This week's Capped discusses the possible UFA movers at the trade deadline and what impact that may have on their value.
Continuing with the trade deadline theme, this week we’re going to try and get ahead of the game by looking at which Unrestricted Free Agents (UFAs) may be on the move at the deadline. Some of these players could definitely see an uptick in value in a different situation.
Martin Hanzal (C) – Arizona Coyotes
Contract – $3,100,000
Possible destinations: Montreal, Nashville, St. Louis
Hanzal is a very good bet to be traded by the deadline, and the biggest question left is where he ends up. Arizona really has the best option on the market in terms of centres, so they can set the price, and wait out the auction. There’s going to be quite the lineup of teams that are looking for a depth centreman, as there never seems to be enough to go around. And it is not as though Arizona is limited by wanting to send Hanzal to the other conference since he will likely be testing free agency anyways. There are quite a few possibilities of where Hanzal ends up.
No matter what colours we see Hanzal wearing for the final stretch of the season, he almost assuredly won’t be on the top line. He slots in as a second line centre on most teams, and will look very good doing it. Generally, he should be able to keep his point pace around the same (if not even better due to some unlucky numbers thus far), and in all likelihood his plus-minus numbers will improve drastically as well. Peripheral categories should remain roughly the same. All in all, he is due for a boost in value in the next few weeks, so either buy now, or hold and sell after he gets moved.
Patrick Sharp (C/LW) – Dallas Stars
Contract – $5,900,000
Possible destinations: Boston, Chicago, Edmonton, St. Louis
As long as a team can make the dollars work, then Patrick Sharp could be one of those key deadline acquisitions that really pays dividends in a playoff run. He has the experience from many lengthy Stanley Cup runs, as well as the scoring prowess that has been on display the last few years. The 35-year-old still has a couple good runs left in him, and would make a great fit with almost any playoff bound team.
Currently Sharp is bouncing between the second and third line of the Dallas stars, struggling to find both consistency and a scoring touch. However, he is ready to burst in the last quarter of the season. Both the numbers of Sharp’s linemates, as well as his own are low, and with a little more good-luck, those should turn around. In addition, the boost of playing with a new team could put him far and above most expectations. With the Dallas Stars fading fast and Sharp’s contract expiring at season’s end, it would make sense for the Stars to recoup a little value. A move to a new team and the inevitable bounce back of Sharp would also likely help Sharp in his case to sign one last decent contract for the next few years.
Brian Elliott (G) – Calgary Flames
Contract – $2,500,000
Possible destinations: Dallas, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Winnipeg
This may be a bit of a wildcard, but then again, it hasn’t been a normal season for Brian Elliott. Over the last couple of seasons, Elliott has been extremely effective when healthy (though oft-injured). This season, he has been ineffective and somehow (almost) completely healthy. Elliott is the kind of goalie that would be a dice-roll kind of move for a playoff team hoping to catch lightning in a bottle. Based on his UFA status and contract, he could be a less expensive rental for those bubble teams.
Entertainingly, a reunion with the St. Louis Blues may even be the best fit for Elliott. Jake Allen has struggled this season, posting a lowly 0.904% save percentage. Backup Carter Hutton has been inconsistent as well in relief. As such, Elliott could be the stabilizing force that St. Louis needs. He is already familiar with the system, and both him and Allen posted excellent seasons while competing for time last year. Wherever Elliott ends up however, his stock will rise. Calgary’s defensive play in front of Elliott has not been up to par, and backup Chad Johnson is stealing more starts than a backup should. As a low-cost goalie at the deadline, there may not be any better value available.
Ben Bishop (G) – Tampa Bay Lightning
Contract – $5,950,000
Possible destinations: Calgary, Dallas, Philadelphia, Vancouver
Ben Bishop is the best goalie likely to be moved at the deadline. It seems as though moving Bishop makes most sense now, whereas Pittsburgh is more likely to move Marc-Andre Fleury after the season. As such, the few teams interested in Bishop could be from a range of suitors. Playoff teams like Dallas and Philadelphia could make sense as destinations for the same reasons that Elliott may fit with them. Their final playoff push is going to hinge on goaltending, and having Bishop backstopping the run would be a lot better than what they have now.
Teams like Calgary and Vancouver on the other hand are looking past this year, and if they are to trade for Bishop, it would likely be in an attempt to get him to see why it is worth signing on with them long term. No matter where Bishop ends up however, he is not going to suddenly become the goalie from last year again. What we have seen thus far is likely what is here to stay for the rest of the season, be it on the East coast, or out West. Fantasy owners beware overpaying for a short term buy.
Trade deadlines never seem to work out as predicted, but hopefully this gives a bit of a jump on the competition when it comes to taking advantage of all the moment around deadline day.
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