The first two months of the NHL season are now behind us, and if history has taught us anything we can expect to see an impact trade or two within the next month or so. It takes general managers roughly 20 games or so to truly be able to evaluate what they have and identify what pieces they need to add in order to be successful.
Every team has surpassed that benchmark for the 2015-16 season, and the rumor mill is already alive with speculation among fans and, in some cases, hope. It was widely reported last week that Travis Hamonic has asked for a trade out of NYI, requesting his new spot be somewhere in western Canada. That’s a big name out there already, and it's only getting started.
Speaking of western Canada, Edmonton GM Peter Chiarelli is reportedly getting sick and tired of what he’s seeing from his Oilers, and he hinted earlier this week that he wouldn’t be afraid to break up the thus-far untouchable core of the struggling team.
The 2015-16 trade deadline is set for February 29, which is less than three months away. That means the rumor mill will heat up even more in the coming weeks, and GMs could start pulling the trigger any day now.
With that in mind, here’s a list of 30 players—one from each team—who could be wearing a different jersey by the 2016 trade deadline.
30 Anaheim Ducks: Frederik Andersen
Anaheim was a tough team for this list, mostly because I wasn’t sure which young goaltender to put on. I decided to go with Frederik Andersen over John Gibson or Anton Khudobin, simply based on the fact that his name has been in the rumor mill the most.
This would be a difficult call for the Ducks to make, seeing as Andersen is the only one of the three who’s actually proven he can thrive in a starting role. But one of these three ‘tenders will be leaving Anaheim in the somewhat near future, and Andersen is a goalie teams will be interested in should he become available.
29 Arizona Coyotes: Shane Doan
This is bordering on sacrilegious if you’re a Coyotes fan, but Shane Doan is 39 years old on an expiring deal and he deserves a legitimate shot at a Stanley Cup. Simply put, it’s highly unlikely that the Coyotes are contenders by the time April rolls around.
Doan is exactly the type of player all contending teams are looking to add at the deadline. He’s got a wealth of experience and has been an incredible leader in Arizona for nearly 20 years.
28 Boston Bruins: Loui Eriksson
Loui Eriksson is off to a great start to the 2015-16 season, but if the Bruins are looking to make an in-season deal, Eriksson might be one of the best bets on who’ll be headed out of town. One of the reasons for this is, somewhat ironically, his hot start to the season.
Right now, Eriksson represents a $4.25 million cap hit. If he continues scoring at anything close to his current pace, he’ll warrant a slight raise in his next contract—something the Bruins likely won’t be able to offer in today's salary cap world. Plus, the Bruins need some help on the blueline.
27 Buffalo Sabres: Carlo Colaiacovo
There are always more buyers than sellers at the NHL trade deadline, but the Buffalo Sabres are likely to be one of the few sellers. The problem is, they don’t really have too many useful pieces that they could trade that aren’t a part of their long-term plan.
However, teams are always looking to bulk up on experienced defensemen for playoff runs and Carlo Colaiacovo fits the bill. The 32-year-old rearguard is on an expiring contract and will likely be dealt before season’s end.
26 Calgary Flames: Kris Russell
The Flames traded a deep pick for Kris Russell back in 2013, and that came only days after the defenseman had cleared waivers. Many fans in Southern Alberta have viewed the pick up as a revelation; Russell plays big minutes and has been fairly productive since arriving in Calgary.
He is a pending UFA though, and it’s possible that, with the acquisition of Dougie Hamilton last summer, Calgary can afford to let him go. The Flames will be one of the sellers this deadline, so I’d be surprised if Russell was still in a Flames jersey by the end of the season.
25 Carolina Hurricanes: Eric Staal
The more I read about the stalling contract negotiations with Eric Staal, the more I feel like his time in Raleigh is nearing an end. The Hurricanes likely feel like Staal should take a pay cut on his current $8.25 million cap hit, and I would imagine Staal has other ideas.
The Hurricanes certainly don’t want to lose their franchise center for nothing, so there’s a good chance Staal will be headed out of town if they can’t reach an agreement prior to the deadline.
24 Chicago Blackhawks: Trevor Daley
If the NHL rumor mill holds any water, the Blackhawks have already tried to make a deal involving recently acquired defenseman Trevor Daley. Acquired in the Patrick Sharp deal this past summer, Daley has two years remaining on a deal he signed while with the Stars at a cap hit of $3.3 million.
Chicago’s apparent desire to rid themselves of Daley has a lot to do with the salary cap, but judging by the way he’s been deployed by head coach Joel Quenneville so far this year, perhaps he’s already fallen out of favor.
23 Colorado Avalanche: Reto Berra
Reto Berra came into the season as Colorado’s backup, but it seems as though he’s played his way into a 1A/1B situation, at least for the time being. Berra still has another year left on his contract, but the fact that Varlamov has three more makes me think that, for the right return, Berra could be expendable.
This is all contingent on a contending team needing insurance in net come trade deadline, but that’s not such a far-fetched scenario. Injuries happen, and goalies hit slumps.
22 Columbus Blue Jackets: Ryan Johansen
This is a tough one, because teams don’t generally let number one centers walk, but it’s impossible to deny that the relationship between Ryan Johansen and the Jackets has been a rocky one. The situation was tense even before Columbus hired John Tortorella, who has already cut his ice time, and stapled him to the bench on one occasion.
The return would have to be worth it, as Johansen has another year left at a favorable $4 million cap hit. But Columbus is already a cap team, and it’s tough to envision the scenario in which the Blue Jackets can pay him what he deserves in his next contract.
21 Dallas Stars: Valeri Nichushkin
The Dallas Stars have the best offense in the NHL. It’s so good, in fact, that young prospect Valeri Nichushkin actually becomes expendable—especially if he brings back a valuable rental in return who can help the Stars make a run this season.
The window to win is narrow in the salary cap era, and it seems the Stars have now entered the upper-echelon of the NHL’s elite. If the Stars can get a few veteran rentals in return—one being a defenseman—then Nichushkin could be sent out of town.
20 Detroit Red Wings: Jimmy Howard
Ken Holland is a pretty savvy GM, so when you look at their roster it’s tough to find a spare part. In the crease, however, the emergence of Petr Mrazek means that Holland can explore deals for Jimmy Howard.
Since Howard has three more years left on his contract the likely dance partner in a deal involving Howard is going to have to be a team with cap room next season, and in need of a starting goaltender. Perhaps an Alberta team?
19 Edmonton Oilers: Jordan Eberle
The smart choice here is actually the club’s 2016 1st round draft pick. That thing is shaping up to have a ton of value, and the Oilers simply don’t need to add another high skill 18-year-old forward to their system.
However, Jordan Eberle is an interesting name to throw out there. The Oilers desperately need help on the blue line and Eberle—a bonafide first-line winger—could be the centerpiece of a package that garners that stud D-man they so sorely need (perhaps Eberle as well as the 2016 1st could bring in an attractive package).
18 Florida Panthers: Brian Campbell
I’ll start by saying that, if the Florida Panthers are a playoff team at the trade deadline, there’s no way defenseman Brian Campbell will be dealt. If they’re on the outside looking in, though, I could see them sending Campbell away for future help.
Campbell is 36 years old and on an expiring contract, and those two ingredients make him appetizing for teams looking to beef up on experienced D-men for the playoffs. If Campbell does become available, I ‘d imagine there would be a lot of suitors.
17 Los Angeles Kings: Tanner Pearson
This is going to be an unpopular selection, and I’ll go ahead and say that I see the stupidity in it. But if the Kings are going to deal someone, Tanner Pearson is just as likely to go as any other player. He currently represents a $1.4 million cap hit, which is very friendly, AND he has another year left at that price tag.
However, the Kings do have to find a way to afford Anze Kopitar, who is in the last year of his contract and will likely receive a bump on his current $6.8 million cap hit. It’s unlikely the Kings can afford Pearson’s eventual raise on top of that, meaning he could be one of the next Kings shipped out.
16 Minnesota Wild: Niklas Backstrom
Niklas Backstrom was at one point an elite NHL goaltender, but the 37-year-old might not have much left in the tank. He’s on an expiring contract however, and since he’s playing third string in Minnesota it’s likely the Wild are looking to dump him for, well, anything.
If there’s a contending team with uncertainty in the crease around the trade deadline, it could be worth it to give Backstrom a shot, at least as a backup.
15 Montreal Canadiens: Zach Fucale
Montreal is a good hockey team these days, and they don’t have a lot of spare parts; they'll be looking to add at the deadline, if anything. What they do have, like every other team, is a prospect pool, and they could take from that in order to fill out their roster for a run today.
Goaltender Zach Fucale is just 20 years old, but he is likely to start seeing NHL action soon thanks to Carey Price's injury. If he shows well, the Canadiens could have an attractive trade chip on their hands. Price is only 28 and is the best goalie in the world, so if Fucale looks to be an NHL quality starter, they will deal him if the offer is right.
14 Nashville Predators: Barret Jackman
The selection of Barret Jackman goes back to, again, contending teams always wanting to stock up on veteran D at the deadline. Jackman is a tough as nails player who has been around long enough to know what it takes to win in the playoffs.
Why would Nashville trade him then? Well, the Predators have one of the deepest blue lines in the league, so if Jackman could bring in some help on offense, then it would be a smart move for the Preds to make.
13 New Jersey Devils: Lee Stempniak
I’ve admired the way the Devils have built their roster for the past two seasons. They’ve made a habit of scooping up useful veterans for bargain prices, and they’ve been relatively competitive doing so. Much like they flipped Jaromir Jagr at last year’s trade deadline, there are many candidates to head out the door this time, including Lee Stempniak.
Stempniak is off to the best start of his career, with 18 points in his first 24 games. If he keeps this up, you can bet there will be teams calling for some extra depth scoring at the deadline. The fact that his contract expires at the end of the year makes it easy for teams to take him on.
12 New York Islanders: Travis Hamonic
This was one of the more obvious choices, since it is now public knowledge that Travis Hamonic has requested a trade out of NYI for personal reasons. It’s just a matter of when and where the young rearguard will be dealt.
His preferred destination is reportedly Winnipeg, but he’s willing to accept an assignment to anywhere else in Western Canada. He’s also stated he’s willing to play out the season on the island, so it’s possible this deal isn’t done until the summer.
11 New York Rangers: Antti Raanta
Antti Raanta is the final goalie to appear on our list. The Rangers are another one of those teams without many spare parts and are in a “win now” situation, so if they do make deals at the deadline it will likely be draft picks that leave the organization rather than roster players.
If a roster player does go, however, it could very well be Raanta. The 26-year-old has shown well in his sporadic appearances so far this year, and he’s on an expiring contract. Perhaps a non-playoff team looking for a starter for the future would take a chance on him.
10 Ottawa Senators: Patrick Wiercioch
Ottawa defenseman Peter Wiercioch has shown in the past that he possesses some of the tools required to be a solid offensive defenseman. He’s struggled to truly establish himself as a regular on the Ottawa blue line though, and for that reason I could see the Senators letting him go for some offensive help.
Wiercioch is on an expiring contract, gaining RFA status at season’s end. It would be pretty risky for most teams to trade a 25-year-old defenseman like Wiercioch, but with the emergence of Cody Ceci, Ottawa can afford to lose him if it means a little added scoring.
9 Philadelphia Flyers: Mark Streit
The currently injured Mark Streit has one year left on his $5.25 million deal, and he is about to turn 38 years old. This might scare some teams away, but Streit has also proven to be one of the more reliable offensive defensemen in the league for the past decade.
At this point it’s fairly unlikely that Philadelphia will be a playoff team come the trade deadline, so Streit could be an interesting chip for Ron Hextall to dangle out there.
8 Pittsburgh Penguins: David Perron
David Perron is Pittsburgh’s representative on our list today. The 27-year-old winger is set to become a UFA next summer, and his less-than-impressive production (32 points in 67 games) since joining the Penguins has left the organization wanting more.
Perron has proven that he’s a capable goal scorer in the past, but even considering that the Penguins have enough elite offensive tools in the box. They could trade Perron for draft picks or a roster player at the upcoming deadline and it would probably be the right decision for the franchise.
7 San Jose Sharks: Patrick Marleau
Again, if you believe what you read in the NHL rumor mill, Patrick Marleau is likely the next Shark to part ways with the organization. It’s sad, as Marleau has played all of his NHL games for the Sharks, and he’s recorded over 1,000 points (and counting) for the Bay Area team.
Sometimes, however, it’s simply time to part ways. San Jose is still in the grueling process of handing the team over to the younger leaders, and the best way to expedite that process is to send some of the old guard packing.
6 St. Louis Blues: Carl Gunnarsson
Whenever you have a team like the Blues—that is to say, a well-constructed roster without a lot of holes—it’s difficult to prognosticate exactly who will be the next player shipped out of town. Sometimes, it’s best to judge it simply based on contract status.
Defenseman Carl Gunnarsson could be the most logical choice for the Blues. The third-pairing veteran and his expiring contract could help a team looking for blue line experience for the playoffs, and the Blues can afford to lose him thanks to the emergence of Colton Parayko.
5 Tampa Bay Lightning: Steven Stamkos
Steven Stamkos is the cornerstone of the Tampa Bay Lightning franchise, and it’s almost impossible to picture him wearing another team’s jersey at this point. However, the longer it takes for Stamkos to sign a new deal with Tampa, the more likely it is he could be on his way out of town.
GM Steve Yzerman is in a tough spot here. If Stamkos has in fact made the decision to move on, does Yzerman trade away his captain at this year’s deadline so as to not risk losing him for nothing in free agency? Or does he keep the sniper for one last run at the Stanley Cup before a few of his key players’ entry-level deals expire?
4 Toronto Maple Leafs: P.A. Parenteau
The Toronto Maple Leafs are not a playoff team this year, so they’ll be one of the sellers at the deadline. They don’t have a wealth of attractive options to offer, unfortunately, but one interesting name that jumps out at me is P.A. Parenteau.
Parenteau’s not exactly the guy you bring on to drive the bus, but he does have a history of being a very useful complementary player (67 points in 2011-12 playing with Tavares). His contract is expiring, so I expect a club to take a chance on him at the deadline.
3 Vancouver Canucks: Radim Vrbata
Radim Vrbata had a great season last year, potting 31 goals playing primarily with the Sedins. With only six goals to date this year, he’ll be lucky to crack 20. He’s also on an expiring contract and, if I were a betting man, I’d bet the Canucks find themselves on the outside of the playoff picture come late February.
Vrbata could provide a scoring spark for a team in need looking to bulk up for the playoffs. Nashville and Anaheim (the latter a team that I think has turned the corner and will make the playoffs) come to mind as potential fits.
2 Washington Capitals: Justin Peters
I do realize that Justin Peters is currently playing goal in the AHL, but he is on a one-way contract and has shown in the recent past that he’s capable of being a backup goaltender in the NHL.
This was almost a default selection, as Washington doesn’t have too many expiring contracts and the pieces they have in place today could all pitch in towards a healthy playoff run this spring. If Washington can garner a late-round pick from a team looking for insurance in the crease in exchange for Peters, they’d be wise to do so.
1 Winnipeg Jets: Dustin Byfuglien
Dustin Byfuglien is on an expiring contract in Winnipeg, and it was reported last week that the Jets already offered him to the New York Islanders for Hamonic. The Isles were wise to reject this offer with no guarantee of keeping Byfuglien beyond this season, but it does tell me the end of Big Buff’s time in Manitoba is nigh.
Byfuglien and the Jets have made little progress in negotiations for an extension, so it’s pretty unlikely he’s a member of the Jets past the trade deadline.