We all remember the dread of forgetting to do your homework when you were little. Scrambling like mad to copy a friend’s terrible addition on the bus so you could avoid the unwelcome phone call home from your teacher. Deadlines used to be scary. They used to mean something. Now, as an adult, deadlines feel more like a suggestion.
Maybe that explains why nothing of importance ever gets done at the NHL trade deadline anymore. The deadline doesn’t add any real pressure anymore. If you don’t make a trade by the February date, then it just gets pushed back to the summer. That’s when the blockbuster deals for PK Subban, Taylor Hall, Phil Kessel, and Tyler Seguin all got worked out. Heck, the most shocking trade of all time, Wayne Gretzky to Los Angeles, came on August 9.
The lack of major deals has been a growing concern, particularly in Canada where they devote day-long shows to covering the now non-event. But, with the added wrinkle of an impending expansion draft, as well as new rules to how many players you can protect, some experts think this deadline day could be different.
I still won’t be getting my hopes up for something crazy to happen between now and the 2016-17 NHL trade deadline (February 28 at 3:00 PM). But it doesn’t mean I can’t spend a little time telling teams what they should do. Here’s a trade each contending team should target, as well as the odds that trade may actually happen before the summer.
Trades NHL Teams Should Make
Martin Hanzal, C; Arizona Coyotes
The Habs depth down the middle is getting stretched thinner than a crepe. Adding a big-bodied center like Hanzal gives Montreal help in the short run and flexibility down the stretch, especially if they’re really committed to moving Tomas Plekanec. Hanzal will also have extra hunger for playoff hockey, only making the postseason in three of his nine seasons in Arizona.
Odds of happening: 2/3
Darcy Kuemper, G; Minnesota Wild
There’s an urge in Boston to make a big splash, and they could be a prime target for Gabriel Landeskog or Matt Duchene from the now rebuilding Avalanche. But if Beantown wants to get in the playoffs, they’ll need to find someone who can get them a win when Tuukka Rask takes a night off. As of this writing, the Bruins have 23 wins on the year; Raask was in net for 22 of them.
Kuemper is a UFA after this season and barely gets any work in Minnesota, since Devan Dubnyk is basically a robot. The Wild also have Alex Stalock in the AHL, an adequate replacement for Kuemper’s light workload. There’s a deal to be made here for Boston, and the sooner they do it the better.
Odds of happening: 6/1
Toronto Maple Leafs
Getting sucked into the excitement of a playoff race and sacrificing the long-term vision for this team is so old management, or at least Leafs fans should be hoping it is. This team shouldn’t be chasing any deals at the deadline. However, if another team comes knocking (as you’ll see further down) they should be all ears.
Odds of happening: 1/3
Matt Duchene, C; Colorado Avalanche
The Senators have trouble attracting free agents, which often results in over-paying players like Bobby Ryan. They’re better off utilizing the trade market to bring in scoring help, which they desperately need. Under contract for three more years, a deal for Duchene would give the Sens a legitimate number one center to work around; no more looking to Derick Brassard or Kyle Turris to fill that role.
The Avs don’t need to make this deal right away, so naturally the price is high. Can a package built around young defenseman Cody Ceci be enough to land a big fish?
Odds of happening: 11/2
P.A. Parenteau, LW; New Jersey Devils
The Panthers should see their offense increase when Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, and Jonathan Huberdeau all get back. But this is still a team that needs forward depth. Greg McKegg, Paul Thompson, Shawn Thornton: Florida has been forced to play these guys too often this season. No team with playoff aspirations should be doing that.
Parenteau isn’t outstanding, but with 32 goals over the past season and a half, he’s a sizeable upgrade.
Odds of happening: 7/3
Tampa Bay Lightning
Calvin De Haan, D; New York Islanders
Numerous injuries up front haven’t managed to stop the Lightning from having above average scoring production (14th in goals per game). Their weakness has been in the defensive end, where the team allows 2.91 goals per game. De Haan has been stuck playing for the inept Islanders his whole career and would probably welcome a change. His Corsi rating is also better than three of the D-Men the Bolts started in their last game.
Odds of happening: 2/1
The current holders of hockey’s best record have no cap-space, so even if they had a glaring need (they don’t) they couldn’t fill it. In full win-now mode, Washington shouldn’t be letting any expiring deals leave the other way this deadline either.
Odds of happening: 1/8
Columbus Blue Jackets
Ryan Miller, G; Vancouver Canucks
Since few seem to understand how the Blue Jackets ended up so good in the first place, even fewer know what moves could be done to improve the team. Would a scorer like Landeskog be a welcome edition, or just throw off the chemistry of this group? Columbus has the cap space to make a big move, but will likely just let it ride.
Given the money they have, and their reliance on Sergei Bobrovsky, I guess the Jackets could enter the high-priced backup goalie market. Ryan Miller and Ben Bishop both come off the books after this year, but Miller’s modified no-trade clause should be easier to acquire from the should-be-rebuilding-but-are-kidding-themselves Canucks.
Odds of happening: 18/1
When you lose virtually nothing from a Cup-winning roster, you’re typically set up to make another strong run the following year. While it once seemed like Marc Andre Fleury was an asset the Pens needed to explore getting rid of because of the impending expansion draft, injuries to Matt Murray have showed how valuable it is to have two decent goalies. Look for Pittsburgh to keep both netminders for another Cup run.
Odds of happening: 1/5
New York Rangers
For most of these teams, predicting “no moves” seems like a boring cop-out. For the Rangers, it’s earth-shattering. This team has stolen deadline day headlines for as long as I can remember, with trades for Eric Staal, Keith Yandle, Martin St. Louis, etc. But the makeup of their current roster is good, and more importantly, not old. There’s no need to make any blockbuster moves this year. But it is New York…
Odds of happening: 4/3
Patrick Wiercioch, D; Colorado Avalanche
The Flyers goalies and defensemen are a mess of bad contracts, a problem that will be better solved this offseason when Mark Streit, Michael Del Zotto, Nick Schultz, Steve Mason, and Michael Neuvirth come off the books. But if this team has its heart set on making the playoffs right now, there are low-cost additions it could make to the blueline to aid a defense that surrenders the third-most goals in the league.
Odds of happening: 14/1
Gabriel Landeskog, LW; Colorado Avalanche
A hot streak has taken the Canes from designated seller to just outside the playoffs. Carolina and its glut of young defensive talent always seemed like a perfect trade partner with the Avs for one of their young forwards. The sudden possibility of a postseason berth could have the Hurricanes rushing to get something done this season, rather than wait for the summer.
Odds of happening: 4/3
James van Riemsdyk, LW; Toronto Maple Leafs
The Blackhawks haven’t been able to find a suitable left winger for the Toews line since Patrick Sharp left two seasons ago. Chicago’s become too reliant on the production of Kane-Panarin-Anisimov, and if they’re going to make yet another Cup run, they’ll need to take a big swing to land some top-of-the-line talent.
Van Riemsdyk is on a 30-goal pace playing for the youthful Leafs and Toronto is currently in a playoff spot. However, Brendan Shanahan knows how far this team has to go to become a Stanley Cup contender, and it starts on the back end. With the emergence of Michal Kempny, Chicago may be in a good enough spot defensively to make a blockbuster deal.
Odds of happening: 4/1
Anthony Duclair, LW; Arizona Coyotes
Minnesota is a prime example of how the expansion draft could actually make this deadline exciting; the Wild have five stellar defenseman under contract for next season, meaning one of Jonas Brodin, Marco Scandella, Jared Spurgeon, or Matthew Dumba will be likely taken by Vegas. If not for the expansion draft, there would be no need for Minnesota to make a deal this deadline. In order to make the best of the situation, they should try to recoup some value and target 21-year-old Duclair in Arizona.
A 20-goal scorer last season, he’s having a disappointing go around this year. But a change of scenery could give the youngster a fresh start, and he’s an RFA after the season, making the post-deadline run an audition of sorts.
Odds of happening: 11/1
St Louis Blues
Ben Bishop, G; Tampa Bay Lightning
Usually defensively sound, the Blues have allowed a staggering number of goals thanks to a lackluster season from goalie Jake Allen. There’s no easy fix, but bringing Bishop back to where he started his career isn’t the craziest idea. St. Louis has started deadline goalies in net during the playoffs before (to little success, mind you).
Odds of happening: 7/1
Radim Vrbata, LW; Arizona Coyotes
Injuries have been the biggest hinderance for this Nashville bunch so far, but goal-scoring remains a concern too. Acquiring a proven winger like Vrbata as a rental gives the Preds a strong shooter and more depth, while fitting within the minimal cap space they have to operate.
Odds of happening: 6/5
San Jose Sharks & Anaheim Ducks
Let’s save some time and space. Neither team has cap-space; neither has expiring deals they want to (or can) get rid of; both are already Cup contenders.
Odds of happening: 1/7
Jarome Iginla, RW; Colorado Avalanche
Every non-Calgary fan wants to see this move happen. Not only would it add some spice to the “Battle of Alberta,” but the Oilers actually have a real need on the wing. Beyond the lucky few who get to play with McDavid, Edmonton isn’t getting enough production from its forwards. While Iginla is having his worst scoring year as a professional, acquiring the 12-time 30-goal scorer is an easy move for Peter Chiarelli to talk himself into. “A power forward. A veteran presence. [Insert other hockey buzzwords here.]”
Odds of happening: 1/1
Los Angeles Kings
Thomas Vanek, RW; Detroit Red Wings
You can picture this perfectly, can’t you? It’s such an L.A. deadline move. Once again in need of scoring, the Kings aren’t getting any production out of their plus-30 veterans on the wing (Marion Gaborik, Dustin Brown). Adding another should help, right? If Vanek joined the Kings today, he’d be their second-leading scorer.
Odds of happening: 3/2
The Flames are sitting on so many expiring contracts for veteran players, they should be the belle of the deadline ball. The problem is, they’re currently in a playoff spot. They don’t have a sliver of cap space, so standing pat is the likeliest move for them. But Brad Treliving can’t honestly think Michael Ferland is the difference between making the playoffs and not? Move a few of these bums!
Odds of happening: 8/1
Photo Credit: 5of7 (Gabriel Landeskog) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.