It’s that time of the year where teams either solidify their place in the Stanley Cup playoffs or start to realize that their team isn’t built to be in the playoffs. Teams will start making moves for better or worse. Teams that have given up on the season will start to shop their top players for picks and/or prospects. Here are 5 predictions for the upcoming trade deadline.
It’s no secret that the reigning Stanley Cup champions are in the market for a third line center. Ever since Nick Bonino signed with the Nashville Predators, Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford made it clear that he will make a move to fill the hole in the lineup. Earlier in the season they traded for Riley Sheahan who has been solid for the Penguins and has done what has been asked of him. Despite Sheahan the Pens offense struggled to put up the same amount of goals as previous seasons. For now Jake Guentzel has been the third line center for them and Riley Sheahan found a place with wingers Tom Kuhnhackl and Ryan Reaves. But the Penguins continue to lack that same swagger they had the two previous years. They kicked the tires on Matt Duchene before he was traded to the Ottawa Senators in a blockbuster deal. Now the Pens need to explore other options, one of them being Derrick Brassard from the Ottawa Senators. The veteran center hasn’t been the same player he was with the New York Rangers and has had a very disappointing season with a team that can’t seem to win. His value might not be that high but the Penguins have limited options to trade. Ian Cole could be sent to Ottawa along with a first round pick and a prospect. The question is whether the Penguins will pay that much. That same package could be sent to Montreal for 23 year old Alex Galchenyuk. This option may be preferable to the Penguins but Galchenyuk could just as well be a risk. Cheaper options around the league could be Colin Wilson if the Colorado Avalanche, Leo Komarov of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Colton Sissons of the Nashville Predators, Boone Jenner of the Columbus Blue Jackets, or Brock Nelson of the New York Islanders. There is no doubt that the Penguins will make some noise before the deadline.
Prediction: Acquire a third line center for a package including Ian Cole
Coming into the season the Buffalo Sabres looked like a playoff team looking to show off their young talented team but have been disappointing all around. One of their bright spots has been winger Evander Kane. Despite being on a slumping team like the Sabres his production has been solid putting up 16 goals and 20 assists but he doesn’t seem to be happy staying in Buffalo. Most recently dropping the gloves with a teammate at practice. His days in Buffalo could be numbered. Any contender would be happy to have him but no doubt the asking price will be high. Teams like the Vegas Golden Knights, San Jose Sharks, Pittsburgh Penguins, Columbus Blue Jackets should keep an eye on the Evander Kane situation in Buffalo. Other players could also be on their way out of Buffalo for draft picks or prospects and no doubt playoff contenders will be calling. Buffalo at this point should settle for a high draft pick and get more youthful players in exchange for their veterans.
Prediction: Evander Kane is moved
New Jersey Devils
Nobody saw them coming but as of right now the Devils are fighting for the Metropolitan Division. Impressive considering just this past offseason they drafted Nick Hischier with the first overall pick in the 2017 draft. Ray Shero has done a phenomenal job to rebuild the Devils. His most noticeable move being trading fan favorite Adam Henrique to the Anaheim Ducks for defense men Sami Vatanen. Despite Vatanen not yet finding his game in New Jersey once he does the Devils will be in business yet again. Will Butcher has also had a nice season after signing with the Devils this off-season. Right now the Devils will looks to upgrade their offense, more specifically get some wingers to help out an offense led by Taylor Hall. The Devils have multiple centers that they could move for a winger. James Van Riemsdyk (TOR) or Evander Kane (BUF) could be nice additions to the Devils offense. Mike Hoffman also has been rumored to be on the trade block for the Ottawa Senators. All these options will come with a price though and the question will be whether Shero pays it or not.
Prediction: trade for a depth forward
Is there a bigger disappointment this season then the Ottawa Senators? Probably not. They were one goal away from playing in the Stanley Cup Final last season. Now they are possibly going for a rebuild. Earlier in the season they tried to turn their season around by trading for star center Matt Duchene. They sent Tyle Turris to Nashville and picks and prospects to Colorado in a three way trade to acquire Duchene. Despite this their season got worse if anything. Duchene hasn’t produced and the Senators have just struggled all around. And recently the Senator’s GM, Pierre Dorion, made it clear that’d he’d listen to offers for anyone not named Erik Karlsson or Mark Stone. Mike Hoffman has attracted many teams that would like to upgrade their offense. Codi Ceci and Dion Phaenuf are both defensemen that would be a nice add to a team struggling defensively. The highest valued player the Senators might trade is 20 year old Thomas Chabot. The former first round pick has shown to have incredible skills and has been compared to teammate Erik Karlsson multiple times. It is unlikely the Senators move him but if the right offer presents itself it’d be interesting to see what happens to the young defenseman.
Prediction: Brassard and Hoffman are both moved
Columbus Blue Jackets
Certainly surprising to see the Blue Jackets here. After a phenomenal regular season the Blue Jackets, in which they finished fourth in the league, were sent home early in the playoffs last season by the eventual champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Coming into the season the Blue Jackets looked built to make a deep playoff run. Having a world class goalie, a solid defense, and a deep forward group they looked like the favorites to win the division. Injuries always play a big role though as the Blue Jackets have had their fair share of injuries this season but are still hanging on to a playoff spot and are within range of the top spot of the tight Metropolitan Division. Sergei Bobrovsky has been brilliant and their young defensemen. The Blue Jackets however have struggled to put together an explosive offense despite acquiring one of the most exciting players in the league in Artemi Panarin. Their veteran forwards have lacked the same production as before and it’s starting to become an issue for them. So what can they do to fix this? Boone Jenner seems to be the odd man out especially now after Pierre Luc Dubois has lived up to the hype of a third overall pick. Jack Johnson is also appears to be on his way out as he recently requested a trade due to his discontent on his role on the team. Once again the eyes are set on the slumping Ottawa Senators. Derrick Brassard would be a nice fit for the Columbus Blue Jackets and add some playoff experience and scoring to their roster. Would a deal involving Boone Jenner and Jack Johnson make sense for the Ottawa Senators? Jenner isn’t necessarily old and Jack Johnson could add some much needed help defensively for the Senators. Throw in a 2nd or 3rd round pick to that and Ottawa would definitely have an interesting offer for the veteran center. If Ottawa doesn’t seem satisfied by this deal Columbus could take out Jenner and throw in a prospect. If Brassard is to be traded, Columbus is probably the most likely place he goes to.
Prediction: Trade for Brassard