Ranking the Top NHL Rental Players Who Could Be Traded in 2013-14

Allan MitchellFeatured ColumnistNovember 12, 2013

Ranking the Top NHL Rental Players Who Could Be Traded in 2013-14

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    NHL teams are discovering that it's getting late early in the 2013-14 season.

    The new divisional alignment and wild-card structure has general managers pulling the trigger early, and there are rumors of more moves to comeand soon.

    The quality of the impending free agents may have something to do with that this year. A team searching for quality goaltending, impact defenseman, solid center help or legitimate scoring off the wing will find something appealing in this year's list of potential trade candidates.

    The key to getting that player may mean getting him earlier than usual, though.

    Here are the 10 best potential rental players for the 2013-14 season.

10. Jaromir Jagr, RW, New Jersey Devils

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    Key Statistics

    The 41-year old winger is still bringing it after all these years (18 GP, 5-9-14), and his cap hit won't keep a team from acquiring him.


    What He Brings

    Jagr is timeless. He can help any powerplay (four points so far this season with the man advantage) but also leads the club with seven even-strength points. He can play 18 minutes a night and help offensively. He also remains effective when battling for the puck, despite his age, as Jagr is freakishly strong.


    Why He'll Be Available

    There are two reasons for this.

    First, New Jersey is currently in sixth-place in the Metropolitan Division, and they aren't scoring enough goals to contend. Should that continue, they'll be sellers soon and certainly will be at the deadline.

    Second, Lou Lamoriello won't let Jagr ride into the sunset without another chance to win a Stanley Cup. If the Devils aren't able to contend for a championship, Jagr will be dealt.

9. Stephane Robidas, D, Dallas Stars

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    Key Stats

    The 36-year old NHL veteran is playing over 20 minutes a night and delivering quality minutes.


    What He Brings

    Robidas is a key contributor to the penalty kill and during even strength. He's a reliable defenseman who can move the puck expertly. Robidas continues to play tough competition and always comes out on the better end of the battle, something that has extreme value for teams seeking championships.

     

    Why He'll Be Available

    The Stars will push for the second season as long as they can, but they're in a mini-rebuild, and new GM Jim Nill may want to get something in return if the team has no plans to bring Robidas back next season.

    He'd fetch a large return, too, and that might be enough to convince a rebuilding team to part with a quality defenseman.

8. Jonas Hiller, G, Anaheim Ducks

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    Key Stats

    The 31-year old veteran has been the Ducks starter since 2008-09. This year, he's started 11 games, with a 2.47 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage.


    What He Brings

    Goaltending isn't a problem until you don't have one you can count on, and then it's a major problem. Hiller is a veteran goaltender with a history of success, and he has 20 games of postseason experience. Hiller is an extremely confident goaltender who moves well and has a good glove hand.

     

    Why He'll Be Available

    The Ducks have the position covered and then some.

    Hiller shared the job last season with Viktor Fasth and may be losing the starter battle to young Danish goalie Fredrik Andersen this year. Plus, phenom John Gibson is waiting in the wings.

    Hiller will be an interesting player to follow, as Anaheim's place in the overall standings is not forcing them to make a deal. If they get an offer that works, however, and Fasth or Andersen have taken the job, he may well be dealt.

     

7. Marek Zidlicky, D, New Jersey Devils

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    Key Stats 

    The 36-year old is having a mediocre season (18 GP, 2-9-11, -3) so, but the important numbers are the minutes he spends facing tough opponents.


    What He Brings

    Zidlicky gives his team quality minutes against quality opposition. That item has extreme value any time, but as teams near the trade deadline, it becomes even more desired.

    Quality two-way defenders who can help offensively and play big, tough minutes are highly coveted. His 22:31 TOI is second on the Devils, and he also ranks inside the top 20 for powerplay points by a defenseman this season.

     

    Why He'll Be Available

    The Devils will forfeit their first round selection this year (part of the decision from the NHL over the Ilya Kovalchuk contract), and since they traded their 2013 top-10 pick in dramatic fashion on the draft floor, adding a pick may be in Lou Lamoriello's plans. Zidlicky—if he's healthy and playing wellcould fetch that kind of return at the deadline.

     

6. Mike Cammalleri, C, Calgary Flames

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    Key Stats

    Seven goals in 10 games is an attention getter, and Cammalleri is a quality plug-and-play offensive option.


    What He Brings

    Cammalleri has a high skill level and scoring ability, and he's a natural goal-scorer with terrific anticipation around the net. He can play center or wing, and despite a lack of size (5'9", 190) he is willing to drive to the net with authority.

    Cammalleri is a consistent goal-scorer, and his current numbers (11 GP, 8-3-11) for a subpar team jump off the page.

     

    Why He'll Be Available

    Despite a solid start by the Flames, their rebuild requires many pieces that'll come via the draft. Cammelleri is 31 with a lot of miles left, but for Calgary, another rebuilding year probably means that it will be tough to sign him long term.

    Cammalleri will fetch a nice price as we get closer to the deadline.

     

5. Ales Hemsky, RW, Edmonton Oilers

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    Key Stats

    The key number for Hemsky is 19 (games) as he's been healthy all year. A healthy Hemsky gives opposing defensemen fits.


    What He Brings

    Hemsky's an exceptional playmaker and effective offensive player. His passing ability is elite, and he's shooting more as he gets older—and with good results.

    Hemsky's game without the puck is underrated, and he's a braveheart who drives to the net without concern for bodily harm. Hemsky is exceptional at puck possession, too, which is an extremely valuable asset.

     

    Why He'll Be Available

    The Oilers are already out of playoff contention and will have a long time to ponder their future.

    Hemsky is 30-years old and much older than the other skill forwards on the club, and that's probably enough to get him traded. Edmonton may also be willing to swallow some salary, making him an even more attractive option.

     

4. Matt Moulson, LW, Buffalo Sabres

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    Key Stats

     Moulson has 120 NHL goals in his last 310 games (or, about 32 goals per 82 games played).


    What He Brings

    He's a goal-scorer with natural gifts added to a strong work ethic. Skating issues cost him on draft day, but he's worked hard since that point to become a legitimate scoring threat in the NHL.

    He has great hands, goes to the tough areas and can't be intimidated, but Moulson is not an outstanding defensive player.

     

    Why He'll Be Available

    Buffalo traded Tomas Vanek to pick up Moulson and a draft selection on Oct. 27, and they'll very likely move Moulson closer to the deadline for similar value.

    One small item to note: the club now owns a plethora of 2014 draft picks (they own their own first- and second-round picks, the Islanders' first-roundpick and the second-round selections that originally belonged to Los Angeles and Minnesota). On the heels of five selections in the first two rounds next season, Buffalo may be looking for prospects and players.

     

     

     

3. Andrei Markov, D, Montreal Canadiens

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    Key Stats

    Twenty-five minutes a night playing all three disciplines makes Markov an outstanding talent.


    What He Brings

    He is a huge minutes-eater on the blue line, playing the tough minutes and being available for even-strength and both special teams duties.

    Markov's range of skills is complete, as he has good speed, can pass, is adept at carrying the puck and can find seams with his shot on the power play. A team acquiring him would upgrade their blue line instantly.

     

    Why He'll Be Available

    There are a  couple of reasons.

    First, the Habs are going to need a pot of gold to sign P. K. Subban to a long-term deal, and some of that money may come from setting Markov free.

    Second, previous injuries may mean his next contract is not insurable, leaving the team that signs him on the hook for a major risk, as noted by Elliotte Friedman of CBC Sports:

    Markov, who remains one of the game's smartest players, is that his upcoming deal may not be insurable for pre-existing conditions. It's a common issue for guys who've battled a lot of injuries. It adds risk for teams, especially since he will soon be 35 years old, meaning his next deal cannot come off the salary cap.

2. Ryan Miller, G, Buffalo Sabres

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    Key Stats

    The 2010 Vezina Trophy-winner looks like he's ready to leave Buffalo and begin the second phase of his career. His numbers have faded since he collected the hardware, however.


    What He Brings

    He is a durable goaltender who backstopped the Sabres through some good times and has hung around long enough for the downturn.

    His save percentage (.916) ranks him outside the league's top 20, but he's still valued as a No. 1 goaltender, and there will be bidders for his services before the deadline. After all, he is not far removed from being a franchise goalie.

     

    Why He'll Be Available

    Buffalo is going to offload veterans for their rebuild. Miller has a long history with the Sabres, but the relationship has become more strained as the rebuild begins and the losses pile up. A goalie like Miller, outspoken and confident, has expressed frustration with his situation on more than one occasion.

1. Marian Gaborik, RW, Columbus Blue Jackets

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    Key Stats

    He has scored 40 or more goals three times in his career.


    What He Brings

    The 31-year-old speed demon is a ridiculous talent. He is an offensive dynamo that is elusive and has a quick release that leaves goaltenders dead in the water.

    He scores in bunches, and when he's on, he is impossible to cover. Gaborik's down arrows include injuries and some run-ins over the years with coaches. His talent level is so enormous though, that he'll be irresistible to NHL general managers if he is available.

     

    Why He'll Be Available

    Columbus is struggling this season, and GM Jarmo Kekelainen may feel that Gaborik's contract (his cap hit is $7.5M for this year) dollars can be better spent elsewhere.

    It's shaping up as a huge summer for free agents, and the Blue Jackets cashed-in last summer by signing Nathan Horton and may want to go big-name hunting again to change their roster makeup.