The NHL trade deadline is getting close, as it’s a month away. Let’s take a look at the latest NHL trade rumors and see which teams will likely be giving away the most.
At the NHL trade deadline, you can separate teams into three categories. First, there are teams who have no idea what they’re doing. Secondly, there are buyers. These are teams who want to win a Stanley Cup and are willing to pay a hefty price to bolster their chances. Lastly, there are sellers. Those teams will provide the coveted players to the buyers. The latest NHL trade rumors suggest this could be a slow deadline due to the lack of big names, but I’m not so certain.
This season has proven how much parity there is in the NHL. There are going to be some very tough divisional races. The Metropolitan Division is a division of death in which six of its eight teams have at least 60 points.
Meanwhile, the Pacific Division is the precise opposite. Every division has at least two teams with at least 60 points. That is, except for the Pacific. Also, don’t sleep on the Atlantic Division, which has some juggernauts in the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning, and yes, even the Florida Panthers.
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This leads me to think that teams are going to be bidding against each other and they’ll be doing it fiercely. Yes, the lack of cap space for most contenders will make it more difficult, but maybe this will actually force NHL general managers to be creative for once. That’s something I think we, as hockey fans, can all root for.
I’m going to take a look at which teams will be (or at least should be) the most active sellers at the NHL trade deadline on Feb. 24. Depending on how the standings shake out in the next month, the trade market could significantly favor those who are willing to sell, especially if there are a lot of buyers.
As far as quantity, the Anaheim Ducks have quite a lot to offer. The Ducks are 14 points out of the playoffs, so unless they have a St. Louis Blues run in them, they’re done. They have four pending unrestricted free agents after this season – Nicolas Deslauriers, Michael Del Zotto, Korbinian Holzer, and Ryan Miller.
Now, the first three aren’t that interesting. Deslauriers is a fourth-line forward at best. Del Zotto is capable, but his offense, which used to be his greatest strength, has dried up. Holzer is probably a seventh defenseman on a playoff team.
Miller is by a significant margin the most fascinating of the quartet. The problem is, he has a six-team no-trade list. If Miller and his agent are smart and they can submit the list now, they could easily make it next to impossible to trade him. Teams tend to avoid trading for goalies at the deadline, especially if they’re rentals.
The Ducks have some restricted free agents who might be on the market as well. But if they really want to make some noise, they’re going to have to get rid of someone with term. Ondrej Kase is a breakout candidate every year, but for various reasons (most of them beyond his control), that breakout hasn’t happened yet. The Ducks could probably get a decent haul for him and he’s listed on The Athletic‘s big board.
Anaheim doesn’t have the quality to get a huge return for anyone, but they have enough quantity to at least get a mid-round pick or two.
Remember how I said there are teams who have no idea what they’re doing? Yeah, I’m talking about the Minnesota Wild. They’ve been treading the waters of mediocrity for years. It appears Wild general manager Bill Guerin is willing to actually make some moves of consequence.
Of course, the big question is what will those moves be. Jason Zucker has almost been traded three times in the last 12 months. Maybe the fourth time’s a charm? He could get the Wild a nice haul. Ryan Donato is listed on TSN‘s latest Trade Bait Board. He’s still young enough (23 years old) to have an interesting upside and he has 15 points in 43 games thus far.
The chances of this happening are slim to none, but team captain Mikko Koivu will be an unrestricted free agent after this season. Do the Wild go up to him and ask him if he wants to stay in Minnesota? Would they be willing to trade him to a Stanley Cup contender? And would Koivu even be interested in doing so?
I think the Wild are going to trade at least one player who isn’t a rental. Zucker seems to be a given, but I’d also keep my eye on players like Eric Staal, Jonas Brodin, and even Mathew Dumba. If the Wild get the right offer, pretty much everyone is on the table.
New Jersey Devils
The New Jersey Devils already traded their best trade asset, getting a rather underwhelming return for Taylor Hall. However, they still have quite a few pieces they could trade at the deadline.
Defenseman Sami Vatanen will be an unrestricted free agent after this season and, to my knowledge, there haven’t really been any extension talks between the two parties. Vatanen is the best rental defenseman, so the Devils could get another first-round pick if they play their cards right. Team captain Andy Greene will be a UFA but I’m not sure the Devils move him.
I’m not sure if forward Wayne Simmonds will want to be moved, but I think he will be moved. He’ll be a free agent after this season and the Devils could easily make his cap hit of $5 million more attractive if they retain some of it. That said, Simmonds has 19 points in 48 games, so I’m not sure how much interest there will be in him. But someone searching for grit and all that fun stuff will trade for him.
It wouldn’t shock me if the Devils are willing to part with Miles Wood. But how about Blake Coleman? His value is sky-high right now and at 28 years old, it’s quite likely his best years aren’t ahead of him. Coleman’s $1.8 million cap hit would be tempting. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent after the 2020-21 season.
The Ottawa Senators have a number of players they’ll likely part ways with at the trade deadline. They have 10 (!!!!!) unrestricted free agents after this season and it wouldn’t be surprising if at least seven of them are off the roster by the deadline.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau is the big name. He’s the best center available. Pageau is a skilled player who can also kill penalties and shut down an opponent’s top line. The Senators could hibernate until Feb. 24, roll out of bed, and still be able to trade him for a first-round pick. I’m not sure how many teams will be willing to pay that price, but all it takes is one.
Vladislav Namestnikov is someone else who the Senators could get a pretty solid return for. Granted, it won’t be a first-round pick. But the Senators have given Namestnikov a chance to build up his trade value and he’s rewarded them for it. A second or third-round pick seems reasonable for him.
Tyler Ennis has re-established himself as an NHL player. His career was on life support after being bought out by the Minnesota Wild, but a one-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs last season got him back on track. Ennis has further rebuilt his career this season with 26 points in 48 games so far. That’s his highest point total since the 2014-15 season. And at just $800,000, Ennis will be affordable for just about everyone.
Defenseman Ron Hainsey is who he is. Put him in a non-heavy minutes role and he’ll do just fine. He’ll even kill some penalties for you. Teams are going to want him. Mark Borowiecki is a pending UFA as well, though I have a feeling the Senators will give him an extension. They could also trade someone like Chris Tierney, who will be a restricted free agent.
New York Rangers
The New York Rangers rebuild isn’t over yet, but it’s almost over. They have two of the most fascinating trade candidates in the NHL. First, there’s pending UFA forward Chris Kreider. Teams love skill and they love size. Kreider has a bit of both. He’s the best wing available. The Rangers are getting a first-round pick for him. It is, to quote Thanos, inevitable.
Now, the second piece is way more interesting – Alexandar Georgiev. The Rangers are trading either him or Henrik Lundqvist by the start of next season. I think that’s a given. In a perfect world, they’d trade Lundqvist. But this world ain’t perfect. Also, Lundqvist controls his own destiny, as he has a no-movement clause and he has yet to publicly express any desire to stop playing regularly at Madison Square Garden.
This leaves Georgiev. And boy, could the Rangers get a haul for him. The goalie market is always hard to figure out, but he’s a young goalie with a pretty decent amount of NHL success. Georgiev has put up strong numbers despite playing for a team that simply doesn’t know what defense is.
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If you put a gun next to my head, I’d say Georgiev gets moved in the offseason, simply because that’s when young goalies typically get moved. But the NHL is freaking weird. We’re less than 24 months removed from an expansion team making the Stanley Cup Final! So I wouldn’t rule out a Georgiev trade at the deadline.