NHL Trade Deadline: Forwards, Defensemen, and Goalies Expected to Move
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.
5 Forwards Expected to Move
1. Jean-Gabriel Pageau – Ottawa Senators
This has been atop the rumor mill for much of the season. Pageau has already reached a career-high 20 goals this season just 50 games in.
The Ottawa Senators center has 32 points on the season and is a plus-12 – which is rather impressive considering the ranking of the Sens this season.
He has a 52.6 faceoff percentage, 26 takeaways, and one shorthanded goal. But the real talking point as of late is his shooting percentage. With 114 shots this season, Pageau boasts a 17.5 shooting percentage. Many thought it would drop off after a month or two but he has continued to make his shots count.
So why trade such a stellar performer?
Well, the Senators are still clearly in a rebuilding phase. They have key youth players such as Brady Tkachuk and Thomas Chabot and they have more in their farm system.
Provided themselves, as well as the San Jose Sharks, continue to play as poorly as they have this season, the team will also have two first-round draft picks within the top-five. Trading Pageau away at the deadline while his numbers are high could return more draft picks and even top prospects – especially from a team that sits on the bubble of making the playoffs.
Best destination fit: New York Islanders.
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2. Chris Kreider – New York Rangers
Like Jean-Gabriel Pageau, New York forward Chris Kreider has been on the tip of everyone’s tongue this season as one of the bigger names that could be moved at the deadline.
Kreider was first noticed in the league for his incredible speed and he continued to grow his NHL game around that skill.
The 28-year-old has 35 points this season, seven of which came on the power play. Kreider has two game-winning goals, a 14.6 shooting percentage, 92 hits, and 18 takeaways.
He has also been a beast for the Rangers on the power play.
The Rangers can still make the playoffs, mathematically, but all signs seem to be pointing to them being sellers at the deadline.
Kreider, along with goaltender Alexander Georgiev, have the best chance at returning draft picks and prospects for the future.
There are many teams that could use Kreider in the lineup to make their final push for a playoff spot. He is currently listed as day-to-day but that shouldn’t affect his trade value.
Best destination: St. Louis Blues.
3. Tyler Toffoli – Los Angeles Kings
Tyler Toffoli is the Los Angeles Kings’ best bargaining chip and we’re sure that he wouldn’t be sad to go.
Toffoli is a consistent 20-goal scorer (if not more) and currently has 14 this season on a Kings team that is second-to-last in the league.
He has 29 points, seven power-play points, and two game-winning goals. He has also managed a 9.9 shooting percentage this season. He also has 28 takeaways. Toffoli is the perfect addition to a team looking for second-line scoring, such as the Edmonton Oilers or Boston Bruins.
The Kings season is all but over and this is their only chance to get something in return for Toffoli, who becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. With so much salary cap space locked up into Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty, the Kings will need to rid themselves of anything and anyone they can in order to keep their young prospects around for their inevitable rebuild phase.
Best destination: Calgary Flames.
4. Ilya Kovalchuk – Montreal Canadiens
Ilya Kovalchuk started the season still signed with the Los Angeles Kings but after only nine points in 17 games and going minus-17, the Kings bought out Kovalchuk’s contract, leaving him as an unrestricted free agent.
With little to lose, the Montreal Canadiens signed him to a one-year, $700,000 contract. In his 12 games with the Habs, Kovalchuk has registered ten points, in a plus-5, has two game-winners, and a 17.2 shooting percentage.
The Canadiens would have been happy to get a third-rounder out of him but they could wind up getting a second-rounder, should they choose to let him go, of course.
Kovalchuk is another player that could add a second-line scoring boost as well as help a team to bolster its power play.
Years ago, the Bruins were in talks with Kovalchuk and it wouldn’t be surprising to see such a team pull the trigger this time around.
Best destination: Boston Bruins.
5. Nick Bonino – Nashville Predators
Nick Bonino may not be the most popular name on this list, but he is the most experienced when it comes to the playoffs. At the time of writing, Bonino is Nashville’s top penalty killer and is on pace for more than 20 goals this season.
He has three Stanley Cup finals appearances and was part of the Stanley Cup-winning Pittsburgh Penguins team in 2016 as part of the HBK line alongside Phil Kessel and Carl Hagelin.
He will be a boost to any team in need of a second or third-line center and the Predators can afford to let him go, regardless of if they decide to make a legitimate push for the playoffs or not. With a 17.9 shooting percentage and 60 blocked shots as a forward, any team looking for help on the power play will have their eyes on Bonino.
Best destination: Colorado Avalanche.
5 Defensemen Expected to Move
1. Matt Dumba – Minnesota Wild
His whole career thus far has been spent in Minnesota but defenseman Mathew Dumba has had his name linked to a few teams already as we get closer to February 24th’s deadline.
The 25-year-old has four goals and 18 points this season. He has six power-play points, 71 blocked shots, and 75 hits. Dumba is currently pacing towards his lowest points total in the past five years which could mean that Wild GM Bill Guerin could clear his spot on the roster for future assets. But it won’t be without a cost.
Despite the drop in production this season, Dumba has a lot to offer any team in the league.
Still a young player, Dumba was leading all defensemen in goals last season before an injury took him out.
He is a solid right-hand shot and only carries a $6-million cap hit. There are more than a handful of teams looking for a top-line defenseman to solidify their playoff chances and Dumba will be a highly sought-after prize.
Best destination: Toronto Maple Leafs.
2. Alec Martinez – Los Angeles Kings
Alec Martinez is another top-tier defenseman that several teams are on the hunt for coming up to the deadline.
Most known for his 2014 Stanley Cup-winning goal against the New York Rangers, Martinez has eight points this season, which may seem low but considering the state of the L.A. Kings this year, it’s acceptable.
What’s more important are his defensive numbers. Martinez has 74 blocked shots, 27 hits, and is averaging over 21 minutes of ice time per game.
He is second on the team (behind Drew Doughty) in power play and short-handed time as well. The time for the Kings to get something in return for the defenseman is now as he will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
Martinez will help any team looking for a top-four defenseman who, specifically, can help on the penalty kill.
There are a lot of teams, in the Eastern conference especially, that are having dynamic offensive years but struggle in their own end. Teams such as Toronto, Florida, or Philadelphia could really benefit from adding Alec Martinez to their roster.
Best destination: Florida Panthers.
3. Ron Hainsey – Ottawa Senators
For any team that’s looking, there is no doubt that Ron Hainsey would bring incredible playoff experience, including a Stanley Cup championship, and an overall calming presence to any locker room looking to make a postseason push.
Currently, a member of the Ottawa roster, Hainsey has years of experience with the competitive Carolina Hurricanes and won a Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2017.
This season, Hainsey has 11 points and is plus-6, which is impressive considering the Sens’ standing in the league. He has 71 blocks, 40 hits, and averages just over 20 minutes of ice time per game.
Best destination: TBA.
4. Brenden Dillon – San Jose Sharks
One of the more physical defensemen that could find a new home is Brenden Dillon of the San Jose Sharks.
He leads the Sharks with 155 hits this season and plays, on average, just under 20 minutes per game.
He ranks fourth in blocked shots on the team and is also steadily dealt ice time on the penalty kill. He has 13 points this season and is in the final year of his five-year contract with San Jose.
This is the perfect time for the Sharks to get something in return for Dillon as well as for another team to benefit from his durability throughout a hopeful deep playoff push.
Dillon will especially benefit any team that has suffered from injuries. Dillon has proven all season long how durable and tough he is and that element can give any team more peace of mind when it comes to their blue line.
Best destination: Pittsburgh Penguins.
5. Shayne Gostisbehere – Philadelphia Flyers
Although not having his most successful season to date, and despite currently being listed as day-to-day, Shayne Gostisbehere still has a lot to offer any team in the league at just 26-years-old.
He began his NHL career as a dark horse to win the Calder trophy, potting 46 points in his rookie year.
He had a career season just two years ago where he reached 65 points. This season, Gostisbehere has 12 points and a 7.1 shooting percentage.
Averaging 18:23 minutes per game, he has 34 blocks and 14 hits. He is a quick, young, talented defenseman who has stagnated a bit this season on a team that has been mostly relegated to the middle of the pack.
The Flyers have also suffered from injuries this season and Gostisbehere hasn’t always had the best players available to him to work with.
He has shown that he can consistently break the 35-point plateau and even the 60-point plateau.
He would benefit any team that is looking for a top-four defenseman that can add some extra scoring – especially on the power play and looking to eke into a playoff spot.
He will be a great asset to any team, especially one currently on the bubble.
Best destination: Nashville Predators.
5 Goalies Expected to Move
1. Alexandar Georgiev – New York Rangers
Of all potential goaltenders available, most pundits peg Alexandar Georgiev as the most sought-after heading into the trade deadline.
The back-up to legend Henrik Lundqvist is 12-10-1 this season with a .909 save percentage. His cap hit for the remainder of the season is just $729,500 and then he becomes a restricted free agent.
The Rangers are in a rare situation in which they have three NHL level goalies on the roster and Georgiev is the one they can afford to part with and get the most return.
Henrik Lundqvist still has a season left on his current contract and is highly unlikely to leave.
At just 24-years-old, Georgiev has two NHL seasons under his belt and has worked under a future hall-of-fame goalie.
As mentioned, Georgiev is experienced and yet still very young. He has two seasons on a losing team in which he has maintained a winning record.
There are several teams looking for goaltending heading into the playoff race – be it due to injury or unreliable play.
Not only could Georgiev fill a gap for the remainder of the season, but it’s safe to say that whatever team takes him on would most likely be eyeing him as a long-term addition to their roster.
Best destination: Toronto Maple Leafs.
2. Robin Lehner – Chicago Blackhawks
Robin Lehner has come a long way since his struggling days as an Ottawa Senator. Shockingly let go at the end of the season by the New York Islanders after winning the Jennings award, Lehner signed with Chicago and is having another stellar year.
His record sits at 15-8-5 and he has a 3.00 GAA and a .923 save percentage. He has split the starting duties equally with Chicago’s other goalie, Corey Crawford, and both have been consistent.
Crawford has a history of injuries that may make one think that Lehner is the horse to bet on but Crawford has a ten-team selection list as to where he can be traded. Lehner does not and can be shipped off to any team that gives Chicago a solid return.
Lehner is a very experienced goaltender and continues to get better each season. At only28-years-old, he is entering his prime for the position and, like Georgiev, could be on the receiving end of an immediate contract extension following a traded at the deadline. He is a starting-caliber goalie and could help backstop a team that is secure in all positions but in goal.
He will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
Best destination: Philadelphia Flyers.
3. Corey Crawford – Chicago Blackhawks
On the other side of the coin for Chicago is Corey Crawford.
He is able to give a list of ten teams that he is willing to be traded to and, like Robin Lehner, will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Although older than Lehner and despite suffering injuries over the past several seasons, Crawford is most definitely the face of Chicago’s goaltending.
With that said, GM Stan Bowman could still strike a deal for Crawford if it gives him a solid return.
Any team looking for Stanley Cup experience should take a close look at Crawford. Becoming unrestricted at the end of the season means that should a team take a chance on him and have it not work out, they could let him walk at season’s end.
But his experience and calmness under pressure are invaluable and he could arguably come at a lower cost than his counterpart Lehner.
Best destination: Calgary Flames.
4. Craig Anderson – Ottawa Senators
As mentioned with Corey Crawford, Craig Anderson is another goalie that comes with a wealth of experience. Although he doesn’t have quite as impressive of a resume as Corey Crawford, Anderson has maintained positive numbers in net across his career despite backstopping for struggling teams.
His numbers have been low lately, but a lot of that can be attributed to a rebuilding core in front of him. He will also become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and has the ability to approve a ten-team list in which he is willing to be traded to.
There are several benefits to trading for Anderson beyond his experience and knowledge of the game. He is an unselfish player and has shown that he can play second-fiddle if it helps the team. He also boasts incredible career playoff numbers.
He has a career .929 save percentage when it comes to playoffs and was an integral part in getting the Senators to an Eastern Conference final series in 2017.
Best destination: Toronto Maple Leafs (should they not take Alexandar Georgiev).
5. Ryan Miller – Anaheim Ducks
The Anaheim Ducks are having one of their worst seasons in team history but if there has been one shining light, it’s been the goaltending.
Although mostly playing as a backup tender these days, Miller does have a winning record this season, going 6-5-2 with a .912 save percentage.
He has a six-team approval list and considering his age (38), we’re sure he’s willing to accept making a move as he is closing in on his final years in the NHL and could be facing his last shot at a Stanley Cup.
Miller has plenty of experience to bring to a team and for just a $1.125-million cap hit. Like other names on this list, he too will end the season as an unrestricted free agent.
Having Miller on the bench can give any team in the league a feeling of security when it comes to the goaltending position – especially if a starter were to get hurt.
Best destination: Nashville Predators.
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