The NHL trade deadline is almost upon us and contending teams are in search of ways to get their organization over the hump and bring home a Stanley Cup. Those hitting the market as “buyers” are in search of one thing and one thing only. NHL players with the ability to increase the overall skill on a roster. However, these pieces don’t come free.
Although the focus during the trade deadline season is primarily drawn towards impact players on the move, the game’s prospects also play a major role. Typically, players inhabiting a franchise’s farm system and draft picks are what gets moved in exchange for those roster altering assets.
Below is a collection of prospects that could be dealt either before or on deadline day. The prospects on this list found their way there based on the situation with their current organization or recent news or rumors presented by those around the league.
When constructing a list of current NHL prospects with a chance of being traded around the deadline, Edmonton’s Jesse Puljujarvi needs to be at the top. The former fourth-overall pick back in 2016 simply has not panned out with the Oilers. Now playing with Karpat in the Liiga, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Puljujarvi plays in Edmonton again. Of course, that doesn’t erase all of the skill he possesses and there’s a chance he can put it all together with another organization.
The issue the Oilers face is coming to terms with the fact that the return they will receive likely will not match the value of a fourth-overall draft pick. Though there’s an obvious upside, any team willing to take a shot on the 21-year-old winger will understand that there’s some risk attached. Regardless, Edmonton and Puljujarvi would both be better off if they parted ways.
Sometimes, players find themselves victims of what is ahead of them on the depth chart. That is the case with Jeremy Bracco and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Bracco experienced a coming-out party of sorts last season in the AHL posting 79 points in 75 games for the Toronto Marlies. This season, he’s quieted down a bit but still provides intrigue that might catch an organization’s attention. From a Toronto perspective, it’s highly unlikely that they view the former second-round pick as a part of their long-term plan. The best move for them is to put him in a package that brings in a piece that increases their chances of winning now.
Although Lias Andersson wants to cut ties with the Rangers, New York is in no rush to deal him away before the deadline. The Rangers don’t necessarily fit into the “buyers” profile with the deadline approaching and should have no problem waiting until the offseason to listen to deals on their former seventh-overall pick. That being said, other teams are showing interest. If the Rangers can receive an asset that will assist them beyond the remainder of this season, it’s still possible that Andersson calls a new NHL franchise home before the deadline passes.
In his latest edition of “31 Thoughts”, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet mentioned that Ottawa Senators’ Max Veronneau could be on the move. The undrafted free agent out of Princeton University is now healthy and a part of a really deep prospect pool in Ottawa.
Though in most cases the Senators would be looking to add youth instead of deal it, they might be able to take advantage of an organization in need of a boost to its own farm system. The 24-year-old Veronneau is a guy who, in the right situation, could fit nicely into a team’s bottom-six.
As ridiculous as it might sound, Bowen Byram is one prospect that has been mentioned in a variety of trade rumors. Whether you agree with it or not, he could be a piece that the Colorado Avalanche use to bring in some more scoring up front. To be fair, Colorado isn’t going to trade away the best defenseman from last year’s draft for just anybody. He comes with an incredible amount of upside and could turn into the best blueliner on the Avalanche down the road. The team would need someone in return that would not only provide an immediate impact, but would also be on the roster for much longer than the remainder of this season. Of all the prospects on this list, Byram truly is the least likely to be on the move.
For a team that is a legitimate contender for the Stanley Cup this year, it’s incredible how many intriguing prospects the Tampa Bay Lightning possess. It’s a safe assumption that the team will look to add before the deadline passes and it has a plethora of assets to be used as trade chips. Although an argument can be made for a few of the Lightning’s prospects, Barre-Boulet is the most likely to be moved. He’s having another productive season with the Syracuse Crunch and should garner the attention of a few teams looking to sell off their established NHL players.
Too much quality goaltending is a good problem to have. With the crease pretty much set in Vancouver, the Canucks may look to move Michael DiPietro for a piece that can help cement themselves at the top of the Pacific Division. He is a good young goaltender that still needs some time to develop and master his craft.
Teams with a bleak future in net will be very intrigued to add him to their farm system. Still, Vancouver won’t be in a rush to move him if the right deal isn’t there. Again, you can’t have enough quality netminding.
Until the day he is traded, Eeli Tolvanen will be on this list. The 2017 first-round selection just can’t seem to get over the hump in the Nashville Predators organization. Currently outside the playoff picture but close to a wild card spot, the Predators might look to add a little firepower at the deadline. However, they really aren’t in the position to rid themselves of an early-round draft pick. Trading away pieces already in the farm system might be the only move they can make and Tolvanen makes the most sense as a trade chip. He’s been the subject of trade rumors for quite a while and you’d have to imagine that somebody will be willing to take a flyer on him. Nashville just has to be realistic with the asking price.
Of course, the list of prospects that could be traded by the deadline goes beyond this list. It’s a fool’s errand to try and predict every single piece that might be moved. However, the young men mentioned above will be highly sought after as the days dwindle down. By the time Feb. 24 passes, some of them might be calling a new organization home.
John Gove is an elementary school educator who writes about hockey in his spare team. Over the past five years, John has covered the game at various levels. Now, he exclusively focuses his coverage on prospects and the developmental leagues.