As the weeks leading up to the deadline have played out, a few players from our list have been dealt away and crossed off. But with the height of trade season upon us, we still have 25 candidates who could be dealt before 3:00 p.m. ET on Monday.
It’s crunch time, and teams are now settled in as buyers or sellers. Injuries are also going to influence team needs and those are starting to pile up around the league.
Here is our list of the top 25 trade candidates as the countdown to the deadline commences.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Ottawa Senators
Contract: $3.1 million through 2019-20
A hot November in terms of offence is a distant memory, though six goals over his past 20 games is still not a bad mark for this third-line centre. Pageau is good on the draw with a 53 percent success rate this season and he’s also a strong penalty killer. If the Sens don’t re-sign him, they should be able to get at least a second-round pick back, if not a conditional first.
Chris Kreider, New York Rangers
Contract: $4.625 million through 2019-20
His representatives and the team have had contract talks, but the closer we get to the deadline without an extension, the more urgent trade talks should become. A first line left winger, Kreider is the best rental player on the market and perhaps the only one who will return an unconditional first-round pick. A fast skater and unabashed net crasher, Kreider has some control with his modified no-trade clause.
Mikael Granlund, Nashville Predators
Contract: $5.75 million through 2019-20
A down year overall, Granlund has been heating up lately with 11 points in 15 games. The Predators, though, are still very much in the playoff race and may not be able to afford giving him up at the deadline for a rental’s return.
Craig Smith, Nashville Predators
Contract: $4.25 million through 2019-20
Depending on which way GM David Poile decides to go, Smith is another productive winger who could be made available from the Preds organization. Another pending UFA and a rental, Smith is on track for his usual 20-plus goals and would be a nice complement on a second-line, or a luxury third-line flanker.
Ilya Kovalchuk, Montreal Canadiens
Contract: $700,000 through 2019-20
If Montreal gets a second-rounder for him it’ll be a huge win for the organization after picking him up for nothing as a mid-season UFA. Kovalchuk has been a revelation in Montreal and a perfect fit, though, unlike in Los Angeles, he’s been given heavy minutes to do it in. Would an acquiring team need to use him the same way to get this level of production?
Craig Anderson, Ottawa Senators
Contract: $4.75 million through 2019-20
After 10 years with the Senators, the end appears in sight for Anderson, one way or another. Younger goalies are beginning to push, the team is transitioning through its rebuild and, at 38, the pending UFA’s numbers aren’t what they once were. The goalie market is surprisingly heating up, with various teams including Colorado and Carolina in need of depth netminders.
Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks
Contract: $6 million through 2019-20
Another depth goalie potentially available, 35-year-old Crawford has a .915 save percentage in 31 games this season behind a porous defence. He has a couple Stanley Cups and plenty of playoff experience. It may be unlikely that Chicago deals both of its goalies, but one of them could certainly go.
Robin Lehner, Chicago Blackhawks
Contract: $5 million through 2019-20
Speaking of which Lehner, the other Chicago goalie, is having another outstanding season, putting to bed the idea he excelled last season solely because of Barry Trotz’s defensive system with the Islanders. If Lehner is moved he wouldn’t so much be a depth add as he would be a potential upgrade on the current No. 1. Chicago may rather keep him and re-sign him, but what are they willing to pay and for how many years? It could get complicated.
Brandon Saad, Chicago Blackhawks
Contract: $6 million through 2020-21
With 18 goals in 49 games, Saad is scoring at one of the best clips of his career, but that’s not all he brings to the table. The 27-year-old is also a regular on Chicago’s PK unit and he brings 72 games of playoff experience. If the Blackhawks make him available, it would partly be because of the potential return they could get, given that he comes with the added value of having an extra year left on his contract. Better to deal him now than wait for the rental market in 2021.
Jesse Puljujarvi, Edmonton Oilers
An unsigned RFA, if someone gets Puljujarvi it would be a play for next year at the earliest, though there are still development questions around the 21-year-old who was the fourth overall pick in the 2016 draft. In Finland this year, he has 49 points in 49 games to lead his Karpat team in scoring, though how much of that translates to the NHL is hard to know until he’s back against competition in North America. The other concern is whether or not his attention to detail and defence is improving. Oilers GM Ken Holland has said he doesn’t want to move Puljujarvi for a rental, but he’s certainly an asset the team could use to get a termed player.
Mathew Dumba, Minnesota Wild
Contract: $6 million through 2022-23
The Wild have two of the biggest defence trade chips potentially available, though it’s possible neither is moved until the summer. Dumba’s name has been out there the most and he’s been linked to a variety of teams. It hasn’t been the offensive season expected from Dumba, with just four goals and 21 points in 60 games, but he shoots right and is signed for the long-term, which will be attractive to a lot of teams.
Jonas Brodin, Minnesota Wild
Contract: $4.166 million through 2020-21
If Dumba doesn’t go from Minnesota, perhaps Brodin will. He doesn’t pop when you watch him, but Brodin is an excellent and intelligent defensive defenceman with a left shot. The kind of player who’s doing his job well when you don’t notice him. He also has en extra year on his contract, and if Wild GM Bill Guerin desires to move out money for future flexibility now is the time to explore a Brodin deal. The return would be substantial.
Alex Kerfoot, Toronto Maple Leafs
Contract: $3.5 million through 2022-23
If Kasperi Kapanen’s inspiring performance in Thursday’s win over Pittsburgh made it harder to trade him, that would move Kerfoot to the front of the line of potentially available pro forwards out of Toronto. Capable of playing wing or centre (though he’s winning only 47.7 per cent of his draws this season), Kerfoot generally lands as a 40-point player who could be a secondary power play option.
Tyson Barrie, Toronto Maple Leafs
Contract: $5.5 million through 2019-20
It just hasn’t worked in Toronto, but that doesn’t mean GM Kyle Dubas is desperate to give him away. Injuries have hit the Leafs hard, so to move Barrie they’d need some assurance a replacement will be ready. That could be easier said than done. The Leafs are going to face a massive disappointment and difficult questions if they miss the playoffs, but they’re also clearly in need of a shake up.
“The Maple Leafs believe Cody Ceci and Morgan Rielly will be back in March and if they’re going to trade Tyson Barrie they’re not going to do it unless they know that they can have somebody who can tide them over until everybody is healthy, plus some futures either for themselves or to use elsewhere. I think that’s the only situation they would consider moving him,” Elliotte Friedman said on Saturday’s Headlines segment.
Tomas Tatar, Montreal Canadiens
Contract: $5.3 million through 2020-21
While the Canadiens want to compete for the playoffs next year, the market for a termed scoring winger may offer GM Marc Bergevin the kind of return he can’t pass up. Tatar is having a career season with a team-leading 55 points in 64 games.
Kyle Palmieri, New Jersey Devils
Contract: $4.65 million through 2020-21
After interim GM Tom Fitzgerald told Hockey Central that his job wasn’t to tear down the Devils, and that the team needed “men” in the lineup, it may be that they need Palmieri. He has a strong track record as a goal scorer and has gotten to the 20-goal plateau for the fifth straight season — he may even reach 30 this year. And with that extra season on his contact, Palmieri could bring the Devils back a Blake Coleman-type return, which would further set them up in their rebuild.
Erik Gustafsson, Chicago Blackhawks
Contract: $1.2 million through 2019-20
Though he won’t approach last season’s 60-point total, Gustafsson is still a rover-type offensive defenceman who could help a team seeking to add a puck-mover and a power play specialist. His contract is cheap and the price of acquisition shouldn’t be too high, with the rental defence market generally set at a second-round pick.
Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks
Contract: $2 million through 2019-20
It’s really up to Thornton if he gets traded — and he said this week that it’s tempting to approve one. He’s not the elite first-line centre he once was at 40-years-old of course, but if you walk into the playoffs with Thornton as your third-line centre, you’d be sitting with solid depth. He is still an excellent playmaker and thinks the game at an elite level. He still elevates his line mates.
“The players that can think will survive a long time,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper told The Athletic. “(Thornton) has an extremely high hockey IQ. And he knows where to stand. And he knows where to be on the ice. He’s got exceptional skill. So with the size and the stick that he has, he’s a hard guy to play against. That’s how he’s had this longevity, how he’s been as effective as he has been. There has been part of his game that’s slowed down a bit, but he makes up for it with his brain.”
Vincent Trocheck, Florida Panthers
Contract: $4.75 million through 2021-22
Two years removed from a 75-point season, Trocheck has been struggling to meet that level with 36 points in 55 games this season. A leg injury last season has appeared to slow him, but there’s still a lot of potential for a bounce back here. He’s in his prime at 26, and signed for another two seasons at a very reasonable rate. If he really is available the Panthers are probably looking for immediate help rather than futures as they chase the playoffs — and how often do affordable top-six centres hit the trade market?
Mike Hoffman, Florida Panthers
Contract: $5.187 million through 2019-20
With six straight 20-goal seasons, Hoffman is on track to eclipse 30 for the second year in a row. His shot is wicked and goal-needy teams should have him on their radar. But again, the Panthers would most likely want immediate help, especially on the blue line, and Hoffman could be used as a means to that end. But he’s a rental, so the return is limited.
Vladislav Namestnikov, Ottawa Senators
Contract: $4 million through 2019-20
After a strong start with the Sens, Namestnikov has slowed somewhat with just seven points in his past 23 games. It’s unlikely an extension is coming, so for Ottawa, they’ll look to recoup whatever draft pick they can get. Namestnikov is the sort of depth addition playoff teams make on the cheap this time of year.
Andreas Athanasiou, Detroit Red Wings
Contract: $3 million through 2019-20
An RFA at season’s end, Athanasiou is a complex case. After it looked like he broke through last year with a 30-goal season, he’s struggled again in this one with just 10 goals and 24 points in 46 games. But he’s got that upside and is one of the fastest skaters in the league.
Mike Green, Detroit Red Wings
Contract: $5.375 million through 2019-20
Green has a modified no-trade clause so there’s some control on his part. With just 11 points in 48 games, he is one of many Red Wings having a disaster of a season, but greener pastures could bring better production. He’s still a strong puck-mover who could thrive in a support role on a good team where he’d be surrounded by better talent. At the very least, he’d be an upgrade to many second PP units.
Derek Grant, Anaheim Ducks
Contract: $700,000 through 2019-20
With 20 points in 49 games, Grant is tracking towards his best offensive season in the midst of another nightmare Ducks campaign — but his game is about more than that. He’s the Ducks’ leading penalty killer among the forwards. Centre depth is always vital and Grant would come relatively cheap in both return and cap cost.
Wayne Simmonds, New Jersey Devils
Contract: $5 million through 2019-20
Though he has a stated desire to stay in New Jersey for the full season, the fact is Simmonds only has a modified no-trade clause and will attract interest around the league. He’d best fit as a third-liner with an edge and some offensive pop, though his goal totals have been declining for some time now and he’s on track for the lowest total of his career.