Spinorama Hockey

The Elephant in the NHL Room

by James McLellan

RFA Patrik Laine

There is a lot of buzz going on throughout the NHL about the new cadre of RFA’s and the salaries they are demanding.  But what difference does paying the upcoming RFA class higher salaries really make?  And who does it really affect?
With the NHLPA revenue sharing agreement, the RFA’s are not squeezing more money from the owners.  The profit sharing between the NHLPA and the NHL has already been established at 50%.  The RFA’s are asking for more money from their fellow players.  It seems like neither the agents or the RFA’s are looking or talking about the elephant in the room: total NHL cap space.
As of writing this post and subject to some future creative cap maneuvering, there is approximately $190M in NHL cap space.  The top 3 cap teams (Toronto, Washington and Pittsburgh) have $4 M in salary that must be shed so we are left with $186M.
That seems like a lot of cap space but we have to remember a few things.  
First, contender teams like to leave some cap space to add players at the trade deadline for their post-season run.  Most would like to have between $1-2M in space.  Near the end of the season that cap room builds up and can equate to a high priced player for the last 20 games and the post season push.  There are about 6-8 contender teams each year at the start of the season.  
Second, lottery teams are reluctant to spend to the cap if they know they will not be playing in late April.  This makes sense, as with no playoff revenue forthcoming and the need to stock up on talent at the draft, the best money plan is to lay low if you are unlikely to have an impactful season.  These teams tend to keep more cap space, and if possible, weaponize it at opportune moments.  Often such teams will retain in excess of $8M in cap space.  In any given season there are about 3-6 teams like this.
The remaining teams fall somewhere in-between $1M and $6M in cap space throughout the season.  What this means is the there is about $100M in cap space that will not get used by September.  In fact, often more.  Last year there was about $140M in unused cap space at the conclusion of the NHL season.
Regardless, we will be conservative here and say teams keep $80M in cap space for flexibility and financial reasons.  This leaves us with $106M to sign all RFA’s and UFA’s on the market for September.
Hmm.  Let’s think about that.  $106M to sign the 2019 crop of RFA’s and any other UFA’s.  Let’s take a look at a sampling of this years’ RFA class.  I have included a conservative estimate of their contract AAV.  If I am way high please comment and correct me:

Zack Werenski($7M) Joel Edmunson($2.5M) Kyle Connor($7M)Patrick Laine($7M)Matthew Tkachuk($7M)Jesse Puljujarvi($1.5M)Brock Boeser($6.5M)Colin White($4M)Charlie McAvoy($7M)Adrian Kempe($3M)Ivan Provorov($4M)Mikko Rantanen($8M)Joel Eriksson EK($1.5M)Travis konecny($4M)Mitch Marner($9M)Pavel Zacha($2.5M)Anthony Beauvillier($2.5M)Kevin Fiala($3.5M)Nik Goldobin($3.5M)Brendan Perlini($1.5)Anthony Deangelo($4.5M)Brendan Lemieux($1.5M)Adam Erne($1.5M)Marcus Pettersson($3M)Ivan Barbashev($2M)Andrew Mangiapane($1.5M)Denis Malgin($1.5M)Brayden Point($7M)

RFA Zach Werenski

This is not an extensive list of RFA’s.  There are another 26 lower profile RFA’s beyond this list. Looking just at these 28 players however is revealing.  My current estimate lies around $115M.  If you include the remaining 26 RFA’s at league minimum we are at $130M.  Without any UFA’s signed.  That would leave about $56M in cap space or roughly $1.8M per team starting in September.  Historically the league has about $10M in players placed on LTIR. That would bring us up to an average of 2.1M per team. A super-naturally low number.
$2.1M in cap space per team would be a problem for the league.  Essentially there would be no liquidity, no flexibility, no mobility.  Teams would not be able to trade or sign anyone out of the fear and realization that there are no teams with enough cap room to get a team out of cap trouble.  That kind of cap lock up could cause cap non-compliant teams to border on forfeiting games or buy out recent signings just to free up breathing room.
What we are likely to see is a massive drop off in salaries and potential release of capable RFA’s.  UFA’s like Jake Gardiner, Ben Hutton, Brian Boyle, Derik Brassard and Jason Pominville may need to take a lot less $ and less term to get a job.  Unfortunately, the cap will get tighter and tighter as the signings progress with the last players to sign left with little to no leverage. On the other hand, those teams that have held on to their cap space will enjoy a true talent firesale.  If, as rumoured we see the RFA class hold out into training camp, expect to see a large class of UFA’s hanging around waiting for contracts as well.  Possibly into the season if the RFA’s holdout further.
It is going to be an interesting August.

at @spinohockey



Here is a list of some recognizable last names who, along with their older relatives, may soon become household names in the NHL, what the scouting reports say about them, along with some predictions as to where they might land:

As we head into the upcoming NHL Draft in Vancouver on June 21-22, we take our annual look at second and sometimes third generation draft prospects, which has become more common as each year goes by.

Alex Turcotte (C)  (US National – USDP)

Son of former 1st round draft pick Alfie Turcotte, who played with Montreal, Winnipeg, and Washington from 1983-90. Alex is ranked the 4th North America Skater and is projected to be a top 10 pick in this year’s draft. At 5’11 he is not big but his biggest strength is his skating and quickness which he uses to his advantage. Alex exceeds at both ends of the ice, which is what teams are looking for in a star centre. Possesses both an excellent slap and snap shot.  

Possibly Selected by: CHI, LAK, DET

Samuel Poulin (RW) (Sherbrooke – QMJHL)

Samuel is the son of former Hartford Whaler 9th overall draft pick Patrick Poulin, who played over 600 games in the NHL. He is ranked 22nd for North American Skaters and is expected to be a late 1st round draft pick. Samuel, who is 6’2, is projected to be a top power forward with his shooting ability and offensive skill. 

Possibly Selected by: NAS, TBL, SJS

Nolan Foote (LW)  (Kelowna – WHL)


For the second time in three years, a Foote will be drafted into the NHL. In 2017, it was his brother Cal Foote who was selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 1st round. Unlike his brother and his dad, Adam, Nolan is a forward. At 6’3, he is uses his size to his advantage to go along with one of his biggest strengths, which is his wrist shot and quick release. He is also reliable in his own end. Ranked the 37th North American skater, he will likely be drafted in the 2nd round.

Possibly Selected by: COL, DET, NJD

Alex Vlasic (D)(US National Team – U18)

Alex is the cousin of Sharks defenceman Marc-Edouard Vlasic. At 6’6, he is a towering defenceman who, like his cousin, plays a strong defensive game and uses his size to his advantage. He has minimal offensive upside, but has good puck handling and passing skills. Alex is ranked the 38th North American skater who is also projected to be selected in the 2nd round.

Possibly selected by: ANA, EDM, OTT

Alexander Lundqvist (D)(Leksands – SHL)

With a last name like that, you’d think for sure he is related to King Henrik. However, he is actually the nephew of former Red Wing legend Niklas Lidstrom. Alexander is a 6’2 defenceman, who had 5 goals and 12 assists for Leksands in the Swedish League. He is ranked the 58th European skater.

Possibly selected by: PIT, STL, VAN

Rhett Pitlick (LW)  (Chaska – USHS)

Son of former NHL defenceman Lance Pitlick, who spent his 8 seasons playing for Ottawa and Florida, Rhett is ranked the 98th North American skater. He has great overall skill and hockey sense, while continuing to improve. He put up some big numbers (28G 33A 61PTS) while playing for Chaska, MN in the US High School League. Rhett is projected to be chosen in about the 3rd round of the NHL Draft.

Possibly Selected by: BUF, NSH, WSH

Mason Primeau (C) (North Bay – OHL)


At 6’5, you might think Mason would be Keith Primeau’s son, but his dad is actually Wayne Primeau and Keith is his uncle. His dad spent 19 seasons with 7 different NHL teams as key defensive forward. Mason has climbed quickly up the NHL Central Scouting rankings, going from 142 in the mid-term rankings to 113 in the final rankings. A solid two-way centre, he may end up playing a similar checking role that his dad did during his career. He should selected in and around the 4th round.

Possibly Selected by: BOS, TOR, WPG

Nathan Staios (D) (Windsor – OHL)

Nathan plays the same position that his dad, Steve, did while playing in his 1001 NHL games. Despite being only 5’9, his high-end skills make up for his lack of size. He is a smart player in both ends of the ice, due to his great vision and transition game. Nathan is ranked the 182nd North American skater and could be a nice steal in the late round of the draft.

Possibly Selected by: NYI, OTT, PHI

Other notable names who are not ranked:

  • Daniel Antropov (RW) (Oshawa Generals – OHL) – Nikolai (father)
  • Tag Bertuzzi (LW) (Guelph Storm – OHL) – Todd (father)
  • Landon Langenbrunner (C) (Minnesota Wilderness – NAHL) – Jamie (father)
  • Chase Sakic (F)  (Pursuit of Excellence 18U) – Joe (father)
  • Tyler Young (F) (Neponset Valley River Rats U18) – Scott (father)

Will the Jets be singing the Blues? Are the AVS for real?

Hellebuyck will need to be the difference in this series

This NHL playoffs are so unpredictable. Every year their is an upset in the first round. Not to mention its rare feat for many to pick the eventual Stanley Cup Champion. See Washington last year. We love making predictions so here we go again…

First Round:


Will the Winnipeg Jets be singing the Blues? As many are picking the Blues to keep on trucking through their opponents with their spectacular 2019 (they have the second most wins in the league since January). Can Winnipeg overcome their locker room issues and stop the Blues machine as they did in the season series in which they won 3 out of the 4 games? We realize the last game was played in December. We just think that the Jets are too deep, have some playoff experience and clearly the better goaltender. Not to mention big Buff and Josh Morrissey healthy (if that’s indeed the case) will make all the difference in this series. Can St Louis continue their winning ways? Even though they are only 2 wins better than the Jets after that incredible 11 game winning streak that ended in February that turned their season around. I know they finished the season strong but just a few short months ago rumours were going on that a fire sale was about to happen. Can Craig Berube out coach Paul Maurice? Can Jordan Binnington outduel Connor Hellebuyck? Will Vlad Tarasenko disappear in the payoffs like playoff’s of past? Will the Winnipeg Jets top line actually outplay another line this year? Stay tuned. Besides the eventual Stanley Cup champion nearly always has to overcome huge obstacles or some sort of near death experience before they go on to win the Stanley Cup. Playing this team in the first round is may be what the doctor ordered. Jets in 7


Let’s start off by saying the good news is the Preds never won the President’s trophy. The bad news, their offence seems to have disappeared. Can anyone tell me what league Kyle Turris is playing in? The Preds are 19th in the league in goals for but 3rd in goals against. Their top offensive players of Ryan Johansson and Filip Forsberg have been underwhelming at best. To top this off the playoffs are coming for Pekka Rinne which is never a good thing. Who knows maybe that backing into first place by the Jets collapse will give them confidence. On the other hand, the Dallas Stars and their stifling defence and their brick wall named Ben Bishop are 2nd in the league in goals against. Can this mark the end of Pekka Rinne in Smashville? Back to the Stars. Is there a better collection of big game, emotionally gifted offensive players that we find in Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Alex Radulov and the not much talked about Matt Zucarello? It’s about time that Dallas finally wins a playoff series. They must be due finally! Stars in 6


So Colorado didn’t get that first overall draft pick in the NHL draft lottery. Pierre Dorion is rejoicing. Instead they get the first place Calgary Flames and their mediocre goaltending. The Avs going down the stretch have been one of the hottest teams in the league. We like Calgary’s depth at forward and especially on defence. It really seems like they are full of playoff type players starting with Matthew Tkachuk, Sean Monahan, Mark Giordano and some guy named “Johny Hockey”. Goaltending is another question entirely. As much as we like what the Flames have done this year. We really like the pace that this energetic, young crop of players bring to the Rockies. In Nate & Mikko we trust… Colorado in 7


Probably the toughest series to pick. Vegas seems like the obvious choice. The Sharks are slumping. Martin Jones has been average at best. The Knights added many new veteran players to a team that had already went to the Stanley Cup Final in 2018. They have an endless list of big game players in Marchessault, Karlsson, Smith, Stastny, Stone and Tuch. But no bigger than the game’s biggest “big game” goalie in Marc-Andre Fleury. The Sharks are deep, well coached, driven by a good crop of veterans that have been there before. Many players including Pavelski, Couture, Burns and maybe the biggest game changer in Erik Karlsson is quietly in the background. When a series is truly a coin toss, I usually go with the goalie I like more and Marc Andre Fleury would be the certain choice. Strange hunch but for some reason I think the Knights will not survive in Shark infested waters. Or maybe I was remembering how dominant the Sharks had been before the last 10-15 games of the season when they really were not playing for anything. San Jose in 7


How can anyone upset the mighty Tampa Bay Lightning? Clearly the leagues best team and the winner of the dreaded President’s Trophy. No team is deeper and they are facing a team that was basically put together at the NHL trade deadline. The Jackets do have star power, Panarin, Duchene, Jones, Bobrovsky and who can forget John Tortorella (Tampa’s ex-coach). It would be a shocker if the Jackets won this series but we don’t see it as lopsided as much as the league standings would show. The way Colombus lost last year, up 2 games and in OT with the eventual Stanley Cup champion could provide motivation. We just think this team that seemingly has no weaknesses will be too much for the Jackets. Lightning in 6


Just on principle I can not pick the Maple Leafs to win this series. But let me tell you something, when everyone in the NHL world is picking the Bruins this is when the upset happens. The Leafs can score with the best of them and for this writer this is the route to win this series. Deep at center they will need to overpower and open up this series and try to surprise the stingy veteran Bruins squad. Freddie Andersen will need to stand on his head or at least carries this team on his shoulders. As much as we are tempted to take the Leafs we will stick with Bergeron, Marchand, Chara and Rask to do them in again. But for some reason I am picking with my head and not my queasy stomach. Bruins in 7


It’s about time that someone takes these bunch of jerks and put them out of their misery as Don Cherry will be sure to say. This magical season has to come to an end and no one better to put an end to it than the brash and off season boozers found in the nations capital. I really like what Rod Brind’amour has done with this Nascar loving state but really, how much more can the frozen pond traditionalist take. Post game celebrations? Hockey is not fun people. It especially won’t be fun agains the hi tempo bruising defending Stanley Cup champions. This is all I need is to see Ovi jumping up and down putting away one timers against the “great to be here” Hurricanes. Caps in 5


Is anyone picking the Islanders in their hockey drafts?  I guess anything is possible but you got to love what the Islanders have done this year with sweet Lou and Trotz at the helm. But I have a few names that will never let this happen. Crosby, Malkin, Kessel and a playoff Matt Murray. Enough said.Penguins in 5 

Second Round Winners:

Winnipeg over Dallas in 7, San Jose over Colorado in 6, Pittsburgh over Washington in 7, Tampa Bay over Boston in 5

Third Round Winners:

Winnipeg over San Jose in 7, Tampa Bay over Pittsburgh in 6

Stanley Cup Champion: Winnipeg over Tampa Bay in 6

by Frank Zappia @frankzappia1 @Spinohockey

The following are Picks by @Mass_Insight

TB over CLB 5, WSH over CAR in 6, PIT over NYI in 7, BOS over TOR in 6

NSH over DAL in 7, COL over CGY in 7, WPG over STL in 6, SJS over VGK in 6

Round 2: TB over BOS in 6, PIT over WSH in 6, COL over SJS in 6, NSH over WPG in 7

Round 3: COL over NSH in 7, TB over PIT in 6

Stanley Cup Champion: TB over COL in 6

Your comments are welcome @spinohockey, @frankzappia1 and @Mass_Insight


The science of cloning sheep is controversial at best.  Sheep you ask?  Deep in thought I was wondering how would you go about cloning an NHL Stanley Cup champion? The acknowledged method is to copy the last couple of cup champions.  Like most professional sports league it is a copycat league.  The Blackhawks and Penguins laid out the foundation of a smaller faster-type team would be the method on how to win the holy grail and they did.  The LA Kings of the past were big, tough and grinding and this method also won.  The Washington Capitals of last year were a combination of both and in 2018 they were drinking out of Lord Stanley’s cup (a little too much this past summer in our view).

Nonetheless we can try to analyze the Hockey News’ 2019 pick to win the Stanley Cup. Along with DNA, a little luck will go a long way…

Here is a list of the signs of a Stanley Cup Champion and how the Winnipeg Jets meet that DNA criteria without any controversial cloning:

President’s Trophy – first off play the odds and don’t win the President’s Trophy:

  • This won’t be a problem.  Check.

Get on a Roll just before the playoffs.

With the exception of 2015 Blackhawks, all the others champions came into the playoffs winning.  The Jets are on a currently 5-2-0 in their last 7 games:

  • 2018 Caps 9-3-0
  • 2017 Penguins 6-4-2
  • 2016 Penguins 10-2-0 
  • 2015 Hawks 5-7-0 
  • 2014 Kings 7-3-2 
  • 2013 Hawks 9-2-1 
  • 2012 Kings 7-5-0 
  • 2011 Bruins 7-4-1 
  • 2010 Hawks 7-3-2 
  • 2009 Penguins 9-3-0

Goaltending has to be really good in the playoffs:

  • Prior to the Dallas Stars game where he was left to fend for himself, Connor Hellebuyck won his last 4 starts, allowing a total of 4 goals, recording 2 shutouts with an average save % of .972.  This would be Marc-Andre Fleury playoff-like numbers. 

When the experts don’t pick you to win this is when you finally win:

  • The last thing you want to be in the NHL playoffs is the favourite.  You can pretty much count on, if most reporters pick you to win, it isn’t happening.  You can call the NHL a lot of things but predictable isn’t one of them. The Jets being pre-season favourites are currently far from it.  Maybe this is a good thing.

You usually face some adversity in the playoffs:

  • Like the Caps last year, we wrote a column on why the Vegas Golden Nights prior to the final would not beat the Caps.  Why you say?  Because the Blue Jackets should have knocked out the Caps in the first round.  The Blue Jackets were up 2-0 and tied in overtime in game 3 only for the Caps to come back and not only win the series but eventually the Stanley Cup.  Vegas pretty much had an easy time the whole way.  This is a strange one but it seems to happen every year.  No team can coast to a Stanley Cup.  Look at the old dominate Oilers teams that always seemed to be down 3-1 to some team (Jets one year) only to come back and take the cup.

Somebody in the bottom 6 come up big and it’s totally unexpected:

  • In 2018 the Washington Capitals had Lars Eller and Devante Smith-Pelly tied for 4thon the team with 7 goals in the playoffs.  DSP had 7 goals all season.  Eller & Pelly came up with some bigtime key goals when the team needed it most.
  • In 2017 Penguins rookie Jake Guentzel lead the team in playoff goals with 13.
  • In 2016 Phil Kessel dominated for the Penguins (but he isn’t considered bottom 6), but Nick Bonino and Carl Hagelin had 18 & 16 points in 24 games.
  • Do I even mention Dustin Byfuglien’s 11 goals in the 2010 playoffs for the eventual champion Blackhawks?  You get the point.


  • Coaching decisions are key in the playoffs.  We have written before no one has the pulse of this team better than coach Maurice but he will need to pull the trigger and not second guess before it’s too late.  In last year’s series against Vegas, we know he ran into a red hot goalie but he needed to make adjustments to try to change the outcome that looked inevitable early on. He waited until game 5 to insert a few players but we think he needed to do something earlier to change the course of that series.  

Need to lose before you win:

  • They did lose last year in the conference final to the above mentioned Vegas Golden Knights.  This seems to happen to every eventual champion.  The only question is, have they done enough losing?  See the Washington Capitals of last year.  After years of being the favourite and losing, their time finally came.

Special Teams:

  • In playoff hockey, goals are hard to come by but more importantly they seem to be major momentum changers.  Tight games mean the teams that executes is usually the team that wins. Statistically the Jet’s powerplay has been good but we think that this will be a big factor (more than normal) in order for the Jets to go all the way.

Best players need to be your best players:

  • Goaltending is a separate category because it is the most important position in hockey. Like Mark Scheifele last year who tore up the playoffs with goals will need some help.  Patrik Laine needs to be a difference maker.  They can not win without him scoring.  The other obvious player is a healthy Dustin Byfuglien. Center ice depth is what every team needs in order to win.  Scheifele, Hayes, Lowry & Copp (at the moment) need to dominate play in order to win.

For the record, we hate the idea of cloning though scientifically it is very interesting and scary all at the same time.  This will be the Winnipeg Jets third and best shot since coming back to the NHL to drink their faces off in an Ovechkin type manner.  Coming up with the DNA of past champions in order to win the most coveted prize in hockey would be beneficial.  But then again, winning a Stanley Cup is no exact science.  

Comments @spinohockey


With the NHL Trade Deadline fast approaching, playoff-bound teams need to decide whether they will go into the playoffs with their existing roster or if they will try to add one or two pieces to help them make a long run. Teams that are out of the playoffs are looking to get the most they can for players on expiring contracts or even major deals to unload some contracts. Then there are the teams in the middle, who might decide to both buy and sell.

There are some teams who have been out of the playoff picture for quite some time and teams in the Western Conference that have recently climbed back into the playoff picture. While most fans love to see the big blockbuster player deals, all it could take is a minor deal to put a contending team over the top. Buyers will be looking for that difference maker that will put them 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 surprise team of the West are contending for top spot in the Pacific with a rookie goalie.  They may want to trade for a proven goalie, as Mike Smith continues to falter. If they also land a solid top 6 forward, it could make them an even more dangerous team in the playoffs.

Possible Options:James Reimer (FLA), Cam Ward (CHI), Matt Zuccarello (NYR), Kevin Hayes (NYR)

Long Shot:Mark Stone (OTT), Jimmy Howard (DET)


GM Stan Bowman has done a great job of trading already this season, especially since they face such a tight cap situation. The acquisition of Dylan Strome has helped the Blackhawks claw their way back into the Western Conference playoff picture. Still, Bowman likely has his eyes set on trying to dump some salary.

Possible Options:Kasperi Kapanen (TOR)

Long Shot:Artemi Panarin (CHI)


After a quick start, the Avs have recently been in a free-fall. GM Joe Sakic may need to find some secondary scoring help in order to help keep their playoff hopes alive. They could be both buyers and sellers.

Possible Options:  Kevin Hayes (NYR), Gustav Nyquist (DET), Andrei Burakovsky (WSH)

Long Shot:Eric Staal (MIN), Charlie Coyle (MIN)


It seems like CEO Jim Lites lit the horses behind since his crass comments about Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. The Stars have been winning and will likely be shopping for some secondary scoring to help the stable.

Possible Options:Wayne Simmonds (PHI), Artemi Panarin (LAK)

Long Shot:Matt Duchene (OTT), Micheal Ferland (CAR)


The Wild are a bubble team in both making the playoffs and whether they will be buyers or sellers. Earlier this season, word was Charlie Coyle was on the trade block, with new GM Paul Fenton looking to make some changes to the roster. Other teams are also salivating at the possibility of upcoming UFA Eric Staal possibly becoming available.

Possible Options: Kevin Hayes (NYR), Matt Zuccarello (NYR)

Long Shot:Jonathan Huberdeau (FLA)


David Poile always seems to have something up his sleeve when it comes to pulling off a surprise trade. The Preds are built to win now and it may take one more move to accomplish that. Team to watch to make first big move.

Possible Options:Wayne Simmonds (PHI), Jakob Silfverberg (ANA)

Long Shot:Mark Stone (OTT), Matt Zuccarello (NYR)

San Jose

The Sharks already made their big move when they acquired Erik Karlsson at the beginning of the season. Now it may just be a matter of adding some character and depth to their lineup for a possible long playoff run.

Possible Options:  Alex Chiasson (EDM), Carl Hagelin (LAK), Drew Stafford (NJD)

Long Shot:Charlie Coyle (MIN)

St. Louis

It wasn’t long ago that the Blues were last place in the Central, but they have since turned things around and are right in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. Despite this, it is not likely that GM Doug Armstrong will make a big splash. 

Possible Options: Marcus Johansson (NJD), Jakob Silverberg (ANA)

Long Shot:Ryan Dzingel (OTT)


After a slow start, the Golden Knights were quickly back in to their first year expansion form, but have recently tailed off again. After reaching the finals last season, GM George McPhee will likely be looking to hit a homerun with a big deadline acquisition.

Possible Options:Mark Stone (OTT), Matt Duchene (OTT)

Long Shot:Jeff Carter (LAK), Ryan Getzlaf (ANA), Duncan Keith (CHI)


After their surprising acquisition at the deadline last year, the biggest question being thrown around is “Who is the next Paul Stastny?” After being thwarted a couple of times, Chevy pulled a rabbit out of his hat by trading with a Central rival. This season their needs appears to be up the middle. What does Chevy do for an encore?

Possible Options:Kevin Hayes (NYR), Mark Stone (OTT) 

Long Shot: Eric Staal (MIN), Marcus Johansson (NJD)



The Bruins are in a similar position as the Preds are in the West. With the veterans they have in their lineup, they are in a win-now mode. If they want to get past the Lightning and Capitals, they will likely need make some key additions.

Possible Options: Wayne Simmonds (PHI), Derick Brassard (FLA)

Long Shot:Mark Stone (OTT), Wayne Simmonds (PHI)


One of the surprise teams of the East, the Sabres find themselves in an unusual position of not being a Trade Deadline seller. However, I don’t expect GM Jason Boterill to be very active unless it is for a player with term. 

Possible Options:Jesse Puljujarvi (EDM), 

Long Shot:Kasperi Kapanen (TOR)


Next to Ottawa, the Blue Jackets are the team to watch to see whether they will trade or keep both upcoming UFAs Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky. 

Possible Options:Matt Duchene (OTT), Vlad Namestnikov (NYR)

Longshot:Jonathan Huberdeau (FLA), Artemi Anisimov (CHI), Duncan Keith (CHI)


One of the biggest surprises in the East this season, the Habs have quickly turned things around thanks to some healthy bodies, trades that have panned out, and the play from their rookie forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi. 

Possible Options:Niklas Kronwall (DET), Nikita Zadorov (COL), Patrik Nemeth (COL)

Long Shot:Cam Fowler (ANA), Derick Brassard (FLA)

New York Islanders

The biggest surprise in the NHL this season, Head Coach Barry Trotz has done the unthinkable after the Isles lost their franchise player. They have a few players who will become UFAs at the end of the season, but that may not stop GM Lou Lamareillo from adding a few key pieces to try and continue their surprise run into the playoffs. Is there another David Volek moment in the cards?

Possible Options:Matt Duchene (OTT), Gustav Nyquist (DET)

Long Shot: Sergei Bobrovsky (CLB), Micheal Ferland (CAR)


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 Options:Eric Staal (PIT), Gustav Nyquist (DET), Alex Martinez (LAK)

Long Shot: Ryan Dzingel (OTT), Jeff Skinner (BUF), Micheal Ferland (CAR)

Tampa Bay

The Lightning have been the runaway team during the regular season. However, as we all know, that goes out the window as soon as the playoffs start. Pressure is on for this team to go all the way after some disappointing results in the last couple of playoff runs. Likely looking for some help on the back end.

Possible Options:Adam McQuaid (NYR), Alex Martinez (LAK)

Long Shot:Cody Ceci (OTT), Justin Faulk (CAR)


The Leafs already made a big splash when they acquired highly coveted defenceman Jake Muzzin from the LA Kings. They could still add a forward or a depth defenceman, as they were originally looking for a RHD.

Possible Options: Jakob Silfverberg (ANA), Ben Lovejoy (NJD)

Long Shot: Wayne Simmonds (PHI), Micheal Ferland (CAR)


Just like last season, I don’t expect the Caps to make a big splash at the trade deadline. They may make a few minor moves to shore up their depth.

Possible Options: Troy Brouwer (FLA), Patrick Maroon (STL)

Long Shot:Alex Chiasson (EDM), Marcus Johansson (NJD)


Trade Deadline: What players will put the Winnipeg Jets over the top!

If the Wild continue to falter, the Winnipeg Jets should make Center Eric Staal their number one focus

            Last season, the Winnipeg Jets were in an unfamiliar situation during the NHL trade deadline. Instead of being on the fence as to whether they would be buyers or sellers, their position in the standings clearly reflected that of being in a position to be a buyer. For GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, this was uncharted territory. Coming off a franchise best Season (no matter which franchise you are talking about – Winnipeg or Atlanta). The pressure to win is fast approaching.

            Fast forward to this season and the Jets are currently looking good at the top of the Western Conference and Central Division. While things can change quickly, it looks as though the Jets are ready to make another playoff run in 2019. With that being said, we’re taking a look at what players the Jets could possibly target, on or before the upcoming trade deadline. What has mostly been suggested (as we suggested very early last year) is for the team to try and find another centre, like last year’s Paul Stastny, to once again help galvanize the top lines. As we have said numerous times before centre depth and goaltending is a must to win the Stanley Cup. We realize the key to any playoff run is to ensure you have enough depth in your organization, as with the long grinding season and the intensity of the playoffs, there are going to be injuries.

            Here are the players we believe the Jets should target at the deadline. Keep in mind, in most cases players would most likely be from teams who are out of playoff contention and either preferably be an upcoming UFA or they would need to have little term remaining on their contracts.


C Eric Staal (MIN)– This a player we had identified when he first became an UFA three seasons ago. No one checks off the boxes more than this player. He is a big strong center, can take face offs and play power play or can penalty kill. Not to mention a proven winner who has been there before. Staal has rejuvenated his career in Minnesota, after previously spending his entire career with Carolina. He has once again found his scoring touch and has also played for Paul Maurice when he was with the Hurricanes. Staal could be a perfect fit in a top six role and could even be better than Stastny was last year. Minnesota started off strong but are now currently out of a playoff spot. This would need to continue in order for the Jets to possibly acquire him. But if he is, we are all in on him.

C Marcus Johansson (NJD)– So far, things haven’t quite worked out for the New Jersey Devils like it did last season. Johansson, an upcoming UFA who originally played for the Capitals, was a good pickup for the Devils, but was injured most of last season. A great skater, playmaker and setup man, Johansson could be just what the Jets need to help feed Laine the puck. They could also use a good Swede, as they currently do not have a Swedish player on their roster.

C Derrick Brassard (PIT)– Here we go again! As mentioned before, the Jets were interested in trading for him at last year’s deadline, but they were thwarted by Vegas. Brassard hasn’t quite worked out for the Penguins and even though Pittsburgh will likely be playoff bound, we all know how Jimmy Rutherford likes to wheel and deal. Brassard has put up some real good stats in the playoffs before when playing for Ottawa and the New York Rangers and could be a key cog for the Jets for a long playoff run. Chevy may end up circling back on Brassard.

C Kevin Hayes (NYR)– With the NYRangers rebuilding, Hayes name has already been in the rumor mill earlier this season with the Jets reportedly showing interest. Hayes, who is scheduled to become an UFA, is a 6’5 centre who has good hands and can also play all three forward positions. There is also a previous connection with Chevy as he was originally drafted by Chicago in 2010. His play has picked up recently with the NYRangers and being a former Boston College player, he could fit in nicely with the current US-heavy Jets roster.

C Matt Duchene (OTT)– Duchene is a long shot as the Senators are actively trying to sign him to an extension. If he does become available, he will be the most expensive rental players as GM Pierre Doiron will try to recoup as much as possible based on what they gave up when they acquired him last season. Duchene would make the Jets even more dangerous than they already are, but we don’t think Chevy will want to give up the assets it will take to obtain his services.

W Micheal Ferland (CAR)– While he is not a centre, Ferland has a great combination of being a scoring power forward and is tough as nails, which is always great to have for a long and grueling playoff run. One thing we think was missing in their series vs Vegas was a rugged tough forward to combat against the likes of Scott Hartnell and Ryan Reaves. Ferland is a local boy (from Swan River), which is also a nice bonus too. 

W Matt Zuccarello (NYR)– Another player the Jets were reportedly eyeing during last season’s deadline, Zuccarello is now even more attractive as a rental, as he too will become an UFA at the end of the season.  He is considered to be somewhat of a Marty St. Louis-type player due to his size, quickness, and having a nose for the net, and like St. Louis, he could be the difference-maker for the Jets in the post season.

Other possible forward options – C Jori Lehtera (PHA), W – Wayne Simmonds (PHA), C Marcus Kruger (CHI), C/W Brian Boyle (NJD), C Brock Nelson (NYI), W Michael Raffl (PHI), W Gustav Nyquist (DET), W Patrick Maroon (STL)


Jake Muzzin – LD (LAK) – Muzzin is a hard-nosed, mobile d-man who can score, and comes with a winning pedigree as a result of his two Stanley Cup wins with the Kings. With LA out of the playoff picture, Muzzin, who has 1 year remaining in his contract, could be exactly what the Jets need to add some toughness on the blue line and solidify their d-core. If the Jets were to be interested 1) Muzzin won’t come cheap and 2) the Jets will likely need to send a contract back as they will have a few high-priced players to re-sign in the offseason.

Alex Edler (VAN) – LD – An upcoming UFA, Edler will likely be the most sought after rental on defence this season. A solid all-round defenceman, Edler would add another dimension to the Jets back end. He also has valuable playoff experience with some long playoff runs with the Canucks.

Niklas Kronwall – LD – (DET) – While Kronwall is getting up there in age (37), he is still a key cog on the Red Wings blue line. Kronwall can add some toughness and, while not recent, also has great playoff experience with his previous Cup wins with Detroit. Imagine teams having to lineup against Kronwall and Big Buff.

Adam McQuaid – RD – (NYR) – On the right side, the Jets would be a good position depth-wise if it weren’t for the injury to Tucker Poolman, who is currently out indefinitely with an injury. McQuaid could be a solid acquisition as he is a good shot blocking, defensive defenceman and could replace the spot normally occupied by Poolman.

Ben Lovejoy – RD – (NJD) – Like McQuaid, Lovejoy is a right handed d-man who could be a good depth add. Lovejoy also had playoff experience under his belt in playoff runs with the Penguins.

Other possible options – Michael Del Zotto (VAN), Jan Ruuta (CHI), Luca Sbisa (NYI), Nate Prosser (MIN), Robert Hagg (PHA), Jay Bouwmeester (STL)