In the NHL, teams are finding that their window to make trades and improve their chances of going deep in the postseason is getting smaller and smaller. There's still time but some franchises are learning they're not going to be making the playoffs and others are realizing just how well they'll finish and where they are short or lacking skill in certain positions on the roster. General managers are talking and players are expecting some movement.
With that in mind, teams know what they need and others know what they're willing to move. A list of unrestricted free agents have popped up and their projected market value is starting to become clearer by the day. Who are these players most likely to be dealt and make this year's NHL Trade Deadline an exciting one?
At the top of the list is Evander Kane and he's been there for a while. The Buffalo Sabres are not likely going to make the postseason and Kane is looking for a new deal that will likely pay him more than the Sabres are willing to dish out. He's a scoring winger with physicality and skill but he's also got a reputation for being a little harder to control and not always the best teammate. That won't stop a team this summer from giving him too much money though.
The Sabres are asking for a first-rounder, another draft pick and potentially a prospect. It's a high asking price but if a team is in bad enough shape that they need the scoring, someone is likely to pay it.
For defensemen, Mike Green looks to be the catch of the deadline. He's not known for his defense, but his offense is all-world and he's a right shot on the power play which is often highly coveted by teams. The Tampa Bay Lightning are rumored to be looking for this exact type player and the Detroit Red Wings and almost guaranteed to move Green before the deadline. He does have a no-trade clause that he would have to agree to waive but most think he'd do so for a team like Tampa Bay.
One of the less expensive options for forwards at this year's deadline looks to be Patrick Maroon. He's coming off a 27-goal season in Edmonton last year and while he's struggled a bit more this year, his salary is a bargain at $1.5 million. That's a cheap add for a top-six left winger who has the size to go deep in the playoffs and the hands to add a few goals. Edmonton wants to re-sign him but if the value they get from trading him exceeds what it would cost to keep him, expect the Oilers to move him out.
The New York Rangers just sent a press release to their fans thanking them for their loyalty and passion and giving them a subtle heads-up that some changes are coming. That almost guarantees both Rick Nash and Michael Grabner are gone from the organization. The team wants to get whatever assets they can for the two players and in Nash's case, he might wind up back in New York after the summer comes to a close.
Finally, expect the Montreal Canadiens to move forward Max Pacioretty. He's an incredible scorer having posted 30-goal seasons on multiple occasions and he's got a value contract that lasts one more year after this one. The ask for him is going to be a top-two defenseman or a top-two center so it might take just the right team to make that deal work.
This should be a busy trade deadline in the NHL. Lots of action and some pretty big names on the move. What teams give up to get some of these players is still uncertain but it could change the landscape of the playoff scene when all is said and done.