San Jose Sharks re-signed Joe Thornton to a one-year deal in the offseason, hoping he can finally deliver a championship to this team that's come oh-so close time and time again. But the Sharks are fading vast, with most of their core players now in their mid-to-late 30s. San Jose has gotten off to a frustrating start, and it's hard to see them being buyers at the trade deadline. This is where they deal their franchise star and seek many assets that can help them rebuild.
Larry Brooks from the NY Post (John Tortorella's old friend), believes Thornton and the Rangers would be an ideal fit, and he's right. Thornton would give this team a legit No. 1 centre after losing Derek Stepan, plus they have many young scorers like Chris Kreider and J.T. Miller, plus prospects to offer. New York's time to win is now as veterans like Henrik Lundqvist and Rick Nash get up there in age. If they can add Thornton, the Rangers will suddenly be a legitimate force in the East that could win the Cup.
1 Islanders Trade John Tavares
The New York Islanders have yet to lock up captain John Tavares to a long-term deal, which is pretty alarming. The franchise has failed to build a contender around him, and the team hasn't secured a long-term arena deal. Right now, it's easy to envision Tavares avoiding an extension, as he'll have plenty of suitors chasing his services in free agency.
New York knows they can't lose their franchise star for nothing, so they'll have to get something for him. This is where they'll easily get three-to-five HUGE assets for his services. And man, you have to believe almost every playoff team will be calling for an offer. Toronto, Montreal, Washington, the Rangers, Ducks, Predators and Lightning could all make a big pitch for the star centre. They all have prospects and young roster players to offer. Where would he go? Your guess is as good as mine. But right now, it's only logical to believe Tavares gets traded if he hasn't signed an extension by then.