It is hard to believe but we are just days away from the NHL Trade Deadline. Once the clock strikes 3:00 pm ET on February 25th, trades must be in the queue of the league office. Keep in mind, any trade pending a league call can be approved after the cutoff. Some deadlines have seen trades announced as late as 6:30 pm ET at night.
The deadline these days goes along in a hurry, hurry, wait a lot, then hurry some more scenario. Quite a few have seen a good deal of high-profile trades happen well before the deadline leaving the actual day to lesser deals.
For example, last season saw three significant deals on deadline day. That was unusual given previous years of seeing lots of last-minute minor prospect transactions. The biggest trade was the Tampa Bay-New York swap where JT Miller and Ryan McDonagh went to Tampa and New York acquired Vladimir Namestnikov, Brett Howden, Libor Hajek, a 2018 first-round pick, and conditional 2019 second-round pick. Tampa cannot trade their first or second-round selections this year because of last year’s move.
Those ramifications are just the tip of the iceberg. The playoff races in the conferences could not be more different. In the East, seven teams battle for four spots available. Basically, the West consists of a half-dozen teams fighting for the one final slot, possibly two. With approximately a ¼ of the season to go, the action heats up.
Here are some of the biggest names out there that could change addresses on or before next Monday.
The Hot Trade Targets
Stone presents as the big playmaking forward who is excellent on defense as well. It is far more than him averaging over a point a game offensively. The ability to stretch defenses, make breakouts faster and slow down opposing offenses is immeasurable. He cures the 5-on-5 issues that most any team currently has. On the other hand, he won't help the power play. Then again, the even strength issues are more profound.
Duchene fixes a few problems and moves the needle a bit on the power play. Even if you discount his high shooting percentage, the center is still a 60+ point producer. That gives teams a 1-2 punch offensively. However, this fixes little defensively. Duchene will not overcome those deficiencies anywhere he goes. If anything, they would be more amplified.
Panarin is a point plus a game player with huge, creative upside. While he will never be a 40-goal scorer, the winger easily can top 60+ assists. He came close last year and is on pace to come go over that this season. He is on pace for 35 goals and close to 100 points. Panarin scored seven game-winning goals already and has 14 points on the man advantage. His wrist shot and one-timer are above average. Possession wise, Panarin is off the charts good and can carry a top line like he has in Columbus for the past couple seasons.
The Rest Of The Trade Deadline
Do not underestimate the secondary tiers as far as trades. Often overlooked transactions pay off unexpectedly. Tampa made the biggest splash last year and it did not get them very far. Washington made a move for Michael Kempny and it solidified their defense on the way to a Stanley Cup. Just because a team does not pull a trigger for that “final piece” that their season is doomed.
Rumors and near misses will highlight the rest of the week sprinkled along with a few trades. Odds are this trade deadline will be an unexpected change of fate for someone. It always is.
By Chris Wassel