Chances Players Who Are Reportedly Available Will Be Moved at NHL Trade Deadline

Carol Schram@pool88Featured ColumnistFebruary 8, 2016

Chances Players Who Are Reportedly Available Will Be Moved at NHL Trade Deadline

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    Super Bowl 50 is in the books. The clock is now ticking toward the NHL's 2016 trade deadline—just three weeks away.

    On or before Monday, February 29, this year's playoff contenders will try to identify and acquire players like Antoine Vermette, who proved to be a valuable short-term addition to the 2015 champion Chicago Blackhawks.

    Bottom-feeders will be doing their best to sell their veterans and impending free agents to the highest bidders, trying to load up on draft picks and prospects who will make their teams better as soon as possible.

    The line between contenders and pretenders remains murky. After the games on Feb. 7, 13 out of 16 teams in the Eastern Conference remain no further than five points out of a playoff spot, while 11 of 14 are equally close in the West.

    But the standings aren't the only issue driving potential player movement this month. Plenty of prominent names are already in play. Here's how likely they are to be traded.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: Edmonton Oilers

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    Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    The Backstory

    Connor McDavid's arrival and Leon Draisaitl's emergence have created a logjam at center for the Edmonton Oilers. An organization rich with high draft picks, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins seems like the most logical young star to deal in an effort to help shore up Edmonton's defense.

    Nugent-Hopkins is in the second year of a seven-year contract with a $6 million cap hit, according to General Fanager. He does not have a no-trade clause.

    The Current Situation

    There was talk Nugent-Hopkins could have brought the Oilers Seth Jones when he was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets in early January, but in the Edmonton Journal, Bleacher Report's Jonathan Willis suggests injury issues will make Edmonton more likely to hang onto their 22-year-old than to deal him away. reports Nugent-Hopkins is currently sidelined for six to eight weeks after suffering a hand injury while blocking a shot back on Jan. 19. He may or may not be fit to play before the Feb. 29 trade deadline. That will also affect his desirability as an asset for a playoff-bound team.

    Every general manager has his price, but Peter Chiarelli will likely demand more than the marketplace will offer. Expect Nugent-Hopkins to finish out the season with Edmonton once he returns from his injury.

    Chance of a Trade: 10 percent

Dustin Byfuglien: Winnipeg Jets

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    The Backstory

    Big defenseman Dustin Byfuglien is wrapping up a five-year contract extension he signed in Atlanta months before the Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg during the summer of 2011.

    According to General Fanager, Byfuglien's contract stipulates he can submit a five team no-trade list to his bosses.

    The Current Situation

    It's no secret the Winnipeg Jets operate on an internal budget that puts their spending maximum well below the NHL salary cap. General Fanager pegs the team's salary costs as the lowest in the NHL this season at just over $59 million.

    The Jets will have a hard time maintaining that salary structure if they hope to bring back imminent free agents Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd as well as re-sign talented young restricted free agents Jacob Trouba and Mark Scheifele.

    On Feb. 6, Gary Lawless of TSN reported Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and Byfuglien's agent Ben Hankinson are working to finalize a deal that will keep the hulking Minnesotan in Winnipeg for another five years. 

    Both sides appear to want to ink a deal. Unless negotiations suddenly turn unexpectedly sour, Big Buff is almost certainly staying in Winnipeg.

    If Byfuglien re-ups, Jets fans can expect to say goodbye to Andrew Ladd.

    Chance of a Trade: Dustin Byfuglien—15 percent; Andrew Ladd—75 percent

Travis Hamonic: New York Islanders

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    The Backstory

    Young, effective and signed to a cap-friendly contract that runs until July 1, 2020, according to General Fanager, word came out in mid-November that New York Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic has asked for a trade to Western Canada for family reasons, per Cory Wright of the Islanders' website.

    The Current Situation

    With the Islanders in the thick of a battle for a playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division, general manager Garth Snow hasn't been willing to prioritize Hamonic's request above his team's best interests.

    Hamonic has continued to perform well, despite his trade request and, at 23:43 per game, he leads the Islanders in average ice time.

    Another general manager needs to offer Snow a player who could slot into Hamonic's role—and possibly sweeten the pot—before Hamonic will be dealt. With all four Western Canadian teams currently outside the playoff picture, there's no pressure for them to pay top dollar at the deadline. Don't expect a Hamonic deal until the offseason.

    Chance of a Trade: 20 percent

Eric Staal: Carolina Hurricanes

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    Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

    The Backstory

    After hitting the 100-point mark and leading the 2006 Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes in playoff scoring as a 21-year-old, Eric Staal was rewarded handsomely in 2009, signing a seven-year contract with a cap hit of $8.25 million per season, per General Fanager.

    Now 31, Staal has been in steady decline for the last three seasons as his contract winds to its conclusion. His Hurricanes have made the playoffs just once, in 2009, since they won the Cup a decade ago.

    The Current Situation

    In their second year under coach Bill Peters, the Hurricanes are unexpectedly close to a postseason berth, sitting just two points out of the wild card through games Feb. 7. If general manager Ron Francis decides to back his team for its first playoff appearance in seven seasons, it could mean both Staal and 2006 Conn Smythe-winning goaltender Cam Ward stay where they are until the end of the season.

    Chance of a Trade: Eric Staal—30 percent; Cam Ward—20 percent

Jonathan Drouin: Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    The Backstory

    The third overall draft pick from 2013, winger Jonathan Drouin withdrew his services from the Tampa Bay Lightning and publicly announced he had requested a trade on Jan. 3, per Doug Harrison of CBC Sports, after the Lightning assigned him to the AHL Syracuse Crunch.

    The Current Situation

    Drouin has now been on the sidelines for more than a month, but Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman has yet to broker a deal for the disgruntled youngster.

    Though Drouin's refusal to play in the minor leagues has forced his hand, Yzerman has previously demonstrated he can negotiate well from a position of weakness. At the 2014 trade deadline, he dealt a frustrated Martin St. Louis and a second-round pick to the New York Rangers for a package that ended up being Ryan Callahan, two first-rounders and a seventh-rounder.

    Not bad, considering St. Louis used his no-trade clause to limit his potential destinations and played only 93 games in New York before retiring during the summer of 2015.

    The Lightning are tight to the salary cap, so Yzerman won't be able to trade Drouin for playoff help this year unless some other components are also involved. Still, he may be able to put together a multiplayer deal before deadline day.

    Will that deal include Steven Stamkos? Highly unlikely. Odds are, Stamkos and Yzerman will eventually reach a long-term agreement that keeps the Tampa Bay captain in Florida for the long term.

    Chance of a Trade: Jonathan Drouin—40 percent; Steven Stamkos—10 percent

Keith Yandle: New York Rangers

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    The Backstory

    The New York Rangers paid a high price when they acquired defenseman Keith Yandle and a couple of other spare parts at the 2015 trade deadline, sending top prospect Anthony Duclair, defenseman John Moore and first- and second-round draft picks to the Arizona Coyotes.

    The Rangers had hoped an offensive blueliner like Yandle would help put them over the top after reaching the Stanley Cup Final one year earlier. Instead, New York was eliminated in the Eastern Conference Final.

    The Current Situation

    Yandle has continued to underwhelm in 2015-16, collecting just four goals in 52 games. Though the Rangers will be headed back to the postseason, general manager Jeff Gorton may be inclined to deal Yandle—probably back to the Western Conference—in order to try to recoup some of what his predecessor Glen Sather gave up last season.

    Larry Brooks of the New York Post argues the rookie Gorton would be much better off thinking long term at this trade deadline—using Yandle to restock the prospect cupboard rather than to trying to boost this year's Cup chances by giving up young players of their own in exchange for a quality veteran like Andrew Ladd.

    Gorton has worked in NHL front offices for more than a decade. The pressure is high to ice the best-possible team at playoff time, but he knows the lay of the land—and he wasn't the GM who brought Yandle to Broadway. That might make it a little easier to use Yandle as bait to build the Rangers a better future.

    Chance of a Trade: 50 percent

Dan Hamhuis: Vancouver Canucks

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    The Backstory

    A native of Smithers, B.C., defenseman Dan Hamhuis is finishing up a six-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks, according to General Fanager. That contract includes a no-trade clause.

    The Current Situation

    Hamhuis returned to action on Feb. 6 after being sidelined for about two months with a gruesome facial injury. He took a slap shot to the face on Dec. 9. 

    After hanging in all season, his Canucks are now sinking like a stone in the standings thanks to an 0-3-1 record in their last four games. They're now fifth in the Pacific Division—five points out of a playoff spot.

    Hamhuis told Ben Kuzma of The Province on Feb. 2: "It would be good to go on a run here and put ourselves in a good position for the playoffs, and instead of thinking about trades and selling, we look at buying and building a team for the playoffs."

    Unless the Canucks can quickly turn their fortunes around, Hamhuis may find himself being asked to waive that no-trade clause. Chuck Gormley of CSN Atlantic sees a good fit with the league-leading Washington Capitals, who are looking to go all-in on a deep playoff run this season. Gormley suggests the Caps might be willing to give up what would be a very late first-round pick.

    That should catch Jim Benning's attention in Vancouver. He'll just need to sell Hamhuis on the opportunity to join the Triple Gold Club, adding a Stanley Cup to his 2014 Olympic gold medal and 2015 World Championship gold—both with Team Canada.

    Chance of a Trade: 65 percent

Roman Polak: Toronto Maple Leafs

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    The Backstory

    Defenseman Roman Polak is one of seven members of the Toronto Maple Leafs scheduled for unrestricted free agency on July 1.

    The 29-year-old could be the Leafs' most attractive trade chip to offer—a steady presence who leads Toronto with a plus-six and is comfortable in a depth role.

    The Current Situation

    Luke Fox of Sportsnet suggests the San Jose Sharks would be interested in Polak, who spent eight years in the Western Conference with the St. Louis Blues before being dealt to Toronto two seasons ago.

    Goaltender James Reimer is another impending free agent who could draw interest at the trade deadline, though Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun emphasizes that Reimer is currently outplaying nominal No. 1 Jonathan Bernier and is well-liked among his teammates. Reimer could very well be re-upped to stay in Toronto going forward.

    As for UFA forwards Michael Grabner, Shawn Matthias, Nick Spaling, P.A. Parenteau and Brad Boyes, GM Lou Lamoreillo will not refuse any reasonable offer.

    Chance of a Trade: Roman Polak—85 percent; James Reimer—30 percent

    All stats courtesy of


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