The Journey: Trade Deadline Primer

by Kevin LeBlanc on February 26, 2017

Examining team needs for potential sellers at the NHL trade deadline.

This week in The Journey we examine potential prospect additions to teams who will be sellers at the NHL’s Trade Deadline.

Teams who are looking to make a strong push towards the Stanley Cup Playoffs will inevitably overpay for rental players. In most cases, picks, prospects or young players under team control for a longer term are acquired by sellers at the deadline who are looking to move out veterans that do not fit in the teams plans moving forward. Although it’s hard to determine individual players who will be targeted as a return for selling clubs at the deadline, we can look at what positions of need are within their current prospect groups. Since so many articles are written about the needs of buyers, let’s flip the script and take a look these deals from the other side targeting what type of assets rebuilding teams may look for leading up to and on Trade Deadline Day.

Colorado Avalanche

The Scoop:

Mired in one of the worst seasons in recent memory, the Avalanche sit in the NHL’s basement with just 35 points in 59 games.  At this point, the next closest team in the overall NHL standings are the Arizona Coyotes, who are 14 points ahead of Colorado.

Everyone wants to talk about Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog being moved prior to the end of the day on March 1, but likely those are deals that are more easily made in the summer, prior to the 2017 NHL Draft. In addition to the potential moves of Duchene and Landeskog, it would be nice to see Jarome Iginla get one more chance at winning a Stanley Cup. I’m sure the Avs would love to move Francois Beauchemin, but another year at $4.5 million for a player who will be 37 to start next season will be tough for teams to stomach.

Areas of Need:

To be honest, the Avalanche need to rebuild their system from the ground up. Mikko Rantanen and Tyson Jost are a great start to a foundation for Colorado’s future, but some misses in recent drafts, most notably the disaster of the 2014 draft have set the team back. Dating back to 2010 draft, only Nathan McKinnon (277) and Gabriel Landeskog (405) have played over 100 games in the NHL for the club. That’s two of 46 draft picks in the last seven drafts that have played just over a full season in the NHL. Look for them to get as many high ceiling players into their system as possible, regardless of position, if they break up their core in the next four months.

Arizona Coyotes

The Scoop:

Unlike Colorado, the Coyotes are well positioned in the midst of their rebuild. The team has played significantly better at the NHL level over the last couple weeks, with Max Domi returning to the lineup and young players such as Christian Dvorak and Jakob Chychrun taking steps forward in their development.

Pending UFAs include potential rentals Shane Doan, Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata. Getting a jump on the competition, they already moved Michael Stone earlier this week to Calgary for a couple of draft selections. Hanzal and Vrbata will be two of the more coveted assets leading up to the deadline, and should provide Arizona with more ammo to help as they rebuild their system. The jury is still out on Doan, who would have to waive his no trade in order to be moved.

Areas of Need:

Arizona has two of the best prospects outside of professional hockey in Dylan Strome and Clayton Keller already in the fold. Add those potential superstars to players like Anthony DeAngelo, Lawson Crouse, Christian Fischer, Brendan Perlini and Kyle Wood, and you have a great foundation of players to build on moving forward.

They could likely add to their defensive prospect group and could potentially look to acquire a goaltender of the future. More than likely though, it may be time for Arizona to start packaging some of the young assets they have stockpiled over the last few seasons for a shot at a game-breaking player that can help them progress their rebuild. It will likely be a very interesting summer in the desert.

Dallas Stars

The Scoop:

Has there a more disappointing team then the Dallas Stars this season? Injuries have certainly played a part, but the Stars have been lying in the bed they made, starting Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen in net all season. After leading the Western Conference with 109 points a year ago, the Stars could find themselves with a top-five pick in June’s draft.

Certainly the team has some players who could help playoff contenders down the stretch providing some scoring punch and playoff experience. After moving Patrick Eaves yesterday afternoon, Patrick Sharp and Jiri Hudler remain on expiring contracts and could be used to help replenish a Stars system that could use a quick upgrade. Dan Hamhuis would certainly help a team, but his reluctance to leave Vancouver at last year’s trade deadline could throw some GMs off the trail considering he hand-picked his location this summer.

Areas of Need:

Dallas is stocked with depth options in their system outside of players like Denis Gurianov and Julius Honka, who have the potential to be top options with the Stars in the future. Last season’s first round pick Riley Tufte is raw and a good ways off. Devin Shore has been a life saver this season, filling in up and down the lineup for an injury ridden Stars forward group. Esa Lindell also looks to be a keeper.

The conditional second-round pick the Stars got back from Anaheim in the Eaves trade is a start towards stockpiling picks, which gives them increased flexibility. If they do finish in the bottom five, securing a top pick in the 2017 draft could be a good place to start in a package for a goaltender this summer. Missing on Jack Campbell who was traded to LA in June and the struggles of Philippe Desrosiers means that goaltending help is not coming from within the system in the foreseeable future. Players such as Patrik Nemeth and Jamie Oleksiak are nearing the point where they will need to start putting it together or risk getting passed on the depth chart.

Vancouver Canucks

The Scoop:

The Canucks sit nine points back of Nashville for the final wild card spot, but a 3-7 record in their last 10 games and a minus-30 goal differential on the season means it will be an uphill battle to play past early April.

Alex Burrows needs 13 points in his last 22 games to eclipse his best season from a scoring perspective since 2011-12. He is a player who has in the past lifted his game when the playoffs start. Ryan Miller has played well for stretches this season, and he could be a decent option to provide goaltending depth to a contender if the Canucks are willing to retain some salary. Luca Sbisa could be looked at as a depth defense option, playing 19 minutes a night for Vancouver and leading the team in shorthanded minutes played. He blocks a decent amount of shots, averaging 1.5 per game and leads the Canucks with a plus-8 rating. No word on how the Canucks’ recent mumps outbreak will affect their ability to move players at the deadline.

Areas of Need:

Vancouver is in the enviable position of having one elite-level prospect at each position. Brock Boeser, Olli Juolevi, and Thatcher Demko all should help to form a core of young players to help the Canucks return as a perennial playoff team. However, their two first-round selections in 2014 have yet to prove results. Jake Virtanen was thrust into the NHL too early and has been able to learn with Utica of the AHL this season, while Jared McCann was moved to Florida in the Erik Gudbranson trade in the offseason.

They have done a decent job of finding players in the middle rounds, with potential NHL depth players such as Nikita Tryamkin, Adam Gaudette and Jordan Subban selected in rounds three through five. They also picked up current Canucks Ben Hutton (fifth round) and Troy Stecher (college free agent) who have helped them this season. Vancouver’s biggest issue seems to be their front office deciding whether they are rebuilding or trying to contend. If they pick the rebuild option, it would be smart to build down the middle and on the blueline when acquiring upcoming prospects.

Give Kevin a follow @kleblanchockey for prospect talk and happenings.