With the NHL Trade Deadline less than three weeks away, the race for a playoff spot is closer than ever with only a few teams out of playoff contention. This is what would typically be called a seller’s market. However, as we get closer to the deadline more teams will drop off and turn their focus on turning players they have on expiring contracts into draft picks and/or prospects. Buyers will be looking for that difference maker that may get them closer to the Stanley Cup, as all it might take is a minor deal to put a contending team over the top..
Here are my predictions the destination of players who have been rumored to be traded and match them up with the teams who I think will be the buyers:
The Ghost could use a fresh start
The Coyotes dove in early and got a head start on the trade deadline by acquiring Taylor Hall. They have slipped recently, putting them back in the tight race in the Pacific. They may need some more help if they want to secure a playoff berth down the stretch.
Possible Match: Michael Frolik (BUF), Patrick Marleau (SJS)
Long Shot: Tyler Toffoli (LAK), Craig Smith (NSH)
The Flames are in a dog fight in the congested Pacific Division. They have been rumored to be interested in a top six forward heading into the deadline. However, with the recent injury to Mark Giordano, who may be out for an extended period, they will also need to try to acquire a defenceman.
Possible Match: Tyler Toffoli (LAK), Ilya Kovalchuk (MTL), Sami Vatanen (NJD)
Long Shot: Jean-Gabriel Pageau (OTT), Matt Dumba (MIN), Jeff Petry (MTL)
The Blackhawks surprisingly find themselves in the playoff hunt, thanks to a strong second half of the season. GM Stan Bowman may not be a big player in the trade market though, and have been rumored to be listening to offers for Brandon Saad and upcoming UFA D Erik Gustafsson.
Possible Match: Melker Karlsson (SJS), Vladimir Namestnikov (OTT)
Long Shot: Ryan Donato (MIN), Kasperi Kapanen (TOR)
GM of the Year candidate, Joe Sakic, did his trade deadline shopping this past offseason with the acquisitions of Nazem Kadri, Joonas Donskoi, and Andrei Burakovsky. Look for Super Joe to focus on trying and shore things up on the back end heading into the post season.
Possible Match: Brendon Dillon (SJS), Craig Anderson (OTT)
Long Shot: Derek Forbort (LAK), Henrik Lundqvist (NYR)
The Stars have continued their strong play after the surprise firing of Jim Montgomery. Likely in the market for some depth scoring at forward.
Possible Match: Wayne Simmonds (NJD), Chris Kreider (NYR)
Long Shot: Patrick Marleau (SJS), Mikael Granlund (NSH)
The Oilers have a new lease on life this season after Dave Tippett has taken over and so have McDavid and Draisatl. They have been rumored to be in the market for a top six forward.
Possible Match: Andreas Athanasiou (DET), Jesper Fast (NYR)
Long Shot: Conor Sheary (BUF), Mike Hoffman (FLA)
The Preds have been a big disappointment thus far, after finally believing they solved their centre issue with the signing of Matt Duchene. Duchene has had a forgettable season and so has Kyle Turris, who they recently extended. Injury to Ryan Ellis, who has been sidelined since early January doesn’t help. Preds could turn out to be seller.
Possible Match: Jesper Fast (NYR), Ryan Donato (MIN)
Long Shot: Melker Karlsson (SJS),
The defending Stanley Cup Champions are looking for some scoring punch after losing Vladmir Tarasenko early in the season, and there is no guarantee he will be available come playoff time.
Possible Match: Chris Kreider (NYR), Conor Sheary (BUF)
Long Shot: Jason Zucker (MIN)
It’s been a tough year in Sin City as the 3yr expansion team find themselves in unfamiliar territory. Only thing more surprising than the firing of Gerard Gallant was not a huge shocker, was the hiring of Peter DeBeor.
Possible Match: Sami Vatanen (NJD), Alec Martinez (LAK)
Long Shot: Jeff Petry (MTL), Erik Gustaffson (CHI)
One of the surprising teams in the West find themselves fighting for 1st place in their division. Young team likely looking for some experience and grit going into the playoffs.
Possible Match: Craig Smith (NSH), Trevor Lewis (LAK)
Long Shot: Gabriel Bourque (WPG), Melker Karlsson (SJS)
The hometown bubble team is currently on the outside looking in and could be both buyers, if they can find a defenceman to help them next season, and sellers as they have a few players who are scheduled to be UFAs by the end of the season.
Possible Match: Shayne Gostisbehere (PHI), Matt Dumba (MIN), David Savard (CLB)
Long Shot: Josh Manson (ANA), Jeff Petry (MTL)
Jeff Petry of the Habs
The Bruins are looking to get back to the Stanley Cup Final after falling a little short last season. If they want to get past the likes of Lightning and Capitals, they will likely need add some scoring depth.
Possible Match: Jason Zucker (MIN), Tyler Toffoli (LAK)
Long Shot: Chris Kreider (NYR)
The Bunch of Jerks are in a fight for a playoff spot and after losing Dougie Hamilton, it won’t get any easier. Looking for some depth on defence.
Possible Match: Alec Martinez (LAK), Derek Forbort (LAK)
Long Shot: Ron Hainsey (OTT), Matt Dumba (MIN)
Surprise team of East. Coach John Tortorella is getting the most out of his players and they are the hottest team in the second half of the season.
Possible Options: Michael Frolik (BUF), Wayne Simmonds (NJD)
Longshot: Jimmy Vesey (BUF), Jesper Fast (NYR)
First year for Coach Q and he has the Panthers surging for a playoff spot in the crowded Metro Division. Dale Tallon has let it be known
Possible Match: Shayne Gostisbehere (PHI), Erik Gustaffson (CHI)
Long Shot: Alec Martinez (LAK), Marco Scandella (MTL)
New York Islanders
After a hot start to the season, the Isles have cooled off and are on the edge of a playoff spot. Scoring has dried up and that’s what they will be targeting at the deadline.
Possible Match: Mikael Granlund (NSH), J-G Pageau (OTT)
Long Shot: Jason Zucker (MIN), Mike Hoffman (FLA)
The Flyers have remained in the hunt for a in the ultra-competitive Metro division. They have been rumored to be offering Shayne Gostisbehere for some scoring up front.
Possible Match: Mike Hoffman (FLA), Ilya Kovalchuk (MTL)
Long Shot: Andreas Athanasiou (DET), Jimmy Vesey (BUF)
You never know what Jim Rutherford has up his sleeve as he is not scared of making a big move. Sid and Geno are not getting any younger and like he did in the beginning of the season, Rutherford may want to kick-start the Pens again as they are fighting for a playoff spot.
Possible Match: Jason Zucker (MIN), Chris Kreider (NYR)
Long Shot: Brandon Saad (CHI)
After an early exit in last year’s playoffs and a slow start this season, the Lightning appear to be back on track. They also added Pat Maroon and Kevin Shattenkirk in the offseason, so don’t expect them to be very busy as the trade deadline approaches.
Possible Match: Mark Borowiecki (OTT), Derek Forbort (LAK)
Long Shot: Dylan DeMelo (OTT)
The Leafs got the trade deadline started by addressing their need for a backup goalie, mainly due to the injury to Freddie Andersen, by acquiring G Jack Campbell and LW Kyle Clifford from the LA Kings. They have slid in the standings and will need to turn things around quickly if they are going to make the postseason. Defensive depth might be what they focus on now.
Possible Match: Marco Scandella (MTL), Luca Sbisa (WPG)
Long Shot: Erik Gustafsson (CHI), Dylan DeMelo (OTT)
The Caps appear on the verge of another Stanley Cup run as Alex Ovechkin roars up the all-time goal scoring chart. This could also be their last run with Braden Holtby. Probably looking for some depth on the back end.
Possible Match: Brendon Dillon (SJS), Dylan DeMelo (OTT)
Long Shot: Dimitri Kulikov (WPG), Luca Sbisa (WPG)
@Mass_insight or @spinohockey