This week we’re going to look into which contracts may be on the move in the new year, and what that could mean for various teams. Let’s jump right in.
With the Bruins rolling along as usual, there isn’t a great urgency for them to make many roster moves. Add to that their hands are tied with a maxed-out salary, and there isn’t likely to be much movement in Beantown. What we would be most likely to see, is a move similar to last year, where the upside player Ryan Donato was moved for a more proven player in Charlie Coyle. This time around, Danton Heinen looks to be the most moveable asset, with the possibility of bringing back a better rental where some cap is retained by the other party. A Heinen trade would likely boost his numbers back up, and bringing in a better scoring winger would slot in as the fourth forward on a lethal powerplay – that’s a plum position for the incoming player. Anthony Duclair, and Ryan Strome are the two that seem to make the most sense at first glance.
The Buffalo Sabres are caught at a bit of a crossroads, with their second season in a row of falling off before December, and currently hanging onto a playoff spot by a thread. With the consistent scoring threat of Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, and Victor Olofsson on the top line, the Sabres would ideally find some more capable depth scoring to supplement. Colin Miller is the main trade bait at this point, but there are a few options on defence who could be moved. Miller’s fantasy stock can only go up from here, as he just hasn’t been used enough in Buffalo. Casey Mittelstadt stands to gain the most if a scoring winger is brought in to compliment him. However, with all of the free agents on the roster, this may be another year where the Sabres reset, and try again later.
The Hurricanes have $1 million in cap space, two first round picks in the upcoming draft, and a lineup without many holes. Currently, Erik Haula is on the IR without a timeline for his return, so if the injury is a long term one, then we may see the team look to bring in another centre. The Predators have a surplus of depth centres, or they could look at one of Chris Tierney or J.G. Pageau from the Senators. IF a player is brought in to fill Haula’s slot, their value should see a bit of a spike with Carolina’s offence.
Columbus Blue Jackets
The team with the most cap space in the entire league should be looking to add at every position. The Blue Jackets would do well not to squander the cap space. With the Seattle draft approaching sooner than teams will be ready for, in addition to the ever-closing cap crunch, teams with cap space have a huge advantage over other teams in trade talks. Giving a second chance to a large-contract player like Kyle Turris (perhaps with Nashville retaining some of the cap), could yield an excellent secondary return as well as a viable skater.
Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings are firmly in the race for a top draft pick this summer. Mike Green may be moved at the deadline, and GM Steve Yzerman may look to make a few more depth moves for players in need of a new scene, like he did with Robby Fabbri, Eric Comrie, and Brendan Perlini. Keep an eye on the glut of defencemen, as the transition to the youth is only finally now starting to show through. With a lot of verteran names likely moving on in the next season and a half, there could be some players busting through here soon. Jared McIssac, Joe Hicketts, and Oliwer Kaski are all names to keep tabs on in deeper leagues.
The Panthers have their scoring set, their big money goaltender who finally looks to be turning things around, and a defence that is in need of an upgrade. Prying Colin Miller out of Buffalo, or more ideally a LD like Jacob Larsson out of Anaheim could fit. This team is one that could be a force through the playoffs if they can shore up their depth on defence.
Another team looking to add, the Canadiens would ideally be in the market for an impact forward and a top-four LD. Not many teams have both available, so the lead-up to the deadline could be busy for Marc Bergevin. Perhaps the best fit would be plucking Alec Martinez and Tyler Toffoli from the LA Kings, but even that would be a stretch. Anyone brought in would likely get a shot at helping out the top PP unit, so if a player like Toffoli is acquired, they could be in for a big boost in Montreal.
New Jersey Devils
Taylor Hall is going to be a big prize for someone, and it sounds like Colorado is the front runner. A bounty of players farther along their developmental path would be ideal, but perhaps unrealistic. With Taylor Hall moving on, the quick retooling from last season may fall by the wayside, in lieu of a more traditional ascension up the standings. The biggest need is simply high-end talent, which P.K. Subban hasn’t provided, and we are still waiting on from Nico Hischier. Additionally, a goalie could be on the shopping list if the Devils decide MacKenzie Blackwood isn’t the future direction they want to take. Goaltenders such as Casey DeSmith, Alex Georgiev, Ville Husso, or Colin Delia, could be fits. Whatever direction they go, don’t expect high win totals from New Jersey anytime soon.
New York Islanders
The Islanders don’t seem to need specific players, as they have a system that wins them games outside of individual talent. That being said, their power play hasn’t been lighting things up, and for a team that relies on systems, a lethal powerplay can make a world of difference. Taylor Hall will likely be outside of the price range, but someone like Jason Zucker could be an excellent fit to pair with Matthew Barzal. The cap space works as well.
New York Rangers
The Rangers mostly need time to develop a few more pieces, however moving out Alex Georgiev is one point on the agenda, as they need to make room for Igor Shestyorkin, and Georgiev should fetch a young forward to help bolster the rebuilding efforts. Selling high on Ryan Strome should also be a priority, and with a shortage of young, impact players on the market, the price could climb even higher. Fantasy owners should look to trade Strome for the same reasons, as his value is at its peak, and his next contract won’t be so friendly.
The Senators’ shopping list should solely be picks, prospects, and young players with years of team control. They have pieces to be moved out in return, and as mentioned last week, there will be lots of turnover, and lots of players ready to step up.
The biggest thing on their wish list should be some lucky bounces in the April lottery.
The Flyers aren’t really in need of anything in particular on the trade market, they just need their current players to start playing as they can. Shayne Gostisbehere is on a team friendly contract if he can play to his upside, but him and a few of the forwards have been stuck in a rut. A shakeup is in order, but without the cap space to do it, someone like Matt Niskanen will need to be shipped out. If there is a move made, then this team could really pick things up, but don’t hold your breath.
Chasing the Flyers on the playoff bubble, the Penguins just need a healthy team. Alex Galchenyuk also hasn’t fit in well, and perhaps needs (another) change of scenery. His upside is still seen to be higher than what he has put up thus far in his career, and he could be the kind of piece that makes sense for another team to add in a player swap. The Penguins would ideally like to add another impact forward, so the fit would likely have to be another forward or two with consistency concerns.
Personally, I would like to see a deal with Galchenyuk and futures for Chris Kreider and Ryan Strome (with some salary retained to make things work). Adding Kreider to take over the powerplay role from Hornqvist, and Strome to anchor the depth scoring, would really make the Penguins a threat to go on another deep playoff run.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Maple Leafs get talked about enough. We all know they all need a backup goalie. Alexander Georgiev would be the ideal fit, but would likely prove expensive for a team already out their first-round pick.
It’s tough to find many holes on a team that is only a year and a half removed from winning the Stanley Cup, and is still chugging along. Ideally one of Nick Jensen or Radko Gudas would step up, otherwise one may be moved for an upgrade. If anyone is brought in though, they will likely be a depth piece, and would see reduced deployment/minutes, so a trade to the Capitals would likely lower the player’s fantasy value.
If you have questions, comments, or article requests, you can find me on Twitter @alexdmaclean.