The spectacle of the modern NHL trade deadline has begun to see its entertainment value erode from the early days of TSN’s TradeCentre. The league and mainstream sports media typically cover the event, and the days leading up to it form a very veteran-centric perspective. Unfortunately, prospects who haven’t already made a name for themselves at major international tournaments or been drafted in the first round of a prior NHL entry draft get a very small amount of love. 

For every pending UFA who will be dealt in the month to come, several budding prospects will likely go in the opposite direction. So, who are they? What do they have to offer? and what else won’t you hear from the major outlets when the trade breaks? Ladies and gentlemen, The Journey presents Prospect Trade Bait!

The teams who are the most likely buyers, AND have a relatively significant hole to fill in their lineup will be the most interesting teams to discuss, as they’ll be the most likely to pony up to satisfy their needs. I’ve chosen three teams from each conference who I think are the most likely to go shopping this February, let’s talk about what’s in their change purse. 

Toronto Maple Leafs

Needs: Backup goalie

Who can help? Jack Campbell (Los Angeles Kings)

What’s it gonna cost? 

The Kings currently have one of, if not the most tantalizing prospect pools in the entire league. It’s tough to find a hole that they would seek to fill in exchange for their current backup netminder, however, when push comes to shove the Leafs should be desperate, and they have some currency to play with. It’s entirely possible that the Kings would prefer a current NHL player in exchange for Campbell, but for argument’s sake, Campbell would probably cost the Leafs at least one of these prospects:

Adam Brooks – The Leafs have put a ton of work into developing Adam Brooks to the point where he is on the cusp of becoming a player who is capable of making an NHL impact. The former Regina Pat carries the toolbox of a modern middle-six NHL forward who can contribute offense occasionally and bring energy to every shift. 

Ian Scott/Joseph Woll – Either of the Leafs’ top goaltending prospects are coveted by the Buds Both have been successful in their development streaks as the approach the pro level. Of the two, Scott is likely closer to making an impact, but both have the tools to become serviceable NHL goaltenders. 

New York Islanders

Needs: Scoring

Who can help? Ryan Strome (New York Rangers)

What’s it gonna cost?

The Rangers’ have reportedly backed off on their advertising campaign of Chris Kreider in recent weeks, however, that doesn’t mean that the team isn’t still selling. Ryan Strome has been a dangerous sniper for the Blueshirts this year, and could fetch a notable package in return. While an NYC swap could be unlikely, this is what the Isles’ will have to pony up for a player of Strome’s quality:

Otto Koivula – The Rangers seem to have a good portion of their top-six forwards in place for the foreseeable future, however, their depth is largely still in flux. With a shallower pool of players lining up for that type of role the Islanders have a couple of candidates who may fit the bill. Otto Koivula has only recently made the transition to North America but the 22-year-old is closer to making an NHL impact than some may think. He could wind up playing a similar role to Brendan Lemieux someday. 

Ruslan Ishakov – Of the more skilled options that may be available from the Islanders prospect pool is UConn forward Ruslan Ishakov. The right-winger remains unsigned and is currently competing in his sophomore campaign with the Huskies. He has a future as a supporting cast player with the offensive upside to play further up the lineup in some instances. 

Pittsburgh Penguins

Needs: Jake Guentzel replacement

Who can help? Andreas Athanasiou, Detroit Red Wings

What’s it gonna cost?

If Andreas Athanasiou is acquired by another team at the trade deadline, he comes with the caveat of notable hard baller agent Darren Ferris. His pending RFA status may boost the cost to acquire the forwards services this deadline. While the Penguins have become richer in prospect currency than in previous deadlines, they may be wary of depleting that stock. If they want to make another run, this is what they might have to shell out:

Nathan Legare – The Penguins’ third-round draft-pick from 2019 has struggled to maintain his production from his draft campaign, but remains a solid offensive prospect. His deadly shot earned him an entry level contract at Penguins’ training camp, and he could conceivably become a similar player to Athanasiou when he is fully developed. 

Sam Miletic – The 22-year-old forward prospect doesn’t have quite the same ceiling as Nathan Legare, however, would be a safer acquisition for the Red Wings. He could slot in as a replacement level forward to finish out the slate with Detroit, but has the potential to work his way into a third-line scoring role if given the appropriate linemates. 

Colorado Avalanche

Needs: Depth forwards

Who can help? JG Pageau (Ottawa Senators)

What’s it gonna cost?

If this is the first of what the Avalanche anticipate to be many consecutive Stanley Cup runs, we’re likely in store for the team to go shopping for some depth to their forward corps. To get some help for the teams’ top line, Colorado is looking at giving up one or more of the following players: 

Alex Beaucage – The Avs’ third-round draft-pick from last summer has experienced a relatively comfortable junior career in Rouyn Noranda with the team being a league powerhouse since his rookie QMJHL season. While Beaucage has been the Huskies leader this year, he hasn’t taken a major step forward with his offense. The risk associated with the 18-year-old forward is relatively low, while the payback could be grand. 

Sampo Ranta – Ranta’s stock may have taken a bit of a hit after a disappointing showing at the recent U20 tournament in Ostrava, Czech Republic, but paired with a draft pick or two, he would bring an aspect of security to a deal for Pageau. His middle-six upside could take three years or more to achieve.

Calgary Flames

Needs: Top-six forward

Who can help? Tyler Toffoli (Los Angeles Kings)

What’s it gonna cost?

The Flames have struggled to squeeze familiar production out of their big forwards this year, but nonetheless, the team has done well enough to stay atop the struggling Pacific Division. Adding some cushion come playoff time is in the teams’ best interest and Tyler Toffoli could be just the help that they need. To get Toffoli, the Flames are probably going to have to give up a first-round pick, or one of these notable prospects:

Glenn Gawdin – As prospects go, Glenn Gawdin’s value is likely as high as it’s ever been. If the Flames are shopping with him, they’ll want their dollar to go as far as possible, meaning that Gawdin may allow the Flames to avoid including a first-round draft-pick in a deal for Toffoli. His overage production in the WHL attracted skeptics, but more recently Gawdin has become one of Calgary’s most impactful AHL players with Stockton. 

Dmitry Zavgorodniy – Linemate of Alexis Lafreniere, for many, the jury is still out on Zavgorodniy. Until he leaves Rimouski, his impressive production will always be linked to the projected first-overall selection. He’s consistently produced since being drafted by Calgary in 2018, but this may be one of the last opportunities for Calgary to cash out on their seventh-round draft-pick.

Edmonton Oilers

Needs: Secondary scoring

Who can help? Chris Kreider (New York Rangers)

What’s it gonna cost?

I know that I said earlier that the Rangers had eased up on their sales pitch of Kreider, but truly the Oilers just might end up being desperate enough to offer Jeff Gorton a trade he can’t refuse. The starting point for a deal with Kreider will be a first-round draft-pick PLUS prospects, who may include either of:

Jesse Puljujarvi – Puljujarvi has been linked to the Rangers in the past, but there has reportedly never been a fit. Lias Andersson may also be a piece to consider including in this deal, but for the sake of acquiring Chris Kreider, the Rangers will demand a player of Puljujarvi’s quality. Despite his negative experience in North America, the Rangers would likely be able to find a favorable role on the wing for the Finn to have a second chance. 

Raphael Lavoie – If the Rangers were to show little interest in Puljujarvi as a return piece for Kreider, 2020 Canadian World Junior forward Rapheal Lavoie would likely provide equivalent value. The Rangers would likely seek an additional first-round or second-round draft-pick, but Lavoie could conceivably be at the core of the deal. There’s some risk associated with the Moncton Wildcats forward, but he’s come a long way since falling to Edmonton’s second-round slot last summer and could fetch a prime return. 

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Thanks for checking in on the other side of the NHL trade deadline coverage. There will be plenty more to come in the month ahead! 

Follow me on Twitter for more prospect trade deadline coverage @olaf1393