Maybe it’s because we live in Canada, but it seems the NHL trade deadline takes on more importance (and media coverage) than any other major sport. Daily rumors, news, and discussions dominate the headlines, north of the border at least. We will get into the action here at the Puck Show with our first of a handful of NHL trade deadline primers. Today we will take a look at some of the impact names that are on the trade block, their possible destinations and a final prediction on where we think said player will end up. A lot can change from now until the February 26th deadline, so don’t hold our feet to the fire quite yet!
LW Evander Kane (BUF) – 44 GP, 16 G, 20 A – Pending UFA
Kane tops all the trade block members at this point for a few reasons. First, he isn’t going to require a king’s ransom in return due to his pending UFA status. Few teams, if any, are going to dangle their top prospect or a first round pick for a guy that might not wear their uniform for more than a couple of months. We’ve seen first round picks and top prospects moved at the deadline before, but with Kane set to command substantial dollars in free agency this summer, it would be unwise for a team to unload their future for a couple months of a player who has never eclipsed 57 points in a season. That said, Kane is having a real nice season on the worst offense in the NHL. He’s able to log big time minutes as he is set to log more than 19 minutes of ice time per game for the sixth straight season. His style of play is also suitable to the postseason and he can play anywhere up and down the lineup. Playoff-bound teams in need of offense will be jockeying for his services.
Potential Suitors: Sharks, Blues, Blue Jackets, Ducks, Flames, Predators
Sharks GM Doug Wilson certainly knows his team needs some scoring punch. San Jose ranks fourth in team defense but 23rd in offense. With Joe Thornton inching ever closer to the end of his illustrious career, Wilson knows his time to win with Jumbo Joe is now. Kane could slide right into that revolving door of a left wing spot on the top line with Thornton and Joe Pavelski and add to what is already a stellar power play.
LW Mike Hoffman (OTT) – 42 GP, 11 G, 18 A – $5.187M cap hit through ’19/’20
Hoffman’s availability is a little different to Kane’s since he is under contract at a reasonable price for two more seasons after this one. $5+M might seem like a lot for 11 goals, but Hoffman is a legit goal scorer with a lethal shot and a guy that has scored between 26-29 goals in each of the last three seasons. He is a big-time addition to any power play as he scored 13 power play goals and added 13 power play assists in his best offensive season a year ago. With a current 7.9% shooting percentage compared to his career 11% mark, a potential suitor could be in for a scoring spree once Hoffman leaves the NHL’s 22nd ranked offense in Ottawa. Potential suitors will be very similar to Kane’s, but they must be willing to move significant pieces for a guy that is under contract for the short term future.
Potential Suitors: Blues, Sharks, Blue Jackets, Predators, Flames, Ducks, Wild
The Blues were one of the NHL’s very best teams until an injury to Jaden Schwartz. Schwartz’s injury inexplicably left the Blues offense in shambles, and they have yet to regain the flare they showed to begin the season.While Schwartz will return in plenty of time before the postseason, GM Doug Armstrong just witnessed how fragile his offense can be. The Blues currently have Ivan Barbashev and Tage Thompson in top-six roles, but wouldn’t they look a lot deeper and lethal with Schwartz and Hoffman in those spots? Hoffman would also give a big boost to a Blues’ power play that ranks 29th at 15% for the season.
LW Max Pacioretty (MTL) – 42 GP, 10 G, 13 A – $4.5M cap hit through ’18/’19
This is a tough one for the Canadiens. Personally, we don’t think current GM Marc Bergevin should preside over a deal as important as this one, but whoever is left to deal with this is in a tough spot. Pacioretty is on pace for his lowest offensive production since his second season in the league in ’09/’10 and he is only under contract for one more season after this one, complicating matter further. There is no doubt this guy is a legit scorer with at least 30 goals in each of his five full NHL seasons, but clearly there is a struggle going on this season. He hasn’t fit with Jonathan Drouin at center, the Alex Galchenyuk experiment at center is a mess, and Philip Danault is not a player fit to center a star like Pacioretty. Moral of the story, this guy needs to play with a legit number one center in order to maximize his scoring potential. We aren’t convinced a Pacioretty trade will happen, but there will be a strong list of suitors should Montreal make him increasingly available as the deadline approaches.
Potential Suitors: Sharks, Blues, Oilers, Flames, Predators, Ducks, Blue Jackets, Kings
Whether the Oilers want to trade enough futures to get this deal done is another story, but there is a clear fit here. Patrick Maroon, a pending UFA and someone who has flanked Connor McDavid most often, is likely to be moved at the deadline and Milan Lucic doesn’t have the skating ability to form a formidable duo with number 97. Pacioretty does. Pacioretty needs a center who can get him the puck and McDavid needs a winger who can put the puck in the net. McDavid can score, but he is a playmaker by trade and needs a goal scoring winger at his side. The Oilers, barring a miracle, aren’t a playoff team this season. However, they are certainly aiming at a quick turnaround and postseason spot next season, and landing Pacioretty now can help that initiative.
D Mike Green (DET) – 41 GP, 4 G, 20 A – Pending UFA
Green should be a real popular name throughout the remainder of January and certainly into February. A pending UFA, Green is a veteran, right-handed defenseman who could serve some playoff-bound teams well. He certainly isn’t the same dynamic blueline force he was in Washington, but he remains a power play defenseman with above-average playmaking ability. He logs significant ice time at 22:39 per game for the season and he isn’t going to cost a fortune, either. While he isn’t going to give a contender a massive jolt, Green is the top offensive defenseman on an expiring contract who will be available at the deadline. Teams in need of a power play rearguard, especially on the right hand side, could benefit from his services.
Potential Suitors: Lightning, Maple Leafs, Blackhawks, Islanders
There isn’t a team with a eye-popping need for a guy like Green, but the Islanders are a nice fit. Most any team acquiring Green would need to make the financial side work with his $6M cap hit, but the Islanders are a team needing to add on the back end. While Green isn’t a stout defender, he is an upgrade on a player such as Ryan Pulock who has been trusted with power play time but not much else. Pulock is averaging less than 17 minutes of ice time per game whereas Green could step in, take the second unit power play spot, and give the Islanders a little more reliability defensively than they have in the young Pulock. The currently injured Johnny Boychuk is a right-hand shot capable of such a power play role too, but it doesn’t hurt to add Green’s experience and playmaking ability from the right side to compliment players like Nick Leddy, Calvin de Haan and Thomas Hickey from the left side.