The NHL trade deadline on Thursday, March 1, is quickly approaching. Teams will soon decide whether they’re going to buy, sell or simply going to stand pat as playoff hockey approaches on the horizon.
Below are five players who could find themselves in a new city after soon.
1. Ben Bishop
2016-17 Stats: 25 GS, 11 W, .905 SV%, 2.78 GAA, 0 SO
Contract status: $5.95 million, UFA July 1
The Tampa Bay Lightning and General Manager Steve Yzerman have a lot of work to do ahead of the expansion draft. One box on his checklist includes Ben Bishop.
All signs point to the Lightning moving on from the 30-year-old goaltender. Bishop is on pace for his worst season since joining the Lightning midway through the 2012-13 season.
There were high expectations for the team, which lost in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2015 and then the Eastern Conference Finals the following season. But it’s been a disappointing year for the Lightning, who sit sixth in the Atlantic Division, albeit just six points out of a playoff spot. But Yzerman moved defenseman Nikita Nesterov last week to Montreal and could be throwing in the towel on the season.
The team is ready to move on with 22-year-old Andrei Vasilevskiy, leaving Bishop on the out. Yzerman will look to get a return for Bishop before the deadline. Teams potentially interested in Bishop include the Calgary Flames, Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche.
2. Thomas Vanek
2016-17 Stats: 37 GP, 12 G, 19 A, 31 Pts., plus-6
Contract status: $2.6 million, UFA July 1
Speaking of career rejuvenation, Thomas Vanek has been one of the best free agent acquisitions of last summer. His near point-per-game stats suggest his last two seasons in Minnesota just wasn’t a fit. His low-risk, high-reward signing with Detroit had proven to be the latter.
Stop me if you’ve heard this already, but the Detroit Red Wings are in real danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in 26 years. Moving Vanek, 33, to a contender can help alleviate the team of a regrettable contract extension and simultaneously help contribute to the team’s need for a rebuild—or retool, as Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland likes to say.
Vanek’s low cap hit can be worked into the salary cap for any team that looks to acquire his services. It’s also not impossible for Detroit to look to bring him back following the expansion draft, as he likes it there and the team certainly has to like what he’s done for them.
Teams that could trade for Vanek include the Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators, San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks.
3. Radim Vrbata
2016-17 Stats: 48 GP, 11 G, 23 A, 34 Pts., minus-14
Contract status: $1 million, UFA July 1
Vrbata returned to Arizona last summer after a slow second year in Vancouver. The 35-year-old has winger rejuvenated his career with the lowly Coyotes. The Czechoslovakia -native is just two goals shy from eclipsing his offensive output from last season—in each category.
Any return the Coyotes can fetch makes it worthwhile for the organization to move Vrbata. He was signed as a veteran presence on a very young Arizona team that has compiled draft picks and high-end prospects.
Any team looking for an extra offensive weapon for a playoff run can find a way to fit Vrbata’s $1 million cap hit into its salary cap. The only problem could be Vrbata’s signing bonuses. He’s already owed an extra $500,000 for playing in 30 games. Other bonuses include another $500,000 for 20 goals or 40 points and up to another $1.25 million for various playoff performances.
Teams that could look to add Vrbata include the Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators.
4. Martin Hanzal
2016-17 Stats: 40 GP, 10 G, 9 A, 19 Pts., minus-14
Contract status: $3.1 million, UFA July 1
At 6-foot-6, 226-pounds, Martin Hanzal can become the biggest guy on almost any team he’s traded to. The problem with Hanzal is his slightly higher cap hit versus other names on this list and his much lower point totals.
At 29, Hanzal is also younger than other names on this list and has stayed relatively healthy this season. Hanzal also holds a 55.1 FO% and can provide protection for teammates with his heavy hits and playoff-style approach.
The Coyotes wouldn’t get a big return for Hanzal, but when you’re likely to lose a player for nothing come this summer, anything to show for it makes it worth the deal. Arizona GM John Chayka is likely to let Hanzal go as he moves ahead with youth.
One consideration is that Hanzal has a modified no-trade clause, which allows him to submit a list of seven teams he would be wiling to accept a trade to.
Teams of interest include the Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators and Calgary Flames.
5. Kevin Shattenkirk
2016-17 Stats: 49 GP, 11 G, 22 A, 33 Pts., minus-13
Contract status: $4.25 million, UFA July 1
Kevin Shattenkirk is an elite offensive producer from the blue line, but if he’s dealt at the deadline, it’s likely because the St. Louis Blues are out of the playoff race and could also possible he’s moved to a non-playoff team.
Shattenkirk, 28, is a free agent this summer and Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong will do everything he can to not lose the high asset for nothing.
The right-handed blue liner has recorded at least 40 points in each of his first five full seasons and is one pace for a career high in goals this year as well as 40-plus points again.
He’ll be looking for a long-term contact that pays him for the offensive numbers he supplies consistently. The Blues will be looking for a lot to relinquish their powerplay ace, but the business clock is ticking and the month of February will confirm or deny Shattenkirk’s availability come March 1.
There’s no shortage of interest in Shattenkirk, but the Detroit Red Wings, Tampa Bay Lightning, Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers, Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs are teams that could be in the mix for him.
BONUS: Matt Duchene
2016-17 Stats: 41 GP, 15 G, 14 A, 29 Pts., minus-15
Contract status: Signed through 2018-2019 at $6 million per year
It’s not too often you see a playoff team bring in a deadline player with multiple years left on his contract, but it’s also not often you get the chance at a high-caliber name like Matt Duchene.
Duchene is 26 years old, in his eighth NHL season and has scored 30 goals last season. Duchene’s low scoring rate of 2016-17 can be more attributed to his team than to himself, as the Avalanche are on pace for the worst NHL season of any team since the Columbus Blue Jackets when they entered the league in 1999-2000.
Duchene also has three 50-plus point seasons, a 67-point season and a 70-point season. Under the right circumstances and with the right linemates, Duchene can be a regular 60-70 point player—maybe better.
If General Manager Joe Sakic does look to move Duchene, it will likely happen in the offseason when there are more teams ready to bid higher and include playoff teams who aren’t ready to give up assets and roster players during a playoff run.
Any playoff team would have interest in Duchene, but most notably the St. Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks, Ottawa Senators and San Jose Sharks.
Have a question or comment for Jacob Messing? Find him on Twitter @JMessing23.