The NHL trade deadline is on Monday, April 12, at 3 p.m. ET and we are here to get you ready for some of the teams that could be in the market for deals and players that could be on the move. The salary cap situation is going to make it a little more difficult to make moves this season, but Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmieri, David Savard, and Ryan Getzlaf are all prominent names that could be changing teams.
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The Sabres season has been a nightmare as a flawed, undermanned team has been overwhelmed in a division full of Stanley Cup contenders. Their big offseason additions were Taylor Hall on a one-year contract and a trade for veteran center Eric Staal. Neither worked out as hoped. Staal has already been traded to the Montreal Canadiens while Hall is being held out of the lineup in anticipation of a trade over the coming days. He is having an uncharacteristically bad year but the hope is a new situation and new teammates will help him jumpstart his production. Will anyone else from Buffalo be on the move? A Jack Eichel trade would be an offseason move (and even then is unlikely), but players like Brandon Montour, Colin Miller, and Tobias Rieder would all seem to be available.
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The Bruins never adequately replaced defensemen Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara following their departures in free agency this past offseason, while their forward lines have been entirely too top-heavy and completely reliant on the top line David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, and Patrice Bergeron. One-line teams do not win championships, and right now the Bruins are a one-line team. The good news for the Bruins is they have some salary cap space to work with to find adequate depth on defense and at forward. They could even make a potentially significant addition at either position. The problem is they do not have a deep farm system or a lot of attractive young talent to trade from.
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The Islanders search for an Anders Lee replacement
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One of the most significant injuries among likely playoff teams is the season-ending injury to Islanders captain Anders Lee. He is one of their best, most productive players and he will not be back in their lineup until next season. General manager Lou Lamoriello has taken a methodical, patient approach to constructing the Islanders during his tenure but showed last year he is not afraid to make a bold move when he acquired — and re-signed — center Jean-Gabriel Pageau. He might need to be bold again to give the lineup the boost it will need in Lee’s absence. New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri seems like a strong candidate that could fit in the Islanders lineup, while the team also showed interest in Taylor Hall during free agency.
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The Maple Leafs should be bold
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Toronto is in a prime position to make a serious run at the Stanley Cup this season, and if we are being honest it is the best chance this core group has. They are by far the best team in the North Division and will not have to face one of the top Stanley Cup contenders in the league until a potential semifinal matchup. They can massage the salary cap enough to make a significant addition, and it is just a matter of what they want to do. A veteran forward like Nick Foligno? More depth on defense? Or would they go for a goalie like Florida’s Chris Driedger given Frederik Andersen’s injury and struggles? This is the time to go all in and not let a first-round pick or prospect stop you from getting the player that could put you over the top.
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Predators go from sellers to buyers
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It was only a couple of weeks ago that the Nashville Predators season seemed like it was going to be the unofficial closing of their contention window. Mattias Ekholm and Mikael Granlund seemed like obvious trade chips, and it was worth wondering whether the team was in need of a rebuild. Their season has rapidly turned around, however, and they now find themselves right in the thick of the Central Division playoff race. The improved play of Juuse Saros in goal has been a driving factor in that turnaround. It is still a team that could use some extra offense.
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Brown has been a core player in Los Angeles for a decade-and-a-half and a foundational piece on two Stanley Cup-winning teams. You do not take moving a player like that lightly. But the reality is the Kings are not a playoff team this season, Brown is in his mid-30s, and while the future of the team is extremely bright he probably will not be a part of the next contending Kings team. His goal scoring has bounced back in a significant way this season and it might have raised his value enough where a trade now would make the most sense. Cash in while you can.
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The Ducks are in a brutal spot, not quite fully committed to an all-out rebuild but still getting the lousy results of a rebuilding team. Their two biggest trade chips right now are Rickard Rakell and Ryan Getzlaf. Rakell should be intriguing to potential trade partners given his affordable salary and remaining term (signed through the end of the 2021-22 season). Comparable players in recent years tend to land teams a first-round pick and at least one good prospect. Getzlaf, meanwhile, would be a pure rental for somebody. He may not be a top-line player anymore but if you can add him to your third line you would be in a pretty good position. The Ducks may need to eat some of that salary though.
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How will Ron Hextall handle his first trade deadline with the Penguins?
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In going from Jim Rutherford to Ron Hextall the Pittsburgh Penguins went from one of the most unpredictable and aggressive general managers in the league to one of the most patient and methodical. The Penguins have almost no salary cap space once they get some key players back in the lineup and very few trade assets (no first-round pick, only a handful of good prospects) so that makes their options limited. Still, this is a good team that is not going to want to miss out on a chance to take another run at a championship with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. A third-line center seems like a good target, and one of Hextall’s former team (the Philadelphia Flyers) has a great candidate in Scott Laughton. Those two teams making a trade, though, seems unlikely.
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Montreal is a team to watch
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Marc Bergevin has been a wheeling and dealing maniac over the past year, and with veteran forward Brendan Gallagher going on the LTIR for the remainder of the regular season it creates even more salary-cap space for Bergevin to work with. The Canadiens already added Eric Staal and have Cole Caufield on the way, and there is no reason to think that Bergevin is done making moves. Anything is possible with that team, especially in a division where things are very wide open for the four playoff teams.
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The Blues need goaltending help, but will they get it?
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There is perhaps no bigger disappointment in the NHL this season than the Blues. Injuries, combined with sub-par goaltending, have dropped them into fifth place in the West Division in a three-team race with Arizona and San Jose for the fourth playoff spot. And they need a lot of help to make up that ground. The goaltending issue is the big one because Jordan Binnington has not played well despite getting a new long-term contract extension, while there is no proven backup behind him. Jonathan Bernier or Chris Driedger could be had as rentals, but are the Blues willing to go in that direction?
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How aggressive will the Panthers be?
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Now, this is a fun situation. The Panthers are the biggest positive surprise in the NHL this season and are currently in contention for the league’s top record. They have two All-Stars at the top of the roster, a Hall of Fame coach, improved depth, and a lot of salary cap space to work with because their two best players (Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau) are signed for way below market value. Aaron Ekblad being out for the rest of the season could clear the way for a trade on defense, but the Panthers have all sorts of options to explore right now. They are ahead of where they expected to be and have some necessary ingredients to compete. They should be aggressive in seeing what is available.
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The Blackhawks dilemma
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The only expectation for the Blackhawks this season was that they would be horrible. They have turned out to be solid, especially given the absence of Jonathan Toews and Kirby Dach. Kevin Lankinen’s goaltending has been a season-changer, while Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat have carried the offense. The problem is that once you get beyond those two aspects of the team there is not a lot to write home about here. Do you sell potential free agents like Carl Soderberg or Mattias Janmark when you still have a chance to make the playoffs? Do you add players to a team that may not be very good and have almost zero chance of beating one of the top teams in the division? There is no good answer here.
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Kyle Palmieri will make a big impact for somebody
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Of all the forwards that are likely to be traded Palmieri might end up being the most impactful. He is a proven, consistent 25-goal scorer with a strong defensive presence that can fit on any team’s top line. The Devils, unable to agree to terms on a new contract with him, have already removed him from the lineup while his agent confirmed it is in anticipation of a trade before Monday. The Islanders and Bruins should be the teams to watch here.
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Oilers can’t waste this opportunity
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With Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, the Edmonton Oilers have two MVPs and the two best offensive players in the league on their roster. They also have a pretty good opportunity to make some serious noise in the playoffs given the divisional format and playoff format. You only get players like McDavid and Draisaitl for a limited period of time and you owe it to them, yourself, and your fans to maximize that window as best you can. The Oilers could use depth at every level of the roster, whether it be scoring depth, extra help on the blue line, or even in goal.
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Blue Jackets should be busy
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The Columbus Blue Jackets season has slipped away in recent weeks and they now find themselves in a position where they should be clear sellers. They have pieces to sell. Defenseman David Savard is probably going to be one of the top defenders available, while captain Nick Foligno — a pending unrestricted free agent — could be an attractive piece for a contender. The wild card will be whether or not they move a goalie.