Ranking the Top 10 Goal Scorers Available at the 2014 NHL Trade Deadline

Rob Vollman@robvollmanNHLContributor IMarch 2, 2014

Ranking the Top 10 Goal Scorers Available at the 2014 NHL Trade Deadline

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    With the NHL trade deadline less than five days away, where should teams be turning to for some help scoring goals? Thomas Vanek of the New York Islanders and Mike Cammalleri of the Calgary Flames are just two of the possibilities, many of whom may be flying low enough under the radar for some real bargains.

    Using analytics, we found the best available goal scorers by looking not just at how many goals each player has netted this year, but also for trends and patterns over previous seasons.

    Other statistical indicators, like the number of shots taken, how reliant each player's goal scoring was on the power play and how much ice time they needed to generate their scoring were all used to help identify each sniper's true goal-scoring abilities.

    Don't look for Jaromir Jagr or Daniel Alfredsson on this list. As great as these veteran goal scorers still are, we found 10 who are potentially even better.

    And don't be surprised by the inclusion of so many Winnipeg Jets, since Michael Frolik's 12 goals, which would be good enough for fourth on the Los Angeles Kings, is actually only eighth on Winnipeg's team leaderboard.

    Who are the best goal-scoring options available for acquisition by March 5? Let's begin!

    All basic statistics are from NHL.com, even-strength scoring rates are from Behind the Net, and all other advanced statistics are via writer's own original research unless otherwise noted.

10. Nail Yakupov, Edmonton Oilers

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    Goal-Scoring Credentials

    Nail Yakupov led the Edmonton Oilers with 17 goals last year, which was tied for 28th overall. That works out to 0.35 goals per game, a level that only four active players exceeded when they were teenage rookies. The Colorado Avalanche's Nathan MacKinnon may soon make that five.

    The 2012 first overall selection was also one of only four rookies to top 10 goals last year, leading the pack with 17. His 21.0 percent shooting percentage was fourth-best in the NHL.

    This year, the 20-year-old right winger's shooting percentage has dropped to 10.4 percent, leading to just 11 goals in 56 games. However, Yakupov is playing just 14 minutes, 12 seconds per game, 10th among the team's forwards. His scoring could increase considerably with greater opportunity.

    Why He's on the Block

    The Oilers have a need for a legitimate top-pairing defenseman, which will require giving up a solid asset like Yakupov.

    They also have a wealth of high-scoring young forwards and have to start making some tough decisions about which ones to keep. Given that Yakupov has been a healthy scratch this year and has often found himself on the depth lines, they may have already made one of those decisions. 

    Market Value

    Obviously, first overall draft choices don't go cheap, especially with one more season on an affordable entry-level deal.

    On the other hand, the uncertainty around his true potential and his inconsistent play this season might lower the bids. Yakupov also recently bruised his right ankle blocking a shot and may not be 100 percent down the stretch. And if the asking price gets too high for Yakupov, some teams might pursue the Anaheim Ducks' Kyle Palmieri instead.

9. P.A. Parenteau, Colorado Avalanche

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    Goal-Scoring Credentials

    At first glance, P.A. Parenteau may seem like an unusual inclusion for the top 10. Why was he selected and not, say, fellow Quebec-born Avalanche scorer Paul Stastny?

    Let's compare their statistics. In terms of even-strength goals per 60 minutes, Parenteau bests Stastny 1.03 to 0.88 this year and 0.88 to 0.75 the year before. Last year, the 30-year-old winger scored 18 goals, which was tied for 18th in the NHL, and was 22nd with 0.38 goals per game.

    Parenteau is also 11-of-24 on the shootout over his five years, whereas Stastny has been used only four times, all back in 2009-10, and failed to score each time.

    In fairness, Parenteau is almost purely an offensive-minded player, whereas Stastny is an Olympic-caliber two-way force. While Stastny would be featured more prominently in a list of the best overall players, teams that are looking purely for goal scoring should pursue Parenteau.

    Why He's on the Block

    P.A. Parenteau is in Colorado coach Patrick Roy's doghouse, according to the Hockey Central panel.

    He was a healthy scratch on more than one occasion in January and may be moved to acquire more blue-line depth for the team's playoff push.

    Market Value

    Secured for two more seasons with a cap hit of $4.0 million, Parenteau could potentially go for a top-four defenseman, or at worst a comparable top-six scorer. If the Avalanche are thinking more long term, expect a deal to include picks and prospects instead.

8. Brad Boyes, Florida Panthers

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    Gary Wiepert/Associated Press

    Goal-Scoring Credentials

    Brad Boyes scored 76 goals over two seasons for the St. Louis Blues in 2007-08 and 2008-09, which was ninth in the NHL.

    Right now, the 31-year-old right winger leads the Florida Panthers with 15 goals and 138 shots and is one of four Panthers actually topping a solid 1.0 goals per 60 minutes at even strength.

    For those who believe in clutch play, Boyes also finished in the top three in game-winning goals twice in his career. He's also great on the shootout, going 6-of-9 this year and a jaw-dropping 31-of-57 over the last six seasons. That's potentially a lot of extra points for a team to pick up down the stretch.

    The durable veteran has missed two games this year, which is surprisingly the second-most games he's ever missed in a season.

    Why He's on the Block

    Boyes is a pending unrestricted free agent (UFA) on a non-playoff team with potentially good value to a contender.

    However, Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet (h/t Jeff Langridge at FanSided) recently indicated that the Panthers are trying to close a deal to keep Boyes in Florida.

    Market Value

    The number of Panthers available for trade combined with his relatively low profile may water down some of the offers they receive for Brad Boyes.

    As we described in our earlier Bleacher Report article on value players, Boyes represents a value-priced option for any team looking to add a little bit of secondary scoring punch. 

7. Nazem Kadri, Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Goal-Scoring Credentials

    One of the more overlooked goal-scoring options who could be available at the trade deadline is the Toronto Maple Leafs' 23-year-old center Nazem Kadri.

    Kadri was solid last year, finishing in the NHL's top 20 in goals at even strength (13) and overall (18), and just missing in goals per game (0.38). His 33 goals in 105 games over the past two seasons is tied with Bobby Ryan for 39th, and his 15.7 percent shooting percentage is 11th among those top goal scorers.

    He has a solid 0.84 goals per 60 minutes at even strength this year and an impressive 1.04 last year.

    He is also an effective agitator with good possession numbers, but is still rounding out his defensive game and continuing to develop into someone who consistently and effectively takes on top-six opportunities. In the meantime, Kadri remains an excellent source of secondary goal scoring.

    Why He's on the Block

    Kadri is not in coach Randy Carlyle's good graces, who called him out just before the Olympic break, according to Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun.

    Since he may not be the right fit for Toronto long term, he may be dealt before his two-year, $2.9-million-per-season contract expires.

    Market Value

    Toronto general manager Dave Nonis says that there are many teams interested in Nazem Kadri, as reported by Doug Harrison of CBC.

    Given the young player's tremendous scoring potential, teams may offer a little bit more for Kadri than for a comparable alternative, especially since they would have a full year to evaluate his play, after which he remains a restricted free agent (RFA).

6. Mike Cammalleri, Calgary Flames

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    Jason DeCrow/Associated Press

    Goal-Scoring Credentials

    Playoff teams scrambling for some assistance down the stretch have their eyes on Calgary's Mike Cammalleri, who famously led the NHL in 2009-10 with 13 goals in 19 postseason games.

    The high point of Cammalleri's career was 39 goals his first time with the Flames in 2008-09, including 19 on the power play, the NHL's second-best individual total. Of course, the 31-year-old forward has just 22 power-play goals in 284 games since then.

    Cammalleri may have only 13 goals this year, but that's in only 42 games. He's one of three Flames averaging at least 1.00 goals per 60 minutes at even strength, which is excellent.

    Why He's on the Block

    A non-playoff team like the Flames obviously has no use for a pending UFA. That being said, Aaron Vickers of NHL.com reports that Calgary has recently made a contract extension offer, which is currently under review. If it's rejected, expect an immediate trade.

    Market Value

    Mike Cammalleri would merely be a rental player—and an injury-prone one at that—who is in the midst of an eight-game goal-scoring drought, his second of the season. He's also only 5'9", which tends to carry something of a stigma, especially going into the postseason.

    More alarmingly, Cammalleri is minus-24, fourth-worst in the NHL. Of course, that's more a function of Calgary having just a .873 save percentage and 6.1 percent shooting percentage when he's on the ice, neither of which is under his control to any meaningful extent. The team's shots and scoring chances are actually relatively even when he's on the ice.

    Add it up, and it's possible that his stock may be low enough for a potential bargain.

5. Andrew Ladd, Winnipeg Jets

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Goal-Scoring Credentials

    While Andrew Ladd may only be the fifth-best available player at scoring goals, he is certainly the best all-around player on this list. The 28-year-old left winger takes on top opponents and in key defensive situations, and provides invaluable leadership and experience.

    Ladd has only 14 goals in 61 games this year, but 75 in 211 over the preceding three, which is tied with Marian Gaborik for 18th in the NHL.

    Ladd's 15 goals at even strength last year were tied for 10th, and he was tied for 11th with 24 the year before. He is consequently one of only 19 players with 50 even-strength goals over the past three seasons.  

    Aside from those goal-scoring credentials, there are check marks across the board on every facet of Ladd's game. He has size, solid defense and two Stanley Cups. Plus, he is 6-of-11 in the shootout this year and has missed only a single game since 2007-08.

    Why He's on the Block

    Would the Jets actually trade their captain? It would be a pretty drastic move, but Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet identifies him as the team's most valuable potential trade chip.

    Ladd is on the third season of a five-year contact with an annual cap hit of $4.4 million.

    Market Value

    Ladd's market value is very high. There are not many available players who couldn't be acquired if Winnipeg offers up Ladd as part of the exchange.

4. Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Goal-Scoring Credentials

    After consistently scoring between 17 and 21 goals his first four seasons, Blake Wheeler broke out with 19 goals in 48 games last year, which was tied for 16th in the NHL.

    Wheeler is proving that last year was no fluke, ranking in the top 20 once again with 23 goals and 0.4 goals per game and leading the Jets in goal scoring for the second consecutive season.

    His stick does most of its speaking at even strength, where Wheeler has scored 17 goals both this season and last, when it was just two short of the league lead. The combined total is fourth in the NHL. He also led the Jets with a fantastic 1.38 goals per 60 minutes at even strength and is second to Evander Kane with 0.93 this year.

    The 6'5", 27-year-old right winger has missed only four games in his entire six-season career. Though he is only 1-of-6 on the shootout this year, he is a combined 16-of-36 over the previous five.

    Why He's on the Block

    The 11th-place Jets were hoping to make the postseason this year and may be looking to retool and change direction.

    In my view, Winnipeg may want to enter the hunt for a new starting goalie to replace the mediocre Ondrej Pavelec, and Wheeler might be just the right trading chip to get one.

    Market Value

    Top-six forwards are always at a premium, especially a big Olympian in his prime.

    Normally, the market value of UFA rentals is less than those secured to long-term deals, but Wheeler's contract may actually cause an exception.

    He is on the first year of a six-year deal with an annual cap hit of $4.5 million. Hockey Central's Doug MacLean says there will be a lot of interest in a top-six scorer like Wheeler, but he worries that his contract might keep him in Winnipeg.

3. Thomas Vanek, New York Islanders

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    Kathy Kmonicek/Associated Press

    Goal-Scoring Credentials

    Thomas Vanek's goal-scoring credentials are well-known.

    The 30-year-old winger is currently tied for 37th in the NHL with 19 goals, and his 20 goals in 38 games was tied for 13th last year. That's the pace required for a 40-goal season, something he's already done twice and a feat only eight active NHLers have accomplished more often. It also works to 0.53 goals per game, which ranked fifth.

    Vanek is the best sniper on this list on the power play. He has finished top three in power-play goals three times in his career, including last season. He has also topped 6.0 points per 60 minutes on the power play for four straight seasons.

    He's also been effective on the shootout, going 16-of-36 over the past six seasons. Vanek's 14.8 percent career shooting percentage is sixth among active players.

    The only downside to Vanek's game is that he is indeed a pure offensive force, normally used exclusively in the offensive zone and against secondary opponents. He has also taken as many penalties as he's thrown hits, according to the data at Extra Skater.

    Why He's on the Block

    Thomas Vanek recently turned down a seven-year, $50 million offer from the New York Islanders, according to NHL.com.

    There's no point for a non-playoff team missing its top star to hang on to a pending UFA who will not re-sign.

    Market Value

    Thomas Vanek may be one of the best goal scorers available, but the short-term-rental nature of his situation could keep the offers reasonable.

    Vanek is also in an eight-game goal-scoring drought that will likely continue in the absence of John Tavares to injury.

2. Jordan Eberle, Edmonton Oilers

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Goal-Scoring Credentials

    Jordan Eberle first established his goal-scoring credentials with a crazy 2011-12 season where he scored 34 goals, tied for 15th in the NHL. He was also 14th with 0.44 goals per game and 11th with 24 goals at even strength, and he had the fifth-best shooting percentage in the league at 18.9 percent.

    Since then, Eberle's shooting percentage has settled around 12.0 percent and around 35th on the league goal-scoring leaderboard.

    The 23-year-old winger is also 13-of-27 on the shootout, including a perfect 6-of-6 over the past two seasons. The 2012 All-Star is 20th in the NHL with 49 even-strength goals over the past three seasons and finished off January with five goals in seven games, much as he closed November.

    Why He's on the Block

    The Oilers have serious needs on the blue line. As Bruce McCurdy of the Edmonton Journal summarized, a recent TSN panel suggested that the Oilers move Eberle. "If you want a headliner goalie or that stud defenceman, you have to give up something significant," said Aaron Ward.

    McCurdy's colleague David Staples sees little sense in the deal, targeting similar arguments made by Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet. Staples argues that there are other players to move first, assuming a top-six forward is required to get a top defenseman in the first place.

    I agree with this view and don't expect Eberle to move until the offseason, if at all. 

    Market Value

    His value is very high. It will take a legitimate two-way top-pairing defenseman in his prime and with a long-term contract to get Edmonton GM Craig MacTavish to start talking about Jordan Eberle.

1. Evander Kane, Winnipeg Jets

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    Goal-Scoring Credentials

    Pure goal scorer Evander Kane broke out with 30 goals in the 2011-12 season, 25th in the NHL. He is one of only six players in franchise history to score 30 goals in a single season and the only one since the relocation to Winnipeg.

    Kane has 32 goals in 91 games since that breakout season, including finishing 10th in the NHL with 15 even-strength goals last year. Over the past three seasons, Kane is tied for 13th with 51 even-strength goals and 25th with 0.38 goals per game.

    The 22-year-old winger's style is to take a lot of shots. His 653 shots over the past three seasons is fourth in the NHL, and he's second to Alexander Ovechkin with 3.96 shots per game.

    He is one of only three NHL players averaging four shots per game this season. Kane leads the Jets with 1.1 goals per 60 minutes this year at even strength, after 0.99 the year before and 1.26 in his 2011-12 breakout campaign.

    He has good size and is quite physical, throwing between 6.3 and 9.0 hits per 60 minutes, which is a lot. This does result in quite a few injuries, however. He has missed 18 games this year, and last year was the only season where he didn't miss at least eight games.

    As Kane has gained experience, the Jets have gradually stopped sheltering him and started using him in a more complete and legitimate top-six role. Though several aspects of his game can't be described as strengths, he's without any obvious liabilities either.

    Why He's on the Block

    Is Winnipeg the right fit for Kane? "There's an uneasy relationship between Evander Kane and head coach Claude Noel and the coaching staff there," reported Bob McKenzie on TSN 1200 in a November 27 appearance.

    If the fit doesn't improve with new coach Paul Maurice, Kane may need a change of scenery to fully realize his tremendous goal-scoring capabilities.

    Market Value

    His value is reasonably high. If the Jets choose to reload, Kane is the type of player for whom they could get some meaningful return.

    Far more than a short-term rental player, Kane is a 22-year-old with enormous scoring potential who is only on the second season of a six-year deal worth $5.25 million per season. That means that both playoff contenders and teams on the rebuild could be bidding for his exceptional goal-scoring services.

    Rob Vollman is author of Rob Vollman's Hockey Abstract, co-author of the annual Hockey Prospectus guides and a featured ESPN Insider writer. @robvollmanNHL.


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