NHL Players Most Likely to Be Moved Before the Trade Deadline

Lyle RichardsonFeatured ColumnistJanuary 7, 2017

NHL Players Most Likely to Be Moved Before the Trade Deadline

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    The NHL's March 1 trade deadline is less than two months away. Players who've become frequent topics of trade speculation, such as Tampa Bay Lighting goaltender Ben Bishop and Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene, could be with new teams by then. 

    Some, such as Bishop, could be dealt because of their eligibility for unrestricted free agency. Others, such as Duchene, belong to struggling teams in need of a shake-up. 

    This slideshow lists the NHL players most likely to be dealt by the trade deadline. We'll examine their strengths and weaknesses, as well as the clubs that could pursue them in the trade market. 

    Feel free to weigh in with your opinion on this topic in the comments section. 

10. Evander Kane, Buffalo Sabres

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    Why he could be traded

    Evander Kane's been a disappointment since joining the Buffalo Sabres in a midseason trade from the Winnipeg Jets in 2014-15. Though on track this season to reach 20 goals and 35 points for the second straight season, he hasn't been an effective power forward for the rebuilding Sabres.  

     

    Strengths

    When Kane's on his game, he's a useful offensive contributor. He reached career highs in goals (30) and points (57) in 2011-12. He doesn't shy away from physical play. At 25, he still has sufficient time to mature into a reliable scoring forward. 

     

    Weaknesses

    Kane's immaturity has affected his play and resulted in off-ice brushes with the law. He's signed through 2017-18 at an annual salary-cap hit of $5.25 million, which could prove difficult to move. Kane is also frequently injured. He last played over 65 games in 2011-12. 

     

    Possible destinations

    Despite Kane's issues, a club seeking offensive depth at left wing could take a chance on him. The Carolina Hurricanes ($14.8 million in projected salary-cap space) and Ottawa Senators ($5.5 million) have sufficient room to take on Kane's salary if they're willing to take the gamble. 

9. Ryan Miller, Vancouver Canucks

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    Why he could be traded

    Should the Vancouver Canucks lose ground in the Western Conference playoff race, they could try to deal away their pending unrestricted free agents. Ryan Miller could attract interest from teams in need of experienced goaltending.   

     

    Strengths

    Winner of the Vezina Trophy in 2010, Miller's had a productive NHL career. He's won 352 career regular-season games. He has years of regular-season and playoff experience. 

     

    Weaknesses

    At 36, Miller's best seasons are now behind him. He tends to wear down as the season progresses. Miller also carries a modified no-trade clause in his contract, with an expensive $6 million annual salary-cap hit. 

     

    Possible destinations

    Provided Miller's willing to waive his movement clause, he could be a solid addition for clubs in need of experienced goaltending depth. The Los Angles Kings could be interested in Miller if current starter Jonathan Quick remains sidelined by a groin injury. 

8. Dennis Seidenberg, New York Islanders

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    Why he could be traded

    The New York Islanders' playoff hopes in the Eastern Conference are fading. Their pending free agents, such as defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, could hit the trade block.

     

    Strengths

    An experienced blueliner, Seidenberg's averaging 19 minutes and 12 seconds of ice time per game as a puck-moving defenseman. With 13 points in 30 games, he's on track to reach 30 points for the first time since 2010-11. He also carries a very affordable one-year contract worth $1 million. 

     

    Weaknesses

    Seidenberg's age (35) and his old knee injury have limited his speed and overall effectiveness. He doesn't get much power-play time. Injuries remain a concern, as he missed seven games earlier this season with a broken jaw. 

     

    Possible destinations

    Playoff contenders in need of affordable and experienced blue-line depth could give Seidenberg a serious look by the March 1 trade deadline. The Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning could make inquiries.  

7. Radim Vrbata, Arizona Coyotes

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    Ralph Freso/Associated Press

    Why he could be traded

    The Arizona Coyotes are floundering near the bottom of the Western Conference standings. They could try to unload their veteran free agents, including right wing Radim Vrbata, near the trade deadline. 

     

    Strengths

    Vrbata's a slick, speedy playmaking winger. He's exceeded 40 points seven times in his career. With 24 points in 39 games, he's the Coyotes' leading scorer and on pace for a 50-point campaign.  He also carries an affordable one-year, bonus-laden contract worth a maximum of $3.25 million. 

     

    Weaknesses

    Consistency has long been an issue with Vrbata. He had a disappointing 27-point campaign last season after tallying 63 points in 2014-15. His playoff numbers (18 points in 42 games) aren't very good either. Age (35) is also a factor.

     

    Possible destinations

    Despite Vrbata's weaknesses, he's having a good bounce-back performance this season. That could make him an attractive commodity for clubs in need of scoring help. The Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, and Ottawa Senators could take a look at him in the trade market. 

6. Thomas Vanek, Detroit Red Wings

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    Why he could be traded

    The Detroit Red Wings could miss the playoffs for the first time since 1989-90. Players with expiring contracts, such as left wing Thomas Vanek, could be dealt before the March 1 trade deadline. 

     

    Strengths

    Vanek's exceeded 40 points 11 times in his career. With 23 points in 28 games, he's on pace for over 50 this season. At 6'2" and 214 pounds, he possesses good size and quality scoring skills. Vanek can also play on either wing and carries an affordable one-year contract worth $2.6 million

     

    Weaknesses

    Set to turn 33 on Jan. 19, Vanek is a scorer in decline. Even in his prime, his production could be streaky. He's not a fast skater and can get caught out of position. 

     

    Possible destinations

    Clubs seeking experienced and affordable scoring wingers could be interested in Vanek. Potential suitors could include the Boston Bruins, Dallas Stars, Nashville Predators and Ottawa Senators.  

5. Jarome Iginla, Colorado Avalanche

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    Why he could be traded

    Colorado Avalanche right wing Jarome Iginla is eligible for unrestricted free agency in July. With only 11 points in 39 games, the 39-year-old's NHL career is winding down. It's unlikely the Avs will re-sign him.

    With the Avalanche mired at the bottom of the Western Conference standings, they could attempt to move him to a playoff contender at the trade deadline. On Jan. 3, Iginla told the Calgary Sun's Wes Gilbertson he's open to waiving his no-movement clause. 

     

    Strengths

    Now in his 20th NHL season, Iginla is a well-respected veteran leader with considerable experience. In his long career, he's exceeded 20 goals a remarkable 17 times.  The 6'1", 210-pounder is very strong and can still play a worthwhile physical game. On a deeper club, he might regain some of his offensive punch.

     

    Weaknesses

    Despite his previous scoring exploits, age and the effects of 20 NHL seasons have caught up with Iginla in 2016-17. He no longer dominates play as he once did. He's slower now and is on pace for only 11 goals this season. He carries a $5.33 million cap hit, which won't be easy for some clubs to absorb. 

     

    Possible destinations

    A playoff contender seeking depth to offset potential injuries could be interested in Iginla. On Jan. 3, Adrian Dater reported the Chicago Blackhawks are considering Iginla to fill that role. The Los Angeles Kings could be another possibility, provided the Avalanche pick up part of his cap hit.  

4. Martin Hanzal, Arizona Coyotes

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Why he could be traded

    Arizona Coyotes center Martin Hanzal is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. On Jan. 3. Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic reported the 29-year-old's future with the Coyotes remains uncertain.

    McLellan noted Hanzal's willingness to re-sign and that Coyotes general manager John Chayka had expressed the hope of getting him under contract during the offseason. However, Chayka isn't ruling out the possibility of trading Hanzal before the deadline on March 1 if a deal isn't worked out before then. 

     

    Strengths

    At 6'6" and 226 pounds, Hanzal possesses impressive size. He is a solid two-way player with good playmaking skills. He also has two 40-point seasons on his resume. 

     

    Weaknesses

    Despite his size, Hanzal is frequently sidelined by injury. That's hampered his effectiveness and consistency as a two-way center. The last time he played more than 65 games was in 2009-10. 

     

    Possible destinations

    Should Hanzal hit the trade block, playoff contenders in need of depth at center will come calling. The Chicago Blackhawks, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators and St. Louis Blues could be among them. 

3. Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Karl B DeBlaker/Associated Press

    Why he could be traded

    Bishop is eligible for unrestricted free agency on July 1. The Lightning have over $60 million invested in 14 players and must also re-sign forwards Tyler Johnson, Jonathan Drouin and Ondrej Palat. They won't have sufficient cap room to pay Bishop a big raise.

    Andrei Vasilevskiy is Bishop's heir apparent. Starting next season, he's under contract through 2019-20 at an annual salary-cap hit of $3.5 million. 

    Bishop has a no-movement clause. However, on Sep. 2, he told Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times he was nearly traded to the Calgary Flames last June. He's obviously willing to waive it to go to a playoff contender.

     

    Strengths

    Bishop, 30,  ranks among the NHL's elite goaltenders. Last season, he was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy. At 6'7" and 216 pounds, he covers a lot of the net. With his puck-handling skills and agility, he's very difficult to score against. 

     

    Weaknesses

    Injuries have frequently sidelined Bishop. On Dec. 21, the Lightning announced he would miss three to four weeks with a lower-body injury. Prior to getting hurt, he was struggling with his consistency. His stats this season (2.79 GAA, .907 save percentage) are well below his career averages (2.33 GAA, .919 save percentage).

     

    Possible destinations

    The Dallas Stars need an upgrade in goal, but they must first move either Kari Lehtonen or Antti Niemi. The Winnipeg Jets are struggling with their young tandem of Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson. Bishop could be a good fit for either club, but they could prefer he re-signs a new contract first. 

2. Matt Duchene, Colorado Avalanche

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    Kamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press

    Why he could be traded

    With a league-worst record of 13 wins, 25 losses and one overtime losses (27 points), the Avalanche are mired at the bottom of the Western Conference standings. On Dec. 31, Sportsnet's Joe Pack cited colleague Elliotte Friedman reporting the Avs were getting trade inquiries about core players, including Duchene and left wing Gabriel Landeskog. 

    On Jan. 3, NHL insider Darren Dreger told Montreal's TSN 690 (via Chris Nichols of FanRag Sports Network) he thinks Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic could be more inclined to move Duchene. 

     

    Strengths

    Duchene's a skilled offensive center. The 25-year-old has also reached or exceeded 55 points five times. He possesses considerable speed and playmaking ability, plus he's strong in the faceoff circle (61.2 percent, per Puckbase. He can skate at center or on the wing.

     

    Weaknesses

    Despite his offensive skills, Duchene can be a streaky performer. He can try to do too much on his own. At 5'11" and 195 pounds, he's not a particularly physical player. His contract ($6 million per season salary through 2018-19) could be difficult to move during the season. 

     

    Possible destinations

    The Carolina Hurricanes could use a skilled first-line center such as Duchene. The Montreal Canadiens also need depth at center. The Boston Bruins, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders and Vancouver Canucks could use another scoring winger, but Duchene tends to put up better stats at center. 

1. Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Why he could be traded

    During the 2016 playoffs, Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury lost his starter's job to youngster Matt Murray. With the expansion draft coming in June, the Penguins can only protect one goaltender. Having re-signed Murray to a three-year contract extension on Oct. 20, Fleury is the odd man out.

    Fleury, however, carries a no-movement clause. Under expansion draft rules, he must be protected unless he agrees to waive his clause. Rather that move Fleury in the offseason, the Penguins could shop him before the March 1 trade deadline.  

     

    Strengths

    Fleury's a prototypical butterfly-style goaltender with considerable experience as a starter. He's won 34 games or more eight times. He also backstopped the Penguins to two Stanley Cup Final appearances (2008, 2009) and a championship in 2009.  

     

    Weaknesses

    He has had periods of inconsistency throughout his career. He's also struggled at times this season, perhaps because he's not seeing the usual amount of playing time as in the past. He was twice sidelined last season by concussions.

     

    Possible destinations

    The Dallas Stars need help in the crease but would have to move either Kari Lehtonen or Antti Niemi to make room for Fleury. The Winnipeg Jets could need an upgrade over the young tandem of Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson. 

    On Dec. 28, FanRag Sports Network's Chris Nichols cited TSN's Darren Dreger telling NBCSN he wonders if the St. Louis Blues might have an interest in Fleury. Young Jake Allen is the Blues' starter, but Dreger pondered the possibility of acquiring Fleury to boost their championship hopes.