1 Smart Trade for Every NHL Team at the 2015-16 Trade Deadline
The NHL trade deadline is fast approaching on Feb. 29, and rumours abound for each of the league's 30 franchises.
Teams with a legitimate chance at contending are looking to upgrade—to add that final piece that might make all the difference. Clubs with no chance at the postseason are looking to maximize the trade return on players who aren't in their future plans. Organizations caught between those two extremes tend to do a little bit of both.
The following slideshow offers up one trade suggestion for each NHL team. These aren't trade rumours; rather, this is speculation based on what individual teams need and who they might plausibly find to address those needs.
In each case, we offer a brief description of a potential target, consider the possible acquisition cost and then explain why it makes sense to the team in question.
Anaheim Ducks: Acquire Right Wing Dale Weise
Potential target: Dale Weise plays the kind of heavy, physical game that the Ducks love. More importantly, he can also add scoring depth to a forward corps that could use another offensive winger.
Possible acquisition cost: A mid-round pick is probably as low as it gets; Anaheim might be lucky enough to get Weise on the cheap but also might have to fork over a little more.
Why it makes sense: There are three slots for scoring-line right wings on Anaheim's roster, and two of them go to Corey Perry and Jakob Silfverberg. With Chris Stewart currently injured, there's room for someone like Weise.
Arizona Coyotes: Trade Away Left Wing Mikkel Boedker
Potential target: As sellers, the Coyotes have the luxury of being able to take in a variety of different possible combinations of players, prospects and draft picks back in any trade. They also have the curse of multiple needs. In this case, the specifics are less important than just getting the best overall value.
Possible acquisition cost: Mikkel Boedker, inexplicably, seems to be something of a hot commodity right now. He's a middling (and sometimes worse) five-on-five scorer, a good power-play weapon and a mediocre two-way threat.
Why it makes sense: Arizona needs to decide between trading and re-signing the pending free agent, and a trade is by far the best route to take. Not only is Boedker likely to be expensive, but he's just not that good of a player. He does have a bunch of points on the power play, but at even strength he's averaging 0.99 points per hour (good for 11th among Coyotes forwards). The Coyotes get outshot and outscored by an ugly amount when he's on the ice.
Boston Bruins: Acquire Left Defenceman Evgeny Medvedev
Potential target: Evgeny Medvedev is a big (6'3", 187 lbs), mobile, puck-moving defenceman. He's not a big scorer and has some warts in the defensive zone, but he does a good job of getting the puck to the right end of the ice and keeping it there.
Possible acquisition cost: A third-round pick is probably reasonable.
Why it makes sense: Boston probably doesn't want to pay for a big-name rental in what is something of a retooling year, but at the same time the club is in playoff position and could use an experienced hand on the back end. Medvedev is a reasonable compromise in a year where few defenders are available.
Buffalo Sabres: Trade Away Centre David Legwand
Potential target: Buffalo could ask for a mid-round draft pick, perhaps from a team such as the Dallas Stars that appears to be in need of a fourth-line centre/penalty-killing specialist.
Possible acquisition cost: David Legwand is not the two-way presence he was only a few short years ago, but he's still capable of helping an NHL team. The 35-year-old is a regular on the penalty kill and provides respectable offence for a fourth-line forward.
Why it makes sense: Given his age and pending free agency, it's hard to imagine a situation where Legwand returns to the Sabres. Therefore, it makes sense to trade him away for whatever the market will allow.
Calgary Flames: Trade Away Left Defenceman Kris Russell
Potential target: Calgary will probably end up settling for a draft pick in exchange, but a good prospect would be a nice addition, too.
Possible acquisition cost: Kris Russell just soaks up the minutes on Calgary's blue line, but the truth is that he's miscast as a top-four defenceman. Over three years with a mostly mediocre Flames team, Russell has been on the ice for on average of one shot less for and three shots more against per hour than the run-of-the-mill Calgary rearguard.
Why it makes sense: Russell is overused by the Flames' coaching staff and is a pending free agent who is likely to get a raise in the summer. Calgary would do well to get an asset in exchange and also do well to force its coaching staff to lean on other players.
Carolina Hurricanes: Trade Away Centre Eric Staal
Potential target: Carolina has quietly done a good job of building a competitive team with a limited budget, and high draft picks and/or young, cost-controlled players would help the club continue in that line. Staal will likely command a first-round pick and additional asset(s).
Possible acquisition cost: In all likelihood, Carolina would need to retain salary to make a Staal deal workable and might even need to take some back.
Why it makes sense: The Hurricanes simply can't afford to let Staal walk away for nothing. They've been very strong of late but aren't terribly likely to go on a Cup run this season; therefore, asset management should be the name of the game.
Chicago Blackhawks: Acquire Right Wing Brad Boyes
Potential target: Brad Boyes is a fairly gifted offensive forward who currently leads the Maple Leafs in five-on-five scoring efficiency at 1.92 points per hour. The Leafs also have a significant advantage on the shot clock when he's on the ice.
Possible acquisition cost: Not much. In all likelihood the Blackhawks could bring the unheralded Boyes in for a late draft pick or a second-tier prospect.
Why it makes sense: The Blackhawks should be looking at complementary pieces up front. Boyes is a cheap add both in terms of assets and cap hit (just $700,000) and would bring some much-needed scoring depth to a team that has just seven forwards with more than nine points.
Colorado Avalanche: Acquire Left Defenceman Patrick Wiercioch
Potential target: Patrick Wiercioch is a 25-year-old, 6'5", 202-pound puck-moving defenceman who is going through a tough year. He has a heavy shot and offensive skill but isn't getting power-play time and has seen his offensive numbers fall off. He did have four points in six playoff games last spring and typically has strong underlying numbers.
Possible acquisition cost: This would presumably be a fairly cheap pickup. Colorado could probably get him for a mid-round pick or a second-tier prospect. The Senators have more room than the Avs on their 50-man reserve list, so in the event of a trade for a pick, they could also take an expiring contract dump back if need be.
Why it makes sense: It's hard to envision a scenario where the Avs make it out of the West in the postseason, so the kind of moves that make sense here are cheap acquisitions that can help and be more than rentals. Shawn Matthias was a good example, and so is Wiercioch, a pending restricted free agent who could be re-signed if his audition goes well.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Trade Away Left Wing Rene Bourque
Potential target: Rene Bourque isn't going to fetch a lot. The hope for Columbus would be that he'd have enough appeal as a depth option to bring back a late draft pick.
Possible acquisition cost: Bourque is a big (6'2", 217 lbs) and reasonably physical left wing who plays a competent puck-possession game at five-on-five. His scoring touch has almost completely evaporated, and the Blue Jackets would almost certainly need to retain salary to make him attractive in trade.
Why it makes sense: A 34-year-old pending free agent, Bourque has no future with the rebuilding Blue Jackets. He's a useful fourth-line player, and that might make it possible for the team to get something for him before his contract runs out.
Dallas Stars: Acquire Left Defenceman Dan Hamhuis
Potential target: Dan Hamhuis is a veteran of more than 800 NHL games, most of them as a highly effective shutdown defenceman. He was a member of Canada's Olympic team in 2014, and while he has slowed down considerably since, he's still a decent second-pair option. He plays a well-rounded, intelligent game and despite poor point totals this year is a capable passer.
Possible acquisition cost: The Stars would probably have to give up one of their younger defencemen—from a Dallas perspective preferably Jamie Oleksiak or Jyrki Jokipakka rather than Patrik Nemeth—plus some kind of future asset, either draft pick(s) or prospect(s).
Why it makes sense: Teams don't get a lot of chances to win the Stanley Cup. The Stars are probably closer to the start of their window than the end of it, but even so there's no sense wasting any time. Hamhuis would give Dallas a solid trio (along with Alex Goligoski and Johnny Oduya) on the left side and give the team a better chance at making it out of the brutal Central Division.
Detroit Red Wings: Acquire Right Defenceman Mark Fayne
Potential target: Mark Fayne is a big (6'3", 212 lbs) and reasonably effective shutdown defenceman. He's good positionally and works best with a puck-moving left-shot defenceman. He has experience playing against top opponents.
Possible acquisition cost: Fayne seems to have fallen out of favour in Edmonton, and it's likely Detroit could acquire him for little in exchange. Jakub Kindl has a slightly cheaper deal, and that might be enough to entice the Oilers to make a move.
Why it makes sense: Detroit is in the thick of the playoff race but generally isn't seen as a contender this year. Fayne would be a way to improve immediately without spending much and would allow the club to consider shopping someone such as Kyle Quincey. Fayne would bring balance to the right side, offering a different skill set than Mike Green or Alexey Marchenko, and the Wings could throw him onto their shutdown tandem.
Edmonton Oilers: Trade Away Left Wing Lauri Korpikoski
Potential target: In a perfect world, the Oilers would bring back a forward prospect with a chance of making the team in a bottom-six role over the next couple of years, but the return isn't all that important here. Any gain for Korpikoski would be a win for Edmonton.
Possible acquisition cost: Korpikoski is a fast, greasy (in the best sense of the word) winger who can kill penalties and has surprisingly good offensive instincts. He's also a puck-possession trainwreck, even for the Oilers; his shot metrics are down around the 40 percent mark.
Why it makes sense: Korpikoski is under contract for one more year at $2.5 million. That's a lot of money to pay for a fourth-liner, and it's unconscionable for a bad fourth-liner. If the Oilers can convince a team to take a chance on a guy who is less than the sum of his parts, they should.
Florida Panthers: Acquire Right Wing Teddy Purcell
Potential target: Teddy Purcell is a solid two-way forward. He can shoot and pass and has done well when playing a complementary role on a skill line. He's intelligent defensively and is good at disrupting opposition rushes with a quick stick. He lacks top-end speed, and although he reasonably big (6'2", 195 lbs), he isn't overly physical.
Possible acquisition cost: A second-round pick would almost certainly get the job done, and there's a decent chance he's available for less than that.
Why it makes sense: There's an obvious need in Florida for one more top-nine forward, preferably at right wing, though with the Panthers' injuries that fluctuates a little bit. Purcell is a natural right wing who has also played on the left side this season. He'll help the Panthers without costing a fortune, and if he meshes well, he's young enough (30) that he could be re-signed.
Los Angeles Kings: Acquire Right Wing Radim Vrbata
Potential target: Radim Vrbata is a skilled right wing who has appeared in just less than 1,000 NHL games. He really came into his own with the Phoenix (now Arizona) Coyotes, playing for years under Dave Tippett's defence-oriented coaching. His scoring numbers are down this year, but he topped 30 goals and 60 points just last season.
Possible acquisition cost: Even in a down year, Vrbata has value. Vancouver would probably be most interested in a prospect such as winger Adrian Kempe, but it's also possible that the Kings would be able to build something around their 2017 second-round pick, perhaps in combination with a lesser prospect such as Valentin Zykov.
Why it makes sense: The Kings could use a scoring winger, and Vrbata is one of the best on the market; he's also used to playing inside a stringent defensive system and would likely adapt quickly to life with Darryl Sutter. With Los Angeles being a legitimate contender, it makes no sense to be shy about rental players.
Minnesota Wild: Acquire Left Wing Jonathan Drouin
Potential target: Jonathan Drouin is a special talent. The 20-year-old winger was the third overall pick in the 2013 draft, and despite an uncharacteristically bad 5.3 shooting percentage as a rookie, he found a way to contribute. His skills aren't really at issue, but his attempt to force a trade out of Tampa Bay has undoubtedly hurt his value.
Possible acquisition cost: Mathew Dumba would probably need to be the primary piece going the other way, and the cost might be more than one-for-one.
Why it makes sense: Leaving aside the obvious desire to add another top-nine forward, particularly a young, cost-controlled one with high-end potential, this is a win at the most basic level. Drouin's NHL work is more impressive than Dumba's and—bizarre holdout aside—he projects as more of a difference-maker.
Montreal Canadiens: Trade Away Right Wing Dale Weise
Potential target: A third-round pick is probably a reasonable expectation in return for Dale Weise, though he's having a good year and Habs general manager Marc Bergevin would want to see if he could land more before settling for a trade like that.
Possible acquisition cost: Weise is a big (6'2", 206 lbs), physical forward who is best suited to employment on a secondary scoring line. He's an unremarkable player by puck-possession metrics, but a club with a sheltered scoring line in need of speed and a physical dimension (particularly on the forecheck) might have interest in him.
Why it makes sense: Weise is a pending free agent, and Montreal's playoff hopes are effectively gone.
Nashville Predators: Acquire Goaltender James Reimer
Potential target: James Reimer is generally regarded as a 1A/1B-type goaltender, the kind of player who can handle the starting reins if required but perhaps isn't an ideal No. 1 goalie. He's been good this season, though, with a .918 save percentage for the rebuilding Leafs, and his career .914 save percentage is in starting goalie range.
Possible acquisition cost: Goaltender rentals generally don't cost a lot, just because there usually aren't that many teams in the playoff race that lack a reliable starter. Judging from past years, something in the range of a third-round pick is likely appropriate.
Why it makes sense: The Predators have fallen to the playoff bubble because franchise cornerstone Pekka Rinne simply hasn't been good enough this year. Backup Carter Hutton is having a good season, but history suggests that he isn't up to taking on the No. 1 role if it's required. Reimer won't cost much, and the Predators are probably good enough to shock higher-seeded teams if they get goaltending.
New Jersey Devils: Acquire Left Wing Jamie McGinn
Potential target: Jamie McGinn is a good middle-six left wing. He's a reasonably good scorer, puts up good shot numbers, has decent size (6'1", 205 lbs) and will only be 28 this summer. With the Devils having a full list of pending free agents up front, he's the kind of useful veteran they might be interested in both as a rental and over the longer haul.
Possible acquisition cost: New Jersey has approximately a bazillion third-round picks this year; one of them might get it done.
Why it makes sense: As a bubble team, the Devils are in a weird position where it doesn't really make sense to go after big-name rentals or to move out their own free agents. McGinn is good enough and young enough that he might make sense as a free-agent addition this summer, so parting with something cheap to give him an audition and give the team another scoring threat is a responsible decision.
New York Islanders: Acquire Right Wing P.A. Parenteau
Potential target: P.A. Parenteau is a skilled right wing who can contribute offensively in a top-six role at even strength and on the power play. He's not generally regarded as overly solid defensively, but his puck-possession numbers are fairly good, and he's a veteran who knows what's expected of him in all three zones.
Possible acquisition cost: As with Teddy Purcell, a second-round pick (the Isles have one in 2017) would almost certainly get a deal made, and there's a decent chance Parenteau would come in below that.
Why it makes sense: The Islanders are a good enough team to make some noise in the playoffs, but they still have a fairly young roster, and it isn't clear that they should heavily mortgage the future for the present. Parenteau helps without costing much, and he has history with both John Tavares and coach Jack Capuano, so he should be an instant fit.
New York Rangers: Acquire Centre Eric Staal
Potential target: Eric Staal is perhaps the most famous player who is plausibly available at the deadline. A big (6'4", 205 lbs), offensively gifted centre, Staal has struggled to produce offence this year despite reasonably strong underlying numbers. He has history as a playoff producer and won a Cup with Carolina in 2006.
Possible acquisition cost: I dug into this back in November and at the time concluded that the cost probably started with a first-round pick and included additional assets. In all likelihood, it would be New York's 2017 first-rounder, plus either a good young prospect or a couple of second-tier options. Carolina would also likely need to take back salary.
Why it makes sense: New York's window won't stay open forever. Henrik Lundqvist is 33, and most of the team's key pieces up front and on defence are right around age 30. There's no fence-sitting choice, really; either the Rangers are trying to win now, or they have resigned themselves to retooling. They should go for it while they still can.
Ottawa Senators: Trade Away Left Defenceman Patrick Wiercioch
Potential target: A mid-round pick or second-tier prospect.
Possible acquisition cost: Patrick Wiercioch is a useful player, but one who has obviously fallen out of favour with the coaching staff. He's big (6'5", 202 lbs) and capable with the puck, though, which always has value at the trade deadline.
Why it makes sense: Ottawa has to decide whether or not to qualify Wiercioch at his $2.7 million base salary for next year. As he's fallen into the No. 6/7 role with the team, there's no sense in doing so; ergo, the club should move him on down the line.
Philadelphia Flyers: Trade Away Left Defenceman Mark Streit
Potential target: This is a tough one. If Mark Streit were a pending free agent, it would be easy enough to move him for the standard package of futures, but he has another year at a $5.25 million cap hit and is 38 years old. Philly could probably get a draft pick packaged with an expensive roster player for him.
Possible acquisition cost: Mark Streit still plays pretty tough minutes for the Flyers and just last year put up 52 points from their blue line. He's having a down season, but a team in need of a puck-mover might be interested in him, given the lack of options on the market.
Why it makes sense: The Flyers have a ton of young defencemen on the way, many of them with offensive gifts. If it's possible to trade Streit this year, it makes sense to get his deal off the books.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Acquire Right Defenceman Justin Schultz
Potential target: Justin Schultz is a 25-year-old right-shooting offensive defenceman. He hasn't developed nearly as hoped for in Edmonton, and his point totals have fallen off this season. At his best, he's highly mobile, a good passer and a smart offensive player; at his worst he lacks urgency and commits defensive gaffes.
Possible acquisition cost: Schultz isn't likely to cost much. There's a scarcity of right-shot defencemen on the market, but even so a third-round pick is probably at the high end of the trade range.
Why it makes sense: The Penguins could use a third right-shot defenceman, and it would help if that player could contribute offensively. With a change of scenery and more limited expectations, Schultz might rebound. He's a restricted free agent this summer but costs too much to qualify, but if all goes well, he could potentially re-sign at a lower rate.
San Jose Sharks: Acquire Goaltender Chad Johnson
Potential target: Chad Johnson has been Buffalo's starting goalie for much of this season thanks to a long-term injury to ostensible No. 1 goalie Robin Lehner. Johnson is a pending free agent with a 13-14-1 record and 0.916 save percentage this season. He has one season as a strong NHL backup and one season as a weak NHL backup under his belt prior to 2015-16.
Possible acquisition cost: Johnson would probably cost Alex Stalock plus some kind of draft pick—perhaps San Jose's 2017 third-round selection. The key thing for Buffalo in a trade like this is some kind of asset, while the key item for the Sharks is moving out Stalock's cap hit.
Why it makes sense: San Jose could use an insurance option in net, and having a reliable backup who can give Martin Jones a bit of a rest prior to the postseason would be a positive, too. Johnson fills both needs, and Buffalo's ability to take Stalock back allows the Sharks to stay under the salary cap and actually frees up a bit of money.
St. Louis Blues: Acquire Forward Jiri Hudler
Potential target: Jiri Hudler is a versatile forward who has spent time at all three positions as a pro, though he's best suited to work on the wing. He's a talented offensive producer and a brilliant finisher, with a career 14.9 shooting percentage (which is down a little this year). He's not a dominant possession player, but he does have the kind of offensive creativity the Blues sometimes lack outside of Vladimir Tarasenko.
Possible acquisition cost: We'll have to see what veteran forwards go for closer to the deadline, but a package centered on a second-round selection might get the job done. The Blues have a full array of draft picks this summer, so they would be able to top that up with a second selection if necessary. One imagines the Flames would retain salary or take money back (Steve Ott?) to make a deal work.
Why it makes sense: St. Louis has been a competitive team all year in a tough division despite loads of injuries. With Alex Steen out right now, the Blues could use a top-six forward. When the playoffs roll around, having another creative offensive player might help them go on a postseason run.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Acquire Right Defenceman Mathew Dumba
Potential target: Matt Dumba is a 21-year-old right-shot offensive defenceman. He's been good on the power play for the Wild this season, though he hasn't been a big producer at even strength, and his on-ice shot numbers in that role are just OK. Right now he's a third-pair defender with the potential to be more.
Possible acquisition cost: Jonathan Drouin is a talented young forward who clearly wants out of Tampa Bay and would doubtless be of interest to Minnesota.
Why it makes sense: The Bolts would probably need to get a sweetener to make this deal work. However, assuming that Tampa Bay was able to get a reasonable second asset included, this deal would solve three problems. First, it would give the Lightning the third-pair right-shot defenceman that they need in the present. Second, it would end the Drouin soap opera. Finally, it would give them a young, cost-controlled player as they strive to keep their roster together.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Acquire Left Wing Bryan Bickell
Potential target: The real target here is the sweetener that Chicago would undoubtedly throw in to make a Bickell trade possible. One wonders whether the team would be willing to part with its second-round selection in 2017, particularly if the Leafs threw in a cheap replacement such as Brad Boyes.
Possible acquisition cost: Bryan Bickell is a big (6'4" 223 lbs), physical winger and complementary scorer. He's had a bad year in the NHL and has been waived multiple times, but he is scoring at a point-per-game pace in the minors. His contract has a $4.0 million cap hit for this season and next and is a significant overpayment.
Why it makes sense: Toronto is stockpiling future assets, and this helps that general cause. The team has the cap space now to take on Bickell's deal, and if he can rebound to the point where he's a useful bottom-six forward (entirely possible), the Leafs could potentially retain salary and trade him at next year's deadline for another pick.
Vancouver Canucks: Acquire Left Defenceman Patrik Nemeth
Potential target: Patrik Nemeth is an intriguing player who might be on the verge of establishing himself as a useful full-time NHL'er. The 6'3", 230-pound defenceman just turned 24 this month and combines size with brains and mobility. He has solid underlying numbers with Dallas this year.
Possible acquisition cost: Dan Hamhuis would likely fetch more than just Nemeth; he's one of the few quality veteran defencemen potentially on the market this spring.
Why it makes sense: As the Canucks continue to retool, adding players such as Nemeth is a better way to go than keying in on draft picks. Young NHL'ers just entering their prime years will help Vancouver both in the short and long term, and that's especially true on defence where the maturation process typically takes longer than it does for forwards.
Washington Capitals: Acquire Left Wing Matt Hendricks
Potential target: Matt Hendricks is the kind of player every team wants on its fourth line. He's a defensive specialist, one who not only kills penalties and wins faceoffs but also posts reasonably shot differential numbers in tough situations. He's also big (6'0", 207 lbs), physical and well-regarded as a veteran mentor.
Possible acquisition cost: Hendricks isn't a rental (he's under contract for another year), and his skills are valuable to both a contending team and to a rebuilding club like the Oilers. In all likelihood, the cost would be a younger player who projects as a solid bottom-six forward in his prime.
Why it makes sense: Hendricks has played in Washington, and he's played for Barry Trotz. Per CSN's Chuck Gormley, he certainly meets Trotz's stated desire of a specialist who can kill penalties and win draws.
Winnipeg Jets: Trade Away Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec
Potential target: The Jets probably shouldn't be sticklers about the return here. Even a mid-round pick and a comparable contract would represent a reasonable swap.
Possible acquisition cost: Ondrej Pavelec has been Winnipeg's default starting goalie for years, but that's changed recently. With the emergence of rookie Connor Hellebuyck and the continued presence of free agent-find Michael Hutchinson, Pavelec is probably the team's No. 3 goalie on merit right now.
Why it makes sense: If the Jets can move Pavelec's $3.9 million cap hit, they would have more money to spend on other players and would be no worse off in net.
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