The Maple Leafs and Senators got the trade season started early this year, pulling a nine-player swap that included Dion Phaneuf in the mix. With the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline approaching there are big names making the rounds in the rumor mill and we’re likely to see at least one shocker before the deadline passes on February 29.
Here’s a look at the top ten players who are at going to come up in rumors and may just be wearing a different uniform come March.
Jonathan Drouin – Like fellow Bolt Steven Stamkos, Drouin has been talked about quite a bit this season. His current suspension by the club likely damaged his trade value quite a bit and the Lightning are in a very difficult position given both Stamos and Drouin (a pair of lottery picks) are two of the most popular trade chips in the entire league. If Drouin isn’t gone by the 29th I’d be shocked.
Eric Staal – The Hurricanes are only a handful of points out of a Wild Card spot and parting ways with their captain wouldn’t be the best way to continue that playoff push. But Staal and Cam Ward are both expected to hit the free agent market this summer and the Hurricanes would be wise to cash in rather than losing the pair for nothing.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – RNH has only been whispered about here and there as the season has progressed. Most of the chatter surrounding the former first overall pick has been due to the emergence of Leon Draisaitl at center. Should Peter Chiarelli choose to trade RNH it would likely be to secure help on the blue line as the Oilers look to finish their rebuild.
Loui Eriksson – While the Bruins are in the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, Ericsson’s contract demands may not meet what the Bruins are willing to invest moving forward. Should that be the case, taking advantage of Ericsson’s strong season would provide Boston great return for the future.
Dan Hamhuis – The Canucks were said to be on the fence between buying and selling ahead of the deadline. While they haven’t fallen out of the playoff race yet, injuries to Brendan Sutter and Alex Edler could seal their fate. Should the Canucks decide to build rather than rent, Hamhuis could be on his way out.
Jamie McGinn – The Sabres Swiss Army Knife winger has played on every line for the team this year while sitting on the team’s number one power play unit. While the Sabres would probably be better off re-signing McGinn as they attempt to transition out of the league basement, his strong season could mean an impressive return for Tim Murray to play with.
Justin Schultz – Once the hottest college free agent, Schultz hasn’t fully converted into the player most scouts and pundits expected him to be at the NHL level. His place on one of the league’s weakest defense corps likely has a lot to do with his average returns but he could easily be a deadline casualty as the Oilers look to improve on the back end. He was even scratched earlier in the month as it was rumored a trade was imminent. I don’t expect him to be in Edmonton beyond March 1.
Keith Yandle – The Rangers are in a tough spot as Ryan McDonagh is banged up and they can’t afford to lose another strong NHL defenseman. However, the Rangers paid a hefty price to acquire Yandle and as a pending free agent it is thought that the Blueshirts may be looking to recoup some of their investment. Given that the Rangers Cup window is probably closing, I’d be amazed to see Yandle traded, but expect to see his name attached to plenty of e4 reports and more.
Mikkel Boedker – Boedker is expected to ask for a big contract this summer which could alter Don Maloney’s approach in keeping his team in the Western Conference playoff hunt. The return he could get for one of the leading scorers on the Coyotes roster. It’s hard to see Maloney parting ways with Boedker given Arizona’s place in the standings. However, the return would likely rival that of Keith Yandle from last year’s deadline.
At this point the Phaneuf trade may wind up being the biggest blockbuster of the trade season but that could easily change if Stamkos winds up waiving his no trade clause. The deadline is always entertaining and I don’t doubt this year will be any different.