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Stock Watch for the Top Targets Ahead of the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline

Lyle RichardsonFeatured ColumnistJanuary 10, 2016

Stock Watch for the Top Targets Ahead of the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline

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    Ronald C. Modra/NHL/Getty Images

    With the NHL's Feb. 29 trade deadline only weeks away, there's growing interest in which players could become potential trade targets. Some, like New York Rangers defenseman Keith Yandle (pictured above), are eligible for unrestricted free agency in July. Others, like Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin, have asked to be traded.

    A number of factors will determine their value leading up to the trade deadline. Performance, age, experience, skills and salary must be taken into account. 

    The following slideshow explores the stock of the top potential targets ahead of this year's NHL trade deadline. As always, feel free to offer up your take in the comments section below. 

Honorable Mentions

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    Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images

    Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning: So long as this pending free agent superstar remains unsigned, rival clubs will be interested in him. With the Lightning battling for a playoff berth and Stamkos holding a no-movement clause, it's doubtful he hits the trade block on Feb. 29. 

    Kyle Okposo, New York Islanders: On pace for 60-plus points this season, the 27-year-old winger could draw considerable interest in the trade market. However, with Okposo leading the Isles in scoring, it's unlikely they'll shop him now. 

    Loui Eriksson, Boston Bruins: The 30-year-old winger is enjoying his best season in years. A pending free agent, he's become an invaluable part of the Bruins lineup. Eriksson's trade value is high this season, but with the Bruins in the playoff hunt, it's doubtful they'll shop him.

    Jaromir Jagr, Florida Panthers: A free agent in July, the ageless wonder is the Panthers' leading scorer and a big reason behind their surprising surge atop the Atlantic Division. The 43-year-old will attract lots of attention if he's placed on the trade block, but that's not going to happen. 

    Andrew Ladd, Winnipeg Jets: His production is down compared to the last two seasons, which lowers his value. A free agent in July, the Jets could trade him. As they struggle to stay in the playoff chase, however, they're likely to retain their captain. 

    Shane Doan, Arizona Coyotes: The 39-year-old right wing is enjoying a bit of a bounce-back performance this season. Although he's in the twilight of his career, some playoff contenders could pursue him as a playoff rental. However, with the Coyotes still in the postseason picture, he'll probably stay put.

    Jiri Hudler, Calgary Flames: Coming off a career-best 76-point campaign, Hudler's trade stock was high entering this season. However, he's battled injury while struggling to score this season. While his value has dropped, the Flames will likely hang onto him as they push for a playoff spot. 

    Kris Russell, Calgary Flames: With the Flames struggling earlier this season, there was speculation Russell might be traded. A pending free agent in July, the 28-year-old is their top shot-blocker. With the Flames back in playoff contention, they will retain him.

    Justin Schultz, Edmonton Oilers: As Schultz continues to struggle, Oilers management could try to peddle him at the trade deadline. A club that is seeking blue-line depth might take a chance on the 25-year-old blueliner, who is a restricted free agent.

10. Radim Vrbata, Vancouver Canucks

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    Joel Auerbach/Associated Press

    Contract: Vancouver Canucks right wing Radim Vrbata is in the final season of a two-year, $10 million contract. His annual cap hit is $5 million. A pending unrestricted free agent, the 34-year-old also carries a modified no-trade clause. To date, there's no word if he and the Canucks are close to a new deal. 

    Performance in 2015-16: At the midpoint of this season, Vrbata's production is down compared to his 31-goal, 63-point campaign in 2014-15. He could reach 20 goals and 36 points at his current rate. On the offensively anemic Canucks, he's still among their leading scorers. 

    Value: Vrbata's stock would be much higher if he was still scoring at last season's pace. That's not to suggest there won't be interest in this veteran winger if the Canucks put him on the trade block. Given Vrbata's age and offensive decline, however, they won't get a big return. He might fetch a second- or third-round pick. 

9. Cam Ward, Carolina Hurricanes

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Contract: Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward is in the final season of a six-year, $37.8 million contract. His annual salary-cap hit is $6.3 million, though in actual salary he's earning $6.8 million this season. The 31-year-old also carries a full no-trade clause. He's due to become an unrestricted free agent in July. To date, there's no word if Ward and the Hurricanes are getting closer to a new contract. 

    Performance in 2015-16: In 30 games this season, Ward has a record of 13 wins, 11 losses and five overtime losses. His goals-against average is a respectable 2.42, and he sports a .905 save percentage. His stats are roughly around what they were at the end of last season. Not bad but not great. 

    Value: Given his expensive salary, no-trade clause and average stats, Ward's stock is down this season. However, he is a former playoff MVP with five 30-plus win seasons on his resume. That could fetch the Hurricanes a couple of non-first-round draft picks. As the trade deadline nears, interest in Ward could pick up among clubs that are seeking depth between the pipes. 

8. Cam Atkinson, Columbus Blue Jackets

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    Paul Vernon/Associated Press

    Contract: Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Cam Atkinson is in the first season of a three-year, $10.5 million contract. His annual salary-cap hit is $3.5 million, though he's earning $2.5 million in actual salary this season. He also lacks a no-trade clause.

    Performance in 2015-16: After two consecutive 40-point seasons, Atkinson is on pace in 2015-16 to exceed those numbers. At his current rate of production, the 26-year-old is in range of 25 goals and 50 points.

    Value: Atkinson's performance this season could boost his stock in the trade market. Given the Blue Jackets' struggles this season, his name has surfaced in the rumor mill. On Jan. 7, the Columbus Dispatch's Aaron Portzline reported the New York Rangers had interest in Atkinson. If the Blue Jackets put him on the market, the Rangers won't be the only club that makes inquiries. 

7. Travis Hamonic, New York Islanders

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Contract: New York Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic is in the third season of a seven-year, $27 million contract. His annual salary-cap hit is over $3.857 million, and he lacks a no-trade clause. 

    Performance in 2015-16: Hamonic is the Islanders' best defensive blueliner. He leads the club in ice time and is among its leaders in hits, blocked shots and takeaways. When necessary, he can also chip in offensively, netting 33 points last season. On Nov. 18, it was revealed the 25-year-old requested a trade last summer close to his Manitoba home for personal reasons. 

    Value: A number of Western Conference teams would love to land a steady blue-line presence like Hamonic. While his stock is high, the Isles would seek a comparable defenseman in return. Finding a match has proved difficult, though. With Johnny Boychuk sidelined four to six weeks, the chances of a Hamonic trade have grown slimmer. Still, a desperate club could make a significant pitch leading up to the trade deadline. 

6. James Reimer, Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Danny Moloshok/Associated Press

    Contract: Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer is completing a two-year, $4.6 million contract. His annual salary-cap hit is $2.3 million, though in actual salary he's earning $2 million this season. He also lacks a no-trade clause. He's eligible for unrestricted free agency in July, and there's no indication the 27-year-old is in contract talks with the Leafs. 

    Performance in 2015-16: Despite suffering a groin injury that limited him to only two games in December, Reimer is putting up outstanding numbers this season. His 1.97 goals-against average and .937 save percentage still rank among the league leaders

    Value: Prior to Reimer's injury, it seemed doubtful the rebuilding Leafs would shop him. After they won eight of 13 games without him stretching back to Dec. 3, he could become a trade chip. If he maintains his solid numbers leading up to the Feb. 29 trade deadline, his value will only increase.

5. Mikkel Boedker, Arizona Coyotes

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Contract: Arizona Coyotes left wing Mikkel Boedker is on a one-year, $3.75 million contract. He'll be an unrestricted free agent in July and lacks a no-trade clause. On Dec. 23, the Arizona Republic's Sarah McLellan reported Boedker and Coyotes management were preparing to discuss a new contract sometime in January. 

    Performance in 2015-16: At the season's midpoint, Boedker is on pace to reach a career-best performance of 24 goals and 38 assists for 62 points. The 26-year-old is the Coyotes' leading scorer.

    Value: While the Coyotes hope to re-sign Boedker, his trade value is quite high right now. If they can't reach an agreement on a new contract before Feb. 29, they could deal him. Expect the rebuilding Coyotes to seek a high draft pick plus a good young player or top prospect for Boedker. 

4. Keith Yandle, New York Rangers

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    Ronald C. Modra/NHL/Getty Images

    Contract: New York Rangers defenseman Keith Yandle is in the final season of a five-year, $26.25 million contract. He has an annual salary-cap hit of $5.25 million, divided evenly this season between the Rangers and Yandle's former team, the Arizona Coyotes. In actual salary, he's earning $5.75 million this season. To date, there's no indication he or the Rangers are close to a new contract.

    Performance in 2015-16: Yandle is among the Rangers' leading scorers and is tops among their blueliners in points. He's been an effective puck-moving defenseman for the recently struggling Blueshirts. Sadly, it's unlikely they can afford to re-sign him. On Jan. 7 the New York Post's Brett Cyrgalis suggested Yandle could be their best trade chip. 

    Value: The Rangers gave up a substantial return to the Coyotes to acquire Yandle last year. His stock should remain sufficiently high enough to land a scoring forward who can help the Rangers this season and beyond. 

3. Eric Staal, Carolina Hurricanes

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Contract: Carolina Hurricanes center Eric Staal is in the final season of seven-year deal worth $57.75 million. His salary-cap hit is $8.25 million, while in actual salary he's earning $9.5 million this season. He also carries a full no-trade clause. The 31-year-old is eligible for unrestricted free agency on July 1. To date, there's no indication he and the Hurricanes are close to a new deal.

    Performance in 2015-16: With 24 points in 41 games, Staal remains on pace for his lowest point total in a full NHL season since his rookie campaign in 2003-04. Though he's listed as a center, he tends to play left wing more often now. At this stage in his career, Staal cannot be considered a first-line center anymore.

    Value: Given the decline in Staal's production, his stock should be down. However, his name recognition and previous accomplishments could lead some general managers to gamble on his performance improving as a rental player on a deeper club. There could be a bidding war for him leading up to the trade deadline. The asking price could be a promising young player plus a draft pick or prospect. 

2. Jonathan Drouin, Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Contract: Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin is in the second season of a three-year, entry-level contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $894,166. He lacks a no-trade clause.

    Performance in 2015-16: It's been a difficult sophomore season for Drouin. Injuries have limited the 20-year-old to only 19 games, in which he managed only eight points. On Jan. 2, he was demoted to the minors. The following day, Drouin's agent Allan Walsh revealed he made a trade request for his client back in November. He called upon Lightning management to move Drouin.

    Value: Despite Drouin's struggles, he has considerable star potential. Since the winger is under contract beyond this season, Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman doesn't have to rush into making a trade. However, TSN's Bob McKenzie believes the best return could come from a deal sooner rather than later. McKenzie speculates upwards of a dozen teams have varying degrees of interest in Drouin.

1. Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    Contract: Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien is in the final season of a five-year, $26 million contract. His salary-cap hit is $5.2 million, though in actual salary he's earning $6 million this season. The pending unrestricted free agent also has a five-team no-trade list. On Dec. 14, Tim Campbell of the Winnipeg Free Press reported Byfuglien sought an eight-year, $55 million contract from the Jets.  

    Performance in 2015-16: Byfuglien remains among the Jets' top players. The 30-year-old leads the club in ice time and ranks among their leaders in hits and blocked shots. He also tops all Jets blueliners in points

    Value: At 6'5" and 260 pounds, Byfuglien possesses a good mix of size, skills and physical play that will be attractive on the trade market. While there could be some concern over his recent injury history, Byfuglien could fetch a good young player plus a top prospect or a high draft pick in return.

     

    Contract details courtesy of GeneralFanager.com.

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