It’s February everyone! You know what that means for hockey fans? Its trade rumour season! This year seems to be full of rumours surrounding Canadian teams like the Montreal Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators, whom are both having disastrous seasons. The market appears to be flooded with quality left-wingers like Evander Kane, Rick Nash and Max Pacioretty, and a few quality defensemen like Mike Green and Ryan McDonaugh. It does appear like we have reached the calm before the storm, as many teams are testing the waters on prices for rental players around the league, while some are looking for players with term that could push them into their Stanley Cup contention window. Let’s take a look who’s most likely to be shipped out this year and what their potential prices would look like come deadline:
- Evander Kane, Buffalo Sabres
It does appear as if Evander Kane’s time is done in Buffalo. Four years removed from being dealt in a monster trade between the Winnipeg Jets and Buffalo Sabres, Kane has developed a really bad image for himself in the hockey world as someone who is difficult to coach and unwilling to play a defensively responsible game. Can he score though? Yes, he is certainly a talented forward with scoring abilities. Starting out this season as Buffalo’s leading scorer after the first 30 games of the season, Kane has fallen off a cliff offensively, and this might certainly drive down his price for teams looking to make deep playoff runs. His offensive ability is present, but his lack of effort is what makes his consistency issues a lingering concern since the day he was drafted 4th overall by Atlanta Thrashers (now Winnipeg Jets). Nonetheless, Buffalo will absolutely trade Kane, which creates a waiting game on the market, as teams are waiting for Buffalo GM Jason Botterill to flinch in an effort to maximize the value of his unrestricted free-agent forward. Teams such as the Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, Pittsburgh Penguins and the San Jose Sharks might be interested in complimenting their top-6 forward group with Kane, as he can certainly make any of those teams very dangerous on the left side.
Price: 1st round pick + defensive prospect
- Rick Nash, New York Rangers
It seems like the New York Rangers are going to have to blow it up after seven years at the top of the Metropolitan/Atlantic division. Gone are the days when Henrik Lundqvist would stand on his head every game. The Rangers also went four drafts (2013-2016) without a first round pick, as they consistently traded them for deadline moves for the likes of Rick Nash himself, Martin St-Louis and Keith Yandle. The young core of Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello, J.T. Miller and Kevin Hayes has simply not been good enough to keep this team afloat offensively. This brings us to this year’s deadline. Rick Nash is the most attractive commodity that a slowly retooling Ranger’s club can offer teams who are going to make a run for the Cup. He has been a big time playoff performer for the Rangers in the past, posting 41 points in 77 games, while also being known for his big body presence and clutch goals. As a left-winger, who has just recently been put on the market , Rick Nash’s value will be directly tied to that of Evander Kane, as both are unrestricted free-agents. However, Nash has never been questioned for his ability to be coached, nor has he had a long documented list of behavioural issues. The major issue is how fast he has slowed down on his production, having only put up 25 points in 53 games this season and having a 7.8$ million price tag that the Rangers could retain only 50 % of (3.9 million). Needless to say, I would rank Nash slightly below Kane in terms of overall value.
Price: 1st round pick/ 2nd round pick + prospect
- Mike Green, Detroit Red Wings
I think it would be very easy to see why Detroit would look to trade their 2018 All-Star representative. They simply aren’t going to be very good in the near future and will most likely miss the playoffs for the second consecutive season for the first time in 30 years. After putting up a respectable 26 points in 52 games this season, Mike Green would likely be the most coveted unrestricted free-agent defenseman in the NHL. He would slot into a team’s top-4 unit without a problem and would assist on their first powerplay unit or anchor their second powerplay unit on a strong team. He has recently been linked to his former team, the Washington Capitals, and Detroit’s asking price would most certainly be a first round pick, which the Capitals will likely pay to keep up with the NHL’s elite teams. Expect a move for Mike Green come February 26th.
Price: 1st round pick
- Mike Hoffman, Ottawa Senators
What the hell has happened to the Ottawa Senators this year? They were the Cinderella story of the 2016-2017 NHL playoffs last year, going to the Eastern Conference finals against the eventual Stanley Cup-winning Pittsburgh Penguins. They began this season with an 8-2 record and eventually completed the biggest three-way trade in the last 10 years for Matt Duchene. From that moment on, they have gone on to play some of the worst hockey Senators’ fans have seen since their early expansion days. With owner Eugene Melnyk looking to save cash as he gears up to sign Erik Karlsson long-term, Sens GM Pierre Dorion will seek to replenish the prospect cabinet they emptied in order to acquire Matt Duchene in November. The most likely candidate from their current roster to garner such a return would be left-winger, yet again, Mike Hoffman. Hoffman has put up multiple three consecutive 20 goal seasons and is looking to be on pace to make it a fourth this year if he continues to produce like he has of late. However, unlike Evander Kane and Rick Nash, he is still signed for another two years at a very fair 5.18$ million and would thus return a similar, if not better package, than those we have seen above. Ottawa looks like they do not want to wait to get better, and will therefore look for an NHL ready forward prospect and a first round pick in the next two drafts. Ottawa must be desperate to get another first round pick, as they owe the Colorado Avalanche a first round pick this year (if they can somehow get out of the bottom 10) or next year if they maintain their current pace. Needless to say, Ottawa is going to make a move and Hoffman is the most likely candidate.
Price: 1st round pick + prospect
- Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens
How the mighty have fallen. I will always remember how Max Pacciorety’s career in Montreal has always been full of criticism. When he was initially drafted in the first round of the 2007 draft, the Montreal media hated him on sight due to the Habs passing on homegrown talent like David Perron (thank the heavens they did). When he first signed his pro contract out of the NCAA, many believed he was a bust due to the fact that he didn’t make the Canadiens roster out of camp as a 19-year-old. He was then part of the scariest injury scene in Montreal since the wrist slicing incident of Daniel Audette in 2002. Finally, he was made captain of the Montreal Canadiens in 2015, two days after P.K. Subban made the biggest charitable donation in Montreal Canadiens history. In that time, Patches has put up 4 consecutive 30 goal seasons and had limited success in the playoffs. His perimeter play, unwillingness to go in the corners and his multiple empty-net points made Max an easy target for trade speculation when the Habs were on top of the Atlantic division. With his sweetheart contract (4.5$ million) ending at the end of next year, and Marc Bergevin’s colossal disaster in constructing a competitive team, it now seems likely that the Canadiens will utilize Pacioretty as the bargaining chip that could land them the coveted young center that they have sought for the last 30 years (unless you count Galchenyuk as a center, which would make you a smart hockey fan). Ultimately teams like Anaheim (Sam Steel) or the Saint Louis Blues (Robert Thomas) will want to bite on this player and have the prospects to entice a team like Montreal to move Pacioretty. TVA’s Renaud Lavoie has reported that Max and his family expect him to be wearing a new jersey after February 26th, so the next few weeks should be interesting for all Hab fans.
Price: young center prospect + 1st round pick
Ultimately, trade deadline has been pretty boring over the past years, but there seems to be a lot of talk this year, as the battle for the playoffs is insanely tight. Expect the market to pick up toward February 20th, as teams will have a clearer idea on if they could contend for a place in the playoffs, while teams like Ottawa and Montreal continue to fall to the bottom of the NHL standings.