- Many teams already know if they're trade deadline buyers or sellers, some have to figure it out—quickly.
The trade deadline (Feb. 26) is approaching quickly and it's time to play a little matchmaker.
There's a lot of talent to be had out there right now, from the big names in Rick Nash to depth guys like Blake Comeau and Matt Cullen. How aggressive will teams get? Will we see teams like Boston and Nashville make splashes? Will Vegas go for it? Which bubble team will over pay and regret it?
At the 2017 deadline, we saw some big deals with the Capitals acquiring defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and forward Martin Hanzal going to the Wild. Neither trade really worked out as hoped for—we'll see if that trend changes this season.
Here's how we see teams stacking up in the NHL, from 31-1 (stats and records through Monday's games):
31. Arizona Coyotes
Last week: 31 (-)
It might be worth at least listening to offers for Oliver Ekman-Larsson. He could net a pretty nice haul and, for a team so lacking in talent, the return could speed up the rebuild.
30. Buffalo Sabres
Last week: 30 (-)
Nice to see a good performance in the win against Tampa Bay. They'll get a lot in return for Kane, and given some of the core players, could set them up for contention sooner than later.
29. Vancouver Canucks
Last week: 28 (-1)
Some potential for small moves, with Chris Tanev, Ben Hutton, Alex Edler and Thomas Vanek all options for contenders, but not a ton will come back in return.
28. Montreal Canadiens
Last week: 27 (-1)
That's a really bad loss to Arizona, and there haven't been a lot of good things lately. They would be selling low on Max Pacioretty—but this is really the time to do it.
27. Ottawa Senators
Last week: 29 (+2)
If you do trade Erik Karlsson, what are you expecting to get? Kevin Shattenkirk got two prospects and two picks. Two high-end prospects and two first round picks? Not even sure that's enough.
26. Edmonton Oilers
Last week: 25 (-1)
Other than the obvious candidates—Mark Letestu, Patrick Maroon, Zack Kassian, Kris Russell—it wouldn't be prudent to go crazy. Still so much talent on the squad.
25. Detroit Red Wings
Last week: 26 (+1)
Who's not in play? The obvious ones: Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athnasiou, Tomas Tatar. Everyone else should be free to go.
24. Florida Panthers
Last week: 24 (-)
A really good February (so far) should have Panthers fans excited. There's a lot to like, especially up front. They shouldn't do anything drastic—just continue to reload.
23. Chicago Blackhawks
Last week: 22 (-1)
It's bad, but there's just not much to sell off. Maybe Brandon Saad, Artem Anisimov can fetch something?
22. New York Rangers
Last week: 23 (+1)
It keeps getting worse. The Rangers might not be able to sell off everybody, but outside of Brady Skjei and Pavel Buchnevich, everybody should be available.
21. Columbus Blue Jackets
Last week: 19 (-2)
The Jackets should make like the Rangers and announce their selling intentions. Jack Johnson, Nick Foligno, Matt Calvert should all be on the market.
20. New York Islanders
Last week: 20 (-)
Jaroslav Halak shutting out the Rangers says more about the current state of the Rangers than it does about Halak. The Isles might as well try to load up on defenders.
19. Carolina Hurricanes
Last week: 21 (+2)
Don't think Carolina should sell everything, but the Canes should do something. Trade Justin Williams, Derek Ryan and Victor Rask?
18. New Jersey Devils
Last week: 16 (-2)
The Devils are sliding and it's because they are too top-heavy. If a trade for a winger can be done on the cheap, that's good—but there’s no reason to get rid of the kids.
17. Los Angeles Kings
Last week: 14 (-3)
Not sure that adding to the defense Dion Phaneuf does anything, and trading away Marian Gaborik doesn't help the struggling offense.
16. Colorado Avalanche
Last week: 15 (-1)
It’s probably best to not do anything drastic here. Nathan MacKinnon is back--see how he adapts and go from there.
15. Philadelphia Flyers
Last week: 18 (+3)
With goalies Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth sidelined by injury, the Flyers bit the bullet and added Petr Mrazek from the Red Wings. The cost of doing business? A pair of conditional picks and half of Mrazek’s salary. Palatable.
14. Anaheim Ducks
Last week: 17 (+3)
The turnaround from early-season disappoint to playoff contender has been impressive. While it would be nice to see the Ducks go for it and take as wing at someone like Evander Kane, Grabner has been mentioned more often. What about Grabner and Thomas Vanek from the Canucks?
13. Calgary Flames
Last week: 13 (-)
A good win over Nashville on Thursday and a better showing against the Bruins on Monday. Matthew Tkachuk has had himself a nice season and has been hot of late (4-2-6 in 5GP).
12. Minnesota Wild
Last week: 10 (-2)
Maybe Matt Cullen gets a reunion with Pittsburgh, but the Wild would still need a center to fill the hole. What about taking a run at Arizona’s Max Domi?
11. San Jose Sharks
Last week: 12 (+1)
Everyone's allowed a clunker against Arizona, especially when it's followed up by a dominant showing against the Canucks. Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner, only 25 years old, would look interesting in teal...
10. Pittsburgh Penguins
Last week: 11 (+1)
The Pens are rounding into form—8-1-1 in their last 10—which should scare every Eastern Conference team. Evgeni Malkin has been red-hot with 34 points in 21 games in 2018, while Sidney Crosby is actually second on the team in ice time. Picking up a third center like Derick Brassard would take some of the pressure off.
9. Dallas Stars
Last week: 8 (-1)
It’s odd that a team with this kind of firepower could benefit from another offensive player, but they could. Adding Michael Grabner's speed would be fascinating.
8. Washington Capitals
Last week: 9 (+1)
The Caps might be a bit averse to big deadline deals after the Shattenkirk trade didn't work out, but they could benefit from a defenseman to take the load off of John Carlson. Want a cheap option? How about Vancouver's Ben Hutton, quietly having a good year for the Canucks.
7. St. Louis Blues
Last week: 6 (-1)
Would the Blues, who are 21st in goals-per game and 27th in power play, take a run at Nash? The Sabres’ Evander Kane might be the better option to add an element of explosiveness alongside Vladimir Tarasenko.
6. Winnipeg Jets
Last week: 5 (-1)
An overtime win over Washington—with two goals from Mark Scheifele—got the Jets back on track after bad back-to-back losses to St. Louis and the Rangers. He has eight points in five games since returning from an upper-body injury.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs
Last week: 7 (+2)
They’re quietly 8-2-0 in their last 10 with dominant showings against Tampa Bay and Columbus and a tough loss to Pittsburgh. Is Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson worth a first round pick? Or would someone like Ottawa blueliner Johnny Oduya, filled with playoff experience, be better?
4. Nashville Predators
Last week: 4 (-)
In keeping with the hypotheticals: Imagine if the Preds got their hands on Rick Nash. He would slide in on the second line, most likely with Calle Jarnkrok/Nick Bonino and Craig Smith. He maybe makes the second power play unit. Not a bad option to have.
3. Boston Bruins
Last week: 3 (-)
Imagine if the Bruins somehow acquired Ryan McDonagh. Depending on a theoretical deal, he’d join a defensive top-four with Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy and Torey Krug. Add in Brandon Carlo, who's had a quietly good year, and you're looking at one of the best defensive groups in hockey.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning
Last week: 2 (-)
The Bolts are another fully stocked team that doesn't need to do too much. But they could stand to improve the PK, which ranks 24th. Ducks pivot Antoine Vermette? Avs winger Blake Comeau could fit, too.
1. Vegas Golden Knights
Last week: 1 (-)
Vegas doesn't need much, given how the team is playing. But the Knights are ranked 15th on the penalty kill. While current Senators forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau might be perfect, Hurricanes center Marcus Kruger would be a lot cheaper. (Oddly enough, Vegas traded Kruger to Carolina after the expansion draft.)