NHL Trade Speculation: 11 Best Young Players Likely on the Move at the Deadline

Max von KleistContributor IIIFebruary 8, 2012

NHL Trade Speculation: 11 Best Young Players Likely on the Move at the Deadline

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    As the February 27th NHL trade deadline approaches, teams are either looking to buy or sell. Caught in between are the players that will be involved in the trades.

    More often than not, teams look to add experience, and because of this veterans like Ryan Smyth and Ray Whitney become hot commodities.

    But that's not to say that young players are not sought after too.

    Whether it is because of a poor season or contracts set to expire, sometimes teams need to let go of their young talent in order to do what is best for the franchise. Teams that are looking for an offensive spark are more than willing to take them—if they are willing to pay the price.

    Ahead on this list are the 11 best young players likely on the move at the deadline. 

Notable Mention: Cory Schneider: Age 25

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    Cory Schneider has proven himself as a high-level goaltender who could be a legitimate starter on many other teams. The trouble is that he's stuck playing backup to Roberto Luongo. 

    Rumors have been circling Schneider for a few years now, and leading up to this year's trade deadline things are no different. He has been mentioned in a rumored package deal that would see him, Mason Raymond and Keith Ballard moved to Anaheim in return for last year's MVP, Corey Perry. 

    As much as this rumor has been talked about, it will not go through because of one reason: Alain Vigneault, Mike Gillis and the Vancouver Canucks love the insurance of having two elite goaltenders going into the playoffs.

    Mike Gillis has gone on record, however, saying that if the perfect deal were to present itself, he could pull the trigger. Only time will tell.

11. James Van Riemsdyk: Age 22

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    About a month ago, James van Riemsdyk was the focal point of many trade rumors, primarily of a trade that would see him go to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Luke Shenn.

    That all changed when, on January 14th, he was sidelined with a concussion. 

    Since then, trade talks involving van Riemsdyk have come to a skidding halt. 

    With van Riemsdyk sidelined with injury, the odds of him being dealt at the trade deadline have significantly diminished.  

10. Luke Schenn: Age 22

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    The odds of Luke Schenn being dealt at the deadline have also decreased, due in large part to the deal involving him and Van Riemsdyk looking no longer like a reality. 

    Still, Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke is not afraid to make a big deal, and if the offer is right Schenn could be on the move. The offer will have to be significant, though. 

    Having lost Chris Pronger for the remainder of the season and playoffs, the Philadelphia Flyers have made it clear they are looking for a defender. If a deal can be put together that works around van Riemsdyk's injury, Schenn is a very likely candidate to fill Pronger's spot.

9. Bobby Ryan: Age 24

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    When the Anaheim Ducks got off to the horrendous start that they did, trade talks quickly picked up surrounding their big top three—Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan.

    Ryan was perhaps the most talked about of the three due to his poor performance this season and high value in the trade market. 

    Trade talks seem to have died down due to the Ducks' 7-2-1 record in their last 10 games, but rumors still linger. 

    At only 24 years of age, Bobby Ryan is one of the best young players in the league. His offensive production has steadily increased from year to year, and despite having a subpar season, he is still the future talent of the Anaheim Ducks.

    The odds of Ryan being traded are slim, but there's always a chance.

8. Paul Stastny: Age 26

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    The Colorado Avalanche have an abundance of centers. With Matt Duchene already proven to be an elite center and fellow 2009 draft pick Ryan O’Reilly a rising star, it may be sensible for the Colorado Avalanche to trade Paul Stastny.

    Stastny is a fantastic player with unbelievable hockey sense, but his offensive production for the Avalanche may have hit its peak in the 2009-2010 season when he recorded 79 points. Since then, he put up 57 points last year and is currently on pace for 49 in 2012.

    That being said, his trade value is still very high and he would make a great addition to a team looking for a center.

    Perhaps a Stastny-for-Alexander Semin swap would be exactly what both players need to get their careers back on track. 

7. Derick Brassard: Age 24

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    Given how poorly the Columbus Blue Jackets have done so far this season, they could be one of the busiest teams come this year's trade deadline. And they won't be buyers.

    Plenty of rumors have surrounded star forwards Jeff Carter and Rick Nash, but Derick Brassard is also a player who's name has been thrown into the mix

    Brassard has a lot of offensive upside and potential, and would be a great addition to any team in need of a center. 

    At a $3.2 million cap hit, he is a little pricey for the offensive numbers he has put up thus far, but given his age, potential and having a contract that locks him up until the end of the 2013-2014 season, that price could be a bargain come next year. 

    As the trade deadline approaches, the Blue Jackets will definitely be using Brassard as trade bait to see what offers come in. 

6. Cody Franson: Age 24

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    Cody Franson did not have the start he wanted with the Toronto Maple Leafs, beginning as a healthy scratch. For the next little while, he was in and out of the lineup, never really getting a legitimate shot to show what he can do. 

    But then some injuries to Toronto's back end allowed him to solidify a roster spot, and since then he has played quite well. Through 37 games he has 16 points.

    With Toronto's depth on the blue line and Franson's attractive young age, he is a quality piece of trade bait that the Maple Leafs are undoubtedly dangling in front of other teams leading up to the trade deadline.

    Oh, and did I mention that Franson's contract expires at the end of the season? Trading him could be a smart move for the Leafs—a move that could get them something decent in return. 

5. Mason Raymond: Age 26

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    Mason Raymond has made an amazing recovery from the severe back injury he suffered during Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Boston Bruins.

    Since his return to play on December 4th against the Calgary Flames, Raymond has looked as fast as ever and has put up 13 points in 27 games. His lack of points are largely due to him spending a lot of time on the third line.

    The reason for Raymond playing on the third line is because of the Vancouver Canucks' acquisition of left winger David Booth.

    Herein lies the question: Is there a place on the Canucks for Raymond anymore?

    The answer is: not really. 

    With his contract set to expire at the end of the season and the lack of need for him on the roster, the Canucks may look to trade him in return for some much needed toughness or another body on the blue line going into the playoffs. 

4. Sam Gagner: Age 22

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    Who remembers that night when Sam Gagner got eight points? Yup, that's what I figured—everyone. 

    Gagner's name has been thrown around in trade talks for the past few years. This year, the talks were really heating up and it was looking like Gagner was a goner. 

    Because of his inconsistent play and lack of growth in offensive production since his entrance into the league in 2007, Gagner's trade value was considered to be relatively low. 

    That all changed on February 2nd when Gagner posted an incredible eight points against the Chicago Blackhawks. 

    His trade value went through the roof.

    As the trade deadline approaches, the Edmonton Oilers will have to decide if they can part ways with the young forward. With the abundance of skilled young forwards in the system already and Gagner's trade value at its peak, not to mention his contract expiring at the end of the season, it would be wise for the Oilers to take advantage of this opportunity to upgrade defensively. 

3. Ales Hemsky: Age 28

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    Ales Hemsky is an extremely talented skater, playmaker and scorer. His only issue is staying healthy.

    For the first time in a long time, however, Hemsky is having a healthy season. What's more is that leading up to the deadline, he has recorded five points in his last five games. 

    But things with Hemsky have never really panned out for the Edmonton Oilers—mainly due to injuries. With that being said, and with his trade value rising, the Oilers will most likely look to trade him for something in return, perhaps a defenseman, as his contract is set to expire at the end of the season.

    On Sportsnet, former NHL GM Doug MacLean said,

    "I would say he most definitely will be traded at the deadline".

    As the deadline quickly approaches, expect to hear trade talks involving Hemsky heat up. He would be a perfect rental player for a team in need of some offense.

2. Jeff Carter: Age 27

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    To put it lightly, Jeff Carter has been a bust for the Columbus Blue Jackets. In 31 games, he has just 11 goals and 18 points. 

    The Blue Jackets have made it clear that Carter is on the market. He will be one of the most sought after players come the deadline, if not traded before hand. 

    Carter is a skilled sniper with a large, powerful frame who can provide much needed offense for a team in need. He has recorded three 30+ goal seasons in a row and, despite his underachievement in Columbus, can easily return to that level given a new environment.  

1. Alexander Semin: Age 26

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    Because of his young age partnered with his jaw-dropping world-class skill and soon-to-expire contract, Alexander Semin comes in at No. 1 on this list of the 11 best young players likely on the move at the deadline.

    When he wants to be, Semin is one of the deadliest players in the NHL. That's the problem, though—it's only when he wants to be, which doesn't seem like very often. 

    Nonetheless, any team would be more than happy to have him as he has the capability of putting up big numbers and contributing offensively every night. 

    In the past few weeks, many have been speculating trade talks involving Semin.  

    With the Washington Capitals in desperate need to shed some cap space before next season, and Semin's contract up at the end of this year, it is in Washington's best interest to deal the Russian sniper to both ensure they don't lose him to another team in the offseason without any return, and that they can acquire some other players to help solidify their team and give them the best chance in the playoffs.