When a player is an upcoming unrestricted free agent and it’s unlikely his team will re-sign him before the trade deadline, it’s always fodder for trade talk.
It’s uncertain how many upcoming UFAs will be dealt on Deadline Day, but rest assured teams looking to make a run at Lord Stanley will inquire about potential rental players.
Upcoming UFAs like Ryan Smyth and Filip Kuba have been taken off the trading block by their respective GMs, and players like Tuomo Ruutu and Andy Sutton recently signed contract extensions.
Still, there are many skaters for GMs to look at leading up to Feb. 27. Here are some players that will receive plenty of attention on Deadline Day.
The more the Toronto Maple Leafs struggle down the stretch, the more trade talks will heat up. With 18 goals and 40 points in 54 games, the Belarusian is a fast, crafty centre who can create multiple scoring opportunities when he’s on his game. Ruutu agreed to an extension with the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday that will pay him an average of $4.75 million per season. Grabovski puts up similar numbers to Ruutu, but if he asks for a contract with a similar cap hit, the Leafs could part ways with No. 84. He would be a good fit in Los Angeles, Nashville or Phoenix.
Hemsky wants a new, long-term contract, but Edmonton Oilers management is hesitant, otherwise the deal would be done already. They’ve got a wealth of young talent that they need to re-sign down the road — Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and possibly Sam Gagner — and there might not be room under the salary cap for Hemsky. He’s not a physical presence and doesn’t have much playoff experience, but Hemsky’s playmaking ability and puck movement is first rate. He would be a good fit in Detroit, Los Angeles or Boston.
The Montreal Canadiens forward recently stated that he is frustrated with the ice time he is receiving. When asked if he would request a trade before the deadline he simply replied, “We’ll see what happens in the next few games.” He is having a subpar season with just 24 points in 51 games, but a change in scenery could be good for him and whichever team picks him up. Kostitsyn would be of benefit to Nashville, Phoenix, or Florida.
The New York Islanders are going to miss the playoffs once again and have a chance to add draft picks and prospects. Parenteau has flown under the radar the last couple years but has been putting up solid numbers. He’s in the middle of a career year with 54 points in 54 games. As Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos suggested, the 28-year-old could be used as a rental player and sign back with the Islanders in the off-season. He would be a good fit in Pittsburgh, Boston or Vancouver.
No one expected the Washington Capitals to struggle the way they have this season. This team was supposed to contend for the President’s Trophy and Stanley Cup, but instead it is fighting tooth and nail just to reach the playoffs. If the Caps decide to shake things up, they could get a lot in return for Semin, one of the NHL’s premier offensive talents.
The biggest name dealt on Deadline Day last season could be on the move again this year. He has size, skill and, in the right setting, is an effective power forward. His salary is big at $4.25 million, but it’s not a risky short-term investment for a team looking for a rental player. Penner would be a smart fit in New Jersey, Toronto or Boston.
– Other UFAs teams will look at on Deadline Day for added offence are Buffalo Sabres forwards Brad Boyes and Johan Hect, Anaheim Ducks veteran Niklas Hagman, and Winnipeg Jets centre Kyle Wellwood.
He’s the type of player that is built for a long playoff run. The Buffalo Sabres forward is an ideal third-line player who is skilled enough offensively to contribute on the score sheet, and gritty enough in his own zone to not be a defensive liability. Gaustad would fit well in Philadelphia, San Jose or with the NY Rangers.
Moen isn’t built for scoring; he’s built for forechecking. A Stanley Cup champion with the Anaheim Ducks, Moen has already garnered a lot of interest from around the league. He is a proven playoff performer and will be a coveted rental player on Deadline Day. He would be a good fit in Detroit, Toronto or Philadelphia.
The Columbus Blue Jackets are falling apart, and while most of the team’s trade talk surrounds Rick Nash and Jeff Carter, this gritty Swedish centre could gain equal attention around the league. He is a Stanley Cup champ, a defensive stalwart, and a veteran presence who is ideal for a team preparing to go deep into the playoffs. Pahlsson would be a good fit in Detroit, New Jersey or St. Louis.
– Another player teams will look at if they seek a fourth-line grinder who isn’t afraid to drop the gloves is Colorado Avalanche forward Cody McLeod.
Teams looking to rent a steady blueliner will likely have to pay through the roof as it’s slim pickings this season. Yet if a team is willing to shell out enough assets, it could land a top-tier D-man.
Nashville Predators general manager David Poile has stated that his No. 1 goal is to re-sign Suter, but the 27-year-old has said he doesn’t plan on signing a new contract before the trade deadline. Suter is an elite defenceman in all areas on the ice. It will take a major offer for the Preds to consider moving him, but you can be certain several teams will be on the phone with Poile on Monday. Suter would be a good fit in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh or Washington.
With his big shot and deep hockey sense, the former Canadiens and Oilers pointman would help any team on the power play. The Dallas Stars are on the verge of the playoffs and may be hesitant to make a trade at this time. Souray is unlikely to move unless the Stars receive an offer they can’t turn down, but that won’t stop the phones from ringing.
Washington needs a change, and Wideman could be on the move. He is one of the league’s top point-producing defenceman, but the Capitals find themselves in an uncomfortable spot in the standings. If Wideman wasn’t a UFA, the chances of him being dealt would be slim to none. But since he is, it’s not out of the question. Anything is possible on Deadline Day.
– Other defencemen who could be snapped up as rental players include Mark Eaton (New York Islanders), Willie Mitchell (Los Angeles Kings), Chris Campoli (Montreal Canadiens), and Johnny Oduya (Winnipeg Jets).