What to Expect at the NHL Trade Deadline

October 19, 2016: Leafs James van Riemsdyk (25) takes a shot during the Winnipeg Jets vs Toronto Maple Leafs game at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg MB. (Photo by Terry Lee/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The best word to describe the NHL so far this season is parity. Parity is a word that all leagues love to use to describe their sport. With so many teams having a chance for a special season, the right acquisition before the March 1st trade deadline could be a difference maker. The NHL trade deadline could be an exciting one this season with teams trying to shake up their rosters to make a playoff push, that’s for sure.

What to Expect at the NHL Trade Deadline

On the Move?

When looking at past NHL trade deadlines there is a clear trend of the players who get moved. For the most part, they are players who will become unrestricted free agents at season’s end and are on teams that will not be printing playoff tickets.

While it’s too early to say, for the most part who is definitively out, there is a good sense what teams will be buyers and sellers at the trade deadline. Also, when analyzing the potential players who could be available before the deadline, one word keeps coming up and that’s depth. Almost all the players that will be moved at the deadline will help out contending teams third forward lines and defensive pairings.

The one exemption to this would be Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop. It’s hard to see a scenario, due to the salary cap, that Bishop re-signs with Tampa after the season. Having said that, for general manager Steve Yzerman to give up his depth in goal he will have to be offered a player who can make an impact on this years team. Remember last year, Tampa was able to put in another strong goaltender in Andrei Vasilevskiy after losing Bishop in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. To give up that critical depth in between the pipes, Yzerman needs to get something significant in return.

After Bishop, almost all of the other expected players to be on the block will be secondary pieces. In goal, the Philadelphia Flyers would probably listen to offers on both Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth, while the New York Islanders would do the same with Thomas Greiss.

Teams that would consider an upgrade to their backup goalie’s so they don’t run their starting goalie’s in the ground would be the San Jose Sharks and the Edmonton Oilers.

Keep an eye out for the Pittsburgh Penguins in regards of moving Marc-Andre Fleury. Pittsburgh does not want to lose Matt Murray in the Expansion Draft to the Vegas Golden Knights.

On the blue line, there could be a number of solid choices available as Ron Hainsey (Carolina Hurricanes), Dennis Seidenberg (Islanders), Mark Streit (Flyers), Michael Stone (Arizona Coyotes), Fedor Tyutin (Colorado Avalanche), Cody Franson & Dmitry Kulikov (Buffalo Sabres), Deryk Engelland & Dennis Wideman (Calgary Flames) are all UFA’a at season’s end.

Remember at last year’s trade deadline what the Flames were able to get from the Dallas Stars, defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka, forward prospect and a second round pick for Kris Russell.

Up front, there are a few more potential intriguing names in Alexandre Burrows (Vancouver Canucks) Cal Clutterbuck (Islanders), Shane Doan & Martin Hanzal (Coyotes), Brian Gionta (Sabres), Jarome Iginla (Avalanche) and Drew Stafford (Winnipeg Jets).

The 29-year old Clutterbuck would be very sought after due to his physicality, grit, ability on the penalty kill, secondary scoring, leadership, and for getting under his opponents skin. Doan (40) and Iginla (39) are up there in age, but they can still help a cup contending team.

Wild Cards

Then we come to some more high-end players to think about in terms of getting moved before the trade deadline. The first name on the list is Flames defenseman, Dougie Hamilton. Hamilton has been the subject of recent trade rumors, regardless of the fact that the ownership saying he’s going nowhere. Remember, this 6’3″ blue liner is on pace for a third straight season of 40+ points and is still just 23 years of age.

Yes, Hamilton was a minus-14 last year. But was that all on Hamilton, or more on the Flames as a poor defensive team? Hamilton is signed for another four years with a cap hit of $5.75 million per year. If Calgary moves him, it won’t come at a cheap price.

When Jacob Trouba was holding out, the Winnipeg Jets reportedly wanted a hefty return for him, which reportedly included a proven NHL defenseman. With Trouba recently signing a new two-year deal with the Jets, it’s hard to see anything changing from Winnipeg’s perspective.

A few years ago it looked like Evander Kane was going to become one of the elite scorers in the league. A lot has changed since his break-out season in 2011-12 (30 goals). If Kane can produce like he did last year in terms of goal scoring (20 goals in 65 games), it could spark interest from a contending team. However, Kane’s next goal this season will be his first of the 2016-17 season, keep in mind he’s only played in 11 games so far due to an injury. Kane is signed through next season with a $5.25 million cap hit.

Probably the biggest wild card on the board is the Toronto Maple Leafs forward, James Van Riemsdyk. The last few years the 27-year old winger has been a strong offensive force. He is off to a great start this year with 10 goals and 19 points to his name. The 6’3″, 200 lb winger would also be a great addition to any team’s power play unit (he already has 4 power play goals).

Van Riemsdyk is signed through next season with a $4.25 million cap hit. With all of the talented young forwards the Leafs have in the organization, does Lou Lamoriello and Brendan Shanahan want to commit big dollars and a long-term deal to Van Riemsdyk. Having said that, acquiring the former 30-goal scorer would come at an expensive price that probably would have to be a package of players and a high draft pick. Toronto would want a young defenseman in this deal as that is the organizations greatest current need.

Will this be a ho-hum trade deadline, or one that has a few surprises? With so many potential buyers at this year’s deadline, asking prices will not be cheap.

Main Photo: