NHL Trade Deadline: Each Team's Most Valuable Trade Asset
With the trade deadline fast approaching, buyers are trying to improve their teams for a final push toward the Stanley Cup Playoffs, while sellers are attempting to rebuild their teams for the future.
These next two weeks will shape the final months of the NHL regular season for contenders. We all remember how the Boston Bruins made key acquisitions last season during the trade deadline.
These trades propelled them to the Stanley Cup Finals and helped bring a title to Boston for the first time since the 1970s.
Last year's run for the Bruins and other key deadline acquisitions throughout the year exemplify the importance of the trade deadline.
It won't be surprising to see every single team involved in at least one trade. It's an important time of year for contenders and cellar dwellers.
Each team has players they are willing to ship to another city, whether they are players with expiring contracts or prospects that will entice rebuilding teams.
Here are the most valuable trade assets for each team.
Anaheim Ducks: Teemu Selanne
Teemu Selanne is currently leading the Anaheim Ducks in scoring at the ripe age of 41 and the team is making a late push toward the playoffs. They find themselves within seven points of the eighth seed in the Western Conference, so they may keep Selanne rather than trade him away and give up on the season.
That being said, if the Ducks fail to make ground in the next few weeks, it won't be surprising to see the team try to shop around Teemu. With the level he's playing at, plenty of teams will want his services for the playoff run. The Ducks can get some solid prospects and draft picks in return rather than watching him retire for nothing.
Selanne has said that he's focused on the Ducks and that his main goal is to take Anaheim into the playoffs. He has to waive his no-movement clause if he were to get traded.
However, if the Ducks want to move him and it's the best option for the team, would he hurt the team by handicapping them because of his desire to stay with the team? Chances are, no. Selanne will understand the business decision and waive the trade clause if it were to reach that stage.
Boston Bruins: Dougie Hamilton
The Boston Bruins were big winners at the trade deadline last season as evidenced by their Stanley Cup championship victory.
This is a different year, though, and there's a big fish in Rick Nash available on the market. The Bruins have a plethora of forwards and they can afford to trade away a few of them, but the centerpiece of a Nash deal would be Dougie Hamilton.
Hamilton is a former first-round draft pick and he's a highly touted young prospect. With Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand already young superstars on the team, the Bruins may consider trading him and a few other pieces (perhaps David Krejci?) for Rick Nash.
Buffalo Sabres: Paul Gaustad
Paul Gaustad's contract is expiring this summer, and the Buffalo Sabres are a far cry from the playoffs. They can probably use a middle-round draft pick for Gaustad rather than let him walk away.
The Sabres core of Ville Leino, Derek Roy and Thomas Vanek is under contract for a while, so they really don't have to rebuild. They had a tough season muddled with injuries and they expect to rebound next season.
They also have Brad Boyes to shop around, who can provide some value as a role player on a contending team. Both Gaustad and Boyes will probably result in the Sabres stocking up on some decent prospects and draft picks.
Calgary Flames: Olli Jokinen
The Calgary Flames are only two points behind a playoff spot and they could very well make the Stanley Cup Playoffs. However, the chances of them going deep in a stacked Western Conference are not too favorable.
So it makes sense for the team to part ways with Olli Jokinen and get some young pieces and draft picks in return.
Jokinen's contract expires this summer and the truth is, with Jarome Iginla approaching the end of his career, the Flames need to get younger. Starting by trading Jokinen this trade deadline would be a great start.
Carolina Hurricanes: Tuomo Ruutu
The Carolina Hurricanes are in the middle of a dismal season. Although they're less than 10 points away from a playoff spot, there are plenty of teams ahead of them and it's going to be a difficult task to make a comeback.
Although they shouldn't resort to a fire sale, the Canes do have some options at the deadline. One of them is to deal Tuomo Ruutu, whose contract expires at the end of the season.
There is no doubt that contending teams would love to have a veteran like Ruutu, or even Jaroslav Spacek, on their team this spring.
By dealing Spacek and Ruutu, the Hurricanes can acquire prospects and draft picks to focus on next season.
Chicago Blackhawks: Brandon Saad
Brandon Saad is probably Chicago's best prospect going into the deadline and it'll be hard to part ways with him. However, the way Chicago has been playing recently, they absolutely need to make a drastic move to contend.
There are several goaltenders available like Evgeni Nabokov and Jonathan Bernier that they could try to acquire. The Hawks are in the bottom third in the league in goals allowed and they desperately need help in that category.
Either way, rebuilding teams will be asking for Saad, and the Hawks just might be willing to do it because they already have a core of top-six forwards that are all under contract for the long run.
Colorado Avalanche: David Jones
The Colorado Avalanche have a major problem. At the end of the season, over half of their roster will become free agents. Although some of them will be restricted free agents, the Avs would be wise to move some of their unrestricted ones for some guys that are under contract.
David Jones is having a solid year after a 27-goal season last year. The Avalanche could get a lot back for the former ninth-round pick because his stock value is high right now.
It's no guarantee that Jones will replicate this performance, so it's wise for Colorado to part ways with the forward and get some pieces in return rather than seeing him walk away for nothing.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Rick Nash
Rick Nash is the obvious one here.
He's the biggest name on the trade market right now. The six teams he has said he would okay a trade to the Rangers, Kings, Maple Leafs, Sharks, Canucks and Bruins, but don't be surprised if that changes.
The Jackets have many other pieces that they will probably trade as they blow up the team and focus on the future. Some of these players are Jeff Carter, R.J. Umberger, Vinny Prospal and James Wisniewski.
Dallas Stars: Sheldon Souray
Surprisingly, Sheldon Souray hasn't been hurt yet.
The Stars have already dealt Nicklas Grossman to the Philadelphia Flyers, but they may not be done dealing.
There may be a contending team that would like to have Souray's veteran presence. He's a low-risk, high-reward option for many teams.
He's so injury-prone that his asking price won't be too high. The Stars at the same time could get a prospect and/or a draft pick in return, especially if they see that their season isn't going in a positive direction a few weeks from now.
Detroit Red Wings: Brendan Smith
Brendan Smith is one of Detroit's best prospects and if they're going to acquire any of the big fish this trade deadline, they may have to give him up.
However, Detroit's playing so well right now that they may just settle for some minor tweaks this trade deadline. Perhaps an experienced third-liner or a fifth or sixth defenseman will be enough to get Detroit to the Stanley Cup Finals.
That being said, Smith will most definitely be included a trade for say, Rick Nash.
Edmonton Oilers: Ryan Smyth
The last time the Edmonton Oilers traded Ryan Smyth, he had a tearful press conference. His heart was shattered because of the trade.
Unfortunately for Smyth, it could happen again this season. The Oilers have a bright future and Smyth isn't part of it. His massive contract expires at the end of the season, and the team could use some more draft picks and prospects on their team that's filled with youthful exuberance.
Florida Panthers: Quinton Howden
For the first time in a long time, Dale Tallon's Florida Panthers are buyers during the deadline. However, the team has numerous young prospects in the system that they're relying on for the future. Guys like Jonathan Huberdeau, Jacob Markstrom, and Erik Gudbranson will probably stay in South Florida.
That being said, they might be willing to part ways with one of their other great prospects in order to make a push for this season.
Maybe moving a guy like Quinton Howden or even Rocco Grimaldi can help land Florida a decent scorer or defenseman for the playoffs.
The team definitely needs help. They currently have allowed more goals than they've scored. So if they're serious about this year, and they should be considering the fact they haven't made the playoffs in ages, they will need to deal some of their prospects.
Los Angeles Kings: Jonathan Bernier
With Jonathan Quick as the starter for the Los Angeles Kings in the long run, it seems like Kings can move Jonathan Bernier.
Bernier's always been a solid backup goaltender for the Kings, and he has the potential to be a starter anywhere else.
The Kings can probably include him, along with Andrei Loktionov, in a deal for Rick Nash. Nash would immediately solve the Kings' goal-scoring problems and propel them to the top of the Pacific Division.
Minnesota Wild: Josh Harding
The collapse of the Minnesota Wild has been well documented this season. They now sit in the bottom of the Western Conference after what seemed like a turnaround season with new head coach Mike Yeo.
The Wild are now sellers at the deadline and one guy they can get some value for in return is backup goaltender Josh Harding.
His contract expires at the end of the season and by trading him, it'll be a vote of confidence for Niklas Backstrom to take over the starting job.
The Wild can get some solid role players and a few draft picks for Harding in preparation for next year.
Montreal Canadiens: Travis Moen
Travis Moen is a type of player that any contender would love having on their roster in the final months of the playoffs. He won a Stanley Cup with Anaheim back in 2007 and he's a tough, gritty grinder who will provide a veteran boost.
The Canadiens are still making a push for the playoffs and would love to keep Moen on their team for the final push toward the playoffs.
That being said, if they get an offer they like and hit a bit of a losing streak in the next few weeks, they may be willing to part ways with the veteran forward.
Nashville Predators: Jonathon Blum
Jonathon Blum is a top prospect for the Nashville Predators.
The Preds made it known to the rest of the NHL that they want to win this year when they acquired Hal Gill.
A move like that suggests they may even be willing to part ways with a top prospect in order to acquire a valuable piece on offense to propel them to the top of the NHL.
New Jersey Devils: Jacob Josefson
If this was last season's New Jersey Devils team, they probably would have been shopping around Zach Parise, who becomes a free agent after the season.
However, the Devils have turned it around and are looking for a playoff run.
The team has plenty of talented forwards like Patrik Elias, Petr Sykora, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Zach Parise. Because of this, Jacob Josefsen has been relegated to limited ice time and he's had an extremely disappointing season.
That being said, he's a young player and he may need a change of scenery to get going again. The Devils could possibly trade him for a defenseman for the playoff push.
New York Islanders: Evgeni Nabokov
Evgeni Nabokov is 8-3 in his last 11 starts. He's heating up at the right time for not only himself, but also the New York Islanders.
Teams like the Chicago Blackhawks could really use a goaltender for the playoffs because of their inconsistencies at that position.
Nabokov is also up there in age and the Islanders could use him as trade bait to get some more prospects. (Perhaps a Brandon Saad for Evgeni Nabokov trade?)
Meanwhile, the Islanders still have Rick DiPietro and Al Montoya and should be fine in that position even after trading Nabokov.
New York Rangers: Brandon Dubinsky
After a 54-point season last season, Brandon Dubinsky has hit a downturn with only 25 points in this year's campaign.
That being said, he should be the centerpiece of any deal for Rick Nash. Acquiring Nash might change a little bit of team chemistry for the first-place Rangers, but he will undoubtedly turn the Rangers into an offensive powerhouse.
Nash's long-term contract would keep in New York for years to come and give him a legitimate shot to win multiple Stanley Cups.
Dubinsky may become the biggest loser in a trade to Columbus. He may just view this trade as exile. That being said, he'll be a solid building piece for the Jackets.
Ottawa Senators: Mike Zibanejad
The Ottawa Senators surprisingly find themselves as possible buyers at the deadline. Who would have thought at the start of the season that the Sens would even be remotely close to making the playoffs?
The Senators need some help on both sides of the puck. They currently have a negative goal differential and if they want to make any impact in the playoffs, they'll need to acquire a scorer and a solid defenseman.
This means they have to trade one of their top prospects, Mike Zibanejad.
Philadelphia Flyers: Draft Picks
The team needed a defenseman and they got one in Nicklas Grossman. They probably won't go after a goalie because of the big contract they gave Ilya Bryzgalov.
If they do make a move, it'll be a small one. Perhaps they will acquire a role player or a grinder by getting rid of a few middle- or late-round draft picks.
Phoenix Coyotes: Shane Doan
Even if the Phoenix Coyotes make the playoffs, chances are they're not going very far.
It might be time to part ways with the face of the franchise, Shane Doan. Doan has been with the Coyotes organization since they played in Winnipeg.
His contract expires at the end of the season, and while it's nice to assume that he will return, it may not be the best option for the team. He's an aging forward with not much left in the tank.
It could be wiser for the Desert Dogs to trade him for some young talent and start rebuilding for the future.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Eric Tangradi
The Pittsburgh Penguins have to make a decision whether they want to defer Sidney Crosby's cap hit like they did last season and acquire a scoring forward to replace his absence.
They can still make a move to acquire Rick Nash, but it's a long shot and it probably won't happen.
That being said, the Penguins can also make a smaller move involving Eric Tangradi. By acquiring a veteran like Travis Moen or Johnny Oduya, the Penguins will become a more potent and deep team.
San Jose Sharks: Justin Braun
The San Jose Sharks are clinging on to the Pacific Division lead right now. They could use some help, especially on offense.
They don't necessarily need Rick Nash, but they could use a forward to make up for the lack of goal production that they now have because of the loss of Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi.
Justin Braun is a young prospect that the Sharks could deal along with some draft picks for some scoring help.
St. Louis Blues: Jake Allen
The St. Louis Blues are so stacked at the goaltender position with Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott that they could probably trade one of their best goaltending prospects, Jake Allen, for some scoring help.
The Blues are a defensive-minded team with balanced scoring. They could definitely use a guy like Shane Doan or Olli Jokinen to give them a burst of offense.
Last season in the AHL, Allen posted a 25-19-3 record with a 2.52 GAA and .917 save percentage for the Peoria Rivermen.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Pavel Kubina
This season has definitely been a disappointment for the Tampa Bay Lightning. After going to the Eastern Conference Finals, they're now a long shot to make the playoffs.
One of the main problems this season has been goaltending. Dwayne Roloson was just too old and couldn't put up the numbers he did last season.
Perhaps they could use Pavel Kubina's expiring contract to acquire a young goaltender to build around the team. The Lightning already has offense and a decent blue line with Victor Hedman leading the way.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Mikhail Grabovski
Rather than overpay for Mikhail Grabovski, the Toronto Maple Leafs could use him as trade bait to acquire other important pieces on defense.
The Leafs could trade Grabovski and some middle-round draft picks for maybe a guy like Johnny Oduya, who is a veteran defenseman that could help the Leafs in the playoff push.
Vancouver Canucks: Cory Schneider
Cory Schneider is a talented backup goalie, but that's all he is in Vancouver, a backup.
Roberto Luongo has the starting nod there for good. This means that the Canucks can trade Schneider for some help.
Schneider could be involved in a trade for Rick Nash, or he could just be used to get some gritty role players on offense and defense.
It seemed like Vancouver lacked these type of guys in the Finals last year and it prevented them from closing out the series when they were up 2-0.
Whether they get Nash or not, Schneider is a vital trading piece for the Canucks, and they should take advantage of it while his stock value is high.
Washington Capitals: Mike Knuble
Mike Knuble apparently isn't too fond of being a healthy scratch. And why would he?
He's a 39-year old veteran who would love to have a chance to win a Stanley Cup at this stage of the career.
While the Capitals have a good shot of winning the Southeast Division, if they're not going to give him playing time, then might as well trade him for a draft pick.
Winnipeg Jets: Johnny Oduya
Johnny Oduya is one of the few guys on the Winnipeg Jets who will have an expiring contract after this season.
He's a veteran defenseman who could become a valuable asset for contending teams. He'll also be worth maybe a prospect and/or a middle-round draft pick.
The Jets could use that as part of their rebuilding process. They have an exciting young team, and it makes sense to build for the future.