NHL Trade Speculation: 4 Top Prospects That Could Be Dealt at the Trade Deadline

Adam BowenContributor IIINovember 22, 2012

NHL Trade Speculation: 4 Top Prospects That Could Be Dealt at the Trade Deadline

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    The NHL trade deadline is a time when teams looking to solidify their rosters heading into the playoffs usually add veterans to their team.

    It is also a time when teams try to unload players with expensive or expiring contracts, yet every now and then a surprise deal comes to light involving potential top prospects.

    For teams looking to rebuild their rosters, a top prospect can fetch NHL-caliber players, ready-made to insert into the lineup.

    Here are four top prospects who could find themselves traded at the NHL trade deadline—assuming the lockout is resolved and there's a season in the first place.

Nazem Kadri: Toronto Maple Leafs

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    The Toronto Maple Leafs seem to have a love/hate relationship with Nazem Kadri.

    He’s been given several opportunities to crack the NHL roster and establish himself as more than a prospect player, yet he has not quite seemed to pan out as Brian Burke and Leafs fans would have expected at this point in his young career.

    The Leafs had high hopes for the London, Ontario native when they selected him with the seventh overall pick in the 2009 entry draft.

    Many of the players selected in that draft class, such as Matt Duchene, Evander Kane and John Tavares have already made significant strides in establishing themselves as NHL stars. Yet for some reason or another, Kadri has yet to take that next step.

    The Leafs certainly aren’t helping Kadri by criticizing him through the press and calling into question his commitment to fitness.

    Kadri is still only 22, so the chances of him putting all of the pieces together and establishing himself as a permanent NHL player are still good, which in turn would escalate the price the Leafs would want in exchange for Kadri’s services.

Magnus Paajarvi: Edmonton Oilers

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    How quickly things can change in the NHL.

    Three years ago, Magnus Paajarvi was the third piece in the Edmonton Oilers’ rebuilding process along with Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall.

    Now, Paajarvi can’t even secure an NHL roster spot.

    It doesn’t seem as if the young Swede fits into the Oilers' rebuilding plans anymore, even though he has all of the skills necessary to contribute.

    After a respectable 34-point campaign during his rookie year, Paajarvi struggled in 2011-12, registering only three points in 25 games, resulting in demotion to the AHL.

    At 6’2”, 204 lbs, Paajarvi, 21, is a big, strong player with excellent speed. It would be a shame for the Oilers to give up on the left-winger, but if the price is right, Paajarvi would be the first one traded out of the young group of forwards in Edmonton.

Jonathan Bernier: Los Angeles Kings

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    The Los Angeles Kings are in a fortunate position to have two extremely talented goaltenders in Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier.

    After the team won the Stanley Cup last season, they immediately locked up Quick to a massive 10-year deal, prompting Bernier to seek a trade.

    Bernier has played a total of 48 games for the Kings thus far in his career, posting a 20-17-5 record with five shutouts and an impressive 2.50 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage.

    The Kings will want a sizable return for Bernier, but due to the fact that Bernier has openly stated that he would like a trade, the Kings may be forced into making a deal sooner rather than later. 

Nino Niederreiter: New York Islanders

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    The highest-drafted Swiss player ever, Nino Niederreiter has dominated the game of hockey at every level he has played at.

    The 6’2”, 205-lb forward came to prominence during the 2010 World Junior Championships, helping the Swiss team upset the heavily favored Russians.

    Niederreiter is a gifted power forward with a rare natural ability in the offensive zone, but he hasn’t been able to put it all together on the NHL level yet.

    Having registered only one point in 55 games with the New York Islanders during the 2011-12 season, Niederreiter’s stock may have taken a hit.

    Niederreiter is still only 20 and should be poised for a breakout season sometime soon. If the Islanders do decide to make Niederreiter available, someone could end up with a steal on their hands.