NHL Trade Deadline: Top 5 Buyers

The NHL trade deadline falls 40 days before the final day of the regular season and is the last day of the season in which NHL teams can make trades of any sort – players or draft picks. This year’s deadline falls on Monday, February 24.

For the full NHL trade deadline breakdown check out “NHL Trade Deadline: Forwards, Defensemen, and Goalies Expected to Move“.

1. Toronto Maple Leafs

There is no questioning Toronto’s offense. For much of this season, the Maple Leafs have led the league in goals scored. Unfortunately, they have also led much of the season for most goals allowed.

Heading into the new year, it was no secret that Toronto was lacking on the defensive end. Add to that, now, the fact that top defenseman Morgan Rielly is out with injury and starting goaltender Frederik Andersen has been, once again, overworked, and has been listed as day-to-day over the past week, and the Leafs are now on the bubble. They rank third in the Atlantic division with just 66 points and are barely hanging on to a playoff position at this point.

The Leafs don’t have a ton of salary cap space, but they have enough for what they need.

There are a select few players that could fill the spaces that Toronto needs help in.

A plethora of top-six defenseman seem ready to move at the deadline and some could adapt easily into the Leafs game. The front runner is Los Angeles Kings defenseman Alec Martinez.

Martinez is a former teammate of Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin and has been having a respectable year despite suffering on the LA blue line this season. He’s still young, blocks shots, and can easily handle 20-plus minutes per game.

Another defensive option is Matt Dumba of the Minnesota Wild. Dumba is an offensive defenseman which would make him a great asset to the team’s power play. He has 71 blocked shots and 75 hits. He does come with a greater price tag than Martinez, however.

As for goaltending, the Leafs need a reliable backup. Frederik Andersen has played 60 games or more for each of his seasons with Toronto. He needs rest.

Michael Hutchinson has not proven to be a reliable back up – he didn’t win his first game of the season until late December. The number one goalie linked to Toronto is the Rangers’ Alexander Georgiev. A large part is because the Rangers have seemingly expressed interest in some of Toronto’s players as well.

Georgiev is still young and could not only help Toronto this season but in future seasons. Should they secure Georgiev, an immediate contract extension is not that unlikely.

But, should the Leafs miss out on a deal or choose to go another way, there is another solid option. Although he would likely walk as a free agent at season’s end, the Leafs could benefit from Ottawa’s Craig Anderson should they make a deep run. Anderson has plenty of playoff experience that could give the Maple Leafs more confidence heading into the postseason. Jason Spezza is now a Maple Leaf, why not Anderson?

2. Colorado Avalanche

Colorado is in a one of a kind position. Although they are in search of nothing specific, as their offense, defense, and goaltending have been relatively superb all season, they have the option to add even more depth and injury insurance simply because they have the money to do so.

The Colorado Avalanche head into the trade deadline with more salary-cap space than any other team in the league. There are some weaknesses in their game that can be addressed, but just the thought of adding even more horsepower to such a talented, young roster is a scary thought to any other team in the NHL.

As mentioned, Colorado’s needs are not specific. They have had injury woes throughout the season, so they will most likely want to add players that can step up should someone need to miss significant time.

One of the most interesting players expected to be available is Ottawa’s, Jean-Gabriel Pageau. Pageau would fill in nicely as a second-line center who could move up to the top line if needed.

He is having a career year for goals and is a penalty killing machine, which is big as Colorado has struggled on special teams this season. Not only can Pageau score on the power play, but he has 13 career shorthanded goals as well.

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3. Florida Panthers

The Florida Panthers find themselves in essentially the same position as the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The team is loaded with offensive talent but the team falls apart on the blue line and their goaltending performances have been mixed this season.

Alec Martinez would fit in as well in Florida as he would with Toronto. But there are other options the Panthers could look at as well. Ottawa’s Ron Hainsey could be within the final year of his career and could put it all on the line for one last playoff push. He has extensive playoff experience, including Stanley Cup wins.

He would be a good, mentally strong pillar for such a young team. He has 71 blocked shots, 40 hits, and can still easily be relied upon to play upwards of 20 minutes per game.

Now, if the Panthers are looking to trade for a long-term addition, the team should look at San Jose’s Brenden Dillon. Dillon has 155 hits this season, 13 points, and pushes 20 minutes per game, and at 29-years-old, he is just entering his prime as a shut-down defenseman. No one would be shocked if Dillon was signed to an extension at the deadline – regardless of the team.

4. Arizona Coyotes

Although the Coyotes have already made the biggest preseason trade and pre-deadline trade of the season in acquiring Phil Kessel and Taylor Hall, this team is, most likely, not done yet.

Kessel hasn’t lived up to his potential since joining the club and Taylor Hall is only just starting to get going.

Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers could fit into this roster nicely – especially if Kessel doesn’t get things going. Like Kessel, Kreider is an absolute speedster. Put on a like with Taylor Hall, he could be untouchable. He is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. He was named to the all-star game this season and has 38 points this season with an astounding 15.4 shooting percentage.

Another great pickup for Arizona would be the Kings’ Tyler Toffoli. This season, despite how bad the Kings have played, Toffoli has managed 30 points with a 9.4 shooting percentage.

He also has 30 takeaways. Teams don’t usually like to trade within their own conference but with the current status of the Los Angeles Kings, it’s unlikely they’d put up much of a fight and would just be happy to acquire assets for their future.

5. New York Islanders/Dallas Stars

These two teams are so similar that we couldn’t choose between them. These are two of the most defensive teams in the league with some of the best goaltending around. But, despite having the talent, their offensive output has been almost non-existent. If these teams hope to make a deep playoff run, then they’ll need to add offense soon.

And there is plenty available.

The first player we think of for either of these teams is Wayne Simmonds of the New Jersey Devils, who becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Simmonds is a beast of a forward and he’s a specialist at screening goaltenders and fighting for rebounds.

When not providing a screen, Simmonds is able to make space for his teammates to create more quality scoring chances. This season, Simmonds has already amassed 118 hits. He can clear a path.

These are also two teams in which Chris Kreider’s name could come into play for all the same reasons mentioned above. It has already been reported that at least eight teams have already aggressively expressed interest in Kreider as we approach February 24.

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