Ranking the Most Overrated Potential Trade Targets in the NHL

Lyle Richardson@@SpectorsHockeyFeatured ColumnistJanuary 21, 2017

Ranking the Most Overrated Potential Trade Targets in the NHL

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    The NHL trade deadline on March 1 is less than six weeks away. Several players—such as Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog and Arizona Coyotes center Martin Hanzal—could be available on the trade market. Interested teams, however, must take care not to overrate these players.

    Some—such as Landeskog and Edmonton Oilers right wing Jordan Eberle—are under contract beyond this season. Others—such as Hanzal and Detroit Red Wings left wing Thomas Vanek—are unrestricted free agents next summer.

    The following slideshow ranks the most overrated potential trade targets in the NHL. We'll examine their careers to date, their strengths and weaknesses and why they're overrated in this year's trade market.

8. Alexandre Burrows, Vancouver Canucks

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    Mike Stone/Associated Press

    The Vancouver Canucks remain in playoff contention, but veteran right wing Alexandre Burrows continues to surface in trade speculation. The 35-year-old is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. On Jan. 11, TSN's Frank Seravalli speculated that Burrows could be a playoff rental player. 

    For most of Burrow's 12 NHL seasons, he earned a reputation as a skilled, agitating forward. He can skate at either wing and plays a two-way game. Though Burrows' offensive game has declined, he's still an effective defensive player with leadership ability.

    Interested clubs, however, should avoid overrating those abilities. Burrows is at the tail end of his NHL career, and it shows. This season, he has only 16 points in 41 games. 

    Burrow's last best season was 2011-12, when he tallied 28 goals and 52 points. He has a reputation for undisciplined play, which could prove costly in the heat of playoff action. His no-trade clause also makes him difficult to move.

7. Steve Mason, Philadelphia Flyers

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    If the Philadelphia Flyers fall further out of playoff contention by the trade deadline, some of their pending unrestricted free agents could be shopped. Among them is goaltender Steve Mason, who's completing a three-year, $12.3 million contract.

    Mason, 28, has several years of experience as a starting goaltender. He has a big frame (6'4", 210 lbs) and positions himself well in the crease. He's used to a heavy workload, having played 50-plus games in six seasons.

    Consistency, however, is a big issue with Mason. He goes through stretches of outstanding play, followed by strings of poor performances. For a club seeking an upgrade in goal, his erratic style should be a red flag. 

    Mason also has limited NHL playoff experience, winning only two of 11 starts. He appears more comfortable when not challenged for the starter's job. That won't inspire much confidence from contenders seeking stability in goal.

6. Jarome Iginla, Colorado Avalanche

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    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    With the Colorado Avalanche at the bottom of the NHL standings, they could shed their pending unrestricted free agents. Jarome Iginla is the most notable of the bunch. On Jan. 16, Brian Hedger of The Athletic reported rumors linking the 39-year-old right wing to the Chicago Blackhawks.

    Now in his 20th NHL season, Iginla's 616 goals and 1,284 points are Hall of Fame-caliber stats. He's exceeded 20 goals 17 times, plays a physical style and is well-respected for his experience and leadership.

    Iginla, however, is a shadow of the dominant power forward he once was. He's on pace for a career-low 20 points this season. Lack of speed is also a concern now.

    Any club pursuing Iginla must be realistic with its expectations. He could be a decent depth forward, but he's no longer a reliable top-six winger.

5. Shane Doan, Arizona Coyotes

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    With the Arizona Coyotes well out of playoff contention, they could part ways with their unrestricted free agents by the trade deadline. On Jan. 18, Arizona Sports' John Gambadoro reported right wing Shane Doan could consider waiving his no-trade clause. He added that the New York Rangers, Washington Capitals and Montreal Canadiens could be interested in Doan.

    Doan, the longtime Coyotes captain, has an impressive NHL resume. In his 21 seasons, he's scored 400 goals and 960 points. He's reached the 20-goal mark 13 times and 40-plus points on 14 occasions. He's a physical two-way player who is respected for his toughness, durability and leadership. 

    As notable as Doan's achievements are, the 40-year-old winger is on the downside of his career. He's no longer a reliable top-six forward, averaging 15 minutes, 17 seconds per game with the rebuilding Coyotes.

    Never noted for his speed in his prime, age has further slowed him. Though he tallied 28 goals and 47 points in 2015-16, he's managed only 15 points in 45 games this season. Perhaps he can regain some of his scoring touch on a deeper club. At this stage of his career, however, that could be asking too much.

4. Jordan Eberle, Edmonton Oilers

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    Paul Vernon/Associated Press

    Jordan Eberle used to be the Oilers' first-line right wing. This season, however, he's played on their second and third lines. During a Jan. 5 appearance on Edmonton's TSN 1260 (h/t Chris Nichols of FanRag Sports), sportscaster Darren Dreger said he wouldn't be surprised if the Oilers start getting trade inquiries about the 26-year-old winger.

    Eberle has good offensive skills. He's exceeded 20 goals four times and netted 40-plus points on five occasions. While his production is down this season (only 28 points in 47 games), his numbers could improve with better linemates.

    Despite his scoring abilities, Eberle's struggles this season could be a troubling sign of a forward in early decline. His average speed could be an issue for teams seeking a scoring winger. His backchecking needs improvement. 

    Eberle's also being paid as a first-line winger ($6 million annually), but he's not putting up numbers worthy of that amount this season. That could be a deal breaker.

3. Thomas Vanek, Detroit Red Wings

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    For the first time since 1990, the Red Wings could miss the playoffs. Should they become sellers at the trade deadline, they could put Thomas Vanek on the trade block. On Jan. 15, Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News reported that the lack of impact players on this year's trade market could make the 33-year-old left wing an attractive rental player.

    After being bought out last summer by the Minnesota Wild, Vanek's rebounded well with the Wings. With 12 goals and 31 points in 35 games, he's flirting with a 30-goal, 65-point performance. He's scored 20-plus goals 10 times and exceeded 50 points eight times. 

    As impressive as Vanek's offensive numbers are, he's also a streaky scorer. That's not an attractive asset for clubs seeking a reliable playoff performer. He's not a fast skater and can get caught out of position. He's also not effective in his own zone. 

    Despite Vanek's flaws, a contender could take a chance on him. However, it should avoid overvaluing his play.

2. Martin Hanzal, Arizona Coyotes

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    Claus Andersen/Getty Images

    Martin Hanzal is eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer. With the Coyotes poised to miss the playoffs for the fifth straight season, they could shop the 29-year-old center. On Jan. 17, ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun reported the St. Louis Blues are among several teams with interest in Hanzal.

    LeBrun considers the 6'6", 226-pounder a "beast of a two-way center" whose physical presence would be worthwhile for the long grind of the playoffs. He's a good playmaker who's reached the 40-point mark twice in his NHL career. He also plays well on the power play and penalty kill. 

    Despite Hanzal's size, he has a long injury history. He last played more than 65 games back in 2009-10. He's an inconsistent scorer and has a mere 15 points in 37 games this season. He's only seen 23 games of postseason action.

    LeBrun reported the Coyotes will seek a young player as part of the return. That's an expensive asking price for a player of Hanzal's caliber.

1. Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    With the Avalanche wallowing at the bottom of the NHL standings, Gabriel Landeskog has been the subject of recent trade talk. On Jan. 10, Dreger reported (h/t Nichols) the Avs could seek a "top-level defenseman, a first-round draft pick, plus for Landeskog."

    No one should fault Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic for seeking the best return possible for his captain. The 24-year-old left winger has four seasons with 20-plus goals and 50-plus points on his resume. He doesn't shy away from physical play, backchecks well and still has plenty of prime years ahead of him. 

    However, any club willing to give up that reported asking price for Landeskog would be overrating his true value. His career stats are solid, but they're not at the level expected of a top-line star. 

    Landeskog's production is down this season, with only 16 points in 33 games. Those numbers could improve on a deeper club, but there's no guarantee they will. He's also signed through 2020-21 at an annual salary-cap hit of $5.571 million, making him an expensive trade target.

                      

    Player stats (as of Jan. 20) per NHL.com. Salary info per CapFriendly

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