As the NHL Trade Deadline of 3pm on February 27 nears; rumors, rumors and more rumors will be discussed in blogs, on radio, on television and on twitter. As this deadline approaches, teams will define themselves as buyers or sellers and as a result will start to identify who they want to pursue and who they are willing to part with.
The major difference this year compared to prior years is that teams have more cap space than ever. To give you an idea – according to capgeek.com, 26 of 30 teams could add a player today who has a full season cap hit of $3.85M or more. One trend that will likely continue is that more trades will materialize in the month leading up to the deadline, as opposed to on the actual deadline day.
Here is my list of 20 players who will most likely be dealt between now and February 27. Note that none of this is based on inside information or anything like that; this is a purely speculative list…so no wagering please!
Francois Beauchemin (Anaheim Ducks)
Beauchemin is a Stanley Cup winner who brings experience and grit to a playoff team. He is no longer a top 4 defenseman, but he would be very good value on a third pair. The asking price won’t be through the roof either.
Bobby Ryan (Anaheim Ducks)
Ryan would fetch a huge return for the Ducks, which is really the only reason they would be looking to move him. As teams get more desperate to add a top line forward, someone (the Leafs?) may throw an offer Bob Murray’s way that he can’t refuse.
Lubomir Visnovsky (Anaheim Ducks)
Armed with a no-trade clause, Visnovsky would have to approve any trade; but it’s hard to imagine he would turn down a chance to win his first cup at his age (35). His contract is expensive, but teams are desperate for D and there are not many top 4 guys available.
Derek Roy (Buffalo Sabres)
Should the Sabres continue to struggle, GM Darcy Regier may find it hard to resist trading his #1 center, who is coveted by a number of teams. Imagine what a team like Chicago would pay to have Roy slot in as their second-line center behind Toews.
Cory Sarich (Calgary Flames)
Sarich requested a trade earlier this year. He didn’t move because his contract is expensive and he wasn’t playing. Now he has played 30 games this season and teams have cap space to add him. He slots in as a good #7 D for a playoff team.
Tuomo Ruutu (Carolina Hurricanes)
Ruutu is a valuable commodity because he can play any forward position, he is on an expiring contract and he adds a combination of grit and the ability to score goals. Any playoff team looking to add a depth forward to their top 3 lines would benefit by adding Ruutu.
Tim Gleason (Carolina Hurricanes)
Gleason has always been underrated, but teams looking to add a good #4 or #5 defenseman know that Gleason would be a great fit. There has been rumored interest from Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago already.
Sammy Pahlsson (Columbus Blue Jackets)
Everyone remembers Anaheim’s famous third line of Niedermayer-Pahlsson-Moen during their 2007 cup run. Pahlsson is in the final year of his contract and would be a valuable addition to a playoff team needing a fourth-line center / penalty killer.
Vinny Prospal (Columbus Blue Jackets)
Like Tuomo Ruutu, the benefit of adding a player like Prospal is that he can slot in anywhere in your top 9, as he can play every forward position. He has had a decent season with 30 points in 44 games, making him a very attractive playoff rental.
Ales Hemsky (Edmonton Oilers)
There is no one on this list with more raw skill than Ales Hemsky. Many teams are looking to add a top 6 forward, so if Hemsky can stay healthy and produce between now and the deadline, he will fetch a nice return for the Oilers.
Andrei Kostitsyn (Montreal Canadiens)
Kostitsyn is having a decent season in Montreal, but he is a UFA at the end of the year and it’s unlikely he will re-sign with the Habs. Teams that want to add some scoring to their top 9 without paying a major price should give Pierre Gauthier a call about Kostitsyn.
Travis Moen (Montreal Canadiens)
While I believe the Canadiens should re-sign Moen, his value on the market may be too good to pass up. He is putting up good offensive numbers for a third-line player, and he has a history of performing well in the playoffs.
Hal Gill (Montreal Canadiens)
Gill is not having a good year in Montreal, but his ability to elevate his game in the playoffs would have a number of teams bidding for his services. A team would get the most value out of him if they slot him as a #6 D-man who eats minutes on the PK.
Ryan Suter (Nashville Predators)
Suter is a UFA at the end of the year, and if Nashville is unable to re-sign him (they have been trying for a while), they will have no choice but to trade him. Suter is a top pairing defenseman who easily land Nashville a first-round pick and a top prospect. The emergence of Ryan Ellis and Roman Josi would make dealing Suter easier to swallow for GM David Poile.
Ray Whitney (Phoenix Coyotes)
The 39 year old winger is on pace for 25 goals and 65 points this season; making Whitney a player who will be highly sought after as the trade deadline nears. He does have a no-trade clause, but you have to think he wouldn’t mind another shot at a Stanley Cup before he retires.
Antero Niittymaki (San Jose Sharks)
Niittymaki, the only goalie on this list, has not played this season due to an injury and due to the stellar play of backup Thomas Greiss. If a playoff team loses a goaltender to an injury, Niittymaki will be available and the asking price would be minimal.
Dominic Moore (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Moore has already played for 8 teams in his NHL career, and a ninth team is likely coming soon. Think Sammy Pahlsson, add more offensive upside and you have Dominic Moore. He is the one UFA on the Tampa Bay Lightning that will generate a lot of interest.
Jeff Schultz (Washington Capitals)
It appears that the Capitals are starting to turn their season around, and they are doing it without Jeff Schultz who has sat out a ton of games as a healthy scratch. Schultz is 25 years old, has a very digestible cap hit of $2.75M, is 6’6/230 lbs and only 2 seasons ago he posted a +50 plus/minus rating. I don’t understand what happened here, but he is clearly in need of a fresh start. I can’t think of too many teams that would have no use for Schultz.
Alexander Semin (Washington Capitals)
Another dispensable player on the Capitals roster is the enigmatic Alexander Semin. He has not done much this year and it seems evident at this point that Washington would sacrifice Semin’s skill to shore up their defense or add some more jam up front.
Johnny Oduya (Winnipeg Jets)
In the year of the defensemen, if Winnipeg falls out of a playoff spot (I think they will) there will likely be some interest in Oduya. He logs over 19 mins per game, but he will be too expensive for the team to re-sign. Like Beauchemin, he is not a top 4, but he would be a good third-pairing guy.
About the Author
Written by Corey Krakower
I am the Director of NHL Content & Habs writer for ProSportsBlogging.com; I have spent 8 seasons behind the bench as a minor hockey coach; and I am the future GM of the Montreal Canadiens (according to my mom). I spend my days managing the Harrow Sports brand in my hometown of Montreal and I moonlight as a Hockey Advisor for Pi Athlete Management. Most importantly, I'll throw anyone under the bus for a laugh.