The NHL trade deadline is just a month away, but already there are some buyers and sellers coming out of the Canadian market. Vancouver, Ottawa, and Montreal look to be finding homes for pending free agents, while the Winnipeg Jets are in the market looking to add a key piece in their run for the Stanley Cup this season.
It's one of the most entertaining times of the year, as hockey fans hold their breath to see what their favourite team is going to do, who will be part of the big blockbuster trade this season, and who is loading up for a playoff push. With seven Canadian teams in the NHL, there should be plenty of movement north of the border, and some big names are on everyone’s watch list. But a lot of teams aren’t waiting until the deadline is upon them to make their moves, instead, selecting to improve their team or dismantle it, in the weeks leading up to the final day of trading.
With so much parity across the Canadian hockey landscape, there are plenty of moves each team could make if they want to get themselves back into a playoff spot or make a serious run. Between now and February 26, general managers from Canada’s seven NHL franchise will be making the tough calls – are we selling, or are we all in this season?
Here are three moves each of Canada’s seven NHL franchise should make before the clock on the deadline reaches 3 p.m. on February 26.
21 Vancouver Canucks: Trade Away The Sedin Twins
Lifelong Canucks, Henrik, and Daniel Sedin have been fixtures on Canada’s far west coast team since 1999, and have always been rumoured to be on the trading block every year Vancouver isn’t in a playoff spot heading into the trade deadline. At 37-years-old, the Sedins are free agents next season and still have yet to put their name on the Stanley Cup.
Vancouver could use the prospects and draft picks they would get in return to juice up their rebuild efforts, and more importantly, get back the cap they would be spending on the Sedins to bring them back for another season should they decide to re-sign with Vancouver. It will be hard to move their $7 million contracts, but a team like Arizona might be willing to take them.
20 Edmonton Oilers: Trade for Tyson Barrie
Edmonton still has problems allowing goals, and even more problems as of late scoring them. One of the team’s largest needs is a right shoot defenseman who can be utilized on the power play and add offence to a stagnant group in Edmonton. Tyson Barrie may very well be that solution.
With Colorado seemingly in great shape without Barrie in the lineup, it might be the best time as any for the Oilers to come in a scope him up for the right price. At 26-years-old, Barrie is still young enough to be part of the core solution in Edmonton and grow with the team alongside Adam Larsson, Oscar Klefbom, and Darnell Nurse. In his last three seasons with the Avalanche, Barrie has over 30 assists in each, and this year should be no exception. Barrie seems the right fit of skill and youth the Oilers need.
19 Winnipeg Jets: Trade for Mark Letestu
Winnipeg is the best Canadian team in the NHL heading into the trade deadline, and don’t need a lot of help in order to make the postseason this year. Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine are combining for an exceptional amount of points, and the Jets top two lines don’t need any tinkering with rental players.
But they could use some help down the middle in the bottom six, and that is where Mark Letestu would be the perfect fit for the Jets, and not an expensive one either. It’s a role he played in his early days in Pittsburgh, filling in on the Penguins bottom lines when Jordan Staal was out of the lineup, before moving on to Columbus. While he doesn’t have much playoff experience, he did play in 13 games last season during Edmonton’s run to the Conference Final, scoring five goals and 11 points in the process.
18 Calgary Flames: Trade For Patrick Maroon
The Calgary Flames are flirting with a playoff spot, and while they don’t want to sacrifice the farm or any of their young prospects for some high-end rentals, adding some reinforcements to get them over the hump isn’t out of the question, especially at a cheap price with low risk.
Enter Patrick Maroon, whose $1.5 million salary makes him a cheap option for any team looking to add some grit around the front of the net. Maroon could easily make the short trip from Edmonton to Calgary, adding to their power play or adding that late extra grit in the corner to kill off the clock. With three goals and eight points in 13 games in last year’s playoffs with the Oilers, he’s an under the radar addition that could be a near point per game player with the right line combination.
17 Toronto Maple Leafs: Trade Away James van Riemsdyk
With his contract coming up and the Toronto Maple Leafs already up against the salary cap, Toronto runs the risk that James van Riemsdyk could not be coming back next season and they might lose him for nothing. With 19 goals in 48 games this season, his stock would be high heading into the trade deadline, and Toronto would have to judge their real ability to make a run for the Stanley Cup this season. If they think they can, don’t unload van Riemsdyk, but if not, get assets back for next season.
With Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews entry-level contracts coming up in two years, and William Nylander’s coming up at the end of this season, Toronto has to be strategic about where they spend their money, which could leave van Riemsdyk as the odd many out if they elect to take back Tyler Bozak and Leo Komarov.
16 Ottawa Senators: Trade Away Mike Hoffman
Mike Hoffman has been on trade bait boards for some time, and it may seem like his time with the Ottawa Senators is coming to an end. With the playoffs out of reach for Ottawa this season, many teams are showing interest in the left winger, despite his $5.187 million cap hit. With three years left on his contract, Hoffman isn’t a rental player, and would need to find a good fit for the future.
For Ottawa, trading the 28-year-old could get them some more needed assets, or could help them replenish their draft picks for this year’s upcoming draft, as the Senators are without a first and a second round pick, and won’t make their first selection until the third round. Granted they traded away their first pick for Matt Duchene, but it still leaves Ottawa sitting at the table waiting to make a selection in June.
15 Montreal Canadiens: Trade Away Andrew Shaw
Andrew Shaw came with good expectations after making the move to Montreal from Chicago last season. With only 29 points in 68 games, however, Shaw really isn’t what the Habs need right now when their team is in the struggling to make the playoffs. Battling injuries, Shaw has 19 points in 43 games this season in Montreal, but finds himself on trade bait boards, as Canadiens general Marc Bergevin looks to save his job.
Shaw’s $3.9 million price tag will be tough to unload in today’s salary cap era, especially considering he is signed until the end of the 2020-21 season. But Montreal could find a suited in a team looking to take on a 26-year-old project that could still pan out to be a suitable second or third liner. At 5-foot-11, however, Montreal also needs to get bigger and stop stockpiling players under six feet tall.
14 Edmonton Oilers: Trade For Mike Green
Edmonton needs a puck-moving defenceman who can produce points, and no one has a better pedigree in that department, than Detroit’s Mike Green. From his time in Washington, where he put up over 70 points in back to back seasons, to his time in Detroit where he has managed to score 35 points or more the last two years, Green is a known offensive first blueliner, who at 32-years-old, will give the Oilers some much-needed experience on the blue line as well.
His $6 million price tag takes him out of the market for many teams in the NHL, so the Oilers would be best to add this experienced and speedy blueliner to their core this year and help them get back into the playoff race. And with Connor McDavid needing any help he can get in scoring, you can’t do much better from the blue line than Green.
13 Vancouver Canucks: Trade Away Erik Gudbranson
As a pending free agent, Erik Gudbranson’s time in Vancouver could already be coming to an end, as injuries have seen him get overlooked in the Canucks lineup, as he hasn’t been able to adjust well since coming over in a trade from the Florida Panthers. For Vancouver, they’ll want to get what they can for the blueliner from the deal, especially considering how far out they are from a playoff spot this season.
It only makes sense to move on the once high-prospect, as the former third-overall pick has been on many trade bait boards after Christmas. With plenty of teams looking to add depth to their blueline, and beef up their top four, Vancouver has the opportunity to kick their rebuild into high gear and got prospects and draft picks back for a player who could still be a franchise defenceman on the right team.
12 Calgary Flames: Trade For Alex Galchenyuk
With Montreal seemingly wanting to part ways with their former third overall draft pick from 2012, the Calgary Flames would be smart to jump on him now, adding to their already impressive core of young talent, while also adding a player who is versatile on the wing or at centre.
Galchenyuk has struggled as part of the Canadien’s who overall as a team can’t seem to find a way to put the puck into the net. He has only scored over 50 points once in his five years with Montreal, and had his best season in 2015-16 where he scored 30 goals and 56 points. He could fit in right behind Sean Monahan in the Flames depth chart, a spot more suited for the natural centre, away from the spotlight of trying to be the No. 1 pivot on the Canadiens.
11 Ottawa Senators: Trade Away Dion Phaneuf
The Ottawa Senators are entering a massive shift in their organization, as they should miss the playoffs this year, despite being one win away from going to the Stanley Cup finals last season. And while it doesn’t seem like they need to be huge sellers and blow up their team, one player to get off the books would be Dion Phaneuf, who comes with the difficult challenge of having a $7 million salary hit for the next three seasons.
Phaneuf could offer some experience to any team looking for a top-four defenceman, but his price tag is going to scare away many suitors. Ottawa is more than likely going to have to eat some cap on this trade, but it will be well worth it if they can move on from the 32-year-old and start putting money back into their younger talent that will be part of the future.
10 Montreal Canadiens: Trade Away Tomas Plekanec
With the Canadiens looking as if they are going to miss the playoffs, and plenty of teams out there looking for rental players heading into the playoffs, now is as good as of a time as any for Montreal to trade away one of the top forwards for picks and prospects.
Tomas Plekanec is in his last year of his contract, and at $6 million, could be a difficult move for many looking to upgrade. With only four goals this season, someone is going to have to see some hidden value to pony up for a player who has only recorded a 70 point season once in his career. But being one of the biggest names on the trade block, Montreal should be looking to move on from Plekanec, or risk him walking out the door for nothing come July 1 when free agency hits and he is free to sign with another team.
9 Toronto Maple Leafs: Trade For Erik Gubrandson
Erik Gubrandson makes his second entry on this list and for good reason. Toronto is in need of a top-four defenseman and there aren’t many options out there at a good price tag. At $3.5 million, Gudbrandson could sneak in on the Leafs who are right up against the Cap and would need to clear some space to make a trade work. But it wouldn’t take much and the Leafs would get a top four, puck move defenseman with star-caliber ability to go alongside their young core.
This is a hockey move for Toronto, and if it doesn’t work out, they can move on at the end of the year. But if it turns out great and the Maple Leafs find the missing piece, it wouldn’t be too hard to get Gubrandson to resign with one of the hottest teams in the NHL, especially in a market like Toronto.
8 Vancouver Canucks: Trade Away Thomas Vanek
For another season, Thomas Vanek is finding his name coming up in discussions close to the deadline, but only this time, the Canucks are hoping someone will take a chance on him after his last trade deadline switch proved to be a disaster. Vanek isn’t producing the way he used to, but then again, he is on a struggling team. Anyone looking for a reasonably priced rental in Vanek should be mindful of what he is capable of.
Many teams will jump on Vanek because of that price tag, and the Canucks would be best to try and get draft picks out of him in order to rebuild their cupboards. They are sellers at the deadline, so anyone who won’t be back next year should be packing their bags by the deadline and get an early start on getting out of Vancouver.
7 Winnipeg Jets: Trade For Michael Grabner
With 21 goals in 48 games this season, the New York Rangers’ Michael Grabner is one of the hottest trade baits on the board for teams looking to add a scoring punch. And while the Winnipeg Jet don’t really need to add much to their already impressive lineup, Grabner sends a message to the rest of the NHL that the Jets are serious about making a run this season for the Stanley Cup.
At just $1.65 million, Grabner will be highly looked at as a potential trade piece, so salary cap isn’t much of a concern. What Winnipeg has is loads of talent they can send to the Rangers, or draft picks. Send the message Winnipeg, because since moving back to Canada, you have slowly built an impressive roster and this year, Canada may be riding on your shoulders all the way to the final.
6 Toronto Maple Leafs: Trade Away Tyler Bozak
With one year remaining on his contract and the Toronto Maple Leafs seemingly set down the center with Auston Matthews and Nazem Kadri, Tyler Bozak’s days in Toronto would be numbered, especially with so many young players to resign. Bozak is part of the core of James Van Riemsdyk and Leo Komarov who are all free agents at the end of this season on a cash-strapped Maple Leafs team who is focused on the future.
With eight goals and 16 points through 48 games this season, Bozak could be a bottom-six center who is brought in for defensive zone faceoffs, especially on the penalty kill. That alone will command some interest in his services, as Bozak has been one of the best faceoff men in the league. It’s just time for Toronto to move on, and perhaps Bozak can be the piece that lands them the defenceman they desperately need.
5 Edmonton Oilers: Trade For Max Pacioretty
The Montreal Canadiens team captain still has one more year after this year on his contract, but his experience and scoring ability could be a great help to the Edmonton Oilers, who are struggling to put the puck in the net, and could use more leadership to groom their youthful core of young talent.
It would seem Pacioretty’s time in Montreal may be coming to an end, and with the Oilers having plenty of prospects and draft picks, a deal could be easily struck between the two that would benefit both parties. Pacioretty has scored 60 or more points in his last four seasons, including over 30 goals in each of those four, so he is exactly the type of player the Oilers are looking for to give their young superstar Conner McDavid so much needed help and get themselves back into the playoff picture without waiting another 10 years.
4 Calgary Flames: Trade For Rick Nash
The Calgary Flames could use some scoring grit up front, and Rick Nash would seem to fit the bill just perfectly, ready to step in and play the Western Conference style hockey that he was used to back in his Columbus Blue Jacket Days. With 15 goals in 49 games this year, Nash may not be that elite scorer anymore, but he has the potential to be a game-changing player.
The biggest issue is, Calgary would have to make some room, as Nash’s $7.8 million cap hit is nearly double what the Flames have left. Perhaps for the right prospects, the Rangers would be glad to take on some of Nash’s salary for the rest of the season, especially if what they are getting in the deal is some help down the road for a team who is still competitive enough to make a run next year at the playoffs.
3 Winnipeg Jets: Stay Healthy
With everything going right for the Winnipeg Jets, they may be the only team at the deadline in Canada who doesn’t need to do a thing and they will be alright for the rest of the season and the future. Quietly they have built one of the strongest teams in the NHL. Lead back Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele, Patrik Laine, and an impressive defence core of Tyler Myers, Jacob Truba, and Dustin Byfuglien, the Jets are right behind the Vegas Golden Knights for the top spot in the Western Conference.
So for the Jets, their best move may be no move at all. As the saying goes, don’t fix what isn’t broken, and for Winnipeg fans, they don’t want to see their team tinker with anything. It won’t make sportscasters happy on trade deadline day, but silence for the Jets is the best advice moving forward.
2 Ottawa Senators: Trade Away Erik Karlsson
With Ottawa firmly out of the playoffs and Senators owner Eugene Melnyk threatening to move the team if fans don’t show up, it has left Karlsson in a position where he might take his chances come free agency and field offers.
Karlsson said last offseason that he wouldn’t be giving any hometown discount for his services, and that he deserves to make what he should be making. And considering he is a two-time winner of the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenseman, it’s safe to say he is going to be asking for a pretty penny come July 1. So if Ottawa can’t get a deal done by the deadline, they would be best to think of moving on Karlsson and getting a king’s ransom for him in return, perhaps from a young team like San Jose as they need defence.
1 Montreal Canadiens: Trade Away Carey Price
Carey Price has been the franchise player for the Montreal Canadiens since he started with the team back in 2007. At 30-years-old, and with Montreal about ready to blow up their team and start rebuilding, it would seem the first, and the largest piece would be their franchise goaltender, who would fetch a huge price on the open market. The only issue is that Price is signed long term in Montreal at $10.5 million per season, which would make it extremely difficult to move him. But if Montreal is going the way of the rebuild, hanging on to Price and expecting him to be the goalie he is now in four or more years is asking a lot. They should just be prepared for the backlash from Montreal fans, who would be 100 times more upset about Price leaving than they were when P.K. Subban was traded to Nashville.