Ranking the 10 Most Underrated NHL Trade Targets

Lyle Richardson@@SpectorsHockeyFeatured ColumnistFebruary 8, 2015

Ranking the 10 Most Underrated NHL Trade Targets

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    With the NHL's March 2 trade deadline three weeks away, speculation abounds over which players could be dealt. For teams that are seeking affordable depth, several underrated players are worthy of consideration.

    Some pros on this list can provide a boost to clubs that are looking for additional scoring. Others possess valuable defensive skills. A few have considerable playoff experience.

    Here's a look at this season's 10 most underrated NHL trade targets. Their strengths and weaknesses factored into this ranking. Potential trade destinations are also included. Feel free to voice your opinion in the comments section.

10. Matt Hendricks, Edmonton Oilers

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    Gerry Thomas/Getty Images

    Strengths: Edmonton Oilers left wing Matt Hendricks plays a physical game. The 33-year-old currently leads the Oilers in hitsHe brings plenty of energy to the checking lines. 

    Weaknesses: Hendricks lacks overall skills and can take undisciplined penalties. He has limited offensive talent and not much playoff experience.

    Potential destinations: His physical style could interest the Winnipeg Jets and Nashville Predators. Both clubs could use some checking-line grit. 

9. Mike Santorelli, Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Len Redkoles/Getty Images

    Strengths: Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mike Santorelli is a hardworking and versatile player. He can play every forward position and possesses decent offensive skills. He's among the few Leafs with a positive plus/minus rating. He's on pace for a career-high 43 points. 

    Weaknesses: At 6'0", 189 pounds, Santorelli lacks the size to win battles for the puck along the boards. His offensive production is streaky, and he lacks playoff experience.

    Potential destinations: Santorelli could be a good fit with the New York Rangers, who need a checking-line forward with faceoff ability. The Calgary Flames, Nashville Predators, Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets could also use third-line depth.

8. Chris Neil, Ottawa Senators

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    Strengths: Ottawa Senators right wing Chris Neil is a respected, hard-nosed winger. He's an enforcer who also plays a regular role as a physical checking-line forward. He is a team player and leader with plenty of postseason experience.

    Weaknesses: The wear and tear of 13 NHL seasons could be catching up with the 35-year-old Neil. His playing time has declined over the course of this season. He tends to take bad penalties. 

    Potential destinations: The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reports the Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues and Winnipeg Jets are among several teams that are interested in Neil.

7. Daniel Winnik, Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images

    Strengths: Versatile Toronto Maple Leafs winger Daniel Winnik can play all three forward positions. He has good size at 6'2", 207 pounds and plays a smart defensive game. He leads all Leafs forwards in blocked shots and is the team leader in plus/minus

    Weaknesses: Winnik doesn't always take advantage of his size. The 29-year-old doesn't have much of a scoring touch, reaching double digits in goals only twice. Winnik has limited playoff experience.

    Potential destinations: The New York Islanders could use someone like Winnik to improve their horrible penalty kill. The Calgary Flames, Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues also need penalty-killing depth. 

6. Drew Stafford, Buffalo Sabres

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    Andy Devlin/Getty Images

    Strengths: Buffalo Sabres winger Drew Stafford can play either side of center. The 6'2”, 214-pounder possesses good size, a quick shot and slick playmaking skills. He's tallied 20-plus goals three times and twice reached the 50-point mark.

    Weaknesses: Inconsistency has dogged Stafford during his career. The 29-year-old doesn't use his size to his advantage. His best season (31 goals, 51 points) was four years ago. Stafford is on pace for only 38 points this season. 

    Potential destinations: The Boston Bruins could use a first-line right wing, but Stafford's lack of physicality might not suit them. The Washington Capitals could also use a top-line right wing. With Evander Kane out for the season, the Winnipeg Jets need a top-six winger. 

5. Brad Boyes, Florida Panthers

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Strengths: Florida Panthers right wing Brad Boyes possesses good offensive skills. He's on pace to reach 40 points for the seventh time in his career. He's one of only three Panthers to reach double digits in goals this season. 

    Weaknesses: Boyes' best offensive seasons are behind him. The 32-year-old winger is a streaky scorer, going into lengthy offensive droughts. His defensive play is weak, and he has limited playoff experience.

    Potential destinations: The Colorado Avalanche, Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets need scoring depth. Boyes could interest the Montreal Canadiens, who must improve their power play.

4. Jiri Tlusty, Carolina Hurricanes

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    Gregg Forwerck/Getty Images

    Strengths: Carolina Hurricanes right wing Jiri Tlusty can play either wing and possesses a good two-way game. The 26-year-old has a decent scoring touch. He's on pace for what could be his second 20-goal season

    Weaknesses: Tlusty tends to be offensively inconsistent and doesn't drive to the net. Despite his two-way skills, he's not a physical player.

    Potential destinations: The Boston Bruins, Nashville Predators and Washington Capitals need skilled scoring depth on right wing. With Evander Kane out for the season, the Winnipeg Jets need a top-six forward. 

3. Erik Cole, Dallas Stars

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    Glenn James/Getty Images

    Strengths: While Dallas Stars winger Erik Cole isn't the offensive threat he once was, he's on pace this season for 20 goals and 40 points. He has also adjusted his game to become a more effective checking winger. He leads the Stars in hits this season. 

    Weaknesses: Cole, 36, has taken a battering during his 13-year NHL career. His remaining salary could be difficult to move. His career playoff numbers (six goals, 14 points in 46 games) aren't as good as his regular-season stats.

    Potential destinations: If the Stars decide to move Cole, several teams seeking a physical scoring forward could come calling. The Boston Bruins, Nashville Predators, Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets could have interest in him. 

2. Zbynek Michalek, Arizona Coyotes

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    Strengths: Arizona Coyotes defenseman Zbynek Michalek plays a responsible game in his own zone. He's among the Coyotes' leaders in blocked shots. He is a right-handed shot, which is a coveted asset in this season's trade market. 

    Weaknesses: Despite his size, the 6'2”, 210-pound Michalek isn't a particularly physical blueliner. Though he's reached 20-plus points three times in his career, the last time came in 2008-09. Michalek has a booming shot but doesn't use it often.

    Potential destinations: The Los Angeles Kings and Montreal Canadiens could use an experienced shutdown defenseman. The Anaheim Ducks, Dallas Stars and Detroit Red Wings lack depth in right-handed rearguards. The Colorado Avalanche need experienced depth on the blue line.

1. Marek Zidlicky, New Jersey Devils

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    Andy Marlin/Getty Images

    Strengths: New Jersey Devils defenseman Marek Zidlicky is an experienced puck-moving blueliner. He leads all Devils rearguards in points and leads the team in power-play points. He's on pace to reach the 30-point mark for the eighth time. His right-handed shot could make him a prized commodity in this year's trade market. 

    Weaknesses: The 5'11", 190-pound Zidlicky isn't a physical player. He's 38 and could wear down over the long haul of the season. Under pressure, he can make defensive-zone mistakes. 

    Potential destinations: The Anaheim Ducks, Dallas Stars and Detroit Red Wings all lack depth in right-handed defensemen. The Colorado Avalanche lack experienced depth on the blue line and need help on the power play. 


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