Top 30 names to watch approaching the 2019 trade deadline

The list of candidates ranges from sure things to pipe dreams. Whatever happens, it appears more big names than usual are in play for this year's deadline.
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FEB. 12 UPDATE: Parity threatens so many of the biggest potential trades approaching the Feb. 25 deadline. When I first published this list, the St. Louis Blues and Carolina Hurricanes looked like enormously influential potential sellers. The Blues have since surged into a Western Conference playoff position, while the Hurricanes are knocking on the door in East, too.

Does that mean I strike all the major Blues and Canes names from this list? No, because it's ranked more by potential impact than likelihood. But the biggest fish of all, Alex Pietrangelo and Vladimir Tarasenko, feel like such long shots now that I can't keep them on the board in good conscience. Same goes for New York Islanders captain Anders Lee with his team firmly in place as a post-season contender.

Even if the big Blues and Hurricanes guys don't go, we have a particularly juicy pending UFA class, with the likes of Artemi Panarin, Mark Stone and Matt Duchene unsigned. We have the threat of the 'Tavares Effect,’ which could convince bubble teams to sell off their expiring assets rather than risk losing them for nothing in the summer.

Which big names will generate the most buzz – and attract the most phone calls – in the next two weeks? Consider this list of 30, ranked by not by probability of a deal but by potential impact if dealt. A few names from the previous version got traded already and have since been removed: Nino Niederreiter, Jake Muzzin, Nick Bjugstad and Derick Brassard.

1. ARTEMI PANARIN, LW, BLUE JACKETS

Age: 27
Cap hit: $6 million
Years left: UFA

In-house rental or a goner? Feels like a coin flip at this point. But we can't underestimate the Blue Jackets' desire to contend in the present.

2. MARK STONE, RW, SENATORS

Age: 26
Cap hit: $7.35 million
Years left: UFA

The best two-way winger in hockey has expressed a desire to remain a Senator and would likely be named captain if he does. The smart money is on that happening, but GM Pierre Dorion at least has to ponder a Tavares scenario if Feb. 25 arrives with Stone unsigned.

3. JEFF SKINNER, LW, SABRES

Age: 26
Cap hit: $5.725 million
Years left: UFA
Clause: No-movement

Similar to Stone in that he’s an good candidate to re-sign with his team. Skinner’s enjoyed a banner goal-scoring campaign, and the Sabres have oodles of cap space to accommodate his increased price tag. But if their slump continues and they find themselves (a) falling out of contention and (b) with Skinner still unsigned by the deadline, does GM Jason Botterill entertain some pitches?

4. MATT DUCHENE, C, SENATORS

Age: 28
Cap hit: $6 million
Years left: UFA

I asked Duchene point-blank about his future in January, and he said he loves being a Senator. He seems more likely than Stone, however, to wind up a trade-deadline casualty, even if owner Eugene Melnyk has given GM Pierre Dorion permission to re-sign both. Duchene would make a great No. 2 center on a contender. Winnipeg, for instance, could try to replicate last year’s Paul Stastny rental…

5. SERGEI BOBROVSKY, G, BLUE JACKETS

Age: 30
Cap hit: $7.425 million
Years left: UFA
Clause: No-movement

Like Panarin, ‘Bob’ is theoretically worth keeping for a playoff push, but there are a few key differences. First, Bobrovsky’s playoff track record is so poor that it’s questionable how much he’d help Columbus in the spring. There was also his one-game dismissal for removing his equipment too early after being pulled from a game, not to mention The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun's reporting  that Bobrovsky is willing to waive his no-movement clause for the right situation.

6. DOUGIE HAMILTON, D, HURRICANES

Age: 25
Cap hit: $5.75 million
Years left: 2

The second Hamilton finds a new team is the second he goes on the trade block again, it seems. Only this time it doesn’t appear the rumors relate to his chemistry with his teammates or his esoteric hobbies. It’s more about Carolina needing goals and having a surplus of great right-shot defenders. He’s the best of the bunch.

7. JONATHAN HUBERDEAU, LW, PANTHERS

Age: 25
Cap hit: $5.9 million
Years left: 4

A report by TSN's Frank Seravalli this week parachutes Huberdeau onto this list as a late-arriving guest. As Seravalli explains, it's glaringly obvious the Panthers intend to chase Panarin and Bobrovsky as a tandem. That could wait until the summer, theoretically, but acquiring them now would give Florida months of exclusive negotiation time, and Huberdeau would be an ideal stay-competitive replacement for 'The Bread Man' in Columbus. Still…is it worth Florida losing a crucial top-six winger just for the chance to negotiate? That's a tough sell if you ask me.

8. COLTON PARAYKO, D, BLUES

Age: 25
Cap hit: $5.5 million
Years left: 3

His size, shot and right-handedness check so many boxes, and the fact he’s under team control three more seasons means his suitor list wouldn’t be limited to contenders. But those qualities make him a risky player for St. Louis to deal, don’t they?

9. TOREY KRUG, D, BRUINS

Age: 27
Cap hit: $5.25 million
Years left: 1
Clause: Eight-team no-trade list

Charlie McAvoy will someday be Boston’s best pure puck-mover and power-play quarterback, but it’s probably still Krug for now. Yet he’s been linked to Bruins trade rumors for at least a year. If he does get moved, it would likely be for some kind of blockbuster push to land a star forward, as the Bruins need better depth up front.

10. BRAYDEN SCHENN, C, BLUES

Age: 27
Cap hit: $5.125 million
Years left: 1

One of many Blues pieces who might not even end up for sale if the team stays in contention. If GM Doug Armstrong does go into fire-sale mode, though, Schenn’s blend of physicality and offense could help almost any team.

11. JEFF CARTER, C, KINGS

Age: 34
Cap hit: $5.273 million
Years left: 3

On one hand, the Kings are positioned as one of the likeliest sellers. On the other, a Carter deal would be complicated. Given his age and remaining term, Rob Blake would probably have to eat some of Carter’s salary to facilitate a trade.

12. CHRIS KREIDER, LW, RANGERS

Age: 27
Cap hit: $4.625 million
Years left: 1
Clause: 11-tream no-trade list

Kreider represents a test for the Rangers. He’s enjoying his best season to date and isn’t finished his prime. But if the Blueshirts are committed to a true rebuild, Kreider might have peaked by the time they’re competitive again. He would be an extremely appealing power-forward addition, a potential Stanley Cup difference-maker, and would thus command a pretty return of picks and/or prospects.

13. WAYNE SIMMONDS, RW, FLYERS

Age: 30
Cap hit: $3.975 million
Years left: UFA
Clause: 12-team no-trade list

Arguably the first “as good as gone” name on this list. A true rental, the perfect addition to a forward corps needing to get meaner without sacrificing offense. There should be a feeding frenzy for Simmonds among the Stanley Cup hopefuls.

14. JUSTIN FAULK, D, HURRICANES

Age: 26
Cap hit: $4.833 million
Years left: 1
Clause: 15-team no-trade list

Would provide similar things to Hamilton, but since Faulk is slightly older, less accomplished and has less term remaining, Faulk would probably cost less to acquire. His cap hit is extremely team-friendly, too. That 15-team trade list is interesting.

15. MICHEAL FERLAND, LW, HURRICANES

Age: 26
Cap hit: $1.75 million
Years left: UFA

Big, tough, can hang and clear space on a scoring line. He looked like an obvious rental the past couple months but, with Carolina back in the playoff hunt, he could wind up an in-house rental. Increased reluctance to move him would up his price in trade talks.

16. BRETT PESCE, D, HURRICANES

Age: 24
Cap hit: $4.025 million
Years left: 5

Fewer tools in his belt than Hamilton or Faulk, but the five years of control at a reasonable cap hit give the defensively sturdy Pesce significant trade value. He won’t be easy to pry from Carolina with such a team-friendly contract, though.

17. KASPERI KAPANEN, RW, MAPLE LEAFS

Age: 22
Cap hit: $863K
Years left: RFA

Kapanen feels like such an important piece that it’s a long shot Toronto moves him. Then again, it’s because he’s so important that he’d work as a sacrificial lamb to score the Leafs the right-shot defenseman they covet. Kapanen, an RFA, will also be tough to fit under the cap for a Toronto team needing to focus its funds on Mitch Marner.

18. ANDREAS JOHNSSON, LW, MAPLE LEAFS

Age: 24
Cap hit: $788K
Years left: RFA

Identical situation to Kapanen’s and brings similar speedy tools to the table. Kapanen’s sample size – and body – are a bit bigger, so Johnsson might cost slightly less to acquire.

19. ALEXANDER EDLER, D, CANUCKS

Age: 32
Cap hit: $5 million
Years left: UFA
Clause: No-trade

Was chewing up minutes and playing his best all-around hockey in years before last week's concussion. He’s so ingrained with the Canucks that he seems like a candidate to waive his NTC, enjoy a playoff run and re-sign with Vancouver in the summer. That's the best-case scenario for the still-rebuilding franchise.

20. KEVIN HAYES, C, RANGERS

Age: 26
Cap hit: $5.175 million
Years left: UFA

A Kreider trade is a tough decision for GM Jeff Gorton. A Hayes trade isn’t, or it at least shouldn't be. You deal your big pending UFA center to secure futures for your rebuilding team, period. Hayes profiles as an ideal third-line pivot for a top-end contender or a No. 2 on a mid-range threat looking to punch above its weight class in the playoffs.

21. ERIC STAAL, C, WILD

Age: 34
Cap hit: $3.5 million
Years left: UFA
Clause: 10-team no-trade list

The Wild currently clutch the final Western Conference wildcard spot. How much will this franchise gain with a seventh straight playoff berth and another early-round exit, though? Would dealing a useful UFA like Staal for futures represent progress?

22. JAKOB SILFVERBERG, RW, DUCKS

Age: 28
Cap hit: $3.75 million
Years left: UFA

TSN's Bob McKenzie says the Ducks prefer to keep Silfverberg if they can strike a deal before the deadline. His heady two-way instincts and tendency to spike his output in the playoffs – where his career points per game jumps from 0.49 to 0.65 – would make him a hot commodity.

23. CHARLIE COYLE, C, WILD

Age: 26
Cap hit: $3.2 million
Years left: 1

Would bring a similar rangy middle-six presence to what Hayes offers. Coyle hasn’t been as good as Hayes this year but comes with an extra year of team control at a bargain price.

24. JORDAN EBERLE, RW, ISLANDERS

Age: 28
Cap hit: $6 million
Years left: UFA

Isles are a first-place team and thus may hold Eberle. He's inconsistent but could be a splashy find if the right contender puts him on the right line. Then again, Eberle has enjoyed plenty of elite linemates in the past without major changes in his results.

25. MATS ZUCCARELLO, RW, RANGERS

Age: 31
Cap hit: $4.5 million
Years left: UFA

He’s picked up his play dramatically in recent weeks, catching fire alongside Mika Zibanejad, and could be one of the deadline’s better bargains.

26. GUSTAV NYQUIST, RW, RED WINGS

Age: 29
Cap hit: $4.75 million
Years left: UFA
Clause: No-trade

Good chance he’d waive his NTC to play on a contender. Enjoying his best season in years, so GM Ken Holland will field plenty of offers. Would augment a depth-starved team not wanting to overspend on a top-tier rental.

27. RYAN DZINGEL, LW, SENATORS

Age: 26
Cap hit: $1.8 million
Years left: UFA

There's never a shortage of teams seeking scoring depth on the wings. Dzingel has been a useful, underrated foot soldier for the Senators, but it probably makes sense to cash him in at his peak value – unless GM Pierre Dorion is certain he's losing Duchene and Stone.

28. JIMMY HOWARD, G, RED WINGS

Age: 34
Cap hit: $5.29 million
Years left: 2019 UFA
Clause: 10-tream trade list

Howard has enjoyed an impressive career revival after re-evaluating his game with Wings goalie coach Jeff Salajko over the off-season. If he's dealt, would it be as a starter, though? Few if any playoff hopefuls are in the market for a No. 1 goalie (I don't buy the San Jose rumors). He's also expressed desire to stay a Red Wing and has some control with that 10-team trade list, so a change of address isn't a given.

29. ANDRE BURAKOVSKY, LW,CAPITALS

Age: 24
Cap hit: $3 million
Years left: RFA

Not every first-round reclamation project goes gangbusters but, as the likes of Max Domi and Dylan Strome have shown us, sometimes an environmental change does wonders for a talented kid's career – albeit Burakovsky has already played in a winning culture. He's an interesting fit for a team wanting help on the wings but not just in the short term. The Oilers sure make sense.

30. RADKO GUDAS, D, FLYERS

Age: 28
Cap hit: $3.35 million
Years left: 1

Gudas certainly brings a lot of brute force, not to mention the close-to-the-line play that would make Tom Wilson proud, but Gudas is more than just a blunt instrument. The eye test says he's old-school but he drives the play a lot better than he gets credit for.

Other trade candidates to consider: Alexander Steen, Artem Anisimov, Thomas Vanek, Timothy Liljegren, Jesse Puljujarvi, Cody Ceci, Alec Martinez, Nick Jensen, Marcus Johansson, Chris Tanev

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