The NHL Trade Deadline is Christmas for hockey fans. Either your team is going to add some big names or they're going to rebuild by unloading veterans no longer needed and stockpile on draft picks and prospects. No matter what your team does, there's always excitement.
Well, this NHL Trade Deadline will be like no other. With the Vegas Expansion Draft upcoming, this is the last chance for some teams to trade players rather than risk losing them for nothing. It could force them into trading away key players in order to ensure they get something for them.
There is also a plethora of veteran forwards who are nearing the end of their respective careers. This means we could see a number of veterans get traded to contenders in hopes of winning their first Stanley Cup. This season's trade deadline could also see a number of big-named goalies on the move.
So what could go down on trade deadline day? Here's a look at 15 big names that could be on the move and where they will go.
*Note: Stats courtesy of ESPN.com*
15 Brian Elliott to Anaheim Ducks
The Calgary Flames need to be thankful that they only surrendered a second-round pick to acquire Brian Elliott from the St. Louis Blues. He has posted a dismal 3-9-1 record with a 3.31 goals against average and .885 save percentage. Chad Johnson, a career backup, has stolen the spotlight AND the starting job in Calgary. Their fortunes have changed significantly since making a change in goal.
With that, the Flames would probably be happy to get rid of Elliot so that they can make room to bring in a quality player at the trade deadline. With the Anaheim Ducks needing a backup for the young John Gibson, a veteran like Elliot makes sense. If Gibson struggles before or during the playoffs, the Ducks have a veteran to help.
Calgary would practically give away Elliot in this case; probably nothing more than a third-round pick.
14 Ryan Miller to Philadelphia Flyers
The Vancouver Canucks need to rebuild. For the third time in four years, expect them to be sellers at the trade deadline. Keeping a pending UFA and 36-year-old Ryan Miller (well past his prime) beyond the deadline doesn't make any sense. They have a better option with 26-year-old Jacob Markstrom and a promising Thatcher Demko waiting in the minors.
Though Steve Mason has held his ground despite no defensive help in front of him, it'd be smart of the Flyers to bring in another veteran. Mason has a porous 2-9 playoff record with a 3.37 goals against average, and .895 save percentage. Miller, on the other hand, is 28-27 in the playoffs with a 2.49 goals against average and .915 save percentage with three shutouts.
Bringing in a veteran to push Mason for the starter's role down the stretch and possibly in the playoffs wouldn't just be a smart move, but a necessary one for Ron Hextall. The Canucks could get a first or second round pick for Miller to finally help kickstart this rebuild.
13 Brian Gionta to Edmonton Oilers
The 37-year-old Brian Gionta is nearing the end of his NHL career, and staying with a lowly Buffalo Sabres team shouldn't be in his best interests. He's had his time to mentor a young group of players, but it's time for Tim Murray to stockpile on younger assets instead of keeping pending veteran free agents.
As of this writing, Gionta has six goals and 11 points with Buffalo. The Edmonton Oilers could and should come calling for a veteran winger to help this young core in the playoffs. Gionta could provide plenty of leadership to Edmonton if they make the playoffs. He's played in 112 postseason games and has scored 32 goals and 68 points and won a Stanley Cup with the team in 2003 with the New Jersey Devils.
Buffalo would probably earn nothing more than a lower-level prospect and third or mid-round pick. Better than keeping Gionta and having him walk in free agency. And the Oilers could gain a valuable veteran for a playoff run at a decent price, too.
12 Daniel and Henrik Sedin to Ottawa Senators
I do want to post this trade higher on the list, but it's extremely unlikely to happen. That doesn't mean that it shouldn't happen. If a questionable Vancouver Canucks front office is serious about rebuilding, then why keep a pair of 36-year-old twins who have one year left on their respective contracts?
Let's imagine the Canucks actually do what's best for the team and trade the Sedin twins. Unfortunately for them, the elite teams (Chicago, Los Angeles, San Jose, Anaheim, Pittsburgh, Montreal, Washington and the New York Rangers) lack the cap space to pull off a deal and/or have enough scoring forwards which means they don't need them.
The Ottawa Senators seem to be a team in the middle that has both the cap space and can be competitive. They're just 21st in scoring, averaging 2.41 goals per game. This young team could use a couple of veterans, and the Sedins fit the bill. The Canucks could trade the pair to Ottawa, and make things easier by taking on Bobby Ryan's messy contract - which has five years left at a $7.25 millon cap hit according to CapFriendly.com.
Again, this trade is extremely unlikely to happen. If it did, Ottawa would be the best suitor. The Canucks have no reason to keep these guys around for a rebuild, no matter what they've done for the franchise.
11 Ryan Spooner to Minnesota Wild
Elliot Friedman from Sportsnet reported back in October that the Boston Bruins would be listening to offers for the talented centre, Ryan Spooner. The 24-year-old hasn't lived up to expectations as a second-round draft choice from 2010. He did show flashes in 2015-16 by scoring 13 goals and 49 points, but it appears that Spooner doesn't have a future on Boston's stacked group of forwards.
It's well-known by now that the Bruins have badly needed defence since trading away Johnny Boychuk two years ago. The Wild are the NHL's best defensive team this season and are stacked with blueliners, but aren't known as much for their offence.
Matt Dumba has been floated around as a possible trade candidate. Minnesota already has Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin, Marco Scandella, and Jared Spurgeon on defence. A Dumba-for-Spooner swap plus a second-round pick to Minny would make plenty of sense for both sides.
Boston addresses a blue line problem, and the Wild add another hopeful top-six forward to complement an aging core led by Zach Parise and Eric Staal.
10 Martin Hanzal to Montreal Canadiens
The Canadiens have most of the necessities to being a Stanley Cup contender. Carey Price is the best goalie in the world and Shea Weber, Andrei Markov, Alexei Emelin, and Jeff Petry round out one of the best defensive units. But their offence is a concern every year, and recent knee injuries to Alex Galchenyuk and David Desharnais don't help one bit.
Montreal is also a team that lacks all-around size, and Martin Hanzal of the Arizona Coyotes is the ideal trade fit. The Coyotes are in the Western Conference basement, and with Hanzal set to become a free agent in 2017, there's no need to keep him.
Hanzal is a big centre (6-6, 236 pounds) and would provide more depth down the middle for the Habs. Arizona would probably want nothing more than a draft pick or two, and the Canadiens would happily supply that in order to gear up for a Stanley Cup run.
9 Radim Vrbata to Boston Bruins
The slick sniper would be an ideal fit for the Bruins. He scored 31 goals with the Vancouver Canucks in 2014-15 when he was put on a line with the Sedin twins. Imagine him playing with Patrice Bergeron or David Krejci in Boston.
The Bruins have missed the playoffs the last two seasons and are under enormous pressure to get back to the postseason. Radim Vrbata would bring more speed to a Bruins team more known for its size and toughness. He's on pace to score over 20 goals this season. If he can do it in Arizona, he can score aplenty in Beantown.
Boston could look at giving up one of their prospects for Vrbata. Seth Griffith or Peter Cehlarik would be nice additions for a rebuilding Coyotes team.
8 Anthony Duclair to Carolina Hurricanes
Nick Kypreos from Sportsnet reported a couple of weeks ago that the Arizona Coyotes are looking to shop Anthony Duclair. They apparently offered him to the Calgary Flames for Dougie Hamilton, but Brian Burke said no.
Duclair scored 21 goals with the Coyotes last season, but is going through a notable sophomore slump. Arizona is stocked with young forwards in Max Domi and Dylan Strome, so trading Duclair to get help on defence would make sense. Carolina is apparently looking at trading 23-year-old blueliner Ryan Murphy.
With the Hurricanes stocked with young blueliners, this trade would benefit both sides. But Duclair has more upside, so Carolina would probably have to throw in a first or second-round pick. That probably wouldn't be a problem, given how they're in the playoff picture for the first time in years.
7 Patrick Sharp to Pittsburgh Penguins
The three-time Stanley Cup winner was one of the many players the Chicago Blackhawks have had to trade away over the years, due to salary cap problems. Patrick Sharp lit it up in his first year with Dallas, scoring 20 goals and 55 points. But injuries in 2016-17 have limited his availability and scoring.
The Stars look destined to miss the playoffs after winning the Central Division last year. Keeping a 35-year-old who's set to become a free agent in 2017 doesn't make much sense. But the Pittsburgh Penguins hand out prospects and first-round picks like it's Christmas on most deadlines.
This would be a perfect scenario for both teams. Pittsburgh adds another slick winger on Evgeni Malkin's line and they'd have no problem giving up a top prospect (Derrick Pouliot, perhaps), and/or a draft pick or two.
Pittsburgh has always been about mortgaging the future, and with their Cup window losing, general Jim Rutherford has every reason to go all-in again by trading for Sharp.
6 Shane Doan to Washington Capitals
Yeah, so the Coyotes will probably be trading away a ton of forwards at the trade deadline. Though many may ridicule me, it only makes sense that a rebuilding team adds as many young assets as possible by selling off their pending UFA veterans and Duclair.
Even though Shane Doan has refused to leave Arizona and has remained loyal to the franchise for two decades, this is likely his last chance at winning a Stanley Cup. He's probably willing to move on if the front office asks him to accept a trade.
The Washington Capitals will also look to go all-in as Alexander Ovechkin's time to win a Stanley Cup with them runs out more and more by the day. Doan would be a valuable veteran in the playoffs and round out the top-six as a solid winger. Washington is often aggressive at the deadline and could give away a top prospect like Liam O'Brien or Ilya Samsonov.
5 Jaromir Jagr to Montreal Canadiens
Jaromir Jagr has been linked to the Canadiens over the years, but nothing has come out of it. With the Florida Panthers slumping and Jagr finally showing his age (44), this could be his last NHL season. Even though Jagr has won two Stanley Cups, the last one took place in 1992. You can tell he's probably hungry for another championship.
Florida would probably just give Jagr away at the deadline for a second or third-round pick. The Habs would be wise to add Jagr with his size (6-3, 230 pounds) and veteran leadership. He's played in 208 playoff games, scoring 78 goals and 201 points. The Habs need more veterans and big guys in their lineup if they want to go all the way.
Adding Hanzal would be one thing, but adding Jagr would be another great pickup. Marc Bergevin would address the lack of scoring depth and size with these two additions. Jagr to Montreal makes perfect sense.
4 Kevin Shattenkirk to Detroit Red Wings
Kevin Shattenkirk has been in trade rumors for about a year now, but the St. Louis Blues have chosen to hold onto him. He's a free agent in 2017 and there's no doubting the team is preparing to move on without him. Though they may feel inclined to keep him for one more run at the Cup, they can easily secure long-term assets if they trade him.
Being a Cup contender, don't expect Shattenkirk to be traded to a team in the Western Conference. The Red Wings make sense because:
1. They're in the East
2. They strongly lack quality defencemen outside of Mike Green, whose hot start is bound to cool down.
3. They have so many young forwards to part with.
Though Dylan Larkin is unlikely to be traded, the Blues could acquire Anthony Mantha, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Andreas Athanasiou or Tyler Bertuzzi. St. Louis' core forwards are on the wrong side of 30, so adding some young guys up front would help them.
Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, Colton Parayko, and Carl Gunnarsson give the Blues enough defence. This trade addresses a concern for both teams.
3 Jarome Iginla to Chicago Blackhawks
His name hasn't come up much, and the 30-goal days of Jarome Iginla are long gone. With that, people are overlooking him as a trade target. There's a good chance the 39-year-old retires after 2016-17, and it only makes sense for him to join a Stanley Cup contender.
He has spent time with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins, only to fall short. The Blackhawks already have three Stanley Cups and could go all-in once again at the trade deadline. With Iginla no longer being the star he once was, Colorado would not have a high asking price for him.
What could hurt for Chicago to put Iginla on a line with Jonathan Toews or Artem Anisimov? Iginla's a quality veteran at this point and could add more scoring to this stacked team in the playoffs.
There's no questioning Iginla will be traded, the only question is to who. Chicago makes the most sense.
2 Marc-Andre Fleury to Edmonton Oilers
With the Pittsburgh Penguins having a better netminder in Matt Murray, Marc-Andre Fleury doesn't have a future in Pittsburgh. The former guided the team to a Stanley Cup, while the latter watched from the bench. Fleury has a no-movement clause, so the Penguins can't leave him exposed in the Vegas Expansion Draft. This would mean that he'll have to get traded unless they chose to not protect Murray (which would leave him available to Vegas).
Calgary seemed like an ideal choice for Fleury, but with the recent emergence of Chad Johnson, they have no reason to acquire him at this time. Cam Talbot is a good (not great) goalie. The Oilers are pushing for a playoff spot and could use a veteran playoff netminder, and Fleury would be a solid option.
Per CapFriendly.com, he only has two years left with a $5.75 million cap hit. Edmonton would have to offer up one of their young forwards and probably a draft pick, but Fleury could be the missing piece for a championship run.
1 Ben Bishop to Winnipeg Jets
The Jets have the NHL's most talented group of young players, and they should be winning now. Mark Scheifele, Patrik Laine, Blake Wheeler, Kyle Connor, Joel Armia, Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom, Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, and Bryan Little round out a super-stacked core.
But Winnipeg has a problem in goal, as Connor Hellebuyck has shown he needs plenty of more time to blossom as a legitimate number one. Ben Bishop is a pending free agent, and Andrei Vasilevskiy has outplayed him. With Bishop's value at sky-high level, Steve Yzerman would be wise to get something for him.
The Jets have hockey's best farm system, and could be willing to part with one of their best young forwards and/or blueliners for Bishop. Perhaps a Bishop-for-Nic Petan swap would make sense.
Winnipeg has had long enough to rebuild, and it's time to show results. But they won't see any without acquiring a quality netminder like Bishop.