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The Bruins have been hoping to address their two nagging needs -- a top-six winger to establish their second line as a force in support of their first unit, as well as a third-line center -- through internal means. But as the deadline approaches, GM Don Sweeney might once again have to look outside the locker room for those solutions, as the Bruins are still searching for consistent secondary scoring.
Wayne Simmonds would seem like an obvious target: The Bruins need a left wing, and he provides a net-front presence and passes the Cam Neely truculence test. He's also an unrestricted free-agent rental. If winger Mark Stone and the Senators are at an end, the Bruins would likely pounce on him. Keep an eye on Mats Zuccarello of the Rangers as well, since Boston and New York have been active trading partners in the past.
To that end, Kevin Hayes would seem to address the B's need for another body in the middle. Brayden Schenn, if he's available from the Blues, could be an option as well, but Hayes has an expiring contract, while Schenn is signed through 2020.
- The Bruins have roughly $3.8 million in cap space, via Cap Friendly.
- Boston has all of its draft picks for the next three years, outside of its fourth- and seventh-rounders in 2019. The Bruins traded a first in the Rick Nash deal last deadline. Would Sweeney deal one again? "I don't have a hard and fast rule, but by design I'd be hesitant to be doing it," he told WEEI.com.
- Among the Bruins with no-move clauses are David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Backes (!) and Zdeno Chara. Defenseman Torey Krug has a limited no-trade clause, submitting eight teams to whom he can't be dealt. Goalie Tuukka Rask has a limited no-trade clause as well, submitting a list of eight teams to whom he can be traded.
It didn't work out with Nash last season, but the Bruins should find another external solution to their top-six left wing problem at the deadline. Look at what they'll be facing in Tampa Bay, Toronto, Washington and Pittsburgh; secondary scoring is essential in this conference.
OK, so maybe the Sabres didn't bank enough points to guarantee a playoff spot (or, perhaps, that theory was always nonsense).
They're still very much in the postseason hunt, but the focus is clearly on two things going forward: pending unrestricted free agent Jeff Skinner, and whether or not he's going to be on Jack Eichel's wing for the long term. Talks are starting, and the asking price could be $8 million annually. What Skinner wants, and where he decides he wants to take his talents next season, will dictate what GM Jason Botterill does with him at the deadline.
There's going to be pressure, internally and externally, to become buyers this season. The Sabres have cap space and future assets to spend. But they also have a few players -- Vladimir Sobotka and Marco Scandella among them -- who go unrestricted in 2020 and could be flipped a year early.
- The Sabres have their own picks in the next three years, save for their 2019 second-, fourth- and fifth-rounders, and their third- and sixth-rounders in 2020. If the Sharks make the playoffs, they can choose to keep their 2019 first-rounder and give Buffalo their 2020 first-rounder, or hand over their 2019 pick for signing Evander Kane. The Sabres also receive the Sharks' 2019 fourth-round pick, unless San Jose decides to keep it, in which case Buffalo gets a 2020 third-round pick instead. The Blues' first-rounder this season is top-10 protected, and Buffalo gets their 2020 first-round pick instead if they get a top-10 pick. The Sabres also have the Leafs' sixth-round pick in 2019 and the Blues' second-round pick in 2021.
- Skinner has a no-move clause. Forwards Kyle Okposo (15-team no-trade list) and Jason Pominville (10-team no-trade list) have limited no-trade clauses.
Keep taking it slow and steady, and make the big splash in the summer. The Sabres will have cap space, assets and a much better understanding of what parts of their team to keep and what parts to jettison. Oh, and sign Skinner, for Jack's sake.
For the third straight year, the Red Wings are sellers at the deadline, and they have some interesting pieces that could be for sale.
Gustav Nyquist is chief among them. The winger has been the second-best forward on the team this season, not coincidentally in a contract year. He has a no-trade clause -- it's Ken Holland, so of course he does -- that could gum up the works for a trade, but there would be a market for him.
Goalie Jimmy Howard has been terrific this season in 31 appearances, and by all accounts the Wings want him back for another tour of duty as he hits free agency this summer. Undoubtedly, teams would kick the tires on Howard if one of them loses their starting goalie, but otherwise how many contenders would ante up to add this kind of goalie to their depth chart?
Defenseman Trevor Daley is on the mend and has a no-trade clause. He's also signed through 2020. But when it comes to veteran depth defensemen, Daley would be a desirable option, especially for those looking to add the proverbial "rings in the room."
It wouldn't be an NHL trade deadline if Thomas Vanekwasn't at least mentioned. The 35-year-old winger, who has played for five teams since 2016, is a free agent this summer. He also has a no-trade clause -- again, it's Ken Holland, so of course he does.
- The Red Wings have nearly a dozen players with trade protection: Nyquist, Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm, Vanek, Mike Green, Danny DeKeyser and Daley all have no-trade clauses; Frans Nielsen (10 teams), Niklas Kronwall (10 teams) and Jonathan Ericsson (19 teams) all have modified no-trade clauses.
- Detroit has all of its draft picks for the next three years, as well as the Islanders' second-rounder and the Sabres' and Coyotes' fifth-rounders in 2019, plus the Golden Knights' third-rounder in 2021.
Let's hope that someone comes to Ken Holland with the kind of overcompensation that Vegas gave them to rent Tomas Tatar. Otherwise, it's "Lose for Hughes" and hope to make a splash in the summer.
It's unclear if this is a garage sale or a fire sale. A garage sale is a sale where you have items that you know have to go, but there's a nostalgic bond, so you're not exactly willing to drop the prices -- and sometimes you slowly move them back into the house. A fire sale ... well, everything must go! And considering where the Panthers are this season, as one of 2018-19's biggest disappointments, one wonders if it'll be the latter.
It's not an easy call, because the Panthers are an attractive team on paper. There are five skaters signed through at least 2022. Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, Mike Hoffman, Evgenii Dadonov and Keith Yandle have all had solid offensive seasons. Injured Vincent Trocheck is a keeper. So are Aaron Ekblad and Mike Matheson on the back end. And yet, this is a team with 42 points through 45 games.
There are obvious calls at the deadline, like shipping out pending free agent Troy Brouwer for anything. Center Nick Bjugstad is signed through 2021 and really needs a refresh. Defenseman Mark Pysyk is under contract until 2020 and has value.
But will GM Dale Tallon take this opportunity to do something more dramatic (assuming this is Tallon's team going forward)?
- Dadonov and Yandle have full no-move clauses. Hoffman has a list of 10 teams to which he can't be traded. Roberto Luongo has a five-team trade list through his modified no-trade clause.
- The Panthers have all of their picks, save for their second- and third-rounders in 2019. They have either the Oilers' or Islanders' third-round pick this year, depending on which one is higher. They also have the Leafs' fifth-rounder in 2020.
There's no question that injuries and some down seasons are at the root of the Panthers' problems this season. But there are other issues, too, that are probably best solved in the summer, including some difficult conversations about the goaltending.
Not only are the Canadiens in a playoff seed, but they're challenging for a divisional playoff spot -- which is nutty, especially when you consider how hot GM Marc Bergevin's seat was last year. But here we are.
And here's where Bergevin is: sitting on a bevy of draft picks with more than $9 million in cap space as Montreal approaches the trade deadline. In theory, the Canadiens should be buyers, as a playoff team and with cornerstones Shea Weber and Carey Price both north of 31. Shoot your shot, right?
But with so many young players on the roster and in the pipeline, not to mention those picks, should the Habs play the long game or swing for the fences? That seems to be where Bergevin is as the deadline approaches.
"I'm always going to be listening to options, but the goal is to build for the future. To give up assets for short-term [value], I'm not going to do it. It would have to be very appealing. If there's a young player available and there's assets that have to go, I get that. But I don't think I'll be in the rental business," Bergevin told The Athletic earlier this month. "If I think it makes sense, I'll do it, but I'm not going to start mortgaging the future because I know what's coming, with the world juniors, who they're going to be asking for, and I'm not moving these kids. So it's going to be a short conversation."
That said, pending restricted free-agent center Joel Arnia and unrestricted free-agent defenseman Jordie Benn could be on the way out, as the Canadiens sell off a few assets.
- Defenseman Jeff Petry has a 15-team no-trade list, while fellow defenseman Karl Alzner had a seven-team list and, alas, no takers. Carey Price has a full no-move clause.
- The Habs have all of their picks for the next three years outside of a fifth and a seventh this season. They own the Blue Jackets' second, the Flames' fourth, the Blackhawks' and Oilers' fifths, and the Jets' seventh this year; they own the Jets' fourth-rounder in 2020.
It doesn't appear that Bergevin has an appetite for rentals or for overpaying for a veteran. But if it's a young star player, it still sounds like he's going to shoot his shot. Ridiculous overpayment for Vladimir Tarasenko, anyone?
The contract talks between the Senators and pending unrestricted free-agent forwards Matt Duchene and Mark Stone. Full stop.
OK, not a full, full stop. There's every chance that forwards Ryan Dzingel ($1.8 million and a pending UFA) and Magnus Pjrvi ($900,000, pending UFA) and defenseman Cody Ceci ($4.3 million, a pending RFA and inexplicably valued by others) could be moved. But what Stone and Duchene decide will shape Ottawa's deadline. Both players would fetch a bounty. Or, both players could be cornerstones for the Senators' rebuild -- provided, you know, they want to stay.
- Forward Bobby Ryan had a modified no-trade clause (10 teams) and a $7.25 million cap hit through 2022, which might as well be a no-move clause. Forward Zack Smith, whose $3.25 million average annual value through 2021 would be desirable, has a 10-team no-trade list; goalie Craig Anderson has a 10-team no-trade list.
- The Senators infamously don't own their first-round pick this season (it was moved to Colorado as part of the Duchene trade and their decision to retain the No. 4 overall pick last summer). They also don't have their third- and sixth-rounders in 2019, or their fifth-rounder in 2020. They own either the Sharks' or Panthers' second-rounder in 2019, the Penguins' third-rounder in 2019, the Flames' 2019 seventh-rounder, the Sharks' first-rounder in either 2019 or 2020, and potentially the Sharks' first in 2022, if San Jose makes the Stanley Cup Final this season and re-signsErik Karlsson. They also have the Sharks' sixth-rounder in 2020 and a conditional sixth-rounder from the Blues.
For the sake of Senators fans, hopefully they sign both players. Stone is legitimately one of the best two-way forwards in hockey, and Duchene seems motivated and happy in Ottawa.
Seeing as how the best team in the NHL this season has been meticulously constructed for the better part of two seasons and has such limited room under the cap ceiling, it's hard to image the Lightning being all that active at the deadline outside of little deals like the recent Slater Koekkoek-for-Jan Rutta swap.
"I'll make a trade if there's one to be made. I don't know what that will be right now," GM Julien BriseBois told NHL.com.
- If the Lightning win the Stanley Cup, that's good news for the Rangers, as their conditional second becomes a first rounder for New York. Other than that, the Lightning own all of their picks for the next three years outside of a fifth-rounder in 2019 that belongs to Chicago as part of the Koekkoek-Rutta deal.
- Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman have no-move clauses and are obviously not headed anywhere. Forwards Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn have no-trade clauses, while Ryan Callahan (16 teams) has a limited one. Defenseman Dan Girardi has a full no-trade clause, while Ryan McDonagh (10 teams), Anton Stralman (16 teams) and Braydon Coburn (16 teams) have limited no-trade clauses.
When you're 13 points clear of the next team in the conference with a goal differential of plus-56, there's not much you need to be in the market for at the deadline. But you know BriseBois and senior advisor Steve Yzermanwill have their eyes open.
The blue line. It's become an NHL cliché that defense will be the Leafs' undoing in the postseason if they don't upgrade the position, especially on the right side. But solving that issue at the deadline isn't going to be easy. The rental market is underwhelming. The trade market for players with term -- like, say, Alec Martinez from the Kings or Alex Pietrangelo of the Blues or any of the Hurricanes' right-handed shooting defensemen -- will cost the Leafs prospects from a pool that's not all that deep. Defensive prospect Timothy Liljegren has been mentioned as trade bait for an established player.
The Leafs can score with anyone up front, and Frederik Andersen has been simply outstanding as a last line of defense. But their maturation as a Cup contender greatly depends on what lies in between them and who arrives to bolster that group.
- Forwards John Tavares and Patrick Marleau have full no-move clauses. Center Nazem Kadri has a 10-team no-trade list; defenseman Ron Hainsey has a 15-team no-trade list; and Andersen has a 10-team no-trade list.
- The Leafs have all of their picks for the next three years, except their sixth-rounder in 2019 and their fifth-rounder in 2020. They have the Blues' fourth-rounder and a conditional seventh-rounder from Dallas in 2019, as well as conditional seventh-rounders from the Oilers and Sharks in 2020.
If a deal presents itself at the deadline for the impact defenseman (with contract term) that the Leafs need, they should take the leap. The window is open to win now, but the road likely goes through Boston and Tampa. The Leafs need more on the back end to advance out of their division, let alone to win the Stanley Cup.
The Hurricanes are on the playoff bubble but possess what so many teams covet: a surplus of capable defensemen. And what do the Canes need? Some scoring help.
That makes Carolina an ideal trade partner for many teams this February. The Canes have long been fielding calls about their d-men. It is believed that Jaccob Slavin is absolutely untouchable. Many teams have inquired about 24-year-old Brett Pesce, but it doesn't seem like Carolina has any desire to move him, either. Justin Faulk (two years remaining on his contract, with $4.83 million annual cap hit) and Dougie Hamilton (three years remaining, $5.75 million cap hit) appear to be the more likely trade candidates; it's not an indictment of their play, but rather they're just the odd men out in a numbers game. Both would be able to drive a high price.
The team could also consider addressing goaltending at the deadline. And despite needing offense, they could be shipping one of their better forwards out. That would be Michael Ferland, who, despite ranking fourth among Carolina players in points, needs a new contract next summer, and it seems that management and his camp are far apart in asking price. Considering how cheap the winger is this season ($1.75 million), a plethora of teams will be interested.
- Carolina has already stockpiled draft picks, with 25 picks over the next three drafts.
- Goaltender Scott Darling, currently buried in the minors, has a 15-team no trade list. It's probably moot; there doesn't appear to be a market right now for the struggling netminder.
- Both goalies on Carolina's current roster, Curtis McElhinney and Petr Mrazek, become unrestricted free agents this summer. Parma, Ohio, native Alex Nedeljkovic was the No. 37 overall pick in 2014 and has played 29 games for the AHL affiliate Charlotte Checkers, generating a 2.63 goals-against average and .905 save percentage.
- Jordan Staal has a no-movement clause, and Justin Williams has a 15-team no-trade list.
- Faulk is a likely trade candidate but gets some say in where he goes, with a 15-team no-trade list.
- Carolina has been operating on a budget and has a boatload of cap space.
We appreciate the patient approach, but something needs to get done for this team to level up. The goaltending might be able to manage for the rest of the season, but this team won't make it far without scoring help. Move off one of the defensemen, trade away Ferland, but make sure there are solid roster players in return and not just a stockpile of draft picks. Adding Nino Niederreiter for Victor Rask is a good start.
It's all about two big names for the Blue Jackets: Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky. The two star players have expiring contracts, and their futures in Columbus are dubious.
Let's start with Bobrovsky, who is more likely to be traded. The two time Vezina Trophy winner is 30 and still has plenty in his tank. That's why he's looking for a long-term contract. His camp and Columbus were far away in initial talks, and the relationship has appeared to sour since then. Somebody is going to pay Bobrovsky this summer, and at this point, we'd be shocked if it's the Blue Jackets. Because of that, GM Jarmo Kekalainen may be tempted to recoup value now, even while the team is in the playoff hunt.
The team badly wants Panarin to re-sign, but he seems to want to test the open market (even if that might mean signing back in Columbus eventually). That makes his situation trickier. The Blue Jackets would like a commitment from Panarin around the All-Star weekend, and it's unclear if they're going to get it. They could keep him around as their own rental and hope he reconsiders. Or they could trade him; there's little precedent for a team sending away their best offensive player while still high in the playoff mix.
Columbus might look for other upgrades, like secondary scoring; Sonny Milano and Ryan Murray also have trade-chip potential.
- Bobrovsky has a no-movement clause, but it seems likely that he would be willing to waive it (especially since it would be to a contender) considering his tenuous status in Columbus.
- The Blue Jackets only have four picks (a first, third, fourth and seventh) in the upcoming draft. So in any trade, they'll try to acquire some draft capital back.
- Cam Atkinson has a no-trade clause.
- Nick Foligno and Brandon Dubinsky have 10-team no-trade lists.
Trade Bobrovsky now, because it has become very clear he's going to sign elsewhere in free agency. Hold on to Panarin, however. It would be very difficult for this team to advance far in the playoffs this season without him, and even if he doesn't give a firm verbal commitment, there's still a chance he may re-sign.
The Devils were bound to regress from their 2017-18 surprise season, and it looks like they knew it. (That's how to explain coach John Hynes' contract extension while the team is struggling this season). There's still a lot to like about this roster, especially among the young players, and the top priority moving forward is signing reigning league MVP Taylor Hall to a contract extension; he's up for a new contract in summer 2020.
With little hope for this current season, especially as Hall has battled some mysterious injuries and goaltending has been a mess, the Devils could view the trade deadline as a time to reset and sell.
The Devils have quite a few players who hit UFA status this summer: Brian Boyle, Marcus Johansson, Keith Kinkaid, Ben Lovejoy, Drew Stafford and Egor Yakovlev. New Jersey could look to move any of these players to create room for a younger player. They also know that being flush with cap space this summer comes at a great time for what is shaping up to be a deep free-agent class. Johansson is the most attractive candidate on this list, but Lovejoy would draw interest, as defensemen with experience always tend to do. A team may look at Kinkaid for goaltending depth, but it appears his value has diminished recently.
- Three of the team's oldest players, Andy Greene (36), Corey Schneider (32) and Travis Zajac (33) have no-trade clauses.
- Marcus Johansson has a five-team no-trade list, and Kyle Palmieri has an eight-team no-trade list.
- According to Cap Friendly, the Devils have the league's second-lowest project cap hit this season ($66 million). Only the Hurricanes are spending less.
- The Devils hold draft picks in each of the seven rounds in each of the next three seasons.
- New Jersey has not made a trade since its two moves around last year's deadline, to acquire wingers Pat Maroon and Michael Grabner.
It's not going to happen for New Jersey this season, so we'd like to see GM Ray Shero use the deadline to trade away a few players for assets. Goaltending needs to be addressed, but that can wait until the summer.
The Islanders are great overachievers this season and still find themselves within the playoff hunt. GM Lou Lamoriello has a history of trading at the deadline in his previous stops, so it's not unreasonable to think that the Islanders will be active this February.
Lamoriello doesn't want to veer too far from his plan for building the team the right way; at the same, time, you cannot understate how important a playoff berth would be to the morale of this fan base.
Thanks to new coach Barry Trotz, the defense is in much better shape than we figured it would be. That's not to say this team couldn't benefit from a depth defenseman should one be available at the right price. The goaltending has also been a pleasant surprise, especially Robin Lehner, who was signed to a one-year prove-it deal. There's no pressing need to address goaltending at the deadline.
When it comes to scoring production, New York really drops off in its bottom six, and it's fair to wonder if this team might be in on a player like Gustav Nyquist. Or perhaps the team takes a long look at Charlie Coyle to address long-term depth at center.
The team faces a decision on Jordan Eberle, who becomes a UFA this summer. If he doesn't figure into long-term plans, do you trade him now (even if he does have value for a playoff push)?
- New York does not have a third- or fourth-round pick in the upcoming draft.
- Valtteri Filppula and Johnny Boychuk have no-movement clauses.
- Leo Komarov has a seven-team no-trade list.
- Three of New York's top five scorers become UFAs this summer: Anders Lee, Brock Nelson and Jordan Eberle.
We'd love to see the Islanders make one move that helps their chances of winning this year. The race for the final playoff spots is wide-open right now, so why not the Isles?
It's been almost a year since Jeff Gorton and Glen Sather infamously issued a public letter to fans essentially admitting to a rebuild. Shortly after, the Rangers unlocked their roster and let teams (mainly the Lightning) pluck away some of the best talent -- at market price, of course. This trade deadline figures to be a repeat selling spree. The Rangers were pretenders early in the season but have since been exposed for what they are: raw and bereft of superstars, outside their goaltender.
The Rangers will be among the busiest teams fielding inquiries from hungry contenders. Winger Mats Zuccarello is almost guaranteed to go; despite being an overachieving fan favorite, he's 31 with an expiring contract and declining production, meaning he doesn't figure into the team's long-term plans. New York shouldn't expect much for him outside of middle-round draft picks. Fellow expiring contract Kevin Hayes, on the other hand, could command a decent bounty. He wants to stay and will be hard to replace, but his versatility is so attractive that other teams may offer too much for New York to refuse.
The real question is how many other Rangers are finding new homes? Will New York listen to offers on Chris Kreider (two years remaining on the contract, $4.625 million cap hit)? Are any teams interested in Vladislav Namestnikov? Ryan Strome? Brendan Smith? Really, few players are safe.
- Defenseman Marc Staal and goaltenderHenrik Lundqvist are the two longest-tenured players on the team, and both carry full no-movement clauses.
- There has been some fan speculation about whether Lundqvist would waive that to get the chance to play for a contender and win a Stanley Cup, as his personal window closes. But he has been steadfast about staying thus far.
- Kevin Shattenkirk has a 10-team no-trade list. Chris Kreider's list is 11 teams, while Brendan Smith's list is 15 teams.
If you say you're going to rebuild, then outline the rebuild, you have to follow up on the rebuild. The Rangers should be in the asset-acquiring business this winter, listen to all offers and trade as many players as they can.
There's one big name on the Flyers' roster that everyone is monitoring: Wayne Simmonds.
The 30-year-old winger has expressed a desire to stay in Philadelphia, and there have been discussions about a contract extension. However, as February nears and nothing has been completed, it's becoming clear that the Flyers will need to cut ties. Compounding the issue: Simmonds could be the most-attractive rental on the market considering he possesses all the traits that contending teams covet in a winger (scoring touch, speed, effectiveness on the power play, toughness, a willingness to put his body in front of the net ... the list goes on).
The 2018-19 season, which has been defined by leadership turmoil, is a wash for these Flyers. New GM Chuck Fletcher has been patient in assessing the roster, but it's time to get something done so the team can reverse its direction next season. The only moves so far have been relatively minor: Jordan Weal for a sixth-rounder; acquiring even more goalies on the waiver wire. Couldn't there be something more drastic?
- The Flyers don't get full autonomy when it comes to where they deal Simmonds; he has a 12-team no-trade list.
- Claude Giroux is the only other player on the Philadelphia roster with trade protection. He has a full no-movement clause.
- Philadelphia has one of the best prospect pools in the NHL and also holds each of its draft picks for each of the next three seasons, plus an extra third-rounder and seventh-rounder in 2019.
It feels as if Fletcher is ready to pounce on something big, and we're ready for it. Acquiring a goalie no longer feels as important with Carter Hart's emergence; rather, there needs to be a shakeup among skaters so next season can start better than this one.
GM Jim Rutherford is a guy who is never satisfied. He's always looking for ways to improve his roster. Already this season, Rutherford (who was signed to a three-year extension in November) has orchestrated two deals involving regular roster players: the Carl Hagelin-for-Tanner Pearson swap followed by the Daniel Sprong-for-Marcus Pettersson deal.
Now the Penguins have begun to hit their stride and have played some excellent hockey. That probably lessens the urgency to get a move done, but never, ever rule out something big from Rutherford.
If the Penguins do make moves, what would they be in the market for? Justin Schultz is poised to return from his leg injury sometime after the All-Star break, and Pettersson has impressed in his short stint, but don't be shocked if Rutherford looks for more depth on the blue line. He might not view it as a luxury, but rather essential for a long playoff run. A middle-six scoring winger could also be in the mix. Would a player like Michael Ferland make sense (he carries a very low cap hit at $1.75 million and could play on either the left or right side)?
- Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have no-movement clauses but are not being moved anyhow.
- Kris Letang and Derick Brassard have 18-team no-trade lists.
- Phil Kessel has always been the subject of lingering trade rumors (though they have quelled lately). The winger has a eight-team no-trade list.
- Patric Hornqvist also has an eight-team no-trade list.
- The Penguins do not have a third-rounder or sixth-rounder in the upcoming draft. They are also without their second-rounder in 2020.
- According to Cap Friendly, the Penguins are projected to have less than $5 million in cap space.
Unlike last year, when the Penguins felt they clearly needed depth at center and acquired Derick Brassard, there is no pressing need for the Penguins, especially if Schultz returns quickly and to form. He's already made the moves he has needed to this season, and the team is playing much improved hockey. He should stand pat.
The reigning Stanley Cup champions have staved off the hangover thus far and might just be poised for another long playoff run. Washington spent the summer getting the band (mostly) back together, a strategy that seems to have paid off. Just as they did at last year's deadline, the Caps could be looking for small tweaks. (Washington acquired depth defensemen Jacob Jerebuk and Michal Kempny at low prices last February; the Kempny acquisition paid off big time.)
Last week, GM Brian MacLellan hinted at what he's thinking of, telling reporters, "I think the only thing we're going to look for is, is there a hockey trade to be made, salary-for-salary, player-for-player in the forward group?"
If the Caps do send a player out, Andre Burakovsky is a good bet. The 23-year-old first-round pick has been a frequent healthy scratch and, despite flashing his potential for the Caps, he hasn't put up the regular production management has expected of him. Considering his status as an impending RFA, Washington might be inclined to just let go.
- It's highly unlikely the Caps would move one of their core players, but Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, John Carlson, Matt Niskanen and Braden Holtby all have lists ranging from seven to 15 teams to which they cannot be traded.
- There's a reason MacLellan mentioned a trade would have to be player-for-player: The Caps do not have a lot of flexibility at all, with less than $1 million in cap space.
- MacLellan has made two splashy trade deadline acquisitions in his tenure, and neither panned out: Kevin Shattenkirk in 2017 and Curtis Glencross in 2015.
Burakovsky is a player who could probably benefit from a change of scenery. If the Caps are wary of his restricted free agency this summer, they should find a taker for him now, ideally for a forward who can plug in to Washington's middle six. Other than that, no huge moves are necessary.
It's been a hectic few months for the Blackhawks, who -- after firing Joel Quenneville and promoting AHL coach Jeremy Colliton -- insist they are not in a rebuild, but rather are retooling. Stan Bowman is known as a general manager who is always working the phones, and he has made 23 separate trades since January 2017.
Most observers are waiting to see if Bowman will do something drastic this season; though it's still feasible the Blackhawks could make a push for the playoffs, logical convention says with a projected point total of 70, they're already out. What would be dramatic: if the Blackhawks moved one of their marquee-name players who made up the core for Chicago's three Stanley Cups (Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Corey Crawford). Each of those skaters carries a no-movement clause; Crawford's is a 10-team no-trade list. In a Dec. 16 conversation with ESPN, Bowman said he had not had any conversations with any of those players regarding waiving their clauses. "At this time I don't anticipate having those conversations," Bowman said. "Though of course things can change."
Teams still certainly will call the Blackhawks. Bowman has had some luck with middle-tier trades lately (see: the Dylan Strome acquisition, getting the Oilers to bite on Brandon Manning's lamentable contract), so a likely scenario could be finding a taker for functional middle-six center Artem Anisimov.
- Anisimov is the most likely Blackhawks player to be traded before the deadline, but the 30-year-old has a 10-team list of teams to which he cannot be traded.
- Chris Kunitz, 35, has been a disappointing free-agent acquisition, though his one-year deal carries a full no-movement clause.
- With the emergence of Collin Delia, the Blackhawks are less reliant on Cam Ward. However, the 34-year-old's mediocre performance plus $3 million cap hit make him a trade candidate only for truly desperate teams. Ward also has a no-movement clause, which he theoretically could waive if a contender was interested.
There's not much more Bowman can do to this roster in season if the big players (with the big cap hits) aren't going to waive their no-move clauses. He should continue making tweaks, make a small trade or two, then push a bigger reset button this offseason.
The Avalanche are in a precarious spot. Yes, they've arrived ahead of schedule and have proved they can still hang among the playoff teams. But they're still raw, and declaring this is the year to be all-in might not make the most sense, considering how many teams remain in the mix. Plus, that would seem to be off-brand for GM Joe Sakic, who has preached patience with roster construction. It feels highly unlikely the Avs will be in the market for a potentially one-and-done rental like Artemi Panarin, Kevin Hayes or Wayne Simmonds. The last thing Sakic wants to do right now is trade away any of his promising young players.
Now, there are plenty of ways for this team to improve, and a glaring one is secondary scoring. It's a bit improved from the first-line-or-bust setup on last season's roster, but there's still a significant drop-off from Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen to everyone else. Perhaps taking a flier on a middle-six winger like Andre Burakovsky makes sense, considering he's only 23 and becomes a restricted free agent this summer. So, theoretically, if he meshes well with the team, there's a chance to keep him around and it doesn't veer too far from the plan. A young defenseman (could this be the team that lands a player like Dougie Hamilton?) would help too.
Since this team will be wary of trading future assets, one player who could be on the move is goaltender Semyon Varlamov, considering Philipp Grubauer is in the wings and veteran goaltending help could be of use for some buyers.
- Carl Soderberg has a 10-team no trade list while Gabriel Landeskog and Erik Johnson have 19-team no trade lists. No other players on the Colorado roster have any trade protection.
- Colorado has a ton of draft capital. They have each of their picks in rounds one through three in each of the next three years, including two first-round picks in 2019 and two third-round picks in 2019.
- The Avalanche could trade their own first-round pick in 2019, but they'll want to hold on to the one they acquired from the Senators. Considering how Ottawa's season has panned out, that pick should be very high and could potentially land either Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko -- an in-house answer for secondary scoring help in 2019-20 and beyond.
- The Avalanche have plenty of cap space available. They'll need to give Rantanen a new contract this summer, but there's still ample space to go around.
It would be prudent for Sakic to acquire some scoring help for his over-burdened top line ... as long as the Avs aren't giving up too much. This isn't the year to mortgage the future and go-all in. The team is simply too raw still and there are too many holes.
Oh, what to make of the Stars? The team is still transitioning to new coach Jim Montgomery, is playing inconsistent hockey, is struggling to score -- and the star players have been called out in a profane rant by the team's CEO. And yet, it looks like Tyler Seguin is turning it around, and they're bubbling under the playoff cutoff. The quintessential question for GM Jim Nill: Is this really the year to go all-in? (And also, how does his job security factor into any decisions he makes?)
There's no question that upgrades could help, especially in the top-six forward department.
Nill excused himself from any irrational spending at last year's deadline; a midseason acquisition may not have changed the complexion of the season, but you have to wonder if things might have ended differently. The Stars, who were in playoff position for nearly 80 percent of the season, floundered down the stretch, including a six-game winless "road trip from hell" that cost them a playoff spot.
If the Stars are trending up and are in mix for a top-three spot in the Central Division, they'll want to add scoring help for a playoff push. Gustav Nyquist and Mats Zuccarello are available rentals who could make sense.
Long term, this team will need a second-line center as well as a second-pairing defenseman. It doesn't seem likely either of those needs will be fulfilled at the deadline -- at least for a long-term commitment -- but it is possible.
- Captain Jamie Benn has a full no-movement clause, as do Seguin, Alexander Radulov and Jason Spezza. Goalie Ben Bishop does as well, though Bishop's terms change in 2020-21 to a 10-team no-trade list.
- Marc Methot has a 10-team no-trade list, while Martin Hanzal has a 15-team list.
- The Stars are tight against the cap (with less than $4 million in projected cap space at the deadline, according to Cap Friendly), meaning they would need to clear space to orchestrate any significant moves.
It will be difficult to do something drastic, as in moving any core players. Acquiring a bargain scoring winger such as Zuccarello could give this team an extra push. If not, just let the chips fall where they may this season, and chalk it up to transitioning to a new coach.
When the Wild hired Paul Fenton as general manager, everyone was curious as to how he would put his stamp on the roster. Minnesota has proved it is talented and deep enough to win in the regular season, though it hasn't showed the oomph to make a run in the postseason. So far, Fenton (who cut his teeth in the Predators organization) shocked us all by ... doing nothing. He has made only two deals in his tenure so far, both on the minor league level. Minnesota looks awfully similar to last year's team, except they've floundered of late and are on the fringes of the playoff picture.
Fenton has one of two choices: Shake up the current roster, or stay the course and re-evaluate over the summer. Fenton's choice will serve as an indicator for if he views this team's Stanley Cup window open with its current (but aging) core. If Fenton opts to sell, Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter have been at the nexus of trade rumors since last season -- when Fenton's predecessor, Chuck Fletcher, was running the team -- and are the likeliest candidates to move out; Fenton made good on the Niederreiter possibility on Jan. 17, though the return wasn't perhaps as high as some might've hoped. If it somehow becomes a fire sale, Eric Staal -- who had an incredibly productive age-33 season but is mired in a slump -- could draw interest as an affordable top-six center. Staal is a unrestricted free agent this summer and has said he'd prefer to re-sign in Minnesota, but it's unclear if he'd fit in Fenton's plans if the GM is leaning toward a retool.
- Staal and 29-year-old defenseman Jared Spurgeon are affordable veteran options for contending teams. Spurgeon, who carries a $5.2 million cap hit, is a longer-term rental, with a contract expiring after the 2019-20 season.
- Both Staal and Spurgeon have 10 team no-trade lists; when Fenton was hired, he reportedly asked all the players to update their preferences.
- If the Wild are looking to add, they'll have some room for flexibility. According to Cap Friendly, their deadline cap space is projected at about $8.6 million.
- Minnesota has only one restricted free agent to take care of this summer; Joel Eriksson Ek's entry-level deal expires after this season.
This is a roster that feels stuck in neutral. With so many teams in the mix for contention this season, the Wild are a long shot in this spring's playoff field. That means Fenton would be wise to sell at the deadline. Moving Staal and Coyle should be fairly easy and could garner decent return.
The Predators exited the playoffs earlier than most predicted last season, and GM David Poile wisely reacted by doing nothing at all. This is the essentially the same roster that we saw win the Presidents' Trophy in 2018-19. The Preds haven't been quite as dominant thus far this season, but they've weathered a plethora of injuries early, and as long as they're healthy, they're poised to make a run.
Poile has exercised patience thus far. But everyone knows he's a GM who likes to make a splash, and it's as if he saved his summer moves to find out exactly what his team needed midway through the season. He'll certainly be in conversations regarding the bigger names in February.
Secondary scoring punch could help, considering that was a vulnerability for Nashville during last spring's ill-fated run. The Predators could look at wingers such as Wayne Simmonds or Mats Zuccarello. The latter would cost far less than Simmonds, considering the Rangers forward has struggled quite a bit this season. Simmonds adds an element of grit, which is lacking a bit in the current forward group.
- There is only one player on the roster with movement protection, and that's goaltender Pekka Rinne, who has a 10-team no-trade list.
- Nashville made an unusual trade at last year's deadline in that it was within the division. The Predators acquired winger Ryan Hartman from the Blackhawks in exchange for prospect Victor Ejdsell, a first-round pick and a second-round pick.
- The Predators were without picks in the first three rounds of the 2018 draft; however, they are well-positioned for the future: Nashville holds a pick in Rounds 1 through 7 in each of the next three years. Some of those picks might be used as trade capital.
Considering the Predators' sizzle-out last spring, we'd like to see Poile pull the trigger on one exciting move to help push this team over its playoff hump. A scoring winger makes sense, especially one who can add an element of toughness. Who fits that bill perfectly? Simmonds.
GM Doug Armstrong has threatened to make seismic moves to the roster, and he hasn't followed up ... yet. But you get the sense he'd like to. The Blues have risen from the bottom-dwelling ashes to within four points of a playoff spot. If they keep up the ascent, Armstrong may not do anything too drastic. But it feels like this team will still be among the sellers.
In the sure-to-be-packing-his-bags department: Patrick Maroon had a terrific homecoming story when he took less money and term to play for the city he grew up in (and be with his son), but he hasn't produced and therefore is an ideal deadline mover. He's only on a one-year deal, worth $1.75 million, and his rugged style and experience thriving with skill players make him very attractive for contenders. (The Blues won't get much back because of his production this season.)
In the OK-that-feels-harsh-but-you-have-to-do-what-you-have-to-do category: Consider Brayden Schenn, the 27-year-old center. At a $5.25 million cap hit through 2019-20, teams might give up a decent bounty to get a guy who has averaged 61 points per season over the past three. Put right-handed defenseman Colton Parayko ($5.5 million through 2021-22) here, too.
In the holy-cow-did-he-really-do-that section: How about superstar forward Vladimir Tarasenko and captain Alex Pietrangelo? Both of those players would need to command multiple high draft picks as well as roster players in return, and these deals would qualify as blockbusters.
- Several Blues players have no-trade lists worked into their contracts, including Tyler Bozak (10-team no-trade list), David Perron (five-team list), Maroon (eight-team list). Maroon's kicks in on Jan. 31.
- There has been scuttlebutt about the potential of Pietrangelo being moved, but he carries a full no-trade clause that he would have to waive.
- Jay Bouwmeester and Alexander Steen both have full no-trade clauses.
Considering the general disappointment that has been the 2018-19 St. Louis Blues season, Armstrong needs to change the complexion of this team for it to take a step forward. However, there's enough talent there not to give up on entirely. A few mid-level tweaks might be good enough to reset the culture. Disposing of too many big names could have adverse rippling effects. After all, many believed this to be a playoff team in the preseason.
The window is wide open for the Jets, who soon will see themselves in salary-cap hell once they have to pay Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor the rich contracts that they deserve. After this season, the Jets also will have to manage keeping the blue line competitive, considering they likely can't afford keeping both Tyler Myers (impending UFA) and Jacob Trouba (RFA), or sign replacements of the same caliber.
What does that mean for this season's Jets? GM Kevin Cheveldayoff could look to move either Myers or Trouba to recoup value now, though it wouldn't be surprising to see both stay through the season, considering how important they are to Winnipeg's defensive corps. Cheveldayoff, who made a sizable move at last season's deadline to acquire second-line center Paul Stastny, could do something similar in February because he has the space to do so. Rangers forward Kevin Hayes has been linked to the Jets, for good reason. The soon-to-be UFA is a rugged forward who is versatile and could plug in anywhere into Winnipeg's lineup. His style of play (plus previous playoff experience) is perfect for a team looking to make a run in the Western Conference. Philadelphia's Wayne Simmonds would be a huge boon. The Jets also might look to add a defenseman.
- Winnipeg has nearly $12 million in cap space now -- money they likely won't have next season after paying up for Connor and Laine.
- Since taking the job as Winnipeg's GM in 2011, Cheveldayoff hasn't been known to be very active in the trade market. Last season's big move to acquire Stastny was considered off-brand for the usually modest Cheveldayoff, who rarely makes a splash when it comes to moving high draft picks or big-name players.
- The Jets have four players over the age of 31 with some version of a no-movement clause (Bryan Little has a full no-movement clause. Blake Wheeler and Dustin Byfuglien have lists of 14 teams to which they cannot be traded, and Mathieu Perreault has a five-team list).
- Defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, 28, also has a six-team list of teams to which he cannot be traded.
- Winnipeg has eight players who become restricted free agents this summer.
Go for it, Jets. While this is a team patiently built via draft picks, adding one good piece (whether it be Hayes, Simmonds or a top-four defenseman like Los Angeles' Jake Muzzin) could be the difference between falling short in the Western Conference finals and going all the way.
The standings, mostly. The Ducks already traded Andrew Cogliano, a well-liked veteran on the team since 2011, in the midst of a double-digit losing streak. If the season doesn't turn around to the point where GM Bob Murray is comfortable with Anaheim as a championship contender, how deep will the cuts go?
The fact is that the Ducks have a few players locked into no-move clauses, a quartet of defensemen the team would rather not move and some young forwards -- Rickard Rakell, Ondrej Kase, Nick Ritchie -- on bargain contracts who shouldn't be moved. From that defensive corps, 27-year-old Cam Fowler might generate the most interest at $6.5 million against the cap through 2026 on a new eight-year contract. But teams usually don't ink players to long-term deals only to flip them after one year, and Murray gave Fowler a modified no-trade clause as well.
One name worth noting: Jakob Silfverberg. The versatile winger is a stellar defender whose point production just hasn't reached the promise of his 49-point season two years ago. He's cheap ($3.75 million in average annual value), he's 28 and he's an unrestricted free agent at season's end. He's got value if Murray decides his next contract is too rich for the Ducks.
There's also backup goalie Ryan Miller, who was having a fine season before a lower-body injury in December landed him on injured reserve. But he has a modified no-trade clause as well.
- Fowler's modified no-trade clause means he submits "a four-team trade list" to the Ducks, while Miller submits a six-team list, per Cap Friendly.
- Anaheim is saddled with veteran players who have full no-move clauses: Ryan Getzlaf (33), Ryan Kesler (34) and Corey Perry (33), who has yet to play this season due to injury. Kesler hasn't been the same player since hip surgery in 2017 -- coach Randy Carlyle has called him "adequate" this season, but he has six goals since Feb. 9, 2018 -- but even if he didn't have a full no-move, one wonders how many takers there would be for the shell of Kesler at $6.875 million annually through 2022. Did Vancouver actually win that trade?
- The Ducks do not have their third- and seventh-rounders in 2019, but otherwise own their draft picks through 2021.
If the asking price from Silfverberg and for Silfverberg are both on the high side, then Murray might want to ship him out before the deadline. Trading one of the defensemen is better left for the draft. But again, watch the standings: Despite an epic winless streak, the Ducks are still very much in the playoff race. If Murray won't cut Carlyle until after the season, he probably isn't cutting bait with this roster until then either.
GM John Chayka has been active at the trade deadline before, but mostly as a seller: Please recall the Martin Hanzal, Michael Stone and Tobias Rieder deals, all of which worked out pretty well for the Coyotes.
There isn't that type of player on the Coyotes' roster as this deadline approaches, although pending UFA Richard Panik ($2.8 million) probably comes the closest. Does that mean Chayka will be more of a buyer, as Arizona continues to try to chase down a wild-card spot? Perhaps, especially with the Coyotes owning the third-meekest offense in the NHL at 2.53 goals per game.
But the biggest driver of what the Coyotes end up doing in the trade market is their own health. Along with forward Nick Schmaltz and goalie Antti Raanta, who are reportedly done for the season, the Coyotes are looking for lineup returns from forwards Michael Grabner, Brad Richardson and Christian Dvorak, and defenseman Jason Demers, who was thought to be lost for the season but could return from a knee injury. Those timetables are going to affect whatever Chayka does.
- Among the players with trade protection are defenseman Alex Goligoski, signed through 2021 with a full no-move clause, somewhat inexplicably; defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, who has a no-trade clause that allows him to submit 10 teams on this current deal and has a full no-move clause that kicks in on July 1 for his next contract; Richardson, who has a full no-move clause; and Grabner, who submits an eight-team no-trade list.
- The Coyotes have all of their picks for the next three years, except for their fifth- and seventh-round picks in 2019. They also own the Blackhawks' third-round pick this season.
- Next season, Arizona still will have Marian Hossa's $5.275 million in dead cap space and the final $1,944,444 of Mike Ribeiro's contract buyout on their cap.
Again, it comes down to health. If the Coyotes are confident they're getting enough bodies back where overcoming a four-point standings deficit for the wild card is feasible, then trade a couple of picks for some offensive rental help. If not, then Panik ... and wait until next season.
Sitting in first place in the Pacific Division after 47 games, the Flames are the biggest surprise in the Western Conference, but not a fleeting one: They're plus-40 (!) in goal differential, thanks to an offense that boasts four 20-goal scorers. That none of them would be named "James Neal" might be an even bigger surprise.
Neal is one piece that doesn't fit on this well-crafted team, with just four goals in 46 games and a minus-11 goal differential. He doesn't have any trade protection and at $5.75 million AAV (average annual value) through 2023 would seem primed for a "you take our headache and we take your similar-salary-cap-hit one" type of trade. But that might wait until the summer.
The targets for the Flames: depth on defense, in the form of a rental who could solidify their third pairing (someone like Trevor Daley comes to mind); another goaltender, just in case "Big Game" Dave Rittich is injured or turns into a pumpkin; and some additional help for the bottom six. Or, if they have a chance to swing for the fences, how perfect would Mark Stone fit in this group?
The assets for the Flames, besides Neal: forwards Michael Frolik, who is signed through 2020 and has 17 points in 30 games but hasn't always seen the commensurate ice time, as his agent has mentioned now and again; Derek Ryan, a serviceable center signed through 2021 with no trade protection at $3.125 million annually; and Austin Czarnik, who has another year at $1.25 million.
- Beyond Frolik, the Flames have a few players with trade restrictions: center Mikael Backlund, who submits a 10-team trade list; defenseman Mark Giordano, with a full no-trade clause; defenseman T.J. Brodie, who has an eight-team no-trade list; and goalie Mike Smith, who has an eight-team no-trade list.
- The Flames do not have second-, fourth-, sixth- or seventh-round picks in this year's draft. But they do have the Islanders' fourth-rounder and a seventh from Carolina. Calgary has all of its picks in 2020 and 2021.
Go for it! The Flames are an offensively explosive team with a defensive corps that compares well to any top four in the conference. Add that defenseman, add that goalie and then see if anyone is in need of a slightly used James Neal.
Somehow, general manager Peter Chiarelli is still allowed access to a working telephone, so there's a lot to watch for when it comes to the Oilers.
TSN's Ryan Rishaug recently reported that the Oil have sent their scouts and staff marching orders to find help at forward with a "first-round pick, a goaltender, maybe a young developing forward likely all in play." So buckle up, kids, because Uncle Peter has a job to continue attempting to save by any means necessary.
The needs for the Oilers are many, beginning at the forward position. In theory, any goal-scoring winger they bring on can get the Connor McDavid Bump. Players such as Gustav Nyquist or Mats Zuccarello, both on expiring deals, could be intriguing to that end. They also need more puck-movers on the back end, but that's probably an issue for the summer. And frankly not one that you want Chiarelli to address, given what he's anted up for defensemen in the past.
To that end, watching the Oilers is more about what's leaving than what's arriving. For example: While forward Jesse Puljujarvi hasn't come close to fulfilling his hype as a No. 4 overall draft pick, he's still only 20 years old. It's entirely possible he could be in play.
- Cam Talbot, who most certainly would be the goalie the Oilers trade, is a UFA this summer with a $4,166,667 cap hit. He has a modified no-trade clause that limits the Oilers' options to 10 destinations.
- Other trade restrictions: forward Milan Lucic has a full no-move clause and is signed through 2023; defenseman Adam Larsson has a modified no-trade clause of eight teams, and is signed through 2021; defenseman Kris Russell (signed through 2021) has a full no-move clause, hilariously; and injured defenseman Andrej Sekera has a full no-move clause.
- The Oilers have all their picks for the next two seasons except a fifth-rounder and a conditional third-rounder in 2019. The latter pick is either Edmonton's or the Islanders' headed to Florida, whichever one is the higher pick.
Pray for Connor.
Everyone not named Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown. And yes, that does include Jonathan Quick on the watch list, being that he makes $5.8 million annually through 2023 and has no trade protection.
GM Rob Blake has to dramatically reshape the roster of this Kings team, which has managed to prove both the "they're too slow" and the "they're too old" camps correct in their assessments. They have seven players over the age of 30 signed through 2021. They have to be open for business, and in a big way. They tried to squeeze out a little more from the vets who helped bring multiple Cups to L.A. Now it's time to find another bag of oranges.
The changes start on defense, where Jake Muzzin ($4 million AAV, signed through 2020) and Alec Martinez ($4 million, signed through 2021) are going to attract some attention. Up front, they'd love to ship out star forward Jeff Carter ($5,272,727 AAV, signed through 2022), but even without trade protection, history shows us that you don't want an unhappy Jeff Carter on your roster, so it would have to be a place he wants to end up. Carl Hagelin, 30, was seemingly acquired to be traded again at the deadline. He carries a $3.75 million hit and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
- The Kings' full no-move clauses include Kopitar, Ilya Kovalchuk and Doughty.
- The Kings have a few players with modified no-trade clauses: Brown, who submits a list of eight teams to which he can be traded; forward Nate Thompson, who has a 10-team no-trade list; and defenseman Dion Phaneuf, who submits a 12-team trade list.
- Los Angeles has all of its draft picks for the next three seasons.
Obviously, many of the players we mentioned here are as good as gone. But the real trick for Rob Blake is going to be how short the bridge is going to be from the this retool to the next competitive era for the Kings, when players such as Rasmus Kupari and Mikey Anderson (and, health willing, Gabriel Vilardi) are making an impact.
If there's a level beyond "all-in," GM Doug Wilson is on that level. Consider: The Evander Kane trade and signing. The pursuit of John Tavares. The Erik Karlsson trade, and his potential re-signing.
The Sharks don't have much in the way of cap space to make something dramatic happen at the deadline -- just over $1.5 million, according to Cap Friendly -- and there isn't much salary they can ship out. But you know Wilson's going to try in this Western Conference arms race, perhaps for added center depth or more scoring on the wing.
- Alas, the Sharks have mortgaged the future for the present. They don't own their first-round pick this season or next season. If the Sharks make the playoffs, they can choose to keep their 2019 first-rounder and give Buffalo its 2020 first-rounder, or hand over their 2019 pick for signing Kane. Ottawa gets this season's first if the Sharks miss the playoffs, as well as the pick that doesn't go to Buffalo in the above scenario. Their second-round pick is conditionally the Senators', too, as they get either the Sharks' or the Panthers' second, which San Jose owns. Their fourth-round pick in 2019 was dealt to Buffalo conditionally: The Sharks can keep it, but then have to give the Sabres their third in 2020. Oh, wait, there's more: No sixth-round or seventh-round picks in 2020. And their 2021 second-round pick goes to the Senators if Karlsson re-signs, and it becomes a 2021 first-rounder if the Sharks make the Stanley Cup Final in 2019. This is the kind of breakdown that usually requires a series of surveillance photos and string on an office wall to make sense.
- There are only two Sharks with two full no-move clauses: Joe Thornton and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
- The Sharks have several modified no-trade clauses. Brent Burns, Evander Kane, Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture submit a three-team list to which they can be traded. Erik Karlsson has a 10-team no-trade list. Keep in mind that if Karlsson is actually traded at the deadline and ends up in the Eastern Conference, the Sharks have to give the Senators another first-rounder. Not as if he'd be traded, mind you, but just an FYI.
Rare is the deadline when Doug Wilson isn't active, and the Sharks are going for it. Limitations on cap space and assets might make it difficult, but we're guessing he stays aggressive and adds a veteran winger.
With due respect to the Flames, the Canucks are the biggest shock contender in the Western Conference. Much of this is due to the arrival of Elias Pettersson, as we haven't seen a goal-scorer transform his team like this since Alex Ovechkin first strapped on the eagle for the Capitals. (And yes, I might even include "more than McDavid" here, because Pettersson has had so much influence on the organization as a whole.)
So the Canucks are battling for a playoff spot, which undoubtedly changes their expectations for the short-term future and for the trade deadline. That's specifically true on defense: If the Canucks were calculating their lottery odds instead of counting the number of points they are outside of the wild card, then Alex Edler ($5 million AAV, UFA, no-trade clause) might be closer to a trade than a new contract. Chris Tanev ($4.5 million, signed through 2020, modified no-trade) and Erik Gudbranson ($4 million, signed through 2021) also now seem likely to hang around.
Among the assets they could move: Michael Del Zotto, facing UFA status and without trade protection (a move they completed on Jan. 16, sending him to Anaheim); forward Nikolay Goldobin, who will be a restricted free agent this summer and is having a strong season and has his defenders, but the Canucks could cut bait after a recent benching; and center Brandon Sutter, who has a $4.375 million AAV and is signed through 2021 with a full no-trade clause until July 1, when it becomes a list of 15 teams.
- The Canucks have all of their picks for the next three years, as well as those from the Senators and Capitals in the sixth round this season.
- Among the no-trade clauses are winger Loui Eriksson, Sutter and Edler; Tanev has an eight-team no-trade list. Please recall that Antoine Roussel and Jay Beagle actually have modified no-trade clauses, with 15 teams to whom they can't be dealt.
The Canucks are clearly ahead of schedule, and it's only a good thing if they remain in the playoff hunt. (Ask Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle about spending your formative years in the basement. Hint: Great for hockey bloggers, not so much for young NHL stars.) But it's not worth mortgaging the future for this season. No team with 47 points in 47 games should consider itself a buyer. Win the long game, not the deadline.
With $3.38 million in cap space and a literal buffet of future assets, it's a virtual certainty that the Knights are going to be active at the trade deadline. Especially after getting a taste of championship contention last season.
There was heavy speculation that Blues center Brayden Schenn ($5.125 million AAV through 2020) could be a trade target due to his Brandon Wheat Kings ties with Vegas assistant GM Kelly McCrimmon. The Blues' return to the playoff race could affect that. Capitals winger Andre Burakovsky is available and GM George McPhee drafted him in 2013.
But rather than another body up front, one assumes the Knights are going to continue to bolster their back end. Not only because of their pursuit of Erik Karlsson during the last calendar year, but because they can read the rosters of the other Western Conference contenders and see their depth on defense. Vegas needs another point producer on the back end. Back to the Blues for a moment: Wouldn't Alex Pietrangelo be the perfect right-handed shot defenseman for the Knights, and wouldn't the Knights be an intriguing trade partner for the Blues if the latter had an eye on the future?
- Center Paul Stastny has a 10-team no-trade list, while winger Reilly Smith and center Jonathan Marchessault have eight-team ones. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has a limited no-trade, submitting a list of 10 teams. He's also going nowhere.
- The Knights have all of their own upcoming picks, save for a third-rounder in 2021 and a seventh-rounder this season. They also have 2019 third-rounders from the Predators and Jets, the Canadiens' 2019 fifth-rounder and second-round picks in 2020 from the Stars and Penguins.
Now that the Golden Knights are back to challenging for a division crown, it's time to put those future assets to use and grab the puck-moving defenseman they've been chasing for their first two seasons of existence.