NHL Power Rankings: The Trade Candidates Edition


Anaheim Ducks centre Rickard Rakell, right, moves the puck as San Jose Sharks centre Dylan Gambrell skates in during the second period on Saturday, March 13, 2021, in Anaheim, Calif. (Mark J. Terrill/AP)

Weren’t we supposed to get some big trades this week, at least in the North Division?


As the struggling Toronto Maple Leafs hit a quiet two-week period, all eyes were on the team hungriest to make a big splash in this year’s market, but nothing has come to fruition yet. The American teams, well, they can maybe be a bit more patient as their quarantine rules are a little more lax than for players crossing the border into Canada.

At the same time, teams that looked to be settling as hard sellers – Nashville, Columbus – have turned it on and got themselves back into a race. It’s been too early to pull the chute on their seasons.

The fact remains that we’re two and a half weeks out from this year’s trade deadline and the moves will eventually start breaking. So in this week’s NHL Power Rankings – where we list the best teams with a weight towards recent play – we focus on one trade candidate from each.

The idea was to stay away from the generic “first-round pick” for the top teams and instead try to find a roster player or prospect who could be a candidate. So bear with me at the top of this list – the names get more interesting as we go.

1. Tampa Bay Lightning: Alex Barre-Boulet
No one will believe me now, but I did have Alex Volkov here when writing out the list Wednesday night. Now that he’s been traded, effectively for cap space, we’ll look to Barre-Boulet as a possible piece the Lightning could move for more immediate help. He has seven points in five AHL games this season after being right near a point per game in that league the past two seasons.

2. Vegas Golden Knights: Jimmy Schuldt
Admittedly, this was a tough one to come up with. The Golden Knights appear set to have a relatively quiet deadline without any cap room and there aren’t any roster players that scream trade candidate. If there is a deal to be had, though, perhaps someone will take a flier on the 25-year-old defenceman who is facing an uphill battle to ever finding a top-six spot in Vegas.

3. Colorado Avalanche: Shane Bowers
Like most contenders, the Avs would likely be dealing picks or prospects if they’re going to make an addition. Bowers, a first-rounder from 2017 acquired in the Matt Duchene deal, is perhaps a candidate to go in this scenario.

4. Washington Capitals: Jonas Siegenthaler
He’s just 23 and has lost playing time in Washington this season, but is still young enough that a non-playoff team could seek him as a target in trade.

5. New York Islanders: Anthony Beauvillier
This season has been a difficult one for Beauvillier, who has stalled and even backtracked as a producer. We think the Islanders would rather keep everyone and not shake up any chemistry – they have plenty of cap room with Anders Lee out for the season – but if GM Lou Lamoriello goes really big then the 23-year-old Beauvillier might be a young NHL piece he has to consider dealing.

6. Carolina Hurricanes: Morgan Geekie
If they’re active, they’ll buy, and they’ll likely not want to move big pieces from their roster. A 22-year-old Geekie, who’s just starting to get his first NHL games under his belt, could be used for more immediate help in a Cup run.

7. Minnesota Wild: Marcus Johansson
The Wild are a really interesting team and will probably buy, if anything, but Johansson’s role and importance is diminishing and he’s a pending UFA. If they add and want to clear cap room to make space for someone else, would another team take on his upside for a bargain return and one run?

8. Edmonton Oilers: Caleb Jones
The Oilers are tight to the cap, making any deal unlikely at this point. It would have to be money in, money out. But looking ahead to the Seattle expansion draft, the Oilers would protect at least four (if not five) defencemen ahead of Jones, who has struggled and been made a healthy scratch this season. He makes $850,000 against the cap this season and next, and at 23 could be a dark horse candidate if GM Ken Holland is itching to find a deal to help with the depth up front.

9. Florida Panthers: Chris Driedger
Sergei Bobrovsky is starting to take the net back (though Driedger still has good numbers this month) so the Panthers could explore moving Driedger now rather than lose him for nothing either to free agency or, possibly, Seattle expansion.

10. Winnipeg Jets: Sami Niku
If the Jets are going to find a way to upgrade their blue line – especially for beyond this season – they may have to give up a roster player. Niku, 24, has interesting upside and is the exact type of player a re-tooling team could target as part of a bigger deal.

Sign up for NHL newsletters
Get the best of our NHL coverage and exclusives delivered directly to your inbox!

NHL Newsletter

*I understand that I may withdraw my consent at any time.

11. Pittsburgh Penguins: Marcus Pettersson
The Penguins seem likely to try and buy to add to this surging group so there aren’t a lot of roster players that make sense to trade. Pettersson could be interesting, though, because he’s making over $4 million on their third pair, is young (24) and signed through another four seasons. If there’s a team that likes him, the Pens could use the opportunity to move him and clear space for someone else.

12. Toronto Maple Leafs: Rodion Amirov
Just about anything is on the table as far as picks and prospects go. Amirov’s KHL season is finished now so the Leafs, or someone, could bring him over ASAP if they wanted. He’s the Leafs’ first-round pick from a year ago and one of their top prospects.

13. Boston Bruins: Jake DeBrusk
The Bruins need more reliable scoring from beyond the Perfection Line. DeBrusk, 24, could be part of that solution or an attractive piece another team might give up a more experienced scorer for.

14. Montreal Canadiens: Paul Byron
Habs GM Marc Bergevin insists he’s going to be quiet at the deadline, but this is clearly a “go for it” season so anything is possible. If they have to move a player out to make the numbers work, Byron is a candidate and he’d add a mid-lineup player to a new team for another two seasons.

15. St. Louis Blues: Vince Dunn
Dunn has been on the block before and though it may make more sense to trade him this off-season when he’s an RFA again, if St. Louis wants to make a significant addition the 24-year-old puck-moving defenceman would have plenty of suitors.

16. Philadelphia Flyers: Scott Laughton
If the Flyers buy, it’ll be with an eye on next year and beyond. Two games behind Boston for the last playoff spot in the division, and with three more games played than the Bruins, Philadelphia likely won’t be in the rental market. Laughton is a pending UFA and could be a tough re-sign. With that in mind, the Flyers could be soft sellers by the deadline and that’d make Laughton a candidate.

17. Arizona Coyotes: Conor Garland
Less than a million bucks for a player with as many even strength points as Gabriel Landeskog, Jonathan Marchessault, Sebastian Aho and Brayden Point this season. An arbitration-eligible RFA for another two seasons, too.

18. New York Rangers: Ryan Strome
The 27-year-old is having another strong offensive season with 26 points in 31 games and would be a nice get for any team looking for a shot of offence and help on the power play. They’d get him for next season, too, as Strome is signed through 2021-22.

19. Columbus Blue Jackets: David Savard
It’s hard to say what the Blue Jackets will sell now that they’re back in the playoff race, but the general feeling is that pending UFA Savard won’t be back, so they may want to flip him anyway and acquire a piece that will help in the next few years.

20. Los Angeles Kings: Alex Iafallo
The Kings may rather sign the 27-year-old pending UFA, but as a centre he’ll have a lot of suitors around the league as playoff teams always look for depth at the position. And Iafallo would be more than depth – he could be an effective second-liner or a really strong 3C.

Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman talk to a lot of people around the hockey world, and then they tell listeners all about what they’ve heard and what they think about it.

21. Chicago Blackhawks: Dylan Strome
Still in a playoff spot but with just three wins in their past 10. Columbus (and even Nashville), are charging, while Dallas remains a bit of a dark horse wild card. The Hawks are still building and could help that long-term if they entertain moving Strome, a 24-year-old centre with another season under contract.

22. Nashville Predators: Mattias Ekholm
Elliotte Friedman has been reporting on the possibility that Ryan Ellis may be the Preds defenceman to go, but at least he’s locked up for a long time. Ekholm would need to be re-signed in a year so there could be some uncertainty there, especially when it comes to price point in a flat cap. Ekholm cold bring back a big enough return himself, though one wonders how big they’ll sell now that they’re back in the playoff race.

23. Vancouver Canucks: Brandon Sutter
It was a good month overall for the Canucks, but they’ve lost two in a row and reality will eventually set in that they should be sellers. When it does, Sutter as a third-line centre would be one piece to move.

24. Ottawa Senators: Ryan Dzingel
Acquired from Carolina earlier this season, Dzingel has five goals in 10 games with the Sens and would be a depth rental add for a team looking for a bit of offensive pop, likely for a third line.

25. Dallas Stars: Blake Comeau
Seven points out of a playoff spot with four games in hand, the math is getting tougher on the Stars to qualify as a top-four team. If they get near April 12 and have pulled no closer, they’d be wise to explore shipping out pending UFA veterans like Comeau who are usually attractive adds around this time.

26. New Jersey Devils: Kyle Palmieri
They might prefer to re-sign him, but the pending UFA has to be dealt if nothing is done by the deadline. He’s an effective 5-on-5 scorer who could do more than he has this season if surrounded by a better team.

27. Calgary Flames: Sam Bennett
He’s requested a trade, but the Flames would rather hold on to him for ‘Playoff Sam Bennett.’ Of course, if we’re not going to see ‘Playoff Flames’ they may as well trade him for what they can get.

28. San Jose Sharks: Devan Dubnyk
A pending UFA, the Sharks would be happy to get anything for Dubnyk, who at this point isn’t much more than security for a playoff team.

29. Detroit Red Wings: Jonathan Bernier
He’s having an admirable season behind one of the league’s worst teams. Bernier is 14th among all goalies in goals saved above expected and will be a UFA this summer. Bernier would be a backup upgrade for a load of teams out there.

30. Anaheim Ducks: Rickard Rakell
The price may be high, but the upside is, too. It’s been three years since he scored at a 30-goal pace, but you’d get two seasons of trying to get him back there, and for a $3.789-million cap hit the value is intriguing.

31. Buffalo Sabres: Taylor Hall
It’s terrible for just about everyone in Buffalo, but Hall could be a heck of a secondary contributor if a move reinvigorates the pending UFA.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.