It is a sellers’ market and the prices are steep.
That is evident, based on the deals to date. Teams wanting to upgrade ahead of Monday’s NHL trade deadline are going to pay a premium, especially for players with term. See Blake Coleman.
Even the rentals — from top-six wingers like Tyler Toffoli to bottom-pairing defenders like Marco Scandella — are fetching significant (and surprising) returns. Nobody is coming cheap.
The real impact players are sure to command substantial packages. Whether that is Chris Kreider or Matt Dumba, Tomas Tatar or Sami Vatanen. There are quality players available despite the lack of sellers, with so many teams still in playoff contention.
That makes for more buyers, which means bidding wars. Several general managers are feeling the pressure to add — or the urge to improve — while matching the moves of their rivals.
Take the Pacific Division, for example, where Arizona acted early in landing Taylor Hall and Vancouver reacted to their injuries by reeling in Toffoli. Now all eyes are on Edmonton and Calgary to keep pace on paper. Both Alberta teams are missing their captains at the moment but aren’t expected to stand pat — not with the standings so tight as of today.
Other arms races will emerge between now and Monday, as every team attempts to accomplish their deadline goals in addressing their needs going forward.
Established contenders will be seeking a specific piece to put them over the top. The playoff locks will be shopping for a ringer to ensure a longer run. The bubble teams may also be looking to load up for a postseason push. Or they might pull the plug to focus on their future — retooling to some extent for next season, if not entertaining a full rebuild.
Regardless, it should be an exciting few days in the hockey world. Who knows what will happen, but it’s always fun to speculate. I enjoy making predictions at this time of year — it had become an annual tradition until I sat out the 2019 deadline — but I’m admittedly terrible at trade proposals, so I’m going to try something new for 2020.
I’m calling this project Fisher’s Big Board of Bait — get it Fisher, fishing, bait … as in trade bait. Essentially, this is a list of players I envision being on the block — listed in order of their likelihood to be dealt. Starting with the teams that have the most players available.
In total, there are 130 players from 20 teams — primarily from perceived sellers since the buyers will be parting with draft picks and prospects as currency, which is more of a crapshoot.
Realistically, I’m anticipating around 50 more NHL players to move by Monday and I’m hoping the majority of them will appear here on my bait board.
Montreal Canadiens (12)
Ilya Kovalchuk — Traded to Washington
Nate Thompson — Traded to Philadelphia
Nick Cousins — Traded to Vegas
Ottawa Senators (10)
Jean-Gabriel Pageau — Traded to New York Islanders (extended for six years)
Tyler Ennis — Traded to Edmonton
Vladislav Namestnikov — Traded to Colorado
Max Veronneau — Traded to Toronto
Buffalo Sabres (10)
Conor Sheary — Traded to Pittsburgh
Evan Rodrigues — Traded to Pittsburgh
Zach Bogosian — Signed by Tampa Bay (following contract termination)
Florida Panthers (10)
Denis Malgin — Traded to Toronto
Vincent Trocheck — Traded to Carolina
Detroit Red Wings (9)
Mike Green — Traded to Edmonton
Andreas Athanasiou — Traded to Edmonton
San Jose Sharks (9)
Patrick Marleau — Traded to Pittsburgh
Barclay Goodrow — Traded to Tampa Bay
Nashville Predators (9)
Rocco Grimaldi — Re-signed for two years
Miikka Salomaki — Traded to Toronto
Minnesota Wild (8)
New York Rangers (7)
Chris Kreider — Re-signed for seven years
Brady Skjei — Traded to Carolina
Los Angeles Kings (7)
Alec Martinez — Traded to Vegas
Derek Forbort — Traded to Calgary
Martin Frk — Re-signed for two years
Anaheim Ducks (7)
Derek Grant — Traded to Philadelphia
Ondrej Kase — Traded to Boston
Michael Del Zotto
Devin Shore — Traded to Columbus
Daniel Sprong — Traded to Washington
Toronto Maple Leafs (7)
Michael Hutchinson — Traded to Colorado
New Jersey Devils (6)
Sami Vatanen — Traded to Carolina
Wayne Simmonds — Traded to Buffalo
Louis Domingue — Traded to Vancouver
Edmonton Oilers (5)
Sam Gagner — Traded to Detroit
Chicago Blackhawks (3)
Erik Gustafsson — Traded to Calgary
Robin Lehner — Traded to Vegas
Arizona Coyotes (3)
Columbus Blue Jackets (3)
Sonny Milano — Traded to Anaheim
New York Islanders (3)
Michael Dal Colle
Philadelphia Flyers (1)
Calgary Flames (1)
Well, what do you think — could any or all of those players be traded prior to Monday’s deadline? Are there any glaring omissions? Feel free to weigh in or share your own predictions in the comments below.
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Larry Fisher is a senior writer and head scout for The Hockey Writers, having been an at-large contributor for THW since August 2014. Fisher covers both the NHL and the WHL, specializing in prospects and NHL draft content, including his annual mock drafts that date back to 2012. Fisher has also been a beat writer for the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets since 2008, formerly working as a sports reporter/editor for The Daily Courier in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada from 2008-2019. Follow him on Twitter: @LarryFisher_KDC.