With the NHL Trade Deadline is less than a week away there is increasing urgency for General Managers (GMs) that need to make deals to improve their teams heading to the playoffs. It seems that the parity of the league has increased the number of buyers this deadline, making it a seller’s market. There are also a number of players on the block with term left on their contract from teams in tricky financial or re-building situations like Ottawa or Arizona which opens the door for more ‘hockey trades’. This deadline is poised to be one that not only sees Stanley Cup contenders acquiring rental players to put them over the top, but also bubble teams hoping to improve their team this season and beyond. The challenge for GMs searching for deals is to find a team that lacks what they have in excess while also possessing a position they need. Below I have done my best to match potential trade partners and propose trades that work for both sides. Without further adieu, here are the top ten trades that make sense for the 2018 trade deadline:
Thomas Vanek to Anaheim
Jacob Larsson, Max Jones, 2018 3rd Round Pick
Where there’s smoke…
Anaheim is in the middle of the dogfight that is the Western Conference playoff race. Though they currently sit third in the Pacific Division, every team chasing them has games in hand, meaning they need to hope for their opponents to lose instead of controlling their own destiny. While the Ducks could use a depth defenseman, their biggest need is a scoring winger. They currently sit 23rd overall in goals for/game and 25th in powerplay percentage. Though injuries have definitely been a factor in these numbers, there’s no question that they could use another scoring threat in the top nine. I still believe Pacioretty would be a better target for them, but Vanek will definitely be a bargain buy to help improve these numbers. With their aging core, the Ducks are in win-now mode and have the prospect depth to pull off this kind of deal.
Kudos to Canucks GM Jim Benning for signing Vanek in the offseason for this very reason. Not only did the signing keep his team competitive and allow younger players to develop in insulated roles, but it will also provide him with assets moving forward. These are the types of underrated moves that really improve the depth of an organization and one of the reasons Benning earned himself a contract extension last week.
Max Pacioretty to St. Louis
St. Louis receives:
Robby Fabbri, Klim Kostin, Jake Walman, 2019 Conditional 2nd*
*Becomes a 4th if Fabbri plays more than 25 games for Montreal in 2019
As Louis Jean of TVA in Quebec reported, the Blues have inquired about Max Pacioretty. Looking at the Blues roster, it would seem to make more sense to improve their centre depth instead of getting help on the wing, but it seems Doug Armstrong disagrees as he has also had chats with Ottawa about bringing in Mike Hoffman. One thing is clear, the Blues need to make a move. They have been stuck in mediocrity for a few years now and could lose Paul Stastny this offseason to free agency. Meanwhile, Dallas has overtaken their once seemingly comfortable position in third place in the Central Division and the Blues are in serious danger of slipping out of the playoffs. With their depth at defense and in goal, it’s clear that the Blues could use another player to spread the scoring out. You have to give to get, and in acquiring Pacioretty the Blues are able to not subtract anything (that’s not already) not on their current roster, or give up their top prospects in Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou.
This deal helps Montreal two-fold. They get three very effective young players in Fabbri, Walman and Kostin that could step in and help their team as soon as next season. Fabbri is the real wild card in this deal for Montreal, as he re-injured an already surgically repaired knee in training camp this season. The promising third year pro is someone who relies on his speed to be effective, so his career remains a huge question mark at this point. However, players have come back from worse and Fabbri is definitely worth the risk for the Canadiens, and the reason a conditional pick is involved. Walman adds depth to a thin blue-line and Kostin is a big-bodied Russian sniper that could look like a big steal at the end of the first round of the 2018 draft.
Derick Brassard to Pittsburgh
Ian Cole, 2018 1st round pick, Connor Sheary, Filip Gustavsson
Though I believe Jarry would be the main target for the Senators out of Pittsburgh, the Penguins aren’t going to part with him before the playoffs unless they have already acquired some goaltending insurance. The Senators acquire another first round pick in a deep draft and a solid goaltending prospect in Gustavsson who led team Sweden to silver at the World Juniors last month. Ian Cole is someone they could re-sign to add depth to their blueline moving forward, and along with Connor Sheary, needs to be included for cap purposes. Sheary is a bit of a Swiss Army Knife who has shown he can play up and down the lineup but has been usurped in Pittsburgh despite an impressive playoff run last season.
Pittsburgh is in all-out win mode and even though they don’t have the deepest prospect pool they are willing to give up futures if it means a three-peat. They’ve been in the market for another center all year and Brassard as a proven playoff performer would give them tremendous depth behind the Crosby-Malkin two-headed monster down the middle for this year and next.
Rick Nash to Nashville
Rick Nash (salary retained)
New York receives:
2018 1st round pick, Frederic Allard, Pontus Aberg
With every other Western Conference team in the hunt loading up, the Predators cannot sit idle, and Nash to Nashville is too perfect to pass up. With the recent statement of Rangers ownership and management, it’s clear that the Rangers are going into complete re-build mode. Adding another first in the 2018 draft for someone they weren’t planning on re-signing goes a long way to right the ship. Allard, a defenseman is a former 3rd round pick of the Predators and if you trust anyone’s defenseman scouting department, it’s Nashville’s. Aberg is a sweetner that can help the Rangers in the immediate future, an potentially someone who can thrive in a larger role (ala every player in Vegas).
Nashville gets one of the premier two-way wingers on the market that can help them on a Stanley Cup run and potentially even re-signed in the offseason. Giving up their 2018 first rounder stings, as they are already without their second-round pick in the Turris deal, but with prospects like Tolvanen and Fabbro in the system they can afford the blow to the prospect pool.
Mike Green to Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay receives:
Anthony Cirelli, Libor Hajek, 2nd round pick
This is the first of two deals I forsee the for the Lightning to help bring the Cup back to Tampa Bay. Steve Yzerman has put himself in an ideal position as a Stanley Cup favoruite this deadline with the amount of quality prospects he has collected at every position. The Bolts have the assets to pull off big trades, and Stevey Y is going shopping. This deal is almost a no-brainer for the Lightning as they need more defensive depth on the right side to accompany Stralman and Dotchin. Green has also stated he would waive his No-Trade Clause if a deal to Tampa Bay was struck, so it seems like a match made in heaven.
Detroit improves their organizational depth significantly in the future with the acquisition of former World Junior Championship standouts Cirelli and Hajek. Cirelli is having a great rookie campaign in the AHL and could potentially step into the lineup next year, while Hajek is a couple of years away as he will be battling for the Memorial Cup this spring in its 100th anniversary as part of the host Regina Pats.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau to Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay receives:
Taylor Raddysh, Mitchell Stephens, 2019 4th round pick
Stevey Y goes fishing for a bargain buy as and has the assets to get it done. In Pageau the Lightning acquire another forward the fits the mold of skill and speed that is under cost control for two seasons beyond this. If Yzerman feels like he already has enough of this type of player in guys like Point, Gourde, and Johnson he might take a stab at someone like Maroon instead. Though Maroon provides size and physicality that can help in the postseason, Pageau seems like a much better fit for the system Jon Cooper employs and has solid playoff resume of his own:
Tampa fans might think this is a lot to give up for the struggling Pageau, but he has term left on his contract and even with trading Raddysh, Stephens, Hajek and Cirelli there is an embarrassment of riches in the system with Katchouk, Foote, Howden and Joseph on the way. With the impending expansion draft, it’s prudent for Stevey Y to sell some of these assets before losing one for nothing.
Eugene Melnyk has to approve any deal that GM Pierre Dorion is working out, and shedding 3.1M with new contracts to Stone, Duchene and Karlsson on the horizon is an opportunity too good to pass up for the Senators. Not to mention, they get two very solid cost-controlled assets that can join Logan Brown, Drake Batherson, and Colin White in Ottawa’s up-and-coming forward corps. Having the financial restrictions the Senators do with the Stone, Duchene and Karlsson contract negotiations impending puts the team in a tough position, but with a move or two it may not be all doom and gloom in Ottawa’s future.
Johnny Oduya to Toronto
Josh Leivo, Martin Marincin
I originally had Gudbranson heading to Toronto, based on the team fit and the rumors that had been circulating around him for the better part of a month. With him off the block, the market for a rental defenseman is thinning for teams like the Maple Leafs who could use a reliable defender to slot into one of their bottom pairs. There remains potential for the Leafs to now target Chris Tanev, but that deal would be something more likely to occur at the draft in the offseason, with many moving parts. Tanev has also just gone down with another injury for a few weeks, so it’s likely the Leafs stay away for now. In Oduya, the Leafs acquire one of the better rental defensemen on the market with a Stanley Cup-winning pedigree and someone that should, like Ron Hainsey, play a simple steady game and eat up minutes alongside some of their more ‘risky’ defenders (I’m looking at you Jake Gardiner). Although Oduya is left-handed, he has experience playing the right side which is something Toronto desperately needs. Sending Marincin along with Leivo provides the Leafs with some more contract flexibility to add a player like Glendening in a separate deal. If they trade Leivo it’s likely they will look to add more insurance up front.
As a 36-year-old unrestricted free agent, Ottawa will be happy to take a flier on a player like Leivo that can provide them with some scoring depth to let their high-end forward prospects more time to develop. He is a cost-controlled asset that will earn under $1 million next season and remain a restricted free-agent, something that will make owner Eugene Melnyk approve.
Patrick Maroon to Boston
Zach Senyshyn, 2019 2nd round pick
It will be interesting to see where Maroon ends up, but given their relatively thin prospect pool, I think Boston miss out on some of the bigger names and focus on a guy like Maroon. In fact, there’s a good chance he ends up being more effective than some of the more recognizable names like Vanek or Nash. He is not a product of McDavid and a solid player in his own right, but what he does lack is foot speed. On a cycle-heavy, physical team like the Bruins he should be a good fit to help their top 9 heading into the postseason.
The Oilers do this to prevent losing Maroon for nothing in the offseason and pick up a winger prospect that isn’t quite living up to his draft status. If Senyshyn will succeed anywhere, it’s next to McDavid or Draisaitl and worth the gamble for some cheap scoring punch for Peter Chiarelli.
Jack Johnson to New Jersey
New Jersey receives:
John Moore, Michael McLeod, 2019 3rd round pick
The only team that will give up enough assets to convince the Blue Jackets to trade Jack Johnson down the stretch run is one confident in their ability to re-sign him. Not only does New Jersey have a big need for help on the blueline, they have plenty of cap space to retain Johnson beyond this season. He will be a welcome addition on a Devils team battling to make the playoffs this season and looking to compete for years to come.
Columbus gets back a former 1st round pick of theirs in John Moore, who is also an unrestricted free agent, to maintain their depth down the stretch. McLeod is a nice addition to their forward depth and while he perhaps hasn’t developed as quickly as the Devils would have hoped, he is someone that still has potential as long as he isn’t rushed into the league.
Evander Kane to Dallas
2018 2nd round pick, Conditional 2019 1st round pick*, rights to Valeri Nichuskin, Denis Guryanov
*Included if Kane re-signs in Dallas
With all of the contenders into buyers mode, Dallas doesn’t get left behind. With plenty of picks in the next two drafts, they are the most attractive future assets the Stars have to offer. In Kane, the Stars acquire a legitimate top 6 winger for their second line who brings an eliment of physicality that is unique in the league. Kane can hit, fight, shoot and score and with the supporting cast up front that the Stars already boast, he has the potential to be a lethal secondary scoring option. There’s potential for the Stars to bring Miro Heiskanen over at the end of his Finnish league season, which would provide the Stars with enough depth at every position to be a legitimate threat in the playoffs.
The Sabres pick up two draft picks to use as currency to end their losing ways, as well as a pair of promising young Russian snipers. There is a good chance Nichuskin will make a return to the NHL next season and Guryanov is still making the transition to the pro game getting his feet wet in the AHL. While they may never live up to their draft ranking, they are two players that are a low-risk, high-reward acquisitions for the Sabres.