Trade deadline season is upon us, and that means the rumour mill is spinning a little faster than usual.
There are a lot of interesting names and ideas out there, which has our hopes on high for a little extra deadline drama this year as several teams are in a position to go all-in.
With that in mind, this week’s power rankings zeroes in on an interesting player or asset – could be a top trade pick, a target to acquire, or simply a situation to watch down the stretch – to consider for each team as March 21 draws near.
1. Colorado Avalanche (40-10-4)
What do you get for the team that already has everything? You pull a Tampa Bay Lightning and get the best player on the block, too. Flyers captain Claude Giroux checks every box for Colorado, but what’s in it for Philadelphia? A young NHLer like Tyson Jost or a promising prospect like Justin Barron could be ones to watch – plus a package of lucrative picks, of course. Time to go all-in.
2. Carolina Hurricanes (37-11-5)
Considering how solid this team is up and down the lineup, it’s hard to see the Hurricanes dealing a roster player in exchange for a little more blue line depth. A promising prospect like Scott Morrow or Ryan Suzuki or the hope of a top pick are probably the most interesting assets to watch as the deadline draws near.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning (35-11-6)
Okay, who is this year’s Barclay Goodrow-Blake Coleman connection? Who is their David Savard? The deadline just wouldn’t be the deadline without the league’s most dominant team pulling off some cap magic. Those first-round picks must be burning a hole in Julien BriseBois’s pocket.
4. Florida Panthers (35-13-5)
It’s full speed ahead for the powerhouse Panthers, and it’s unlikely they’d be willing to deal any roster players. Owen Tippett, however, presents an interesting prospect. The 2017 first-rounder hasn’t been able to break the lineup in any meaningful way, and is currently playing in the AHL for a stint. Tippett did tally a goal and four points in six playoff games last year, which suggests he could be an impact player for a contender this spring – for the right price, of course.
5. Calgary Flames (32-14-6)
The Flames already completed their big deal when they acquired Tyler Toffoli from the Montreal Canadiens last month, but… are they done? It feels like every contender picks up a defender at the deadline, and the Canadiens could once again be a fair trading partner in a Ben Chiarot deal. According to Elliotte Friedman, the Flames were interested in the rearguard before making the Toffoli trade.
6. New York Rangers (34-15-5)
With the way Igor Shesterkin is performing, and considering the number of goalie-needy teams looking for insurance in the post-season, the time is right to sell high on backup Alexander Georgiev.
7. Toronto Maple Leafs (35-15-4)
All eyes are on Jack Campbell, whose hot season has cooled off of late, as the Maple Leafs map out their course of action and prioritize which position they go after. Will they bolster their backup situation behind Campbell? Add to the blue line in front of him? Wednesday’s dismal loss to Buffalo didn’t exactly bring any votes of confidence in either regard, considering the defensive breakdown and the five goals let in by Petr Mrazek.
8. St. Louis Blues (32-15-6)
The Blues’ 2022 first-round pick could be just the ticket if the Blues want to make any moves.
9. Pittsburgh Penguins (33-14-8)
As long as Sidney Crosby is the leader of this team, they’re contending – just, not in the sell-every-top-pick-to-go-all-in way this year. A speedy winger that can provide a boost of offence at an affordable price, Kasperi Kapanen looks like a player that could be on the move.
10. Minnesota Wild (31-17-3)
A world of cap pain awaits the Wild to the tune of $12.7 million in dead cap thanks to the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter buyouts, but Minnesota’s currently sitting in a nice little window of contention <em>and</em> temporary cap flexibility. That’s their biggest weapon at the deadline – whether they use it to buy a big-money, big-name player on an expiring deal (hello, Giroux!) or exploit another team’s cap crunch by creatively leveraging their space to their advantage, this could be an interesting deadline in Minnesota.
11. Boston Bruins (32-18-4)
Jake DeBrusk has been on a real tear lately, clearly clicking with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron on the top line to the tune of seven goals (including a natural hat trick) and nine points in his last six games. That's a far cry from the six points he'd tallied on the season around the time his trade request was confirmed by Bruins GM Don Sweeney. As stated by his agent this week in an interview with The Athletic, this sudden success after struggling to find his footing the last two years doesn't change anything on his end -- it does, however, alter the Bruins' approach. Suddenly, they're looking at a player with rapidly rising trade value... or, a well-timed surge to help them in the playoffs?
12. Vegas Golden Knights (30-20-4)
Mark Stone’s health is the biggest story in Vegas from now until March 21. Should his ongoing back injury be deemed serious enough to keep him out (and his $9.5-million cap hit on LTIR) for the remainder of the regular season, the Golden Knights won’t be left scrambling to make massive roster adjustments in the name of cap compliancy after Jack Eichel joined the lineup.
13. Los Angeles Kings (29-19-7)
The Kings have what many others do not: depth down the middle. Might they be willing to part ways with a brink player like Gabriel Vilardi? He’s been very productive in the AHL this season but has yet to sustainably break into the NHL lineup.
14. Washington Capitals (28-18-9)
The Capitals find themselves in a similar situation to Toronto when it comes to questions in the crease. They already know Marc-Andre Fleury looks good in red.
15. Nashville Predators (30-2-4)
Predators GM David Poile has made it clear he wants to re-sign pending UFA Filip Forsberg, but the price is high -- nestled in the sweet spot between Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen’s $8-million AAV and captain Roman Josi's $9.059-million figure -- and there's not a lot of time to negotiate. If it becomes apparent a deal can't get done before the trade deadline, what then?
16. Dallas Stars (30-20-3)
The story for much of the season has been the imminent departure of John Klingberg, whose contract is set to expire this season. And while it sounds like the union is indeed still heading towards a split, it likely won’t be until after the season considering the stars are very much in the race. So, all eyes shift to Braden Holtby.
17. Edmonton Oilers (30-21-3)
The most interesting player hasn’t arrived yet – a new goaltender. Might his name be Marc-Andre?
18. Vancouver Canucks (26-23-6)
J.T. Miller could certainly fetch a strong return, but for a team on the brink of the playoff picture and toeing the line between rebuilding and contending, does it really make sense to trade away your most consistent producer who's still got a year left on his very affordable contract?
Considering the hefty qualifying offer and new deal heading Brock Boeser’s way this summer, it feels like a pre-emptive move could make the most sense in Vancouver.
19. Columbus Blue Jackets (28-25-1)
Just going to leave this here…
20. Anaheim Ducks (26-21-9)
With a bunch of youngsters soon due new deals, a long list of pending UFAs, a new GM at the helm and an abundance of cap space (for now), the Ducks are definitely one of the most interesting teams down the stretch. Now that they've cooled off in the standings a bit, do they lean in to selling? The most-watched player will definitely be defender Hampus Lindholm. At 28 and a soon-to-be UFA, he's Anaheim's best chance for a top-value return and will likely dictate the market on the blue line.
21. Winnipeg Jets (24-21-9)
The underperforming Jets are in unfamiliar territory outside of contention, looking more like sellers than buyers this year. While a major shakeup feels unlikely (and unnecessary), Andrew Copp could be a name to watch. After a lengthy arbitration process last summer, he signed a one year deal and will be a UFA after this season.
22. San Jose Sharks (24-24-6)
Per Elliotte Friedman, the Sharks are trying to keep Tomas Hertl in the fold. The pending UFA has been enjoying one of his most productive seasons to date, presenting a very interesting case on the trade front. Could this be a situation that sees the Sharks trade him away and re-sign him this summer?
23. Detroit Red Wings (24-24-6)
Dependable defencemen are a staple of trade deadline day, and Nick Leddy checks all the boxes.
24. Chicago Blackhawks (19-27-8)
Marc-Andre Fleury isn't going anywhere without it being his choice. And that choice isn't exactly a simple one.
"The sense is he likes it here," Mark Lazerus, The Athletic Blackhawks reporter, said during a recent appearance on The Jeff Marek Show. "Does he want to win? Sure. But does he want to uproot his family again or leave his family? Does he want to go to Edmonton, cross the border, and have very little chance of seeing his family for the next few months to chase a fourth Stanley Cup? I don't know."
Should he wish to be moved, there's an entire city in Alberta already picturing him in copper and blue.
25. New York Islanders (20-22-8)
Last month, Zdeno Chara set a new record for most games played by a defenceman, with game No. 1,652. The Islanders were never in this playoff race, but Chara should be.
26. Ottawa Senators (19-28-5)
Negotiations between the Senators and UFA forward Nick Paul have yet to yield a deal, making this situation an interesting one. The fit between team and player has been really strong, and it would make sense for both sides to strike a deal. But if they can’t? It may make even more sense to trade the middle-six forward rather than risk him walking for nothing this summer.
27. New Jersey Devils (19-30-5)
Pavel Zacha presents an interesting case. The pending RFA has been having one of his most productive seasons, but does he have a future in New Jersey? He’s versatile enough to be slotted down the centre or on the wing, and could be a trade chip for a team looking to flip a pending RFA of their own.
28. Buffalo Sabres (17-30-8)
Colin Miller has been sidelined with injury since Jan. 15 but is expected to be healthy enough to be dealt to a contender by the deadline and land the Sabres some more draft capital in return.
29. Philadelphia Flyers (16-27-10)
It’s really not a matter of if Claude Giroux is traded to a contender, but when – and whether he’ll reach the 1,000-game mark, and the chance to be properly fêted by the Flyers faithful, before he goes (to Colorado).
30. Montreal Canadiens (13-34-7)
A versatile defenceman with a little grit and a reasonable cap hit, Ben Chiarot is about to be very popular.
31. Seattle Kraken (17-34-5)
Rich in cap space and in possession of several pending restricted and unrestricted free agents, the Kraken are poised to be the busiest team of the deadline. Captain Mark Giordano is most likely their best shot at a strong return.
32. Arizona Coyotes (14-35-4)
“Phil Kessel is a Stanley Cup champion." - all of us, once again, when Kessel wins his third Cup later this year... probably.