As the February 28th NHL trade deadline draws near, the trade rumors get louder. The likely candidate for a trade rumor generally starts with players that will be entering free agency in the offseason. This list includes 10 players that will be free agents but that we don’t expect to see being shipped off.
Brad Richards, Dallas:
With the trade for Jamie Langenbrunner it would seem as if the Stars are ready to make a big push for a Stanley Cup run. Richards is obviously a major part of the team as he leads them in goals and assist. Reports are that there have been some talk about a new contract already. A big question mark here is a lack of ownership for the team, however signing your best player seems like a no brainer and a good selling point for any potential buyers.
Jimmy Howard, Detroit:
Howard has been the starting goalie for the Red Wings the past two season and has played well. He had 37 wins last year and 22 so far this year despite an abundance of injuries to several key members of the team. The one issue is that he is making a bargain 716k so he will be due a hefty wage increase this offseason. It will be interesting to see how the Wings work that under the cap, regardless he will not be moving anywhere at the trade deadline.
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay:
Stamkos is an restricted free agent after this season. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has made it known that signing Stamkos to a long term deal is a top priority. Reportedly there have been some initial talks between the two sides. Don’t expect the league’s leading goal scorer to go anywhere.
Milan Hejduk, Colorado:
He has spent his entire 11-year career with the Avalanche. He signed a one-year deal last season. There will be several teams that will be very interested in the 34 year old who has 10 consecutive seasons with 20+ goals, however with the Avalanche in the thick of the playoff hunt, there is no way that they trade their second leading scorer.
Christian Ehrhoff, Vancouver:
One of four defensemen that will be a free agent for the Canucks this year. He currently makes $3.4M and reportedly will be in line for a contract in the $4.5M-5M range. He has acknowledged that he would likely have to take less money in order to stay however he has praised the organization and loves the city, all good signs that he would like to stay. At 28, he is a young defenseman who can patrol the blue line for years to come. He had a +36 rating last season and is coming off back-to-back 40+ point seasons and is on pace to easily reach that again. Contract talks are on hold right now, but with Vancouver leading the West, there is no way that they trade Ehrhoff.
Justin Williams, Los Angeles:
A couple of years ago Williams had back-to-back 30+ goal seasons but hasn’t played in more than 50 games since the 06-07 season. Healthy and playing well this season he looks to be back on track as a 30-goal 65-point season is within sight.
Alexander Semin, Washington:
Despite being a part of many trade rumors, if the Capitals have any interest in a Cup run this year then they will keep their leading goal scorer. Beyond that, Alex Ovechkin has made it known that he wants Semin to stay. The Caps will have room under the cap and should be able to sign him. At this point, the bet is that Semin remains in Washington for the rest of the season.
Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit:
Not a real surprise here but when a player of this magnitude nears the end of their career people wonder if a move will be made to get some younger players back. Consider Lidstrom beyond untouchable. The team captain has played with the Red Wings his entire career. In the conversation for best defensemen ever, he is on the very short list. He will be wearing the winged wheel for as long as he wants.
Ilya Bryzgalov, Phoenix:
The Phoenix GM has made it known that keeping Bryzgalov is a top priority. An ownership change seems to be holding up any talks right now but it is difficult seeing them trading away a Vezina trophy finalist from a year ago.
Brooks Laich, Washington:
While not a top line player, Laich is the classic depth player that a team needs to make a deep playoff run. At 27 years old he already has three straight 30+ goal seasons. Washington is a team that will have money available under the cap. The question will be, how much are they willing to pay to keep Laich?