The NHL trade deadline is less than a month away. While deadline day itself has been rather ho-hum over the past few years, a lot of the reason for that is that general managers have been making trades in the weeks and months leading up to the day itself. Yes, the salary cap and the proliferation of ‘no-movement’ clauses can make trades more difficult to pull off than was the case 12-20 years ago, but it’s not as though we’ve seen trades dry up. We still see trades, and yes even the much vaunted ‘player-for-player’ trade, it’s just we tend to see them before deadline day, not on it. And we haven’t seen a great deal of trades recently, so there’s reason to be hopeful that we’ll see a lot of trade action this February.
One reason for the lack of deals thus far is because of the parity throughout most of the league. Yes, there are a few teams who look nailed on for a playoff spot, and there’s a couple at the bottom of the league that are utterly atrocious (looking at you Arizona and Colorado), but for the most part, a lot of teams look like they could go either way. So it’s tough for a young team like, say, the Toronto Maple Leafs to know if they should trade youth for some experience or just wait until next year.
Equally, teams like the Dallas Stars are hesitant to trade away some veterans because they still have a decent chance of making the postseason. In short, there’s a lot of uncertainty. But you won’t find any fence-sitting or wishy-washiness in this article! Here are 15 bold predictions for the NHL trade deadline.
15 Arizona Fire Sale
As mentioned earlier, the Arizona Coyotes have been having an awful year. While they have a solid goalie in Mike Smith and some youth for the future (like Max Domi), the Coyotes don’t have much else. And there’s not much to hinder their deal making, contractually speaking. So you should expect a fire sale. Martin Hanzal is perhaps the likeliest player to be traded, and Radim Vrbata and Michael Stone aren’t far behind.
14 Shane Doan Will Stay Put
13 Islanders Will Give Jaroslav Halak (and Picks) to Buffalo
While there are some teams that might be in the market for a starting goaltender (hello, St. Louis) there aren’t a lot of teams looking for a backup. Or, at least not many teams looking to spend much money on a backup. Thus, backup goalie is perhaps the one position for which it is a buyer’s market this spring. Jaroslav Halak played great for Team Europe in the World Cup of Hockey this past September. Unfortunately for the New York Islanders, he has not carried that form over into the regular season.
12 Cody Franson Will Leave Buffalo For Edmonton
Staying with Buffalo, the most improved team last season has taken a giant step backward this year. As such, they will be sellers, but they don’t have quite the array of names to offer as do Arizona and Colorado. They do, however, have defenceman Cody Franson. Franson is a dependable, big, veteran defenceman scheduled to become a UFA at the end of the season. With his cap-friendly salary, Franson should be getting plenty of suitors over the next month. But Edmonton makes the most sense.
11 Ben Bishop for Kevin Shattenkirk
This is a case of, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire”. This trade has been rumored for a while now, with some speculating the two teams have cooled off on any such potential trade. However, it’s likely that as St. Louis GM Doug Armstrong and Tampa GM Steve Yzerman make calls and shop around their respective players, they might realize there’s not much of a market there. Ben Bishop has not been great this season and Tampa has seemingly decided that Andrei Vasilevskiy is their man between their pipes.
10 Dennis Seidenberg Will Leave the Islanders For Toronto
The New York Islanders are another “stick or twist” club. Battling it out in the ultra-competitive Metropolitan Division, the Islanders could be buyers or sellers. They’ve been good this season, but inconsistent, and there’s just no guarantee of postseason hockey with all that competition. A poor run of games in February and GM Garth Snow might be looking to do something to save his job, and he won’t want to let UFAs go without compensation.
9 Curtis Lazar for P.A. Parenteau
8 Brian Gionta Returns to Montreal
As mentioned earlier, the Buffalo Sabres are one of the few teams who are unreservedly sellers. One of their key pieces of trade bait is Brian Gionta. Gionta could offer some depth scoring and veteran leadership for a team hoping to go far in the playoffs. However, Gionta is the Sabres' captain, so they would have to think seriously before moving him. Gionta also has a modified no-trade clause and is essentially playing for his hometown team, having been born in Rochester. Add to that his moderate cap hit of $4.25 million and it begins to look like Gionta might stay put. Gionta already has a Stanley Cup ring, so he’s unlikely to want to go to just any contender. But what about Montreal?
7 Patrick Sharp Returns to Chicago
In another “veteran forward returns to his old club” possibility, the Chicago Blackhawks are believed to be interested in Patrick Sharp. As ever, the Blackhawks are close to the cap (though not as close as in previous years) so they have to be thrifty in whoever they add. The ‘Hawks are believed to be looking to add an experienced forward, and Sharp fits the bill given all his experience with the ‘Hawks. The Stars are in a tough position, though, and are hesitant to sell off players when they’re still in the playoff mix. But Sharp will be a UFA come July 1, and he hasn’t been lighting the world on fire in Dallas, so letting him go for the right offer would be smart.
Chicago could reasonably expect Sharp to do better when he settles back in with the Blackhawks come the postseason and they can probably afford his rather hefty cap hit of $5.9 million (but only just). The only questions is, what would Dallas want in return? If they stumble throughout February, they’ll be looking for assets for the future as opposed to help for right now.
6 Thomas Vanek Will Leave Detroit For L.A.
The longest consecutive postseason qualification run in major professional sports is about to end. Barring some dramatic collapses from the teams above them, the Detroit Red Wings will not make the playoffs for a 26th time. That puts GM Ken Holland in the unfamiliar position of seller come the deadline. The likeliest player to be traded is UFA Thomas Vanek. The Austrian winger has experienced something of a resurgence this season and there are a lot of teams looking for a boost in scoring. Perhaps no team is more desperate for a goalscorer than the L.A. Kings. Their offence has dried up and it is thanks only to their strong defense core and the unlikely heroics of deputizing starting goalie Peter Budaj that the Kings are even in the playoff picture.
5 Jarome Iginla Will Return To Alberta... But Not To Calgary
If Brian Gionta and Patrick Sharp do indeed both return to Montreal and Chicago, respectively, will Jarome Iginla head back to Calgary and make it a hat-trick of returning favorites? ...No. There certainly has been talk of such a move. Iginla has perhaps been the most vocal of any player about wanting a move away come the deadline. And he would fit in well in Calgary, giving them some depth up front and making everybody feel warm and fuzzy. Everybody except Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli. Chiarelli has shown he is not at all afraid to make a big move, having traded Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson (a trade that looks a lot better now than at the time) and also shipping out Nail Yakupov.
4 Jonathan Drouin Will Leave Tampa For Anaheim
Points wise, the Lighting are not far from a playoff spot, but they have to deal with a resurgent Leafs, a Boston team that should be better than they are, and a Panthers team that might finally get healthy. GM Steve Yzerman might be forced to look to next year when, hopefully, Stamkos will finally be healthy. But Yzerman is also facing a cap crunch. He has three RFA forwards to re-sign: Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, and Jonathan Drouin. Drouin could be the odd man out simply for causing Yzerman such headaches last year. However, we know Drouin can deliver in the playoffs and the Ducks would love to add some scoring. Now, Anaheim has no cap space, but Drouin only has a cap hit of under $900,000 as it’s the last year of his entry-level contract.
3 Marc-Andre Fleury Will Leave Pittsburgh For Calgary
2 Tomas Plekanec (And More) for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
As discussed before, Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli loves a good trade. And in Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin, he might meet his equal in that regard (P.K. Subban for Shea Weber, anyone?). Plekanec is having a down year and is not the lynch-pin of the Habs offence as he once was. He also has one more year remaining on a $6 million/year deal, so there are reasons to trade him. The Oilers would love Plekanec’s experience and leadership, though, and he has shown he can bounce back from off-years before, so the 34-year old Czech center isn’t a write-off.
1 Matt Duchene or Gabriel Landeskog Will Leave Colorado For Boston
It bears repeating how truly horrendous this season has been for the Colorado Avalanche. From the moment head coach Patrick Roy left in the offseason, it’s been nothing but abject failure for the Avs. So if you’re an Av not named “Nathan MacKinnon”, be prepared for a trade. Both Duchene and Landeskog have received interest from teams looking for scoring (Kings, Blackhawks, Bruins). While certainly possible, it’s unlikely Avalanche GM Joe Sakic would want to trade both young wingers. Though, at 26, Duchene is not that young, and costs about $500,000 more per season than the Swede. Duchene’s deal ends earlier, too (2019) and Landeskog is their captain, so perhaps Duchene is the likelier to go (even though his numbers are slightly better).
Ultimately, though, it’s whatever they can get for them that counts. Being in a different conference, Boston might have an edge on making a deal here, and they were rumored to be sniffing around for Landeskog earlier. Expect Bruins GM Don Sweeney to make a draft pick and prospect offer for one of these wingers.
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