We’re about a month away from the 2017 NHL Trade Deadline, which falls on March 1st this year. As we approach that often-busy day, it’s time to start speculating which teams will be the buyers and which will be the sellers at the deadline this time around.
One thing that might make this year’s deadline day even busier than ones in the past is the looming expansion draft. With that fateful day just less than five months away, GMs have already begun to make decisions on who they’ll be protecting, as well as which quality players they will be forced to leave exposed. The trade deadline could be a good time for teams to trade these assets, rather than lose them for nothing at the expansion draft come June.
Furthermore, there are a handful of teams that were likely hoping that they’d be buyers at the deadline, but instead look destined to be sellers. The Tampa Bay Lightning, a team many had winning the East at the start of the year, have a hill to climb if they intend on making the 2017 postseason. Same goes for the Dallas Stars; they won the Central Division in 2015-16, but look like a 2017 postseason long shot today.
For this list we took a look at all 30 NHL teams and chose a player (or asset) which is the most likely to be dealt prior to the 2017 trade deadline at the beginning of March. In a few of these cases, the skaters are under some sort of NMC or NTC, but we still chose some of those players because it's historically likely that they would waive their NMC for the chance to go to a contender.
Here is the most likely trade deadline casualty for each team at the 2017 deadline.
30 Anaheim Ducks: Shea Theodore
The Anaheim Ducks have a wealth of good, young defensemen and a shortage of forwards who can score. They’re once again contending for the Pacific Division crown, so they will most certainly be buyers at the 2017 deadline. This could have easily been Josh Manson, but Shea Theodore probably brings more back in a deal today because of his youth.
Now, whether the piece coming back is a young forward prospect or one who can help today is anybody’s guess. If it’s one who can help today, it will almost certainly be a rental player. GM Bob Murray might be more inclined to take a younger prospect who is trending the right way in his development, because the core of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Ryan Kesler isn’t getting any younger.
29 Arizona Coyotes: Shane Doan
Shane Doan has spent his entire career with the same organization. It started out in Winnipeg, and the winger made the move with the franchise to Arizona back in 1996. As romantic as the idea of playing for one franchise for your entire career is, this could be the season Doan forgoes his no-trade clause and accepts a deal to a contending team.
The only thing stopping this potential deal from happening at this point is demand. Are there teams out there who want Doan’s services for the postseason? He’s lost a step, to be sure; many teams would probably prefer Radim Vrbata, but his contract is laden with bonuses that the team who trades for him would be on the hook for (because of the way the contract is structured), so that could kibosh a Vrbata deal. Doan is the more likely scenario, if only by a fraction.
28 Boston Bruins: John-Michael Liles
The Boston Bruins are a team in transition, and with every passing day it looks like the playoffs are a pipe dream for Beantown. Toronto and Ottawa are playing too well, while the Bruins are constantly letting valuable points slip away. Ergo, there is a pretty good chance that Boston views itself as more of a buyer than a seller at this season’s trade deadline.
So, who can they offer up that might be valuable to a contender? Veteran defenseman John-Michael Liles comes to mind. He won’t fetch anything too crazy for the bruins, but teams have been known to grossly overpay for depth defensemen at the trade deadline. Remember in 2013 when the Penguins sent two 2nd rounders to San Jose for Douglas Murray? Classic.
27 Buffalo Sabres: Cody Franson
The Buffalo Sabres are still in rebuilding mode, and might be for another couple of seasons. As such, we can safely expect them to be sellers again come March 1st. Obviously, since they’re still in rebuild mode, it’s unlikely they trade any of their young prospects or draft picks for that matter, so for Buffalo we chose veteran defenseman Cody Franson as the most likely to be shipped out in a month.
Franson is on an expiring contract, but he’s proven in the past his ability to put up points from the blue line at a pretty steady rate. This is the type of player who always gets rented out at the deadline, and there’s no real reason for the Sabres to hold onto Franson for the stretch. This could be one of those 11th hour deadline deals, as clubs might be circling back to Buffalo after they strike out on other options.
26 Calgary Flames: Kris Versteeg
Kris Versteeg is no stranger to trade deadline deals. The veteran winger has been dealt three times in the month of February over his career, and there’s a pretty good chance that it happens a fourth time in 2017 (or on deadline day). He was traded to the Blackhawks from the Bruins in February of 2007, then from the Leafs to the Flyers in February 2011, and finally from the Hurricanes to the Kings at last season’s deadline.
Versteeg would be a valuable piece for almost any team looking to make a run this season. The Alberta native is a two-time Stanley Cup champion, lifting Lord Stanley with Chicago in 2010 and 2015. He is second on Calgary in five-on-five points per 60 minutes, ahead of players like Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. With the Flames in a bit of a slide, a Vertseeg trade before the deadline is certainly possible.
25 Carolina Hurricanes: Viktor Stalberg
Carolina’s representative on this list is Swedish winger Viktor Stalberg. Stalberg won a Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2013, but his career has failed to truly take off since then. Nonetheless, competitive teams look for guys who have been there before at the deadline, and Stalberg fits that bill if nothing else.
This could change if the Hurricanes remain in a battle for a playoff position (is it possible the ‘Canes are actually buyers in one month’s time?), but for now they’re closer to the seller side. It will be a seller's market this year, with so many teams sticking around the race, so Carolina will be in good position to get good value on Stalberg, whose contract expires at the end of the year.
24 Chicago Blackhawks: Marcus Kruger
Speaking of guys who have been there before, Chicago’s Marcus Kruger could be on his way out of town at the deadline this season. Many of the mock-expansion drafts that writers/bloggers have done up recently have Kruger as the Blackhawks’ casualty this June, but there’s a chance the former fifth round pick gets dealt at the deadline.
Again, teams value guys who have won before, and Kruger has done that twice with the Blackhawks. In both winning runs he played a key depth role for the Hawks, which is always so important in the postseason. Despite his usefulness and history, the ‘Hawks are better advised to deal Kruger now rather than lose him for nothing in expansion or let him walk as a free agent.
23 Colorado Avalanche: Jarome Iginla
Jarome Iginla has scored over 600 goals in the NHL, but at 39 years old there’s no denying that he’s nearing the end of his career. Still, though, the Avalanche winger is desperate for a Stanley Cup at this point, and would most certainly waive his no move clause in order to go to pretty much any team that is playoff-bound.
Again, the biggest impediment here is Iginla himself. With only six goals and 12 points in 45 games so far this year, do playoff teams even have a use for him? He produced 47 points in a full season last year, which was down from the previous season when he produced 59. The drop in production in 2016-17 is troubling, and it could be a sign that Iggy doesn’t have anything left to give.
22 Columbus Blue Jackets: Sonny Milano
Most hockey fans are shocked to see Columbus hovering near the top of the NHL standings at this point in the season, but that’s the way it is. The John Torotorella-led Blue Jackets look destined for the playoffs, and as such they will be buyers at the deadline. So, who exactly do you offer up in a trade to improve your team down the stretch?
Well, there are draft picks and prospects. Unless the Jackets are getting a solid player back that comes some term attached, it’s unlikely they’d deal their 2017 first rounder. What about Sonny Milano, though? The former first round pick (16th overall) is amid his second professional season with the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters, and his game has taken a steady step forward this season.
As good as the Jackets are this year, there’s no denying that they could use some veteran leadership on the team. They only have one player on their team who is older than 30 today (Brandon Dubinsky), and the core they’ve been relying on to produce so far is made up of early 20-somethings. Perhaps a veteran rental is a good short term answer for the Blue Jackets, and Milano would be a fair price to pay.
21 Dallas Stars: Patrick Sharp
As the Dallas Stars slowly but surely slip out of contention in the West, it’s time to face the reality that they’re better off being sellers at the deadline. There’s too much dysfunction there to believe that a lengthy playoff run is in the cards for this season, so you might as well get some value out of the players you have on expiring contracts. The most attractive name is Patrick Sharp.
Yes, Sharp has a no-move clause, but I’m under the impression that veteran players on expiring contracts will almost always waive their NMC if it means they’re going to a contending team. Sharp is 35 years old and would certainly like to take another crack at a fourth Stanley Cup. Perhaps Chicago would be interested in renting the winger for another run?
20 Detroit Red Wings: Thomas Vanek
Thomas Vanek signed a one-year contract with the Red Wings in the offseason after the Minnesota Wild bought out the remainder of his deal in St. Paul. Vanek has been great for the Red Wings so far this season, registering 31 points in the 36 games he’s played to this point. The problem for the Red Wings is that it looks as though their streak of 25 consecutive postseason appearances is coming to an end, and they’re likely going to be sellers next month.
Vanek, although a little bit over the hill at age 33, has proven that he can still produce at an impressive clip, and there’s little doubt that the Austrian will draw a lot of attention leading up to March 1st. Perhaps he could be a fit in Columbus or Ottawa—two teams that look playoff bound and could use the veteran presence up front.
19 Edmonton Oilers: Brandon Davidson
The Edmonton Oilers defense corps looks a lot better today than it did 12 to 18 months ago, so you have to credit GM Peter Chiarelli with the vast improvement there. It’s gotten so strong, in fact, that they risk losing a pretty valuable piece for nothing in defenseman Brandon Davidson at the expansion draft this June. At this point, the Oilers basically have a choice: leave Davidson unprotected, or expose one of Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, or Patrick Maroon.
Davidson actually broke out last season, but 2016-17 has been marred by injury so far. That’s perhaps the only reason Las Vegas wouldn’t take Davidson in expansion, should he indeed be left unprotected. Nonetheless, the defenseman could be a valuable piece to, potentially, all 29 NHL clubs; he’s young, he can play well enough today, he has another year left at $1.4M, and is an RFA upon the conclusion of the deal.
18 Florida Panthers: Jaromir Jagr
What a legend. Everybody’s favorite active hockey player was recently excused from the 25th anniversary party for the Pittsburgh Penguins 1992 Stanley Cup championship team because “he had a game that night.” Jaromir Jagr might sign one year contracts with random teams until he’s 60, and put up 50 points per season in the process.
There’s a chance that the 1,900-plus point scorer finds himself in another jersey come the 2017 postseason, as the Florida Panthers’ struggles continue down the stretch. The 2016-17 season is pretty much a write-off for Florida, as they’ve suffered too many key injuries to keep track of. Jagr is on pace for about 50 points, which is good second-line production in the NHL and could help, in some way, pretty much every contending team.
17 Los Angeles Kings: Dwight King
The Los Angeles Kings find themselves in familiar territory again, as they are on the bubble of the playoff cutline with 30-odd games left in the year. Will they end up on the outside looking in (like they did in 2015), or will they squeak in and go on another miracle run (ala 2012)? Either way, veteran winger Dwight King is on an expiring contract and the Kings might be better off dealing him than trying to re-sign him to an extension.
King comes with that attractive caveat of having won before, so there will certainly be a handful of teams asking about him leading up to the deadline. He played a key depth role on both championship clubs (2012 and 2014), and is now all of a sudden a veteran of over 300 games. The Kings probably want a little more offensively from King, so they’d likely be okay with letting him go for a pick.
16 Minnesota Wild: Kirill Kaprizov
The Minnesota Wild have a bright future, but let’s not forget about their bright present. They have one of the most reliable goalies in the NHL in Devan Dubnyk, have scoring throughout all four lines, and one of the league’s strongest D corps. As such, they’ll be looking to add some complementary pieces to the puzzle this trade deadline to prep for a long run this spring.
The Wild had loads of top shelf prospects on display at the World Juniors a month ago, and one of the bright stars from that tournament was Kirill Kaprizov. With an otherwise stacked prospect cupboard up front, would the Wild be willing to let go of Kaprizov if they thought that they were getting a key piece for a Stanley Cup run in return?
15 Montreal Canadiens: Sven Andrighetto
Much like the Wild, Montreal has effectively punched their ticket to the 2017 postseason, and barring a massive collapse they should be crowned the Atlantic Division champs. They will likely be looking to add a little scoring before March 1st, and they could dangle draft picks and prospects as bait. Would Sven Andrighetto be of interest to teams out there?
The 23-year-old Swiss winger has shown flashes of capability in the NHL, and has also proven that he’s too good for the AHL. Though he’s split time between Montreal and St. John’s this year, a team looking to rent out a veteran would probably roll the dice on Andrighetto. The Habs could just as easily deal a pick instead, if they feel like they’ve already invested enough in 2013’s 86th overall pick.
14 Nashville Predators: Mike Ribeiro
Mike Ribeiro tends to fall out of favor wherever he goes, and although he’s lasted a while in Nashville, it’s looking like time is almost up there for the veteran center. With an expiring contract, GM Dave Poile will definitely see if there’s any interest out there for Ribeiro. The only thing standing in the way here would be Ribeiro’s history of being sort of an attitude case.
Still though, the risk would be low for any team taking the chance, as they could just waive him if it came down to that. The upside could be large; the guy will be playing for another contract (perhaps the last of his career) and has a history of offense (he has nearly 800 NHL points—crazy, right?). I can think of a handful of playoff-bound teams that could use the insurance up the middle.
13 New Jersey Devils: P.A. Parenteau
I think of P.A. Parenteau as sort of the Rodney Dangerfield of the NHL. The guy has put up solid offensive numbers for most of his career (two 20-goal seasons and a separate 67 points season), has strong advanced analytics, has played in almost 500 games despite being a 2001 9th round draft pick, yet the guy gets no respect. He was placed on waivers before this season started, claimed by the Devils, and now he’s pacing for 20 goals again.
However, it looks unlikely that the Devils will make the playoffs this season (although they could, as the East is a log jam right now). That makes Parenteau and his potential 20-goal talents available for the right price—and that price probably won’t be astronomical if you consider that New Jersey got him for nothing in the first place. It's found money for them.
12 New York Islanders: Jaroslav Halak
Jaroslav Halak is currently playing hockey in the AHL, and I’d imagine he’s none-too-pleased about it. The veteran of nearly 400 games has fallen out of favor on the island; a parting of ways seems inevitable, so give me one good reason it shouldn’t happen at this year’s trade deadline. Sure, that one more year left on his contract might scare some teams away, but not all of them.
There is another month left before the trade deadline, so if a playoff-bound team (or playoff bubble team, perhaps) suffers an injury in the crease before March 1st, Halak is as good a bet as any to fill in, either for just down the stretch or for a playoff run. He has a history of playing at an elite level, and goalies are almost always streaky, so Halak could have another hot streak left in him.
11 New York Rangers: Oscar Lindberg
New York Rangers forward Oscar Lindberg broke into the league at the beginning of the 2015-16 season, keeping at near a point-per-game pace for the first 12-or-so games of his career. His production slipped, and today he struggles to stay in the lineup on a nightly basis. That being said, the Rangers are incredibly deep up front, so perhaps a team with a little less depth might take an interest in Lindberg.
The big Swedish winger is already 25 and his future in the NHL is unclear at this point. He won’t fetch a crucial piece for a run for the Rangers, but he could net an insurance 6th or 7th defenseman for New York, and those pieces become pretty valuable late in a playoff run when the bumps and bruises catch up with you.
10 Philadelphia Flyers: Michael Del Zotto
There’s no doubt that Michael Del Zotto has shown inconsistency throughout his NHL career to this point. While at times it’s looked as though he’s capable of putting up first-pairing offensive numbers, other times he can look a little lost out there. Del Zotto is on an expiring contract that comes with no clauses attached, so he could net Philly an asset as a rental.
There is a chance that the Flyers hang around the playoff picture for another month and decide to keep Del Zotto for a potential miracle run, but if GM Ron Hextall knows what’s best for his club he will acquire some assets for the defender. The Flyers have been pretty impotent since their 10 game winning streak, and with the race heating up in the East, I’d say they’re a playoff long shot at this point.
9 Pittsburgh Penguins: Derrick Pouliot
The defending champs are well positioned to make another long run at it here, as they’re hovering near the top of the powerhouse Metropolitan Division with roughly 30 games left on the schedule. They will once again be buyers at the deadline, and they have a few prospects to dangle as bait for a team looking to add promising youth.
Defenseman Derrick Pouliot just turned 23 years old, but he’s yet to find a permanent spot on the Pens blue line. Pouliot is still expected to turn into a solid NHL defenseman, but is there any way GM Jim Rutherford would let go of Pouliot for the right rental? I’m thinking that the Pens would be interested in acquiring Kevin Shattenkirk for the playoffs, as their offensive stud D-man Kris Letang is struggling with injuries once again in 2016-17.
8 Ottawa Senators: Chris Driedger
Ottawa could use some help on both defense and offense, and they don’t have a lot in the way of prospects to offer as bait. Of course clubs would clamour over defensive prospect Thomas Chabot, but that’s not happening. With Craig Anderson returning to the Senators for the rest of the season, though, the Sens all of a sudden have a lot of goalies at their disposal.
They have Anderson, Andrew Hammond (IR), Mike Condon, and Chris Dreidger all under contract right now, and with Condon having played so well in Anderson’s absence, I’d say they would be more than okay dealing either Hammond or Dreidger. For a team looking ahead to the future, Dreidger would probably be the most attractive option there, so that’s why he’s Ottawa’s rep on this list.
7 San Jose Sharks: 2017 1st Round Pick
Call it a cop-out, but San Jose’s prospect drawer isn’t exactly loaded right now, and I don’t see any of them garnering a decent enough return for San Jose at this season’s deadline. So, their 2017 first round pick is probably the asset that they will use to attract perhaps a little more back-end depth for the playoffs this year.
The Sharks are in a win-now mode, having lost to the Penguins in the Stanley Cup Final last season. The 2017 draft isn’t projected to be anything particularly special, so this year is as good as any to sacrifice your first round pick. It would be a risk to be sure—we’ve already mentioned the Sharks’ underwhelming prospect pool—but teams make all sorts of sacrifices to win now, and this is one the Sharks could make.
6 St. Louis Blues: Kevin Shattenkirk
Kevin Shattenkirk’s name has been in the rumor mill for a year now, as the Blues most certainly can’t afford to keep the defenseman after his current contract expires at season’s end. Although the Blues could easily decide that keeping Shattenkirk for the stretch/playoff run and letting him leave for nothing is the superior option, there’s an equal chance he’s dealt.
Shattenkirk will be the most attractive rental out there, and players like that in the past have garnered some pretty attractive packages in trades. I don’t see the Blues sending Shattenkirk to a conference rival, but they will probably be listening to offers from Eastern Conference teams over the next 30-odd days. We mentioned the Penguins might be interested, but they won’t be the only ones.
5 Tampa Bay Lightning: Brian Boyle
Brian Boyle has built a solid reputation for himself. He shows up in the big games, is a physical presence, and has a history of performing well in the postseason. Unless Boyle is interested in taking a generous hometown discount to stay in Tampa, I don’t think the Lightning will be re-signing Boyle after this year, as cap space is at an ultimate premium for the Lightning these days.
This is written with the assumption that Tampa turns things around over the next month and actually challenges for a playoff spot. If you're reading this in mid-February and the Lightning are still stuck in that bottom grouping in the east, there’s a chance we could see a more attractive name available from Tampa—maybe a guy like Alex Killorn, Jonathan Drouin, or Ondrej Palat. They will likely be forced to expose one of those guys in expansion anyway.
4 Toronto Maple Leafs: 2017 1st Round Pick
Don’t worry, this is only the second and will be the final time I pick the 2017 first rounder as a team’s most probable trade deadline casualty. This selection would probably have come off as an outlandish prediction if it were still October, but today it looks as though the Leafs are poised to return to the postseason for the first time since 2013.
The Maple Leafs could of course offer up Tyler Bozak or James Van Riemsdyk in a trade, but that would be foolish at this point. JVR has been the club’s most consistent forward throughout the season, and he’s developed some pretty great chemistry with rookie linemate Mitch Marner. The Maple Leafs are certainly still in rebuilding mode, but if the right offer comes along, they could be tempted to trade their first rounder this year, given that it’s a shallow class as it is.
3 Vancouver Canucks: Alexandre Burrows
There’s no doubt that Alexandre Burrows’ best days are behind him, but every so often the 35-year-old reminds you that he can still contribute in meaningful ways here and there. The French-Canadian winger has played his whole career in Vancouver, meaning that he’s never won a Stanley Cup. Burrows has a no-trade clause, and assuming the Canucks slowly fade away from the playoff race (will they? I thought it would've happened by now…), he would likely waive it.
Burrows has a feistiness to his game that comes in handy come playoff time. He also scored a handful of super clutch goals when the Canucks went to the Stanley Cup Final in 2011, although that was six years ago. Still though, expiring contracts are pretty easy for teams to take on, so there is a chance that Burrows is wearing a different sweater in a month.
2 Washington Capitals: Ilya Samsonov
The Washington Capitals are tearing up the league in the regular season once again, but something tells me most of the players on that team don’t really care at this point. D.C. has featured a great brand of hockey for a decade now, but they still haven’t made it past the second round of the playoffs in that time frame, despite winning Presidents' Trophy twice in that span.
You’ve got to imagine that cold, hard fact eats away at guys like Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. They’ve played over 1,500 regular season games for the Caps (combined total, of course), yet they haven’t had the chance to so much as compete for an Eastern Conference title, let alone the Cup. They’ll be looking to add anything they can at the deadline to get them over that hump—goalie prospect Ilya Samsonov might be their most attractive bargaining chip at this juncture.
1 Winnipeg Jets: Drew Stafford
Goaltending has been a major issue in Winnipeg so far this year, and that’s the prime reason they find themselves well outside a playoff spot at the 50-game mark. They’ll most certainly be sellers at the deadline, and they’ll be looking to bring in either draft picks or prospects. Their prospect pool is already stacked to the gills, but there’s no harm in adding more pieces.
Drew Stafford is a veteran winger who is entering the final year of his deal. The Jets might not be too keen on re-signing the pending UFA as it is, so why not flip him for some assets at the deadline? He’s a solid third-liner for any team, and although he’s currently on the IR, he’s expected to make his return in February and is listed as day-to-day.