Final Predictions Ahead of the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline
The NHL's Feb. 29 trade deadline is nearly upon us. As general managers work the phones for deals, fans and pundits try to predict potential moves.
We're no different.
Trading pending unrestricted free agents like Boston's Loui Eriksson won't be the only moves under consideration by NHL general managers. A rebuilding team, like the Columbus Blue Jackets, could try to shed some salary. Meanwhile, playoff contenders with limited salary-cap room could struggle to find affordable trade options.
Here are the final predictions concerning possible deals for the upcoming 2016 NHL trade deadline. Feel free to offer your own in the comments sections below.
No Significant Deadline Deals for the St. Louis Blues
The St. Louis Blues are among the top teams in the Western Conference. Their offensive numbers, however, are a significant concern. Because of injuries to key players, they're near the bottom third in scoring. Adding a scorer via a trade could boost their production.
Limited salary-cap room, however, could hamper efforts to add a scorer. On Feb. 26, Jeremy P. Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Blues general manager Doug Armstrong explained how his lack of cap space makes it difficult to take on significant salary.
If Armstrong intends to make a meaningful deadline-day move, he's looking at a dollar-for-dollar swap. As a result, he'll likely stand pat and await the return of injured stars like left wing Alex Steen (upper body) and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (knee).
Toronto Maple Leafs Ship Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau to the Los Angeles Kings
With the Toronto Maple Leafs' playoff hopes all but dashed this season, they're shedding several pending unrestricted free agents. Having already moved defenseman Roman Polak and forwards Nick Spaling and Shawn Matthias earlier this week, mainly for draft picks, they could peddle right wing Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau, as the Associated Press noted (via Fox Sports).
Parenteau, 32, is on pace for a 22-goal, 45-point season. He's a skilled playmaker who could be a good fit for teams in need of second-line scoring depth. He also carries an affordable one-year, $1.5 million contract.
With winger Marian Gaborik sidelined by a knee injury, the Los Angeles Kings could seek a replacement. They have limited salary-cap space but could free up some room by placing Gaborik on long-term injured reserve. Parenteau would be an affordable fit for the Kings. He should cost at most a second-round draft pick.
Edmonton Oilers Trade Nail Yakupov to the Montreal Canadiens
The first overall pick in the 2012 NHL entry draft, right wing Nail Yakupov has struggled to reach his potential with the Edmonton Oilers.
Mired once again at the bottom of the NHL standings, Edmonton could have big changes in store, as general manager Peter Chiarelli told reporters, "I'm open to a lot of different things, I'm sure there will be a lot of offers." Among them could be trading the 22-year-old Yakupov, though Chiarelli did not name specific players.
It's been a difficult season for the Montreal Canadiens. A lengthy injury to superstar goalie Carey Price exposed their weaknesses elsewhere in the roster. Their offense has sputtered since early December, contributing to their slide out of playoff contention.
The Oilers have a struggling young winger who could benefit from a trade, while the Canadiens need a long-term offensive boost. Perhaps an offer of a top prospect and a draft pick from the Habs will entice the Oilers to part with Yakupov.
Calgary Flames Trade Kris Russell to the Pittsburgh Penguins
The Calgary Flames are sitting near the bottom of the Western Conference standings. With the playoffs all but out of reach, they've already shipped out impending free agent Jiri Hudler. Defenseman Kris Russell could be next, as he's completing a two-year deal with an annual salary of $2.6 million.
Russell is an affordable option for clubs with limited cap space and seeking a shutdown blueliner. The Pittsburgh Penguins could be among them. On Feb. 26, Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford was seeking a replacement for sidelined rearguard Ben Lovejoy (upper body).
Russell's shot-blocking skills could bolster the Penguins' efforts to nail down a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Seth Rorabaugh reported the Penguins are shopping little-used left wing Sergei Plotnikov. Perhaps the Penguins can offer up Plotnikov and a draft pick for Russell.
Tampa Bay Lightning Trade Jonathan Drouin to the Buffalo Sabres
The Tampa Bay Lightning are attempting to trade suspended left wing Jonathan Drouin. With the 20-year-old still on his entry-level contract, the Lightning can take their time moving him. On Feb. 24, Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times reported general manager Steve Yzerman would prefer moving Drouin at the trade deadline for the right deal.
Drouin, the third overall pick in the 2013 NHL draft, could interest the Buffalo Sabres. His playmaking skills could be invaluable to their scoring lines. Indeed, a combination of Drouin with center Jack Eichel could be dynamite. The Sabres have depth in young players, prospects and draft picks to entice the Lightning.
Tampa will likely seek a return that helps the team now and in the future. It needs a top-four defenseman with a right-handed shot. Perhaps an offer of Cody Franson, a top prospect and a draft pick will convince Yzerman to part with Drouin.
The Vancouver Canucks Deal Dan Hamhuis to the Dallas Stars
The struggling Vancouver Canucks could hasten their transition toward a younger roster by shopping their impending unrestricted free agents. The most notable is defenseman Dan Hamhuis, who's completing a six-year contract with an average annual salary of $4.5 million. He carries a no-trade clause but might waive it to go to a contender, per Cam Tucker of the Metro.
That's where the Dallas Stars come in. They have a promising team, but their defense lacks veteran leadership and shutdown skill. The Stars have the salary-cap space to take on Hamhuis' money. They also possess considerable depth in young players and prospects to offer the rebuilding Canucks.
It could take until deadline day for Hamhuis to waive his clause. If he does so, it will likely be for a contending Western Conference club like the Stars.
Arizona Coyotes Trade Mikkel Boedker to the Nashville Predators
The Arizona Coyotes appear ready to part ways with pending unrestricted free agent left wing Mikkel Boedker. On Feb. 23, TSN's Darren Dreger reported the club backed away from a contract offer to the 26-year-old. He's on a one-year deal worth $3.75 million and lacks a no-trade clause.
If the Coyotes deal Boedker, the Nashville Predators could be a worthwhile trade partner. They're lacking secondary scoring depth on their wings. That could adversely affect their hopes for a lengthy playoff run this spring.
Boedker's contract could be an affordable short-term addition for the budget-conscious Predators. If he fits in well, there's a possibility they could re-sign him. With the Coyotes still rebuilding, they could request a first- or second-round pick or perhaps a promising prospect like Kevin Fiala in return.
The Columbus Blue Jackets Won't Move Scott Hartnell
The Columbus Blue Jackets are once again poised to miss the playoffs. They could get a start on retooling their roster for next season at the trade deadline. On Feb. 16, the Columbus Dispatch's Aaron Portzline reported the Jackets could consider dealing away veteran left wing Scott Hartnell.
Hartnell, 33, is a physical offensive forward who could reach 25 goals and 50 points this season. His postseason experience makes him attractive for playoff contenders seeking a veteran winger.
However, Hartnell has three more years remaining on his contract at an annual average salary of $4.75 million. He also carries a full no-movement clause, significantly hampering the options for where the Jackets could ship him. It might be easier to move Hartnell in the offseason when teams have more cap space and a willingness to acquire players with term remaining on their contracts.
The New York Rangers Won't Acquire Eric Staal
The Carolina Hurricanes have yet to determine the fate of impending free-agent center Eric Staal. The 31-year-old center is completing a seven-year contract with an annual average salary of $8.25 million and a no-trade clause. With the Hurricanes fighting for a playoff berth, they must soon decide on Staal's future.
On Feb. 24, TSN's Bob McKenzie wondered if the New York Rangers might pursue the Hurricanes' captain. He suggested Staal could help them this season—and perhaps even long term—if he's willing to accept a reasonable contract. Staal would also have an opportunity to play with his brother Marc.
Staal could be traded, but the Rangers will probably decide he's not worth it. As McKenzie noted, they don't have a lot of assets to give up for the Hurricanes captain. Squeezing his remaining salary under their cap ceiling could be a tight fit. More importantly, Staal's production declined in recent years. That adds up to a risky, expensive gamble for the Blueshirts.
Boston Bruins Will Retain Loui Eriksson
Boston Bruins right wing Loui Eriksson's is completing a six-year contract with an average annual salary of $4.25 million. He could prove too expensive to re-sign. On Feb. 24, ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun speculated a trade was likely before the deadline.
Moving Eriksson could upset the Bruins' playoff chances. He's among their leading scorers and top two-way forwards. There's no certainty they can find a suitable replacement elsewhere. During a Feb. 25 interview with 98.5 FM's Felger and Mazz (via CBS Boston's Matt Dolloff), Bruins president Cam Neely claimed contract negotiations with Eriksson were ongoing.
It's possible the Bruins could deal Eriksson if he's still unsigned by the Feb. 29 trade deadline. Given his ongoing value to their playoff chances this season, though, they'll likely retain him for the remainder of the campaign.
Salary-cap info courtesy of CapFriendly.