The NHL trade deadline is quickly approaching. Teams are starting to size each other up in preparation for making moves which will determine whether they think they’re contenders or are opting to move out players for future assets.
Here’s a list of three teams who should be sellers at the deadline.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Maple Leafs are the most obvious seller in the league. Kyle Dubas and Brendan Shanahan spent last offseason signing players to one-year fliers with the intention of shipping them out when the trade deadline approached, so now’s the time to make good on that plan. They’ve already started the process by trading Dion Phaneuf to the Ottawa Senators, Shawn Matthias to the Colorado Avalanche and Nick Spaling and Roman Polak to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for draft picks and prospects.
Toronto isn’t looking for NHL ready talent or pieces that can help them today, but instead looking for draft picks and prospects. If the club has to take on extra salary to make a move happen, they’re willing to do that. Everybody on their current roster is available, even Nazem Kadri. Names like P.A. Parenteau, Joffrey Lupul, Brad Boyes, Matt Hunwick and James Reimer could also be had for a decent price. There’s no superstar player on their roster to shop, but if you’re looking to improve your depth, the Leafs could have the player (or two) for you.
Expectations were high for Winnipeg but the Jets simply haven’t met them. Instead, they have hovered around mediocrity all season, and now sit far out of playoff contention.
Winnipeg has one of the biggest trade deadline chips in Andrew Ladd, who should land the club a mammoth return. There has already been a sizeable offer for the Jets captain, and it would be shocking to see the team retain him unless an extension is worked out within the next couple days.
Outside of Ladd, the team doesn’t have many pending unrestricted free agents, but do have players who should draw interest on the trade market. Drew Stafford is on a 20-goal pace and could give teams an upgrade at the wing on their second line. There’s been some noise the Jets could also trade 21-year-old defenseman Jacob Trouba since they’ve locked up Dustin Byfuglien and Trouba will command huge money as an RFA. Like dealing Ladd, trading Trouba would land Winnipeg a huge return. The question is how big does general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff want to go? The team isn’t in need of a full rebuild, but certainly needs a re-tinkering.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) February 23, 2016
I’m not picking on Canadian teams, but they have stunk this season and the Oilers are no exception. Edmonton was supposed to improve this year following the regime change and drafting Connor McDavid, but they’ve floundered and now find themselves selling once again.
General manager Peter Chiarelli has plenty of options to deal, with Justin Schultz seeming like the most obvious guy to go. The defenseman seems like a classic change of scenery player, as he hasn’t found a fit in Edmonton. He’s still got offensive upside and that should entice other GMs into trying to get him on the cheap.
Lauri Korpikoski has one more year on his contract worth $2.5 million, and if the Oilers can move him out and clear his contract, I think they’d make that move in a heartbeat.
What’s sneaky about the Oilers is they can simultaneously be sellers, but can try to make a move for a much-needed top four defenseman. If a team like the New York Islanders offers them Travis Hamonic in exchange for Jordan Eberle, I think they’d do it with the future in mind. I’m not saying that’s a trade that’s going to happen or is one that’s even feasible, but the Oilers are simultaneously looking to improve their roster for both today and tomorrow.