NHL trade tracker – Latest deals, rumors, grades for 2021

The 2021 NHL trade deadline is 3 p.m. ET Monday, but teams have already done a fair amount of dealing.

That includes Pierre-Luc Dubois heading to the Jets, with Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic joining the Blue Jackets on Jan. 23. More recently, the Islanders traded for Devils veteran Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac, the Avalanche bolstered their goaltending depth with Devan Dubnyk, and the Lightning boosted their Stanley Cup repeat chances by trading for defenseman David Savard.

Follow along here as all the moves are made around the league, from the blockbusters down to the trades involving minor league players and picks. Trades are listed chronologically, with the newest deals on top.

More coverage:
Grades for every big trade
Players who could be traded
Trades we’d like to see
Team-by-team guide

April 11

Penguins get: F Jeff Carter
Kings get: conditional 2022 third-round pick, conditional 2023 fourth-round pick

Trade grades

Bruins get: F Taylor Hall, F Curtis Lazar
Sabres get: F Anders Bjork, 2021 second-round pick

Trade grades

Islanders get: D Braydon Coburn
Senators get: 2022 seventh-round pick

Maple Leafs get: G David Rittich
Flames get: 2022 third-round pick

Trade grades

Bruins get: D Mike Reilly
Senators get: 2022 third-round pick

Maple Leafs get: F Nick Foligno, F Stefan Noesen
Blue Jackets get: 2021 first-round pick (TOR), 2022 fourth-round pick (TOR)
Sharks get: 2021 fourth-round pick (TOR)

Trade grades

Canadiens get: D Jon Merrill
Red Wings get: F Hayden Verbeek, 2021 fifth-round pick

Devils get: D Jonas Siegenthaler
Capitals get: 2021 conditional third-round pick

April 10

Lightning get: D David Savard, D Brian Lashoff
Blue Jackets get: 2021 first-round pick (TB), 2022 third-round pick (TB)
Red Wings get: 2021 fourth-round pick

Trade grades

Avalanche get: G Devan Dubnyk
Sharks get: D Greg Pateryn, 2021 fifth-round pick

Trade grades

Panthers get: D Brandon Montour
Sabres get: 2021 third-round pick

Trade grades

April 9

Avalanche get: D Patrik Nemeth
Red Wings get: 2022 fourth-round pick

Maple Leafs get: F Riley Nash
Blue Jackets get: 2022 seventh-round pick

April 8

Blackhawks get: F Brett Connolly, D Riley Stillman, F Henrik Borgstrom, 2021 seventh-round pick
Panthers get: D Lucas Carlsson, C Lucas Wallmark

April 7

Islanders get: F Kyle Palmieri, F Travis Zajac
Devils get: F A.J. Greer, F Mason Jobst, 2021 first-round pick, 2022 fourth-round pick

Trade grades

April 2

Blackhawks get: F Vinnie Hinostroza
Panthers get: F Brad Morrison

March 29

Senators get: F Mike Amadio
Kings get: D Christian Wolanin

March 27

Kings get: F Brendan Lemieux
Rangers get: 2021 fourth-round pick

March 26

Canadiens get: F Eric Staal
Sabres get: 2021 third-round pick, 2021 fifth-round pick

Trade grades

March 24

Ducks get: F Alexander Volkov
Lightning get: F Antoine Morand, 2023 seventh-round pick

March 20

Avalanche get: G Jonas Johansson
Sabres get: 2021 sixth-round pick

March 12

Blue Jackets get: D Mikko Lehtonen
Maple Leafs get: G Veini Vehvilainen

Feb. 15

Maple Leafs get: F Alex Galchenyuk
Hurricanes get: F Egor Korshkov, D David Warsofsky

Feb. 13

Blue Jackets get: F Gregory Hoffman
Hurricanes get: 2022 seventh-round pick

Senators get: F Ryan Dzingel
Hurricanes get: F Cedric Paquette, F Alex Galchenyuk

Jan. 27

Senators get: F Jack Kopacka, 2022 seventh-round pick
Sharks get: D Christian Jaros

Sharks get: F Jack Kopacka
Ducks get: D Trevor Carrick

Jan. 23

Jets get: F Pierre-Luc Dubois, 2022 third-round pick
Blue Jackets get: F Patrik Laine, F Jack Roslovic

Trade grades

Jan. 19

Wild get: D Ian Cole
Avalanche get: D Greg Pateryn

Jan. 12

Senators get: F Clark Bishop
Hurricanes get: D Max Lajoie

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2021 NHL trade deadline – Grades for all the biggest deals

The 2021 NHL trade deadline is fast approaching, and all deals must be completed by 3 p.m. ET on Monday, April 12. We’ve gone through the deals we’d like to see, a team-by-team guide to the deadline, and a player-by-player look at the individuals that could be on a new team by next week.

As each major deal happens, national NHL reporter Emily Kaplan and senior NHL writer Greg Wyshynski will be grading both GMs involved on the particulars of each swap.

The most recent trade grades are at the top, and we’ll continue to update right through the final deadline deals.

Saturday, April 10

Tampa Bay Lightning get: D David Savard, D Brian Lashoff
Columbus Blue Jackets get: 2021 first-round pick, 2022 third-round pick
Detroit Red Wings get: 2021 fourth-round pick

If you’ve heard GM Julien BriseBois talk over the past few weeks, he has been stressing that it’s going to be very hard for the Lightning to do anything at the deadline, because of their lack of cap space. Lo and behold, he found a way.

For the second straight trade deadline, Tampa Bay was aggressive. But unlike last season, the Lightning moved a first-round pick for a player (Savard) whose contract expires this summer. That typically goes against the front office’s philosophy on “rental players,” but it also shows that Tampa Bay really thinks it has a chance to repeat as Stanley Cup champs.

The cap gymnastics are complicated. BriseBois essentially asked his peers to absorb some salary: Columbus retained 50% of Savard’s cap hit to trade him to Detroit; Detroit retained 50% of the remainder to trade him to the Lightning, meaning Tampa Bay added $1,062,500 to its cap. The Lightning are not in the clear yet. Jan Rutta was put on long-term injured reserve, but he is expected back by the end of the season. That’s a later problem.

For now, Savard is a prototypical deadline addition because he is experienced and a tough competitor, and he is going to do all the small things right. The 30-year-old has 38 games of playoff experience, including averaging 25:42 minutes per game in 10 contests during the 2020 postseason bubble. The right-handed defenseman is big (6-foot-2, 229 pounds) and plays a physical game; he has 89 blocked shots in just 40 games this season.

Savard’s individual metrics on the Blue Jackets weren’t great, but put him on a winning team, and in the Lightning’s structure, and he is a great cultural fit. The Lightning have been looking for defensive reinforcements, as they never really replaced Zach Bogosian and Kevin Shattenkirk, both of whom left in free agency. The Lightning also have been trying to shelter the minutes of rookie Cal Foote, easing his development.

The Central Division has three elite teams in the Lightning, Hurricanes and Panthers, and one dangerous challenger in whomever snags the fourth playoff spot. Seeing that the first two playoff rounds are intradivisional, BriseBois likely saw this as a necessary move to stay ahead of the Joneses.

Giving up three draft picks is a bit rich. However, Tampa Bay is banking on another long run, so the first-round pick should be a late one. The Lightning now have a third-, fifth- and sixth-round pick and two seventh-round picks in 2021; in 2022, they’ll be without a second- and third-rounder. But win the Stanley Cup again and no one will be complaining.

Savard was respected to an tremendous degree within the Blue Jackets organization. He had played his entire 10-year career in Columbus, did everything asked of him and showed up to an optional practice on his very last day, fully aware he was going to be traded. It’s not easy to lose someone like that.

But the Blue Jackets — who have four straight playoff berths and have kept overachieving despite losing big names in free agency — have fallen back to earth this season. Columbus has gone 15-19-8 through 42 games; only the Red Wings have fewer points in the Central Division. It’s clear this team needs some retooling, which made Savard, on an expiring contract, an obvious player to trade. There’s been a lot of speculation and chatter among NHL evaluators that “rental players” wouldn’t yield big returns this year, in part because of an imbalance of teams looking to add and subtract. That Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen was able to hold Savard until two days before the trade deadline and yield this return is strong management. It also is helpful that ownership was willing to absorb some of the cap hit, which upped the return.

The first-round pick will be a low one, but Columbus could use more young players; drafting and developing has been the model Kekalainen prefers best.

Now, he faces more tough decisions. Will Kekalainen move his captain, Nick Foligno? What about defenseman Michael Del Zotto? How about players with more than one year left on their contract? Those latter deals are probably best saved for summer.

What does Detroit GM Steve Yzerman want more than anything right now? Draft picks. And so he went out and bought one. What’s more, Detroit trades away the captain of its AHL team … only to ensure that that player remains with the Grand Rapids Griffins for the rest of the season. Genius.

Colorado Avalanche get: G Devan Dubnyk
San Jose Sharks get: D Greg Pateryn, 2021 fifth-round pick

The Avalanche are firing on all cylinders. Over the past month, they have lost just once in 17 games. No team has accumulated more points or scored more goals per game than the Avs in that span. Only two teams have recorded fewer goals against per game. A big part of that success has been Philipp Grubauer, who is having a Vezina Trophy-caliber season. Through 33 games, he has 24 wins and a .919 save percentage.

However, the Avs also know this: They are just one Grubauer injury away from disaster.

The team saw this unfold in last year’s postseason bubble. I’ve talked to members of the Avalanche about it; if they weren’t down to their third-string goalie in the second-round series against the Stars, they really believe they would have moved on to the Western Conference finals. Instead, Colorado was sent home, disappointed, but knowing the team had as good of a chance to win the Cup in 2021.

With Pavel Francouz sidelined due to a lower-body injury, the Avs have worked Grubauer hard. And it has become apparent that their Achilles’ heel could be exposed again unless GM Joe Sakic did something about it. Sakic acquired Jonas Johansson from the Sabres last month, and it’s never a bad idea to have more goaltending depth. But what the Avs really needed was a veteran for insurance. That’s Dubnyk.

Dubnyk is in his 12th NHL season and is a consummate professional. While he is only four years removed from finishing fifth in Vezina voting, he has been a sub-.900 save percentage goalie in each of the past two seasons. The 34-year-old should improve while playing under Colorado’s much better defensive structure, but it’s fair to wonder if Sakic could have found a more exciting option out there. Then again, while the Avs are trying to win now, they are conscious of the future too. And before this trade, Colorado was already without a second-, fourth- and sixth-round pick in the 2021 draft. They don’t want to jeopardize too much, but they also might not be done yet.

As for Pateryn: He played only eight games for Colorado this season. With Friday’s addition of Patrik Nemethwho plays a similar role — Pateryn was viewed as a player who could be traded away, and Colorado is happy to clear his cap space, which is a shade over $2 million.

San Jose GM Doug Wilson wished Devan Dubnyk well on Saturday, saying he “brought the element of consummate professionalism and class” while mentoring a lot of younger players. That’s shorthand for: We really respect the guy, but we don’t need him anymore.

The Sharks are making a surprising run at the fourth playoff spot in the West Division, but they know no matter how the season finishes, they need to focus on long-term planning. The Sharks have put off a rebuild (or at the very least a retool), and it’s coming back to haunt them. There’s an urgency to get younger players into the lineup and stockpile draft picks or else things could really get dire.

Martin Jones is having a resurgence, and the Sharks obviously want to ride that out, considering their financial commitment to the player. (He is making $5.75 million per season through 2023-24.) The Sharks also want to give two of their young goalies in the organization — 22-year-old Alexei Melnichuk and 23-year-old Josef Korenar — an opportunity to get some starts. That meant that they could trade Dubnyk.

In Pateryn, the Sharks get a pending free agent who is a serviceable NHL defenseman and offers some insurance on the blue line for this surprising playoff push, if nothing else.

That they were able to recoup a fifth-rounder for Dubnyk feels about right. Overall a solid, if unexciting, transaction for Wilson. — Kaplan

Florida Panthers get: D Brandon Montour
Buffalo Sabres get: 2021 third-round pick

Are the Panthers getting the Brandon Montour whom Buffalo traded for in 2019 or the Brandon Montour who is leaving the Sabres after 112 underwhelming games?

When the Sabres acquired him, Montour was seen as a solid, young defenseman with an even higher ceiling. He had 63 points in 169 games in Anaheim, skating 20:47 on average. He blocked shots and delivered hits. Buffalo saw that promise, traded a conditional first-round pick for him and … watched Montour become one of the NHL’s most ineffective defensemen on the defensive side of the puck.

Montour had an expected goals percentage of 46.12% during his three seasons in Buffalo, including 44.67% this season through 38 games. He has averaged 0.38 points per game offensively but has been an absolute drag defensively on the Sabres. In three seasons, Montour has a minus-12.5 goals scored above average and has cost his team 2.3 wins in the standings. He has been sub-replacement level for the Sabres.

The operative phrase here: “for the Sabres.” The majority of his time in Buffalo was spent under the ultimately ineffective coaching of Ralph Krueger, on a porous defensive team. Montour has seven points in 12 games under new interim coach Don Granato, skating to a plus-1 rating. He played on the penalty kill, and he saw power-play time in Buffalo, as well.

The Panthers made two trades with the Chicago Blackhawks recently to open up some cap space, the majority of it leaving with forward Brett Connolly ($3.5 million average annual value). With Aaron Ekblad done for at least the regular season after fracturing his left leg, the Panthers prioritized adding a defenseman at the deadline, and Montour could slide in on a pairing with MacKenzie Weegar.

If a change in scenery does the trick and Montour rediscovers his defensive game — that is, if the “Buffalo effect” is real — this could be a very good stopgap move, as Montour is a pending unrestricted free agent. Either way, the risk was only a third-round pick for a team with eyes on the postseason.

First, a little history lesson.

In February 2019, the Sabres acquired Montour for defenseman Brendan Guhle, who is currently in the AHL and a conditional first-round pick. The pick the Sabres ended up sending to Anaheim was acquired from the San Jose Sharks in the Evander Kane trade, on the condition that he re-signed with San Jose and that the Sharks made the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Before that second condition was met, the Sabres traded a conditional first to Anaheim for Montour. The condition: That the Ducks would receive either the Sharks’ first-rounder in 2019 or the St. Louis Blues‘ first-rounder in 2019, which Buffalo acquired in the Ryan O’Reilly trade. If the Blues’ pick was between Nos. 20 and 31 (it was), then Anaheim had the option to take either the Blues’ or the Sharks’ first-rounder from Buffalo. The Sharks and the Blues actually met in the Western Conference finals with the fate of the Ducks’ conditional first-rounder on the line. The Blues won the West, and Anaheim used the Sharks’ pick to draft winger Brayden Tracey at No. 29 overall, courtesy of the Sabres.

History lesson over. Pencils down.

At the time, the acquisition of Montour was praised. He was young. He was under contract beyond that season, and the Sabres would control his rights after that. But like … well, pretty much everything under the previous regime, good intentions don’t ensure good results, and Montour languished on the Sabres’ blue line.

Given that — and the fact that Montour is a pending free agent — a third-round pick seemed like the ceiling for GM Kevyn Adams, especially since the Sabres didn’t retain any salary to make the deal work. A frustrating erosion of value for a 26-year-old defenseman, but that’s reality for Buffalo in this trade market. — Wyshynski

Wednesday, April 7

New York Islanders get: RW Kyle Palmieri, C Travis Zajac
New Jersey Devils get: F A.J. Greer, F Mason Jobst, 2021 first-round pick, conditional 2022 fourth-round pick

GM Lou Lamoriello said it best when explaining the Islanders’ trade for Palmieri and Zajac: There are no surprises with these two. “I know what they bring on the ice. I also know what kind of people they are and what they bring to the locker room. Chemistry is very important for me,” he said.

They’ve played against these Islanders with frequency. They’ve played with New York defenseman Andy Greene, who was a career Devils defenseman before Lamoriello reached over to Jersey and added him for the Islanders at last season’s trade deadline. For better or for worse, there are no surprises here about the players the Islanders acquired.

It’ll mostly be for the better.

Palmieri is having a down year — there’s no getting around that. The question is whether a short-term change in scenery can reignite his offense. He’s been better than 0.33 goals per game since 2015-16; this season, he’s at 0.24, with eight goals in 34 games. He has not been lower than 0.66 points per game during that span; this season, he’s at 0.50. Palmieri has some encouraging underlying numbers (51.41 expected goals percentage). This isn’t a case of his production hitting some kind of sudden, steep decline. Whether they deploy him on the left of Mathew Barzal or on the right of Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Palmieri is going to help fill the offensive void left by the loss of Anders Lee for the season.

Zajac was an interesting addition to the deal. His best days are behind him, and he has managed a 46.88 expected goals percentage at 5-on-5. Like Palmieri, he’s been a sub-replacement-level player for the Devils this season. His calling card used to be as a penalty killer, but he has been ineffective there, too.

What he is at age 35 is a strong character player who can chip in on offense (18 points in 33 games) while playing a bottom-six role. It also gives the Islanders considerable experience and depth at the center spot: Barzal, Brock Nelson, Pageau, Casey Cizikas and now Zajac. Lamoriello drafted him. Lamoriello knows him. He’ll be properly cast by Barry Trotz.

This isn’t the kind of trade that secures a Stanley Cup for the Islanders. But it is the kind of trade that, if they’re so blessed to hoist the chalice at the end of the season, they’ll look back on as having added vital pieces to complete the puzzle. And it didn’t cost them much at all, given that the return didn’t include an upper-tier prospect and did include a first-round pick in a very mysterious draft.

If the market for Palmieri was as robust as it appeared to be — the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins were among the reportedly interested teams — then one wonders if the Devils couldn’t have acquired a prospect, rather than a low first-round pick in a draft that many general managers admit is a complete crapshoot thanks to the lack of in-person scouting and other COVID-19-related impacts.

Essentially, that’s what the trade was: Palmieri for a first-rounder. Greer and Jobst are depth talents on expiring contracts, although Greer has the potential to contribute. Zajac’s trade value was extremely limited due to his age, effectiveness and full no-trade clause. It was likely going to be a team in the New York metropolitan area or back home in Winnipeg, or it was nothing. So the conditional fourth-rounder for Zajac is what it is.

As I’ve written about before, it’s a weird NHL trade deadline. Maybe given all the odd forces affecting teams, this was the best return that GM Tom Fitzgerald could get for Palmieri in a down season. That’s something we’ll know for sure when the dust settles after Monday’s deadline.

And it’s not out of the question that the Devils have gotten a first-round pick for a player who‘s back on their roster next season via unrestricted free agency. Fitzgerald called trading Palmieri “a business decision between Kyle and this organization at this moment.” I asked Fitzgerald about that possibility; he shut it down by saying Palmieri is now on another team and he can’t comment. Which wasn’t a “no.”

Still, the value coming back to New Jersey for having retained 50% of both players’ salaries should have been a bit more than a low first-rounder, two depth players and a fourth-round pick that becomes a third if the Islanders make the Stanley Cup Final.

Now they’re left hoping that the Islanders stumble a bit to make that first-rounder a higher one. Well, everyone but their GM is hoping that, apparently.

“I hope the pick we get is the 32nd pick. I hope both of these gentlemen win the Cup,” said Fitzgerald. — Wyshynski

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2021 NHL trade deadline – Six deals we’d like to see

The 2021 NHL trade deadline is 3 p.m. ET on Monday. The New York Islanders kicked off trade season on Wednesday night, acquiring veteran forwards Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac from the New Jersey Devils.

But there are many more mutually beneficial deals out there to be made as contenders look to bolster their rosters for a run at the Stanley Cup this summer, while rebuilding teams look to add prospects to their pipelines or draft picks to their caches.

Here are six trades we’d like to see before Monday’s deadline:

Boston Bruins get: RW Bobby Ryan
Detroit Red Wings get: 2021 second-round pick

Sure, the Bruins could opt for defensive help, but their biggest need is getting more 5-on-5 scoring. Through 36 games, Boston has the fifth-worst 5-on-5 rate in goals per 60 minutes in the league, per Natural Stat Trick data (only the Sabres, Red Wings, Predators and Stars are worse).

Boston was thinking about Kyle Palmieri before he was traded to the Islanders, and the Bruins have done some recon on Taylor Hall. But after trading away first-round picks in 2018 and 2020, I don’t think they can afford to lose another one this season. That’s why Ryan, whose trade return won’t be as high, makes more sense. I think he’d fit in really well with the Bruins’ culture. He has cooled off considerably since scoring four goals in Detroit’s first three games, but add the 34-year-old in a lesser role, on a much more talented team, and — voila — you have the same effect you’re seeing with Blake Griffin on the Brooklyn Nets.

This deal only gets done if Ryan is healthy (he hasn’t played since March 28), so keep that in mind. — Kaplan

St. Louis Blues get: LW Taylor Hall (50% salary retained by Buffalo)
Buffalo Sabres get: RW Mike Hoffman, 2021 first-round pick

The Blues still seem like a team that could use a shock to the system, and acquiring Hall would provide one.

They’re 19th in goals per game (2.69) through 39 games. They could slide Hall on Ryan O’Reilly‘s wing or use him to energize a line anchored by Robert Thomas. Hall hasn’t gotten anything close to satisfactory results this season, but it hasn’t been for lack of effort; he has an expected goals percentage of 52.8% at 5-on-5. This would very much be a “hope a change of scenery sparks him” move, but I like the fit. I think he plays the kind of hockey the Blues look for in their forwards.

Trading Hoffman to the Sabres would clear $4 million from the St. Louis cap. If Buffalo retains 50% on Hall, the money works; and there’s no reason to expect the return for Hall to be anything less than that, considering the deal the Islanders just made for Kyle Palmieri from the Devils. Hoffman, a recent healthy scratch in St. Louis, has an expiring contract as well.

Assuming Hall waives his no-move clause for St. Louis, the only question left is whether the Blues feel this version of the team is worth the investment. General manager Doug Armstrong has been brutally honest in his deadline transactions — remember Paul Stastny getting traded to Winnipeg despite the Blues chasing a playoff spot? Will it be worth trading a first-rounder when they don’t have a second-rounder, just to get rolled by Colorado or Vegas in a seven-game series? Or, worse yet, to fall short of the fourth seed altogether? — Wyshynski

Colorado Avalanche get: G Elvis Merzlikins, D David Savard
Columbus Blue Jackets get: prospect F Martin Kaut, rights to F Vladislav Kamenev, 2021 first-round pick

The Avalanche are the hottest team in the NHL right now. That includes goalie Philipp Grubauer; Grubauer is a top-three Vezina Trophy candidate for me right now (though it is the GMs who vote on that award).

However, Colorado is one Grubauer injury away from disaster. I’ve talked to players on the Avalanche about last year’s playoffs, and they firmly believe if they weren’t down to their third-string goalie in the second round series against the Dallas Stars, they would have advanced. Colorado got some insurance in net by trading for Jonas Johansson, but they need more insurance than that. The fact that Merzlikins is signed for 2021-22 as well makes this extra enticing for GM Joe Sakic.

The Avs’ other biggest need is defensive help, considering Erik Johnson has been injured. Savard fills in perfectly as a veteran on the right side. The Avs would be leaving themselves a bit bare with draft picks for 2021, but it’s worth it. They really have a shot to win it all this year.

Meanwhile, for Columbus, it’s time for some retooling. What GM Jarmo Kekalainen needs is more young scorers to insert into the lineup. Organizationally, goaltending is an area of strength, especially with Joonas Korpisalo manning the NHL crease, so it’s OK to part with Merzlikins. — Kaplan

Colorado Avalanche get: G Chris Driedger
Florida Panthers get: D Conor Timmins

I’ve got the same thought as Emily here, but a different player joining the Avs.

The Avalanche shouldn’t waste their time trying to find a veteran goalie as an insurance policy for Philipp Grubauer. Just go out and get the best goalie available. That’s Driedger, the netminder who has a .931 save percentage and a 2.05 goals-against average in 17 games this season. He has come into his own over the past two seasons, posting a .934 save percentage overall in 29 games with Florida. He’s 10th in goals saved above average (13) this season. He makes only $850,000, so he fits under the Avs’ current cap space.

Instead of a pick going back to the Panthers, how about a player? Timmins was drafted 32nd overall in 2017, but he has played only 19 games in the NHL over the past two seasons. He’s talented but injury-prone, and he’ll be a restricted free agent this offseason. The defensive depth chart in the Mile High City is a mile deep, so trading him for the best goalie available would be a savvy move for Sakic. — Wyshynski

Florida Panthers get: D Brandon Montour
Buffalo Sabres get: 2021 second-round pick

The Panthers cleared up some cap space and money by trading Brett Connolly to the Chicago Blackhawks. Connolly was a player whose cap hit ($3.5 million) wasn’t matching his reduced role. So you get the sense that GM Bill Zito is preparing to do something else; the Panthers have been such a pleasant surprise thus far, it’s time to reward the group and go for it.

Florida sustained a major loss when Aaron Ekblad underwent leg surgery after an awkward in-game fall; he’s out for the season. Ekblad was having a Norris Trophy-caliber campaign, and there’s no replacing him, but a competitive veteran like Montour is a good place to start.

The Sabes are looking to move pretty much all of their pending unrestricted free agents. Though GM Kevyn Adams is asking for first-round picks in trade for some of his players, that might change the closer we get to the deadline. Landing a second-rounder for Montour, in this unusual year, might be the most that Adams can do at this point. — Kaplan

Toronto Maple Leafs get: D Josh Manson, F Danton Heinen
Anaheim Ducks get: C Alexander Kerfoot, D Timothy Liljegren, 2021 first-rounder, 2022 second-rounder

I’ve been saying for a while that Manson and the Ducks both need a change here. Assuming the Leafs aren’t on his 12-team no-trade list — or that he’d be willing to waive it entirely — adding the 29-year-old on the right side of the Toronto defense corps makes it a formidable unit.

Justin Holl can move down to the third pairing. Manson can partner with Jake Muzzin. Meanwhile, pending RFA Heinen is an energy forward with good underlying numbers.

Kerfoot, 26, gives the Ducks some stability, as he’s signed through 2023. His $3.5 million AAV would more than cover Manson’s cap number ($4.1 million) provided the Ducks retain some of the latter. Liljegren is only 21 and is under contract for next season as well. Obviously, the allure here are the two draft picks for a team still building up to contention.

The only wrinkle here is that Manson is signed through 2021-22, which means he might have to be exposed in the expansion draft this summer, unless the Leafs cut a side deal with the Seattle Kraken. They have to protect Muzzin and T.J. Brodie, who have no-move clauses, and would obviously do the same for Morgan Rielly. But if Manson helps them win the Stanley Cup, it’ll have been worth it. And there are remedies to that headache that hopefully don’t lead to what the Ducks did the last time Manson needed to be kept out of an expansion draft — which is how Shea Theodore ended up in Vegas. Yikes. — Wyshynski

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Regrading 10 recent NHL trade deadline blockbusters

Our old friend Trey Wingo recently called it “a tradition like no other” in sports: “grading a trade that includes draft picks before seeing what the picks actually turn into.”

The instant gratification of the “trade grade” is very much the lifeblood of trade deadline coverage, especially in the NHL. There are obviously some things that can be evaluated in the moment: what the return should be, based on similar deals, how a player fits on a roster or whether acquiring a player is worth the assumed risks. But like Wingo said, it’s ultimately difficult to assess a trade without at least seeing who those future picks become, either through drafting or through reallocation of those draft picks in a subsequent trade.

Today’s A trade could be a C-plus in three years. Today’s C-plus trade could be an A depending on where a draft pick is made and which player is drafted.

To that end, we’ve taken 10 blockbuster deadline deals from the past five seasons and regraded them based on the benefit of hindsight. We’ve also included the original grade issued by ESPN on the deal — assigned by yours truly, Emily Kaplan or those who came before us.

Starting with the oldest deal, let’s get out those red markers and change some grades:

The trade (2017): St. Louis Blues trade D Kevin Shattenkirk and G Pheonix Copley to the Washington Capitals for LW Zach Sanford, F Brad Malone, a 2017 first-round draft pick (transferred to Flyers) and a conditional third-round pick

Original Capitals grade: A
Original Blues grade: C

Capitals regrade: B
Blues regrade: A-

Shattenkirk was a rental for the Capitals, contributing 14 points in 19 games for Washington after the trade. His playoff run with them was … not as good: six points in 13 games, skating to a minus-4 and getting outplayed at 5-on-5 with partner Brooks Orpik as Washington was eliminated in seven games by Pittsburgh in the second round. He left as a free agent to play for his hometown New York Rangers, a stint that makes his time in Washington look Hall of Fame-worthy by comparison, and later landed with the Tampa Bay Lightning after a buyout, winning the Stanley Cup in 2020.

Sanford was the key player going back to St. Louis. He has 68 points in 167 games but also had four points in eight games in their Stanley Cup run in 2018-19. Malone never played a game for St. Louis. You know who did? Brayden Schenn, whom the Blues acquired from the Flyers for that Capitals first-rounder in 2017 (which was used on Morgan Frost), the Blues’ first-rounder in 2018 (Joel Farabee) and center Jori Lehtera, who was out of the league by 2019.

The trade (2018): Tampa Bay Lightning trade C Vladislav Namestnikov, F Brett Howden, D Libor Hajek, 2018 first-round pick and a conditional second-round pick for D Ryan McDonagh and C J.T. Miller

Original Lightning grade: A-
Original Rangers grade: A

Lightning regrade: A
Rangers regrade: A-

This was seen as a trade that helped both teams when it went down, and there’s still every chance that it shakes out that way if the Rangers’ prospects fulfill their promise.

Hajek, 23, has seen action on the Rangers’ blue line for the past two seasons, although his 40.82% expected goals percentage this season is a bit discouraging. They used that 2018 first-rounder on defenseman Nils Lundkvist, who has impressed in Sweden and looks to have value greater than what you expect from the 28th overall pick.

Namestnikov was what the Rangers needed him to be for 99 games (35 points), before they traded him for a fourth-round pick and prospect Nick Ebert in 2019. Howden has gone on to play 165 games for the Rangers in a depth forward role. The bummer for the Rangers was that the Lightning won the Stanley Cup in 2020; the condition on the second-round pick was that they had to win it in 2018 or 2019.

McDonagh, who signed a seven-year extension with Tampa Bay, played 22 games in the Lightning’s march to the Stanley Cup last summer. Even more important to that team was forward Blake Coleman, whom the Lightning acquired from the Devils for F Nolan Foote and Vancouver’s first-round pick in 2020 … which the Lightning famously received in a trade that sent Miller to the Canucks in 2019.

A lot to like here for both teams, but the immediate results for the Lightning flip the grades.

The trade (2018): Buffalo Sabres trade LW Evander Kane to the San Jose Sharks for a 2019 first-round draft pick (conditional), a 2020 fourth-round draft pick (conditional) and F Danny O’Regan

Original Sabres grade: C-
Original Sharks grade: B+

Sabres regrade: B
Sharks regrade: A-

No disrespect to O’Regan and that fourth-rounder, but that first-rounder the Sabres got for Kane was the key here — and an absolute roller coaster.

Buffalo received the 2019 first-rounder if Kane re-signed with San Jose (he did) and if the Sharks made the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs (they did). But before that second condition was met, the Sabres traded a conditional first to Anaheim for defenseman Brandon Montour. The condition: That the Ducks would receive either the Sharks’ first-rounder in 2019 or the St. Louis Blues‘ first-rounder in 2019, which Buffalo acquired in the Ryan O’Reilly trade. If the Blues’ pick was between Nos. 20-31 (it was), then Anaheim had the option to take either the Blues’ or the Sharks’ first-rounder from Buffalo. As luck would have it, the Sharks and the Blues actually met in the Western Conference finals with the fate of the Ducks’ conditional first-rounder on the line. The Blues won the West, and Anaheim used the Sharks’ pick to draft winger Brayden Tracey at No. 29 overall.


So essentially, the Sabres got three seasons of Montour for Kane, who was a pending unrestricted free agent. The Sharks, meanwhile, have gotten 150 points in 194 games from Kane, including 33 in 38 games this season. He has also led the league in penalty minutes twice. Kane is in the third year of a seven-year, $49 million contract with a modified no-trade clause. How long they’ll have him under contract is a bit of a mystery, as Kane’s legal team might seek to void the remainder of that deal because of the player’s ongoing bankruptcy proceedings.

The trade (2018): New York Rangers trade LW Rick Nash to the Boston Bruins for a 2018 first-round pick, a 2019 seventh-round pick, F Matt Beleskey, D Ryan Lindgren and C Ryan Spooner

Original Rangers grade: B+
Original Bruins grade: B

Rangers regrade: A+
Bruins regrade: C

In a way, this is pure hindsight: Nash played only 11 regular-season games for the Bruins (3 goals, 3 assists) and another 12 in the postseason (3 goals, 2 assists) as a rental. He missed the final 12 games of the regular season because of a concussion. Any chance to bring him back was scuttled when he decided to sit out because of ongoing concussion-related issues and eventually retired. But in another way, this was Nash’s NHL story in a nutshell: He had an outstanding career marred by multiple concussions. The Bruins knew the risk when they traded for him.

The Rangers, meanwhile, turned a pending UFA in a rebuild into two of the cornerstones of their defense. Lindgren has been Adam Fox‘s primary defensive partner during the latter’s breakout 2021 season. New York used Boston’s first-rounder to trade up in the 2018 draft and selected a defenseman out of the U.S. developmental program named K’Andre Miller.

Oh, and Spooner, who played 36 games for the Rangers? Yeah, they traded him to Edmonton in 2018 for Ryan Strome, who has 128 points in 171 games as the primary center on Artemi Panarin‘s line.

Lindgren, Miller and Strome for Nash. Not a bad bit of business there, Rangers GM Jeff Gorton.

The trade (2019): Ottawa Senators trade RW Mark Stone to the Vegas Golden Knights for D Erik Brannstrom, F Oscar Lindberg, Dallas’ 2020 second-round pick

Original Vegas grade: A
Original Ottawa grade: A-

Vegas regrade: A+
Ottawa regrade: C+

The Ottawa regrade has dropped to a C-plus because Lindberg is in the KHL, the Dallas second-rounder ended up 61st overall (Egor Sokolov) and Brannstrom has yet to fulfill the promise of his blue-chip pedigree in 47 NHL games. He’s only 21, and the Senators are taking it slowly with him. But he’s absolutely what this deal hinges on for the Senators, because his inclusion likely prevented Ottawa from pulling a first-rounder out of the Knights. (Vegas used its own 2019 pick to select center Peyton Krebs).

The only caveat here for Senators GM Pierre Dorion is that Stone was an unrestricted free agent who was not coming back, which obviously impacted the strength of his position as a dealer.

As for the Golden Knights — who signed Stone to an eight-year extension worth $76 million, and named him the team’s first captain in 2021 — they acquired the best two-way winger in hockey. Stone has 115 points in 119 games for Vegas, including 41 points in 36 games this season. Had this been a typical length season, it would have likely been his eighth straight campaign with 20 or more goals. An absolute star whom they might have gotten for a steal.

The trade (2019): New York Rangers trade C Kevin Hayes to the Winnipeg Jets for a 2019 first-round pick, a 2022 fourth-round pick (conditional) and F Brendan Lemieux

Original Jets grade: A-
Original Rangers grade: B-

Jets regrade: B+
Rangers regrade: A-

Hayes was a pending UFA the Rangers decided to trade as part of their rebuild. Hayes had 13 points in 20 games for the Jets after the trade, and then three points in six playoff games — despite playing only 11:59 per game. The Jets knew they weren’t going to be able to re-sign him the ensuing offseason, so they traded his negotiating rights to the Flyers for a fifth-round pick in 2019, a full month before free agency opened. Hayes signed a seven-year deal with the Flyers that summer; the Jets drafted Harrison Blaisdell, a center at North Dakota.

The wrinkle here is that the Jets actually reacquired their own first-round pick in the trade that sent defenseman Jacob Trouba to the Rangers. (Please recall Trouba was an RFA who was seeking to join a New York team for family reasons.) The Jets used that pick from the Rangers that was originally their own to select defenseman Ville Heinola at No. 20 overall in 2019, and he’s very much a part of their future plans. Lemieux played 109 games for the Rangers before they traded him to the L.A. Kings for a fourth-rounder on March 22 of this year.

The trade (2019): Ottawa Senators trade C Matt Duchene and D Julius Bergman to the Columbus Blue Jackets for F Vitaly Abramov, F Jonathan Davidsson, a 2019 first-round pick (top-3 protected) and a conditional 2020 first-round pick (if Duchene re-signed with Columbus)

Original Blue Jackets grade: A-
Original Senators grade: B

Blue Jackets regrade: A-
Senators regrade: B-

This was famously the Blue Jackets’ “shoot your shot” season, in which they went all-in while still having Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky before their free-agent departures. So they made the Duchene trade — adding another pending free agent — in the hopes that they could make some noise in this limited window.

Duchene spent 23 regular-season games in Columbus, scoring 12 points. He would end up second in postseason scoring, with 10 points in 10 games. He left after the season for the Nashville Predators, which was for the best: GM Jarmo Kekalainen would already be out of a job if he had given up two first-rounders in a trade for Matt Duchene. As it stands, it was a solid rental that helped Columbus shock Tampa Bay in the first round before losing to Boston in the second round, advancing farther in the playoffs than they ever had before.

The Senators drafted defenseman Lassi Thomson at No. 19 overall with the Jackets’ first-rounder, and he has some upside. Abramov, 22, has yet to break through at the NHL level. Ditto Davidsson, 24, who appeared in six Senators games last season. At best, the Ottawa grade is “pending.”

The trade (2020): Florida Panthers trade C Vincent Trocheck to the Carolina Hurricanes for F Erik Haula, F Lucas Wallmark, D Chase Priskie, F Eetu Luostarinen

Original Panthers grade: B-
Original Hurricanes grade: B+

Panthers regrade: C-
Hurricanes regrade: A-

It’s still surprising that Trocheck was made available at the trade deadline, given his production and his cap-friendly contract ($4.75 million cap hit through 2022). True, he never got back to that 31-goal benchmark he set in 2017-18, but his underlying numbers and production were solid. Which is why the Hurricanes — one of the best numbers-driven front offices in the league — were happy to add him.

This trade looked a lot different last season, when an injured Trocheck mustered only two points in seven regular-season games and then two assists in eight playoff games. But he had 31 points in 29 games this season … before another injury interrupted his season. Still, it’s clear the Hurricanes got themselves a No. 2 center for players who are not of that caliber (Wallmark, now with Chicago; Haula, who didn’t do much for Florida before heading to Nashville) and two prospects who might not have NHL-level abilities.

The trade (2020): Ottawa Senators trade C Jean-Gabriel Pageau to the New York Islanders for a first-round draft pick in 2020 (conditional), second-round draft pick in 2020 and third-round draft pick in 2022 (conditional)

Original Islanders grade: B
Original Senators grade: A+

Islanders regrade: B+
Senators regrade: B+

The Islanders inked Pageau to a six-year, $30 million extension with trade protection after acquiring him from Ottawa. He has 25 points in 45 regular-season games with them (0.56 points per game) and had 11 points in 22 games during their four playoff rounds in the bubble last summer. He has been slightly above replacement level this season (1.4 goals above average) with an expected goals percentage of 50.56%.

The Islanders’ success wasn’t good news for Ottawa in this deal, as the first-rounder ended up being 28th overall. That’s where the Senators selected spark plug forward Ridly Greig of the Brandon Wheat Kings, who projects to be a good third-line center at the NHL level. They used the second-rounder to move up to No. 44 and take defenseman Tyler Kleven, who is 6-foot-4 but doesn’t have a ton of puck-moving skill. The third-rounder never moved because it was contingent on the Islanders winning the Stanley Cup last postseason, which didn’t quite happen despite them coming closer than many of us imagined they would.

The trade (2020): Anaheim Ducks trade LW Ondrej Kase to Boston Bruins for D Axel Andersson, C David Backes and a 2020 first-round pick

Original Bruins grade: A-
Original Ducks grade: C-

Bruins regrade: F
Ducks regrade: B+

The second Bruins trade on this list in which they sought a solution for second-line winger, and it has made the Rick Nash trade look like the Predators side of “Martin Erat for Filip Forsberg” by comparison. There were injury concerns for Kase, including a concussion history, when the Bruins traded for the undeniably talented winger. The worst-case scenario came to pass: Kase has played eight regular-season games in two seasons in Boston, mustering up a single assist. He appeared in 11 playoff games with four assists. He hasn’t played since January, and there’s currently no timetable for his return.

One of the reasons the Bruins traded for him was that Kase had term on his contract: Signed through 2021 at a $2.6 million cap hit. Alas, they’ve gotten little from him in that term.

The Ducks used the first-rounder to select RW Jacob Perreault at No. 27, a player whose shot was ranked among the best in the draft class. Andersson, 21, is honing his craft in Sweden. That Backes has played more games (18) and has more points (7) than Kase since this trade went down is some kind of cosmic troll on the Bruins.

Jersey Foul of the Week

From Rob Bradford of WEEI:

The Boston Red Sox famously made a hard pitch to Shohei Ohtani before the modern-day Babe Ruth opted to join the Los Angeles Angels. This presumptive Boston Bruins Jersey Foul incorporated Ohtani’s No. 11 with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. Look, it’s bad enough when fans are stuck with jerseys for hockey players they hope their team acquires — hello, Buffalo Sabres Connor McDavid jerseys — but to get one for a player the local baseball team missed out on? That’s Foul territory.

Three stats of particular interest

1. 16-1-2. That’s the New York Islanders‘ record on home ice through Wednesday’s games. There are a couple of teams absolutely rolling at home this season — Carolina (13-2-3), Pittsburgh (16-3-1) and Colorado (17-4-2) among them — but the Isles’ record is bonkers. They had a .598 points percentage at home from 2017 to 2020. This season, it’s at .895!

2. 3.10. As a fan of symmetry, I feel compelled to share this stat from Los Angeles Kings forward Brendan Lemieux. Through 32 games, Lemieux was drawing 3.10 penalties per 60 minutes of ice time. He’s also taking 3.10 penalties per 60 minutes. At least he’s consistent.

3. 48. That’s the number of career short-handed points for Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins. He scored a shorty against the Flyers this week, and that broke a tie with Ed Westfall and some guy named Bobby Orr for most short-handed points by any Bruins player in franchise history. We throw around the “underrated” label a lot in the NHL. It’s weird that for all the labels Marchand has been saddled with in his career, that one doesn’t get applied enough. Because he’s very underrated.

Winners and losers of the week

Winner: Jack Campbell

In the latest NHL Awards Watch, I joked about how many starts the Toronto Maple Leafs goalie will need before he could enter the Vezina Trophy conversation. That was when he was 9-0-0. Now he’s 10-0-0. The answer is probably “more starts than are available.” Please recall the late Ray Emery going 17-1-0 for the 2012-13 Chicago Blackhawks but finishing only seventh in the Vezina voting. Ah, but what if Campbell goes 18-0-0? Then what?

Loser: Philipp Grubauer

Of course the moment people start making a Vezina case for the Colorado Avalanche goalie is the moment when he gives up seven goals against the Minnesota Wild. Yikes.

Winners: Friends of Lou

Lou Lamoriello keeps on throwing life preservers to players from his New Jersey Devils days. Last season it was career Devils defenseman Andy Greene. In the offseason, it was Cory Schneider. On Wednesday, it was career Devils center Travis Zajac. It’s nice to have friends in high places (running playoff teams in need of veteran assistance).

Loser: ‘Old Man’ Subban

Born on May 13, 1989, P.K. Subban is now the oldest player on the Devils after Travis Zajac and Kyle Palmieri were traded to the Islanders. But don’t worry, there will undoubtedly be someone older than Subban on the Seattle Kraken next season.

Winner: Brian Lawton

Lawton is a former NHL general manager, and like the rest of us, he likes a good “who says no?” trade proposal. Bless his heart for this one. Everyone thought it was utterly ridiculous. It briefly brought the world together in a way few things can.

Loser: This trade deadline

I’ve written about all the factors that are making this deadline incredibly weird, but here’s another: a lack of players rumored to be on the move. Look back at the 2018 trade deadline: Ryan McDonagh, J.T. Miller, Tomas Tatar, Evander Kane, Paul Stastny, Rick Nash, Tomas Plekanec, Derick Brassard all moved. And many more! I never knew how much I needed Thomas Vanek trade speculation until it was gone.

Winners: Those chasing the West’s fourth seed

The Arizona Coyotes occupy the last playoff spot in the West, and they’ve done it without Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta, no less. Jordan Binnington says the St. Louis Blues “are coming” after cracking the door open for the San Jose Sharks and even the Los Angeles Kings to believe they have a shot at the playoffs. With so many other postseason spots seemingly sewn up, this is fun.

Losers: Calgary Flames

Darryl Sutter did not leave the farm to go 5-9-0 and watch Brad Treliving start the rebuild.

Puck headlines

From your friends at ESPN

If it’s the Frozen Four, then there’s one preview you need to read: John Buccigross’.

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NHL trade grades – New York Islanders swing big again in adding Kyle Palmieri, Travis Zajac from the New Jersey Devils

The New York Islanders have made a splashy play ahead of the NHL’s Monday trade deadline, dealing for veteran New Jersey Devils forwards Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac.

The Isles dealt depth players A.J. Greer and Mason Jobst to the Devils, along with their first-round pick in the 2021 draft and a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2022 draft. The Devils will be retaining 50% of Palmieri and Zajac’s cap hits as part of the terms.

How did both general managers do in this swap? Here are our grades for the trade:

GM Lou Lamoriello said it best when explaining the Islanders’ trade for Palmieri and Zajac: There are no surprises with these two. “I know what they bring on the ice. I also know what kind of people they are and what they bring to the locker room. Chemistry is very important for me,” he said.

They’ve played against these Islanders with frequency. They’ve played with New York defenseman Andy Greene, who was a career Devils defenseman before Lamoriello reached over to Jersey and added him for the Islanders at last season’s trade deadline. For better or for worse, there are no surprises here about the players the Islanders acquired.

It’ll mostly be for the better.

Palmieri is having a down year — there’s no getting around that. The question is whether a short-term change in scenery can reignite his offense. He’s been better than 0.33 goals per game since 2015-16; this season, he’s at 0.24, with eight goals in 34 games. He has not been lower than 0.66 points per game during that span; this season, he’s at 0.50. Palmieri has some encouraging underlying numbers (51.41 expected goals percentage). This isn’t a case of his production hitting some kind of sudden, steep decline. Whether they deploy him on the left of Mathew Barzal or on the right of Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Palmieri is going to help fill the offensive void left by the loss of Anders Lee for the season.

Zajac was an interesting addition to the deal. His best days are behind him, and he has managed a 46.88 expected goals percentage at 5-on-5. Like Palmieri, he’s been a sub-replacement-level player for the Devils this season. His calling card used to be as a penalty killer, but he has been ineffective there, too.

What he is at age 35 is a strong character player who can chip in on offense (18 points in 33 games) while playing a bottom-six role. It also gives the Islanders considerable experience and depth at the center spot: Barzal, Brock Nelson, Pageau, Casey Cizikas and now Zajac. Lamoriello drafted him. Lamoriello knows him. He’ll be properly cast by Barry Trotz.

This isn’t the kind of trade that secures a Stanley Cup for the Islanders. But it is the kind of trade that, if they’re so blessed to hoist the chalice at the end of the season, they’ll look back on as having added vital pieces to complete the puzzle. And it didn’t cost them much at all, given that the return didn’t include an upper-tier prospect and did include a first-round pick in a very mysterious draft.

If the market for Palmieri was as robust as it appeared to be — the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins were among the reportedly interested teams — then one wonders if the Devils couldn’t have acquired a prospect, rather than a low first-round pick in a draft that many general managers admit is a complete crapshoot thanks to the lack of in-person scouting and other COVID-19-related impacts.

Essentially, that’s what the trade was: Palmieri for a first-rounder. Greer and Jobst are depth talents on expiring contracts, although Greer has the potential to contribute. Zajac’s trade value was extremely limited due to his age, effectiveness and full no-trade clause. It was likely going to be a team in the New York metropolitan area or back home in Winnipeg, or it was nothing. So the conditional fourth-rounder for Zajac is what it is.

As I’ve written about before, it’s a weird NHL trade deadline. Maybe given all the odd forces affecting teams, this was the best return that GM Tom Fitzgerald could get for Palmieri in a down season. That’s something we’ll know for sure when the dust settles after Monday’s deadline.

And it’s not out of the question that the Devils have gotten a first-round pick for a player who‘s back on their roster next season via unrestricted free agency. Fitzgerald called trading Palmieri “a business decision between Kyle and this organization at this moment.” I asked Fitzgerald about that possibility; he shut it down by saying Palmieri is now on another team and he can’t comment. Which wasn’t a “no.”

Still, the value coming back to New Jersey for having retained 50% of both players’ salaries should have been a bit more than a low first-rounder, two depth players and a fourth-round pick that becomes a third if the Islanders make the Stanley Cup Final.

Now they’re left hoping that the Islanders stumble a bit to make that first-rounder a higher one. Well, everyone but their GM is hoping that, apparently.

“I hope the pick we get is the 32nd pick. I hope both of these gentlemen win the Cup,” said Fitzgerald.

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2021 NHL trade deadline guides for all 31 teams

The 2021 NHL trade deadline arrives on April 12 at 3 p.m. ET. There will be teams seeking to trade players that are no longer in their rebuilding plans. There will be teams seeking to add players to complete their championship plans.

This all sounds normal, but this season’s trade season is anything but typical thanks to the COVID pandemic. Players from American franchise that are traded to Canadian teams are subject to a seven-day quarantine. The flat salary cap of $81.5 million — for this season and subsequent ones — has forced teams to retain salary on trades or seek money in, money out deals with other teams. The lack of any significant ticket revenue for the last year has teams looking to slash payrolls while other teams reconsider every dollar they add to theirs.

Meanwhile, the Seattle Kraken and the looming expansion draft are also impacting the trade market.

Get caught up on the players and picks in play, as well as the restrictions and potential moves for every NHL team ahead of the deadline with this comprehensive guide. Who stays? Who goes? Find out below.

Stats are collected from sites such as Natural Stat Trick, Hockey Reference and Evolving Hockey.

Note: Emily Kaplan provides the guide for the East and Central teams, while Greg Wyshynski handles the North and West clubs.

Jump to a team:


East Division

Status: Selective additions required

Players, picks in play: LW/RW Anders Bjork ($1.6 million, RFA in 2023), LW Jake DeBrusk ($3.675 million, RFA in 2022), 2021 first-round pick

What to watch: The Bruins have been on the cusp of another Stanley Cup for some time, and should go all-in before their core truly ages out. Boston GM Don Sweeney and coach Bruce Cassidy have been pretty transparent about their team’s biggest flaw, though it’s obvious for everyone to see: 5-on-5 scoring is an issue. Heck, the Bruins played their first five games against the Devils, the second-worst team in the division, without scoring a goal during 5-on-5 play. The Bruins had been hoping for more from their middle six and could dangle young-but-underperforming DeBrusk and Bjork as trade options. Returns may not be what the Bruins hope, though.

Much was made about the Bruins’ blue-line turnover this offseason — specifically, parting with stalwarts Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug. However, the young group, led by Norris Trophy candidate Charlie McAvoy, has held it together quite well. That said, the Bruins could stealthily be looking for top-four blue-line help. They’d specifically target a left-shot defenseman, and Mattias Ekholm‘s name (as well as cap hit, and extra year left on his contract) will certainly entice the Bruins’ front office, as well as fans. A wild card would be getting insurance in goal, as Tuukka Rask is dealing with a lingering injury.

What they should do: With defenseman John Moore missing the remainder of the season after March 22 hip surgery, Boston’s backup options are even thinner. However, that is not the Bruins’ most pressing need. The focus on April 12 should be all about getting scoring help, and a middle-six winger is what this team should be targeting. Taylor Hall could be brought in for as low as a second-round pick at this point, and if that’s what Buffalo ends up asking for, the Bruins shouldn’t hesitate. Hall will be supremely motivated and may do better in a second-line role at this point. Kyle Palmieri and Nick Foligno are both high-character, high-effort players who would fit in well with the Bruins’ culture.

Status: Anyone could be on the move

Players, picks in play: LW Taylor Hall ($8 million, UFA in 2021, no-movement clause), C Casey Mittelstadt ($874,125, RFA in 2021), RW/LW Tobias Rieder ($700,000, UFA in 2021), D Colin Miller ($3.875 million, UFA in 2022), D Brandon Montour ($3.85 million, UFA in 2021), RW Sam Reinhart ($5.2 million, RFA in 2021), D Rasmus Ristolainen ($5.4 million, UFA in 2022), LW/C Riley Sheahan ($700,000, UFA in 2021)

What to watch: Everything is on the table for the Sabres, the worst team in the NHL this season. First-year GM Kevyn Adams and his closest advisor, VP of hockey administration Mark Jakubowski, need to think reboot for this team after things spiraled out of control this season. Considering there’s absolutely no shot at the playoffs, all pending UFAs — yes, including their prized free-agent find, Taylor Hall — should be on the move. Unfortunately, Jake McCabe is unmovable due to a season-ending injury.

The Sabres got their business started early, sending Eric Staal to the Canadiens on March 26 for a third- and fifth-rounder. Unfortunately, Hall may not yield a first-round pick at this point, considering his production.

The bigger issue is what to do with players with one or more years remaining on their contracts. As it pertains to captain Jack Eichelwho remains out with an upper-body injury — even if the team is considering a trade involving the captain, it is much likelier to happen at the draft, or later in the offseason.

What they should do: Get busy. It’s all about putting Buffalo in the best position for success in the future, and that means stockpiling draft picks. A player like Mittelstadt, who is an RFA this summer, would benefit from a change of scenery. He hasn’t lived up to his potential in Buffalo, and though it’s never easy to give up on a top-10 pick so soon (he was selected No. 8 in 2017) nothing is ideal about the situation.

Though Reinhart has been the Sabres’ most consistent forward this season, Buffalo should even consider moving him, Miller, Montour and Sheahan; all would be better off playing playoff hockey elsewhere this spring.

Status: The rebuild continues

Players, picks in play: RW Nikita Gusev ($4.5 million, UFA in 2021, eight-team no-trade list), RW Kyle Palmieri ($4.65 million, UFA in 2021, eight-team no-trade list), Travis Zajac ($5.75 million, UFA in 2021, no-trade clause), D Connor Carrick ($1.5 million, UFA in 2021), D Dmitry Kulikov ($1.15 million, UFA in 2021), D Ryan Murray ($4.6 million, UFA in 2021), D Sami Vatanen ($2 million, UFA in 2021)

What to watch: GM Tom Fitzgerald said his team will be ready to go for it once its two centerpieces, Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier, hit their prime. We’re not there yet, so it’s going to be another season of tough goodbyes.

Of the Devils’ available defenseman, Kulikov and Murray are the most attractive to other teams. The two biggest decisions on Fitzgerald’s plate are what to do with Palmieri (the team’s most consistent forward over the last five seasons) and Zajac (the current longest-tenured Devil). Zajac’s no-trade clause means he gets a say in what happens. The Devils and Palmieri have talked about an extension. If nothing gets done, there are plenty of contenders — specifically, the Bruins and Islanders — interested in adding the veteran winger.

What they should do: The Devils aren’t rushing the rebuild. Though there’s certainly a hope that they will be more competitive next season, they aren’t banking on a quick turnaround. In the 2022 offseason, they’ll also clear considerable cap space with P.K. Subban‘s contract ($9 million annual cap hit) coming off the books. Supplement that with a few extra draft picks and prospects and New Jersey is in much better shape.

Gusev, Zajac, Kulikov and Murray should all find new homes. The Devils can’t get rid of all of their available defenseman, or it could harm development the rest of the season. As for Palmieri — he should probably go too. Who knows, he can always circle back in free agency.

Status: Looking for an Anders Lee replacement

Players, picks in play: 2021 first-round pick, LW Kieffer Bellows (entry-level contract, RFA in 2021), prospects Samuel Bolduc, Bode Wilde, Robin Salo

What to watch: The Islanders have a strong team identity, and they’re hoping the experience of last year’s run to the Eastern Conference finals is a jumping-off point for even more sustained success this postseason. New York was off to a terrific start before captain Anders Lee blew out his ACL. Lee led the team in goals at the time of his injury.

The Islanders can’t replace the intangibles and leadership Lee brought off the ice, but they are looking to replace some of his offensive production. GM Lou Lamoriello is not typically one to telegraph his moves, but everything indicates that the team is looking for a scoring winger ahead of April 12. That said, keep in mind that this is Lamoriello, one of the most secretive GMs in the game. So it’s also smart to expect the unexpected as well.

What they should do: The Islanders have one clear area of need, so they should go out and address it. Taylor Hall is a natural fit to slide into Lee’s spot on the left wing, alongside Mathew Barzal. Dustin Brown and Kyle Palmieri could also make sense. For the Islanders, it’s all about getting the right character guys to blend in with their team identity and culture. That’s why the top of the Islanders dream list should be another captain: Nick Foligno of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Islanders have drafted well recently, so they could afford to give up a first-round pick if needed. Seldom-used rookie Kieffer Bellows has promise, but could be included in a package as well.

Status: Likely idle

Players, picks in play: D Tony DeAngelo ($4.8 million, UFA in 2022), C Colin Blackwell ($725,000, UFA in 2022), Kevin Rooney ($750,000, UFA in 2022) D Brendan Smith ($4.35 million, UFA in 2021)

What to watch: Things could be really quiet on the Rangers front. Management isn’t losing sight of the bigger picture — which is the full rebuild — and though New York is inching closer to contention, it’s not there yet. GM Jeff Gorton already made one pre-deadline move, sending rugged winger Brendan Lemieux to the Kings for a fourth-round pick. That was really done to clear up some lineup spots because the Rangers get their own trade deadline “acquisition” in Vitali Kravtsov, the No. 9 pick of the 2018 draft who is signed, quarantined, and ready to be inserted into the lineup.

The Rangers still have DeAngelo on the books, but no teams seem interested in the player New York sent home for character issues. More than likely, it’s looking like DeAngelo will be retained until this summer, exposed for the Seattle expansion draft, then bought out.

What they should do: Nothing. Unless Gorton can wrangle a great deal for a young, exciting player who‘s under contract beyond this season, there’s no need for the Rangers to do much. If there are moves to be made, they can be done around the draft.

Rooney and Smith could yield a middle-round pick each, though the Rangers would probably need to retain part of Smith’s salary. The 28-year-old Blackwell could garner interest for his recent play. His increased playing time has come at the expense of younger players whom the Rangers would like to be developing right now. Once again, it’s all about the long game for New York at this juncture.

Status: Tweener

Players, picks in play: D Erik Gustafsson ($3 million, UFA in 2021), C Scott Laughton ($2.3 million, UFA in 2021), LW Michael Raffl ($1.6 million, UFA in 2021), D Justin Braun ($1.8 million, UFA in 2022), 2021 first-round pick

What to watch: The Flyers expected to be contenders in 2021, but their season derailed after a brutal month of March. It’s still possible to get back on track, but time is ticking. The first thing they need to do is stop the bleeding, and a lot of the issues fall on the blue line. Philadelphia could be looking for defensemen reinforcements; the Flyers never seemed to recover from the surprise retirement of Matt Niskanen in the offseason.

Philly is also considering getting goaltending reinforcements. Carter Hart has struggled, and they don’t want to overburden him with pressure (especially when the blue line is so leaky). It doesn’t seem like there’s a trade partner for Shayne Gostisbehere — especially after he went unclaimed on waivers — so it would be surprising to see movement there. If Philly is going to execute a trade, it would have to give up another roster player or future draft picks and/or prospects.

What they should do: If the Predators decide they’re willing to part with Mattias Ekholm, he could be a fit for the Flyers. But the Flyers would likely have to give up their 2021 first round pick, a top prospect (like the recently signed Cam York) and maybe even something else. Ekholm is signed through next season, but Philly would want to sign him to an extension, and make sure he is protected for the expansion draft. It’s a lot to navigate.

Considering the way this season has unraveled, it might be best to play it conservative and make big moves around the draft. That means sending Gustafsson and Raffl away for middle-round picks. Laughton should stick around; he’s too valuable to the bottom six, and could be re-signed in the offseason anyway.

Status: Looking for depth

Players, picks in play: 2022 second-round pick, 2022 third-round pick, D Juuso Riikola ($1.15 million, UFA in 2021), D Marcus Pettersson ($4,025,175, UFA in 2025)

What to watch: Under former GM Jim Rutherford, you knew what you were going to get ahead of the trade deadline. Rutherford often telegraphed his moves. He also had no problem trading away first-round picks or the organizations’ top prospects — two things he did often.

The new regime of Brian Burke and Ron Hextall have promised a more conservative approach, knowing they need to plan for life after Sidney Crosby. So don’t expect them to part with their 2021 second-round pick (they’re already without 2021 draft picks in the first, third, fourth and sixth rounds). The team could use a reinforcement at center, with Teddy Blueger and Evgeni Malkin both injured. However, that’s no longer as dire a need with the emergence of Frederick Gaudreau.

What they should do: The Penguins should seek depth forwards. Luke Glendening makes a lot of sense, given his versatility and affordability ($1.8 million annual cap hit). Nashville’s Mikael Granlund or Erik Haula would also be good pickups. To make it work, the Penguins could send Pettersson or Riikola the other way. There’s a logjam on the left side, so this is an area of strength, though it sounds as if Pittsburgh management doesn’t mind having depth options there.

Nonetheless, whatever the Penguins do, they can’t dip too far into their pool of draft picks. In 2022 they finally have a full arsenal of picks. Burke and Hextall were hired to draft players, and to keep them around.

Status: Another center would be nice

Players, picks in play: D Jonas Siegenthaler ($800,000, UFA in 2021)

What to watch: Well, the Capitals would like to make additions as they go for their second Stanley Cup in four years. One problem: they don’t have any cap space with which to work. If they add a player, they’d likely have to lose a player.

It was long believed that the Capitals would look for a veteran goalie for insurance, since they’re rolling with two youngsters, in Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek. There is a reason they signed Henrik Lundqvist this offseason. However, Samsonov and Vanecek have played well enough lately that this may no longer be necessary.

Adding a defenseman at the deadline has become somewhat of a yearly tradition for the Capitals, but the trend may end here. Washington should be getting blue-line help when Michal Kempny, who is back skating, is activated off LTIR.

What they should do: If the Capitals are going to add to their group, it should be at center. Lars Eller‘s recent absence exposed Washington’s weakness down the gut. Winger T.J. Oshie filled in admirably, but that’s just not going to fly come playoff time. They are one injury away from disaster. Rangers center Colin Blackwell, with a cap hit of $750,000 and under contract through 2022, would be a smart target. A one-for-one swap for Siegenthaler; who says no?

Though adding a goalie would be nice, it’s not worth sacrificing a current roster player to make that move work, salary-wise. Roll with the youngsters; they’ve shown enough promise.

Central Division

Status: A little bit going out, a little bit coming in

Players, picks in play: G Alex Nedeljkovic ($737,500, RFA in 2021), G James Reimer ($3.4 million, UFA in 2021), D Haydn Fleury ($1.3 million, RFA in 2022), 2021 first-round pick

What to watch: After making it to the Eastern Conference finals in 2019 but flaming out of the 2020 bubble, the Hurricanes are looking to take the next step and get over their playoff hump. It’s been a strong 2021 so far. With Petr Mrazek returning from injury (broken thumb) the Canes will have three goalies on their roster. It’s a luxury a lot of teams would like to have, but it’s just that: a luxury. If Carolina is looking to make a trade, involving one of their goalies makes sense. It would likely be the rookie Nedeljkovic or veteran Reimer on the move.

The Canes have a well-balanced and high-functioning forward group. The blue line is also an area of strength, but Carolina could look to add a right-shot defenseman to balance things out. The Canes were busy at last year’s deadline, acquiring one rental (Sami Vatanen) and two players with term left on their deals (Vincent Trocheck, Brady Skjei). This year, if Carolina is active again, it would be surprising to see them shell out for a rental.

What they should do: Considering the league-wide thirst for goaltending, Carolina should move one of its goalies. That could help facilitate a trade for a right-shot defenseman. At first blush, Carolina’s blue line looks just fine, albeit a little imbalanced with so many left shots. A team can never have too much insurance on the back end. The Canes are also going to run into some issues at the expansion draft of which defensemen to protect — especially when they re-sign Dougie Hamilton this offseason. Adding somebody else to the mix could help assuage those issues. Columbus’ David Savard would be a great addition, but the Canes may shy away from players on expiring contracts.

Status: Eyes on the long term

Players, picks in play: Weaponizable cap space; C/LW Carl Soderberg ($1 million, UFA in 2021), C Lucas Wallmark ($950,000, RFA in 2021), C/LW Mattias Janmark ($2.25 million, UFA in 2021)

What to watch: The Blackhawks were one of the season’s pleasant surprises in the first half but have tailed off considerably in March. They have been eyeing a rebuild for the past few years but finally admitted to it this past offseason. That means whatever they do will have the big picture in mind. Sure, a playoff appearance would be sweet, but for Chicago, it’s all about winning sustainably again.

This means that the team won’t be in the market to acquire any players on expiring deals; the Blackhawks simply aren’t interested in giving up any of their draft picks or prospects. They could, however, move players of their own on expiring deals — such as Janmark, Wallmark and Soderberg. The Blackhawks also find themselves flush in cap space, thanks to several high-profile players on long-term injured reserve (Brent Seabrook, Jonathan Toews, Zack Smith). If any contending teams are looking to clear some money off the books, Chicago is a team they could call — and the Blackhawks are happy to listen, as long as the deal would also include draft picks or young players they can incorporate into long-term plans. Oh, how the tables have turned.

What they should do: First, the Blackhawks should seriously entertain offers on their two pending UFAs, Janmark and Soderberg. Wallmark, a pending RFA, should probably be on the move too. Chicago isn’t secure enough in the standings to justify keeping those players, and those lineup spots could easily be used to give young players more experience down the stretch.

Now for the fun part: Weaponize that cap space! After years of being strapped against the cap, forcing the team to unload contracts, Chicago can now take advantage of teams in a similar predicament. We’ll see whether anyone is feeling that desperate, but it won’t hurt the Blackhawks to try.

Status: Retooling on the fly

Players, picks in play: D David Savard ($4.25 million, UFA in 2021), LW Nick Foligno ($5.5 million, UFA in 2021, 10-team no trade list), C/RW Riley Nash ($2.75 million, UFA in 2021), C/LW Max Domi ($5.3 million, UFA in 2022), D Michael Del Zotto ($700,000, UFA in 2021), G Elvis Merzlikins ($4 million, UFA in 2022)

What to watch: The Blue Jackets are playing catch-up in the Central Division, and the question is whether GM Jarmo Kekalainen thinks his team has enough oomph for a late-season push. A playoff spot is still within reach, but if management isn’t confident in the direction of the current group, it would behoove them to trade a few players on expiring contracts.

Savard’s name has been circulated quite a bit, and because of a dearth of high-quality defenseman available, there will be interest in him by many a contending team. The 30-year-old isn’t having his best season (his average ice time has dipped by nearly a minute per game) but he plays a gritty defensive game, and could be revived on a new team.

The Blue Jackets face a big quandary with Foligno, their captain. If Columbus is thinking playoffs, they can’t let Foligno go. He’s too important — sound defensively, high effort, even higher character. That said, he’d also be the most coveted player available on Columbus’ roster, for that very reason.

Domi hasn’t lived up to expectations in Columbus just yet, so the Jackets could try to flip him. The wild card is Merzlikins. Organizationally, goaltending is an area of strength, so this is where Columbus could take advantage of some truly goaltending-needy teams.

What they should do: Columbus should treat this season as a chance to do a slight retooling. Coach John Tortorella’s contract is up after this season, and it’s unclear if he’ll return next season. It’s not encouraging that the team couldn’t make it work with Pierre Luc-Dubois, who was drafted No. 3 overall in 2016 to be the franchise’s No. 1 center. And whatever they’re asking of Patrik Laine isn’t meshing with the player, as he’s lost on this team.

The available player who could command the biggest return is Merzlikins, and if there are desperate teams calling, Columbus shouldn’t hesitate to strike. As for Foligno, I’d leave it up to the player. If he wants out, I’d respect his wish. If he wants to ride it out (and will re-sign in the offseason) the captain deserves the chance to see this through.

Status: Listening to offers for UFAs

Players, picks in play: D Jamie Oleksiak ($2.1375 million, UFA in 2021), D Mark Pysyk ($750,000, UFA in 2021), LW Andrew Cogliano ($3.25 million, UFA in 2021, six-team no-trade list), LW/RW Blake Comeau ($2.4 million, UFA in 2021), G Anton Khudobin ($3.33 million, UFA in 2023, four-team no-trade list)

What to watch: After making it to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final, it’s been a slower-than-desired start for the Stars. Dallas is still within striking distance of a playoff spot, and has games in hand, but needs to get hot, soon. The Stars don’t have a ton of cap space with which to work, given Ben Bishop and Tyler Seguin are poised to come off LTIR. But that’s a good thing: both players can act as the team’s own “acquisitions” at the trade deadline. And the Stars won’t have to worry about the usual deadline headaches like, how will those players adjust and fit in with the team?

Most likely, the Stars will take a modest approach on April 12, and try to keep the band together the best they can. If Dallas is looking to make a splash, it could part with Khudobin — a hero of the 2020 bubble — but that’s only if somebody wows them with a package. Oleksiak, the big physical defenseman, is attractive to a lot of teams. But if the Stars think they can snag a playoff spot still, there’s no reason to move him off the roster.

What they should do: The Stars should mostly stand pat and see if they can drum up some late-season magic. However, GM Jim Nill should continue to take calls on the pending UFAs (as he has been doing). If teams want to take on a Cogliano, Comeau or Pysyk and throw in some mid-round draft picks in return, it’s worth considering. Pysyk hasn’t been able to take control of the No. 6 defenseman spot, and the team seems comfortable using Joel Hanley there. Cogliano and Comeau are usually the type of gritty veterans other teams like to add around this time. They have the trust of coach Rick Bowness, so it also wouldn’t be surprising to see both stay.

Status: Stick to the Yzerplan

Players, picks in play: G Jonathan Bernier ($3 million, UFA in 2021), C/RW Sam Gagner ($850,000, UFA in 2021), C Luke Glendening ($1.8 million, UFA in 2021), RW Bobby Ryan ($1 million, UFA in 2021), D Marc Staal ($5.7 million, UFA in 2021, no-movement clause), D Jon Merrill ($925,000, UFA in 2021)

What to watch: After a record 25 consecutive seasons of making the playoffs, the Red Wings are poised to miss the postseason for the fifth straight year. Detroit has improved from its bottom-dwelling 2019-20 self (in which it finished with 23 fewer points than anyone else and a minus-123 goal differential). Even better news: This could be the last season of pain. The Red Wings clear considerable cap space this summer, allowing GM Steve Yzerman to truly begin shaping the roster to his liking.

But Yzerman’s entire master plan is about building the Red Wings into a winner again through the draft, and draft picks and prospects are what he covets most right now. There are very few untouchables on this roster — and several players on expiring deals who are ideal candidates to help a contender. If Bernier is healthy, he is one of the best available goalies this spring. Glendening, who has versatility and a highly attractive sub-$2 million cap hit, is also garnering a ton of interest.

What they should do: Anyone who can go, must go. OK, maybe that’s a little dramatic. But there are plenty of players on the Red Wings’ roster who are not serving a huge purpose in a losing season but could be very useful elsewhere.

If Bernier is healthy, send him on his way. Glendening and Ryan have enticingly low cap hits for their level of service. They’re as good as gone. Even if Merrill has been Detroit’s best defenseman this season, the Red Wings should say goodbye to him too (if they really like him, they can always re-sign him in free agency).

The biggest win is if Detroit finds a new home for Staal, whom Detroit took from New York this offseason in exchange for a second-round pick. That would mean Yzerman pulled off the rare “double flip” of a player. There’s a reason Yzerman is viewed as the best GM in the game today.

Status: Looking to add

Players, picks in play: G Chris Driedger ($850,000, UFA in 2021), C Henrik Borgstrom (unsigned, but Panthers hold his NHL rights)

What to watch: The Panthers are having a renaissance season. This is the best the team has looked in at least five years, when Jaromir Jagr was leading the team in points, and Roberto Luongo was holding it down in goal.

However, the Panthers got a huge blow last weekend when Aaron Ekblad, who was having a Norris Trophy-caliber season, suffered a gruesome leg fracture. Surgery will keep him sidelined for 12 weeks. First-year GM Bill Zito has a long-term game plan for the team, but he wants to reward the current roster for playing so well in the season’s first half. That’s the conundrum he faces. The 2015-16 season represents isolated success. The Panthers have made it to the playoffs only twice in 18 years, and made it past the first round just once.

Going “all in” and jeopardizing top prospects (or future prospects) doesn’t align with the big picture of sustained success. So they’ll try to improve, without giving up too much.

What they should do: If Zito doesn’t want to give up a first-round pick or any of the top prospects — and Florida does have a strong pool of talented prospects — the only option might be to see if another team is interested in Driedger. The 26-year-old was a breakout star of the first half, but now that Sergei Bobrovsky has taken over the net, Driedger’s presence could be viewed as expendable. Plus, the Panthers risk losing him in the Seattle expansion draft this summer, so it might be better to get something for him rather than lose him for nothing.

As for attempts to replace Ekblad are concerned, the Panthers should try to snag Vince Dunn away from St. Louis. He’s only 24-years-old, and is a restricted free agent this summer, meaning Florida would be getting a player it could incorporate into its future plans as well. An all-around win.

Status: The deadline’s wild-card team

Players, picks in play: D Mattias Ekholm ($3.75 million, UFA in 2022), C/RW Mikael Granlund ($3.75 million, UFA in 2021), C Erik Haula ($1.75 million, UFA in 2021), RW Viktor Arvidsson ($4.25 million, UFA in 2024), LW Filip Forsberg ($6 million, UFA in 2022), LW Calle Jarnkrok ($2 million, UFA in 2022)

What to watch: Two weeks ago, we would have told you that the Predators were poised to be one of the biggest sellers of the 2021 trade deadline. Then something unexpected happened: The Preds started winning. Nashville recorded the most wins (eight) and highest winning percentage (.889) over the last two weeks in March to bring itself back into the Central Division playoff race.

GM David Poile now faces a quandary. His team has been a bit stale lately, having not made it past the first round of the playoffs since their 2017 run to the Stanley Cup Final. An influx of youth is needed. So how does the team balance maintaining a winning culture with the long view?

Ekholm remains one of the best defenseman available right now, with an attractive cap hit — and, perhaps most importantly, one extra year remaining on the deal. It might be much tougher for the Predators to part with other marquee players, such as Arvidsson and Forsberg, given their standing right now.

What they should do: If the Predators stand pat with this group, they could make the playoffs. But it would likely be as the fourth seed in the Central Division, setting up a date with the Lightning or Hurricanes in the first round. That’s a tough series to win, and if Nashville flames out again, it will begin next season exactly as it started this one.

Poile should move Ekholm, considering he would get a big return. He should also part with two pending UFA forwards, Granlund and Haula, getting draft picks and prospects in return. That’s what the team needs most right now. Plus, their roster spots can be given to younger players who need the experience.

Status: Small tweaks, if any

Players, picks in play: 2021 first-round pick, Alex Barre-Boulet ($759,258, RFA in 2021), Tyler Johnson ($5 million, UFA in 2024, no-trade clause), Mathieu Joseph ($737,500, RFA in 2022)

What to watch: GM Julien BriseBois won the 2020 trade deadline. A year has passed, so we can say that with confidence. The Lightning picked up a pair of underrated forwards, Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow, who teamed up as part of an important third line en route to the team’s Stanley Cup. What’s more: Both forwards had extra years left on their deals.

These are the types of moves everyone is trying to emulate this year, and it’s not going to be as easy for the Lightning to accomplish something similar in 2021.

If there is an area of need, it’s help on the blue line, especially as the organization doesn’t want to overburden rookie Cal Foote. Philosophically, BriseBois has strayed away from players on expiring deals, but perhaps he’ll make an exception if a player like David Savard of Columbus is available. Don’t discount BriseBois, who has the capacity to pull off something creative and unexpected.

What they should do: Stand pat. No need to get cute or complicated when you don’t need to. Tampa has no cap space, so if it brings in a player, it has to lose someone to balance things out. And why would you remove anyone from this lineup? The Lightning have looked every bit like a defending Stanley Cup champ; hungry and poised for another one. BriseBois was already forced to move Alexander Volkov and may need to clear even more space when Mitchell Stephens is ready to return.

Plus, the Lightning are already expecting reinforcements: Nikita Kucherov, who has missed the entire season, is expected back for the playoffs. (Thanks to a fun loophole, salary cap issues become null come playoff time).

North Division

Status: Tweener

Players, picks in play: 2021 first-round pick, C Sam Bennett ($2.55 million, RFA in 2021), C Derek Ryan ($3.125 million, UFA in 2021), G David Rittich ($2.75 million, UFA in 2021)

What to watch: On April 1, the Flames had a 10.7% chance of making the playoffs, per Money Puck. That’s probably high enough to prevent them from trading too many players away at the deadline — Calgary didn’t lure Darryl Sutter off the farm for an in-season dismantling. Is it enough to make the Flames a team to make additions? One would hope they’d have a more measured view of their current status than to give away the future for a futile push for the postseason. But GM Brad Treliving has been all-in all season.

What they should do: If they can find teams that want to trade for Bennett and Ryan, make those deals. The lack of goaltenders with expiring contracts available could make Rittich valuable, and the Flames should listen. But obviously the heavy lifting will come in the offseason, as Calgary takes a microscope to its core of players to see that — finally — it’s time to move on from the Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau era.

Status: Finding Connor and Leon some help

Players, picks in play: First-round pick in 2021, second-round pick in 2022, D Caleb Jones ($850,000, RFA in 2022), D William Lagesson ($725,000, RFA in 2022)

What to watch: The Oilers are reportedly targeting two forward positions. The first is acquiring a center to play in their bottom six, preferably right-handed and preferably one that can win a faceoff — Edmonton is 12th in the NHL with a 50.7 team faceoff winning percentage, a figure boosted by the fact that Leon Draisaitl is winning 56% of his draws.

The second is a top-six left winger, so they can stop having to use Kyle “two goals in 23 games” Turris up there when Draisaitl moves up to McDavid’s line.

What they should do: Edmonton is another team in a money in, money out situation because of their salary cap number. But they also lack many draft picks and prospects to deal: The Oilers don’t have picks in the second, third and fifth rounds this summer. Luke Glendening would seem like an obvious fix for their faceoff issues, and GM Ken Holland signed him as a free agent while with the Red Wings.

As for a top-six winger, we all want the Taylor Hall reunion, don’t we? The money doesn’t really work and Hall is having a nightmare season that may not warrant the investment, but if we say it enough maybe we can conjure a trade into existence.

Other than that, the Oilers will wait until the offseason to reconfigure parts of their defense and goaltending.

Status: Expect some tinkering

Players, picks in play: 2021 draft picks, LW/RW Paul Byron ($3.4 million, UFA in 2023), LW/RW Artturi Lehkonen ($2.4 million, RFA in 2021)

What to watch: Habs GM Marc Bergevin is one of the NHL’s most aggressive general managers when it comes to augmenting his team — just ask former coach Claude Julien, who was fired after 18 games this season. Bergevin started his work early this deadline season, trading third- and fifth-round picks to the Sabres for veteran center Eric Staal on March 26.

The good news is that this is a fairly solid roster, and the holes won’t likely be addressed until the offseason. The bad news is that the Canadiens are capped out and would be best-served to trade away some salary at the deadline.

What they should do: Byron has been through waivers multiple times. Lehkonen has been a healthy scratch multiple times. Clearing either of their salaries off the books would help ease Montreal’s cap strains, although both could be valuable to the Canadiens in a postseason run.

If the cap space would allow it, the Canadiens would do well to add one more defenseman to the mix for depth. They have a bevy of draft picks — two seconds, two thirds, three fourths and two fifths this season — to use on a D-man with an expiring contract.

Status: The build continues

Players, picks in play: C/LW/RW Ryan Dzingel ($3.375 million, UFA in 2021), D Erik Gudbranson ($4 million, UFA in 2021), D Mike Reilly ($1.5 million, UFA in 2021), C Chris Tierney ($3.5 million, UFA in 2022)

What to watch: What an odd feeling to not see Ottawa GM Pierre Dorion with one of the trade deadline’s most sought-after players. We wish we could say that this means the Senators are done rebuilding and constantly trading away their best players before they leave as free agents.

Alas, it actually means that after dealing away Jean-Gabriel Pageau to the Islanders in 2020, there’s no top-tier veteran player left for Ottawa to move.

What they should do: The Senators could use a few more picks in this year’s draft, lacking fourth- and fifth-rounders and having only one pick in the third. Dzingel could be dealt for a high draft pick or a middle-range prospect. Gudbranson and Reilly would be of interest to contenders, although the latter has enhanced his value more this season than the former.

Tierney, 26, could use a change of scenery after his point production and ice time have fallen this season. Is that extra year of contract term appealing to contenders, or a deterrent with the expansion draft looming?

Status: Major market mover

Players, picks in play: 2021 draft picks, D Travis Dermott ($874,125, RFA in 2021), C Alexander Kerfoot ($3.5 million, UFA in 2023), D Timothy Liljegren ($1,263,333 AAV, RFA in 2022)

What to watch: In the words of GM Kyle Dubas, watch “everything.” The Leafs are all-in this season, and will continue to improve their team by any means necessary. That means dealing top prospects, dealing their first-round pick, dealing a veteran with term like Kerfoot if it meant getting someone better in that role.

Their specific area of need is at the forward position, especially on the wing. But concerns about Frederik Andersen‘s health could mean the Leafs add some goaltending insurance too.

What they should do: Taylor Hall, if the money can be worked out, would be a really intriguing addition to this team. It’s the perfect kind of situation for him, as he could be a supporting cast member while others sweat in the spotlight.

But if they can’t work out the cap situation for a trade with Buffalo, then Hall’s former teammate in New Jersey, Kyle Palmieri, is the kind of player in which the Leafs should be interested.

On the goaltending front, Dubas should be on the phone right now with Florida GM Bill Zito figuring out what else he has to add to goalie Michael Hutchinson in order to trade him for Chris Driedger.

Status: Many veterans potentially on the move

Players, picks in play: D Jordie Benn ($2 million, UFA in 2021), D Alexander Edler ($6 million, UFA in 2021, no-move clause), C Adam Gaudette ($950,000, RFA in 2021), LW Tanner Pearson ($3.75 million, UFA in 2021), C Brandon Sutter ($4.375 million, UFA in 2021, 15-team no-trade clause), LW/RW Jake Virtanen ($2.55 million, UFA in 2022, no trade protection)

What to watch: What a difference a season makes. Last trade deadline, the Canucks landed Tyler Toffoli of the Kings, who helped them advance through a couple of playoff rounds. But thanks to some player regression, injury troubles and poor decisions — like, for example, not re-signing Tyler Toffoli — the Canucks aren’t a playoff contender, and should be looking to build up the pipeline this time around.

They have a number of desirable players, but some are constrained by trade protection: Edler’s no-move clause and Sutter’s partial no-trade clause, primarily. (Then there’s Travis Hamonic‘s no-move clause, but we didn’t list him here because he’s not waiving it for any team not located in Western Canada.) Also muddying the waters is health, as Tanner Pearson is currently out with an injury.

What they should do: Rather than draft picks, the Canucks should leverage their players on expiring deals to try to get younger players on less-expensive deals that can help fill out their bottom six at the forward position.

Moving out Sutter, Edler (if possible), Benn, Gaudette and/or Virtanen all makes sense. But if there’s a thrifty deal to be made to keep Pearson around, GM Jim Benning should consider making it.

Status: Looking to add on D

Players, picks in play: 2021 draft picks, LW Jansen Harkins ($725,000, RFA in 2022), D Sami Niku ($725,000, RFA in 2022)

What to watch: GM Kevin Cheveldayoff already made a splash this season with the Pierre-Luc Dubois trade that saw Patrik Laine head to Columbus. It’s hard to imagine he’d tinker any more with a very deep group of forwards, nor does he have to worry about his goaltending, with Connor Hellebuyck on the roster.

It’s the defensive corps that needs a stopper to really bring the group together. The Jets have their own picks in the first three rounds to deal. Harkins has been a scratch, and Niku likely doesn’t factor into their plans beyond this season based on his place on the depth chart.

What they should do: The defenseman class of 2021 could mean players like Mattias Ekholm, David Savard and Alex Goligoski are on the Jets’ radar. Ekholm is the best of the bunch, but the Predators are back in a playoff race, and he has another year left on his deal.

Goligoski is a possibility as a pending UFA, but Savard also has an expiring contract and is the better player. But after the way Laine’s worked out, will Columbus pick up the phone if Cheveldayoff calls again?

West Division

Status: Let’s make some deals

Players, picks in play: LW/RW Danton Heinen ($2.8 million, RFA in 2021), D Ben Hutton ($950,000, UFA in 2021), C Adam Henrique ($5.825 million, UFA in 2024, 10-team no-trade list), D Josh Manson ($4.1 million, UFA in 2022, 12-team no-trade list), LW/RW Rickard Rakell ($3,789,444, UFA in 2022), LW/RW Jakob Silfverberg ($5.25 million, UFA in 2024, 12-team no-trade list)

What to watch: This will be the third straight season in which Anaheim has missed the playoffs, and the youth movement is on.

Blue-chip winger Trevor Zegras and defenseman Jamie Drysdale join players like Troy Terry, Sam Steel and Max Jones in the next wave for the Ducks. GM Bob Murray can either keep some of his veterans around to augment the young talent, hoping to hit that sweet spot between newbies and veterans like the Kings appear to have done. Or the Ducks can start turning over parts of this roster in a larger overhaul, like (finally) cutting into a defense corps that has been better on paper than on the ice for the last few seasons.

One player that’s gotten a lot of attention is Rakell, the team’s 27-year-old leading scorer who has two 30-goal seasons to his credit. A few general managers were surprised to hear Rakell could be available, given that he’s a player under contract in his prime. If Murray is looking for a significant return — a first-rounder plus more — Rakell could draw that kind of an offer. The Ducks traded Bobby Ryan at 25-years-old with term left on his deal. Same energy here.

What they should do: The obvious answer is to continue to tell Ryan Getzlaf how lovely Denver and Las Vegas are this time of year in the hopes that the 35-year-old captain would be willing to waive his no-move clause. But he’s shown no interest in leaving his family behind in Anaheim to chase (another) Stanley Cup, so let’s assume he’s off the table.

While his trade protection is prohibitive, and the expansion draft complicates things, Manson is someone the Ducks should try to trade. The 29-year-old has value as a physical defenseman — a coveted type of player at this deadline — and both the player and the team would benefit from moving him.

Status: Small moves only

Players, picks in play: LW/RW Drake Caggiula ($700,000, UFA in 2021), D Alex Goligoski ($5.475 million, UFA in 2021, eight-team no-trade list), C Derick Brassard ($1 million, UFA in 2021), D Jason Demers ($3,937,500, UFA in 2021), C Christian Dvorak ($4.45 million, UFA in 2025), G Darcy Kuemper ($4.5 million, UFA in in 2022), D Jordan Oesterle ($1.4 million, UFA in 2021), G Antti Raanta ($4.25 million, UFA in 2021)

What to watch: The Coyotes have two kinds of players in which other teams will be interested. They have veteran players with expiring contracts, with varying degrees of value. Goligoski might have the most in this category, as defensive defensemen are on a lot of teams’ wish lists.

Then there are core players with term remaining. Kuemper, Dvorak and Garland are all on the radar of other teams. They’re also likely not in play at this deadline, despite the return they could generate. Garland, 25, in particular seems to fall into that “other GMs asking about him” category rather than the “Coyotes making calls about him” one.

What they should do: As the trade deadline draws closer, so do the Coyotes to the final playoff spot in the West Division. That probably eliminates any dramatic moves involving players with term — GM Bill Armstrong’s front office is very much still in evaluation mode, and would love to get a look at these core players in the pressures of a playoff race.

Their playoff contention has also given them pause on dealing their UFAs. What signal would it send to the team if they were on the playoff bubble but still shipped out four players? It’s an understandable notion, but the Coyotes would be better served by getting what they can for their UFAs — especially Goligoski, who is going to be catnip to the right contender.

Status: Bolstering for a long playoff run

Players, picks in play: 2021 first-round pick, D Ryan Graves ($3,166,667, UFA in 2023), C J.T. Compher ($3.5 million, UFA in 2023)

What to watch: The Avalanche are in the top tier of Stanley Cup contenders this season, but still have a few places that they can upgrade. Chief among them is backup goaltender to Philipp Grubauer, who has been absolutely spectacular in what is not coincidentally a contract year for him. Pavel Francouz hasn’t played a game this season due to a lingering lower-body injury. Jonas Johansson, recently acquired from Buffalo, is a stop-gap solution. Depending on Francouz’s status, they should be in the market for a proven goalie that can be an insurance policy for Grubauer.

Colorado could also be in the market for an upgrade at center in their bottom six, as Compher has been sub-replacement (minus-1.7 goals) in the 26 games in which he’s played this season. The Avalanche could also use a veteran defenseman with playoff experience. You know, your “Ian Cole” type. Whatever happened to that guy?

There’s always a chance they could shoot for the moon and add a veteran winger on an expiring contract — how great would Kyle Palmieri look on this team — in a money-out, money-in hockey trade.

What they should do: Adrian Dater of Colorado Hockey Now reported that the Avalanche were kicking the tires on James Reimer, of the Hurricanes’ goalie surplus. He’s a pending UFA, a well-liked teammate and just the kind of player for which they’re looking.

We listed Graves among the players in play because he hasn’t been able to reach his heights from last season, and has a very cap-friendly contract. With some interesting left-shot defensemen on the market, there may be a chance for a “hockey deal” trade. But it might also be prudent not to judge a 25-year-old for underperforming in as strange a season as this one.

Status: A little bit going out, a little bit coming in

Players, picks in play: LW/RW Dustin Brown ($5.875 million UFA in 2022, seven-team no-trade list), LW Alex Iafallo ($2.425 million, UFA in 2021), G Jonathan Quick ($5.8 million, UFA in 2023), cap space

What to watch: The Kings are lingering in a playoff race thanks to the Blues cracking open the door for that last seed in the West Division. They have already added, trading for Rangers agitator Brendan Lemieux, who is signed through 2022, and Ottawa defenseman Christian Wolanin.

GM Rob Blake is in a great position: The young players from the deepest farm system in the NHL are starting to fill out the lineup, his veterans are uniformly having better seasons, and Los Angeles is inching back to playoff contender status. While he has long-time Kings to deal — Brown, Quick — he also has his eye on bolstering this roster in the long term.

There’s been speculation that Blake is in the market for a young, left-shot defenseman with contract term; for example, the Kings have the assets to go after Zach Werenski if Columbus feels he’s going to be the next talent to walk out the door in 2022. There’s also been more than a little matchmaking from NHL Cupids between the Kings and the Sabres on a potential Jack Eichel trade.

What they should do: Iafallo is a 27-year-old forward who can thrive in a variety of roles and would certainly bring back value as a rental, but word is that the Kings are more likely to extend him than deal him — which is the correct decision.

If they can find a taker for Quick’s contract, they should leap at the chance, considering how good Cal Petersen has been for them. Brown is a more complicated trade option. Yes, there could be interest in him — look no further than the Islanders’ needs and how Brown’s style would fit with a Barry Trotz team. But he’s been great for the Kings (14 goals in 31 games) as the team remains in a playoff push, and is an important “lead-by-example guy” you want around younger players. Unless it’s an offer Blake can’t refuse from a team on Brown’s accepted destination list, Los Angeles should hang onto him. At the very least, it’ll signal that the team has the pedal down and is full speed towards contention.

Status: Looking to add wisely

Players, picks in play: C/LW Marcus Johansson ($4.5 million, UFA in 2021, 10-team no-trade list), their own first-round pick and Pittsburgh’s first-round pick in 2021

What to watch: GM Bill Guerin has been steadfast in saying that he’s not sacrificing the future of the Wild for contention this season. He’s not a fan of rentals, but isn’t opposed to adding to the team if the cost is low. It’s clear he’s playing the long game with the Wild as a contender. Sure, Guerin has talked about Minnesota as “a team that can beat anybody,” but the reality is that dealing a first-rounder for a veteran on an expiring contract isn’t going to suddenly make the Wild better than Colorado or Vegas.

What they should do: Of their expiring contracts, Johansson appeared to be the most interesting trade option — that is until his recent run as Kevin Fiala‘s linemate showed some glimmers of offensive potential. Guerin is right to play the long game with his assets — the Kirill Kaprizov era just started, after all — but if there was a place where a bargain deal could help immediately it would be in the faceoff circle. The Wild are 30th in the NHL at the dot (45.8%). What would be the cost to bring on Detroit faceoff ace (and pending free agent) Luke Glendening?

Status: Let’s make some deals

Players, picks in play: G Devan Dubnyk ($2,166,667, UFA in 2021, 10-team no-trade clause), C Patrick Marleau ($700,000, UFA in 2021), LW/RW Matt Nieto ($700,000, UFA in 2021), cap space

What to watch: Few teams in the NHL are saddled with the kind of unmovable contracts that the Sharks have. If Erik Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s cap hits weren’t enough of a deterrent, they also have full no-move clauses. Brent Burns has trade protection and an $8 million cap hit through 2025. Evander Kane is untradeable. Martin Jones makes $5.75 million against the cap through 2024, in case anyone else wanted him. All of this makes rebuilding or reloading a rather arduous task for GM Doug Wilson, unless he wants to dig into some of his core players like Logan Couture, Timo Meier and Tomas Hertl. Instead, he’ll likely deal from the bottom of the deck.

With so many teams seeking insurance policies in goal, Dubnyk should bring back something, even if he hasn’t been much better than Jones this season. If Nieto is healthy, he could be worth a look for someone’s bottom six. It’s hard to imagine Marleau breaking Gordie Howe’s all-time games mark in anything but a teal sweater — and his play this season certainly hasn’t sparked a trade market for him. But there’s always the chance some contender wants a solid veteran citizen, and Marleau wants one more crack at the Stanley Cup.

What they should do: Trade every pending UFA that they can and test the waters on Hertl, who is an unrestricted free agent in 2022 — and continue to pray that the Seattle Kraken take Brent Burns’ contract off their books in the expansion draft.

Status: Looking to add

Players, picks in play: D Vince Dunn ($1.875 million, RFA in 2021), RW Mike Hoffman ($4 million, UFA in 2021), first-round pick in 2021

What to watch: The Blues’ dramatic stumble in late March swung the door open to the No. 4 seed in the West Division. St. Louis already had to worry about what upgrades it needed to overcome Colorado or Vegas in the playoffs. Now the Blues have to wonder what moves they need to make just to qualify for the postseason.

The two roster players getting the most attention from other teams are Hoffman and Dunn. The Hoff was a healthy scratch recently, which seemed more like a move to get him going than a harbinger of an eventual trade. But given his contract, lack of trade protection and failure to score goals at a considerable clip in St. Louis, he could be on the move in a money-in, money-out deal.

Dunn’s a tough one, given how much the Blues have relied on him as their blue line has suffered through several injuries. He has a good skill set, and defensemen are at a premium at this deadline, but are the Blues better off hanging onto the 24-year-old puck-mover?

What they should do: This is an ideal landing spot for Taylor Hall, if the Sabres winger was willing to waive his … oh, who are we kidding, of course he would waive his no-move clause. The Blues have scored two or fewer goals in eight of 10 recent games. Hall remains a potent offensive talent, even if his production has been sucked into the Buffalo abyss. Trade Hoffman for Hall, with the Sabres retaining the glut of Hall’s cap hit and getting picks or a prospect in the deal. GM Doug Armstrong hasn’t shied away from aggressive moves to upgrade his roster. This would rock the boat.

Status: Poised for another big splash?

Players, picks in play: LW William Carrier ($1.4 million, UFA in 2024), D Nick Holden ($1.7 million, UFA in 2022), RW Ryan Reaves ($1.75 million, UFA in 2022), first-round pick in 2021, New Jersey’s second-round pick in 2021

What to watch: If it’s the trade deadline, the Golden Knights are going to be active. There was the Tomas Tatar trade in their inaugural season, the Mark Stone blockbuster in Year No. 2 and the acquisitions of both Alec Martinez and Robin Lehner last season.

The difference this season is that the Golden Knights have barely any cap space, both due to their offseason signings and the flat cap. That increases the chances that any move they make will be money in, money out, which puts otherwise endearing role players like Carrier and Reaves potentially in play.

What they should do: Vegas is an elite level Stanley Cup contender. They’re also on a “Kong vs. Godzilla” collision course with the Avalanche, and then will potentially have to go through the Tampa Bay Lightning to win the championship. That path would be a lot easier to traverse if the Golden Knights had one more impact center in their lineup. Given their cap situation and the marketplace, that’s likely not an option. But we’ll never bet against Vegas when it comes to making a deadline splash.

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Why the 2021 NHL trade deadline is the most extraordinary in league history

The NHL trade deadline on April 12 is the first of the COVID-19 era. Dealers, rebuilders, reloaders and those with legit Stanley Cup aspirations will all come to the virtual bargaining table to talk trades. But the subtext to these conversations is inherently different in 2021 than in previous editions.

There are unique challenges, like quarantines and immigration issues. There’s the seismic shift in the league’s economic landscape. There are the struggles teams have had in evaluating players outside of their organizations. There are the struggles teams have had in figuring out why their own players are underperforming.

Oh, and beyond the pandemic effects, there’s also this sea monster lurking in Seattle that’s casting a shadow over every transaction …

Here are five reasons the 2020-21 NHL trade deadline is the most extraordinary one in league history:

The diminishing value of first-round picks

Every trade deadline, first-round draft picks are the most precious commodity, sought by teams dealing away players and stubbornly clung to by contenders. Sometimes the immediate impact is worth the long-term risk. Other times, you’re the San Jose Sharks trading the pick that became Max Pacioretty because you simply had to have Craig Rivet at the 2006 trade deadline.

These picks are valuable because with the right player evaluation, scouting and interviewing, teams can find impact players in the first round of every draft. Roughly 74% of first-round picks go on to play in the NHL. It’s hard to botch this.

Unless, of course, a team doesn’t have the opportunity to evaluate players properly because of a pandemic. Leagues have scuttled games. International tournaments have been postponed. Access to arenas is restricted. One-on-one meetings are done over Zoom, at best.

There were calls to move the 2021 NHL draft because of this ambiguity, but the league kept it on July 23 and 24 this summer, leaving teams to throw more darts at the draft board than usual.

“Oh, there’s going to be more mystery, that’s for sure,” TSN director of scouting Craig Button told me this week. “Every year what teams are trying to do in the draft is gain a certain level of confidence that this is ‘their guy.’ When you don’t have as much information or opportunity to watch players, when you can’t meet with players, it takes away elements that contribute to that confidence level.”

Which is why some general managers told me that, at this deadline, a first-round pick has the lowest trade value they can remember.

“It’s a scary situation for teams to be in,” one GM told me this week.

Button agreed. “I think teams will be more willing to trade a first-round pick in this year’s draft and teams will be less willing to take one. I don’t know how it can’t be of less value,” he said. “If you combine the uncertainty, the lack of observation and the perception that this isn’t a great draft class, it just drives value even further down, doesn’t it?”

Does this mean we’ll see more drafted prospects being moved in deadline deals than first-round picks? Perhaps. But one GM told me he’s comfortable still dealing in first-round picks, even if his peers aren’t.

“It’s easy to say that, but you could argue the inverse: Because everyone else believes that, I actually think they’re the most valuable this year because we’re more comfortable in our ability to evaluate than they are,” he said.

Beware the Kraken!

Seattle Kraken GM Ron Francis has been chatting with other teams for some time now, laying the groundwork for this summer’s expansion draft. Some teams have tried to get ahead of the process and cut handshake deals. What they’ve found is that the Kraken are willing to bide their time, see how the deadline shakes out and wait until those protection lists are finalized.

A couple of GMs said Seattle is being “coy” in its discussions right now. Which is to be expected.

That’s the backroom influence of the Kraken on the trade deadline, along with the obvious impact the expansion draft is having on rosters. Most teams are going to protect seven skaters and three defensemen. That latter position is the most stressful for teams, as half of their defense corps on a given night would have to be exposed.

Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm, for example, has another year left on his deal. If the Predators, who are suddenly contending, seek to trade him, anyone acquiring him either risks losing a defenseman currently on their roster, losing Ekholm or having to make a side deal with the Kraken not to take an exposed player.

A GM this week said that “expansion insurance” could cost a first-rounder — yes, even in this draft — and/or a prospect. Combine that with what you’ve already given up to acquire the player at the deadline, and that’s a heavy investment indeed.

The flat cap

The salary cap is at $81.5 million. It’s going to likely stay there next season. It’s going to be around that figure for the foreseeable future.

We’ve already seen the flat cap’s impact on free-agent signings, with players that would have otherwise broken the bank settling for lower salaries or shorter terms (or both). We’re going to see its influence on this trade deadline, too.

There will be more trades than in the past that include retained salary. We already saw it once this year with the Eric Staal deal between Buffalo and Montreal. We’re almost certainly going to see it again if Taylor Hall is traded.

One phrase we heard from every GM this season is “money in, money out” when it comes to trades: a contract of lesser value going to the team that is trading the impact player, along with a prospect or a pick as a sweetener. It’s a necessity with so many teams bumping up against the cap ceiling.

While the flat cap may limit the kinds of trades teams can make at the deadline, one NHL GM told us that he doesn’t believe it will handcuff teams from making deals in general — especially as some GMs approach the deadline seeking to shed salary.

“It may depress transactions, but it may increase action. More desperation. People trying to do things,” he said.

The season of aberration

Every division in the realigned NHL feels different than the others this season. The East is predictable. The Central has four teams fighting for one playoff spot. The West was seemingly set — before the Blues decided to crack the door open for the Coyotes and Kings.

And the North is basically overreaction theater on a daily basis.

Comparing the rest of the NHL to the North is like comparing an old episode of “Degrassi” to HBO’s “Euphoria.” The North is heightened reality, where every win is a TRIUMPH and every loss is DEVASTATING. It’s the only division where two coaches have been fired. Whatever happens in the North, only one thing is certain: The reaction will be an overreaction.

Meanwhile, the rest of the NHL is trying not to read too much into a 56-game season with massive interruptions in the schedule, restrictive protocols on practices, games and traveling, as well as the ongoing mental anguish of pandemic life.

There are dozens of players and teams around the league that are having “off” years. The difficult part is figuring out whether this regression is part of a larger pattern, or a symptom of this anomalous season, and whether a team that isn’t meeting expectations should be given another chance in a more traditional 82-game campaign with road trips and fans in the buildings.

“It’s an interesting year. It counts. You want to get into the playoffs. It’s going to be very real for someone, when they win the Cup,” said one NHL general manager. “But there’s some randomness, too. Some guys aren’t anywhere near where they should be. I don’t know if you want to overreact and start shipping out 23-year-olds if they’re having a rough year. There may be more to it than just hockey.”

Winning the Cup, losing money

The league is going to lose a staggering amount of money on the 2021 season. Commissioner Gary Bettman didn’t hesitate to say it would be in the billions. It’s understood that not having fans filling arenas to capacity is incredibly damaging economically to the league and its teams, even as it serves the public good. But a couple of general managers framed this economic loss in a way that was startling to me:

The reward for teams that make the playoffs? They will lose even more money.

Keep in mind that making the Stanley Cup Playoffs is often seen as an economic boon for teams. Tickets are sold at a premium. New merch is moved. The buzz around a city turns the faucet on a variety of revenue streams.

But not this season.

“If you make the playoffs, you lose money. If you win the Stanley Cup, you lose more money,” said one general manager.

It goes beyond not having ticket revenue. It’s the money needed for playoff travel and accommodations. The money needed for the continuing testing and COVID-19 protocols. All of those extra costs, without the financial windfall the postseason delivers.

How does this impact the NHL trade deadline?

“People can talk about the deadline all they want, but no one’s really inspired to make a huge splash when large masses of people aren’t coming into the buildings,” said one general manager.

If all of this makes the NHL trade deadline sound like a bummer, well …

“If we’re being honest, everyone is just trying to get this season over with,” said the GM.

Three things about the NHL and NFTs

1. Last week, Matthew Tkachuk became the first NHL player to release his own official non-fungible token, auctioning off the digital sports memorabilia to help raise money for two children’s hospitals. Called “Matthew Tkachuk Genesis,” the NFT had a starting bid of $5,109.71 and was up to $9,000 this week.

The NFT was created by digital artist Greg Dubois, who actually got hooked up with Tkachuk through Clubhouse. A friend from college was hosting a room that had a number of Canadian creatives in it. One of them was Sam Nasrawi of Sportsnet, who chatted with Dubois and let him know that Tkachuk was looking to get into the NFT space for charity.

“NFT’s are interesting in that there’s a million and one ways an artist can go about going from concept to selling an NFT. For me and this particular project, it started with some conversations with Sam about Matthew and his famous mouthguard, as well as just his overall personality,” Dubois told me recently. “The team also thought it would be a great idea to incorporate that awesome through-the-legs shot in the piece. So after some conversations and some back-and-forth on feedback, we were able to land that final look and animation.”

2. The NFT craze continues to sweep through society, from art to sports to Taco Bell (seriously).

“This has all been confusing, exciting and unreal all at the same time. From an art perspective, it’s been great to see how this connects artists directly to buyers, and gives artists a way to securely sell their art, keep the copyright and give real ownership to a buyer. It’s also cool to see how artists are expanding how they create and finding new ways to blend both physical and digital offerings,” said Dubois.

He said sports NFTs are a “logical step” at this time in history. “Things like NBA Top Shot, Gronk’s release and now Tkachuk’s are really tapping into the spirit of what trading cards were, but doing it in a way that is much more exciting and more connected,” he said.

3. Dubois, whose work can be viewed here, said the future of NHL NFTs is limitless, and not just as a replacement for hockey collectables. “Whether it’s something like the NBA Top Shot, what Mark Cuban wants to do with turning Mavs tickets to NFTs or bringing these into the AR/VR space … there’s just so much potential here that could really allow leagues, teams and players across sports to interact with fans in ways that we’ve never seen before,” he said.

Buckle up.

Winners and losers of the week

Winners: Buffalo Sabres

It’s truly wonderful that the Sabres broke their 18-game losing streak in the manner in which they did: carrying a lead against the Philadelphia Flyers into the third period for the second straight game, after blowing a three-goal advantage in Monday’s loss. The players talked about panicking with that lead in the process of squandering it on Monday. This time, they built on it with two Brandon Montour short-handed goals.

Snapping a historic streak of futility while watching your trade deadline bait improve his stock? What’s not to love?

Losers: Coaches

Buffalo interim coach Don Granato proudly mentioned that he and the coaching staff left the Sabres alone between the second and third periods. “‘It’s your third period. Not ours. You know what to do.’ And we felt they did know what they do,” said Granato. “They absolutely got the job done under heavy pressure. They pulled together, instead of apart.”

Very inspiring … unless the Pegulas are also inspired to go without coaches next season as a cost-cutting measure. Let the players play (and coach)!

Winner: Connor McDavid

While many were screaming for a suspension, the NHL correctly handed McDavid a $5,000 fine for his elbow on Jesperi Kotkaniemi of the Canadiens. It was intentional. It was reckless. It was also primarily delivered to Kotkaniemi’s arm and chest. It puts McDavid “in the system” as an offender, but this shouldn’t have been a suspension.

Losers: Some Connor McDavid defenders

That said, anyone declaring that McDavid is allowed to throw targeted elbows because the referees don’t give him star treatment is completely misguided. What’s the Venn diagram of the “let Connor maim!” crowd and those who have celebrated the elimination of enforcers in the NHL?

Winner: Patrick Marleau‘s games

The Sharks forward moved into sole possession of second place on the NHL’s all-time games played list (now at 1,758), and is primed to pass Gordie Howe’s record of 1,767 before the end of the season. Has there been a quieter pursuit of an immortal record in recent memory? Such is Marleau.

Loser: Nashville Predators stars’ games

The Preds’ resurgence in the standings has come at a time in which they’re missing injured Mark Borowiecki, Matt Duchene, Ryan Ellis, Brad Richardson and Luca Sbisa, and now Filip Forsberg is out week-to-week, too. Yet Nashville has a 50.4% chance of making the playoffs, per Money Puck.

Winner: Cup raising

Congrats to the two-time Isobel Cup-winning Boston Pride and the National Women’s Hockey League for completing their 2021 campaign. The “bubble” didn’t hold, and the postseason was dramatically interrupted, but the league pulled together to put on a great show through the end.

“It’s imperative for any league to finish the season, for the integrity of the league,” commissioner Tyler Tumminia told the Toronto Star. “What we’re doing here, as a pro league, and raising the Cup, is monumental to culminating the season. Just having that in the history books.”

Loser: Helmet tossing

Pretty sure the NHL generally frowns upon underhand bucket chucks, Nathan MacKinnon.

Puck headlines

From your friends at ESPN

Emily Kaplan with a great feature on wins and losses with Marc-Andre Fleury.

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The Buffalo Sabres’ epic winless streak continues

The Buffalo Sabres are 0-15-3 since Feb. 25. They own the record for the longest winless streak of the shootout era (since 2005-06) and have tied the 2003-04 Pittsburgh Penguins for the most consecutive losses — including overtime and shootout losses — in the 21st century.

How did they get here and how worse could it get? Plus, how do they get back on track — and could a Jack Eichel trade be forthcoming at some point down the road?

ESPN’s Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski discuss it all:

Wyshynski: Let’s start with a definition of terms. The NHL is insistent that the Sabres are on an 18-game “winless streak” rather than a “losing streak.” To wit: The standings say their current streak is “one overtime loss” instead of “L18,” because the NHL only considers it a loss when the defeat occurs in regulation.

I know this is a real wacky concept, but a loss is a loss, and the Sabres have 18 of them in a row. The confluence of confusing standings format and having a technicality undercut a sensational story is peak NHL, really. What’s your take on this streak, Emily?

Kaplan: If you lose in overtime, it still means you lost. I’ve never heard a hockey player treat an overtime point as a win. My honest take: I hate the debate over semantics almost as much as I hate this streak itself.

And when I say I hate it, I mean I hate how it’s affecting players. You can tell it’s really grating on them. After Monday’s third-period collapse (when the Sabres blew a 3-0 third period lead), Brandon Montour used the words “embarrassing” and “brutal.” Rasmus Dahlin claimed the team had a “panic attack.”

Interim coach Don Granato is trying to instill positivity, but these are deep-rooted issues. Captain Jack Eichel (upper-body injury) has been out of the lineup for 11 games with no timetable to return. One of general manager Kevyn Adams’ big offseason gets, Eric Staal, has already been traded. The other, Taylor Hall, is likely to follow. And all I wonder is: How are they going to dig themselves out of this?

Wyshynski: Optimism and the 2021 Buffalo Sabres go together like an artisanal candle and a pile of rotten fish. But they had a heartbeat on Monday night against the Flyers before things went sideways, playing two of their better periods in the past month.

“If we hit the open net, would we be talking about panic?” Granato asked. “I would say we made some mistakes. I wouldn’t say we panicked. We got a little overexcited.”

The coach knows he has taken over a team searching for a glimmer of hope. After six games on the job, he is starting to find little moments, little stretches to build on in a film session. It’s elementary and embarrassing for a collection of NHL players, but it’s the only way out of this.

Buffalo has one more game with the Flyers, and then it has four versus the Rangers and Devils, teams against which the Sabres have wins this season. I wouldn’t be surprised if Buffalo goes winless for a 19th game. I would be surprised if this streak isn’t over by the end of that set of games on April 8. Emily, do you agree that the 1980-81 Winnipeg Jets‘ record of 30 winless games is safe?

Kaplan: I’m with you. The Sabres are not a good hockey team — and will get worse as players are removed from the lineup ahead of the trade deadline — but they aren’t totally incompetent. Since the streak began, the Sabres have an expected goals for percentage of 44% at 5-on-5, per Natural Stat Trick; that’s not great by any means, but it’s also not the worst in the league over that span. The Coyotes, who are on a three-game winning streak and one point out of a playoff spot in the West Division, have an even lower rate. The Sabres’ Corsi for percentage at 5-on-5 in that span is 26th in the league, with two surefire playoff teams (the Wild and the Jets) behind them.

So there are signs of life. Buffalo goalie Linus Ullmark is back after a monthlong absence, and he is quietly been battling hard. A huge lingering question is: When do the Sabres get Eichel back, if at all this season? The 24-year-old is the franchise’s most important player, and the emotional heartbeat of this team. It’s been pretty mum on the injury front. Eichel is still rehabbing and feeling better, per Granato, and the team is “hopeful” he can return this season.

But perhaps the better question is: What is Eichel’s future in Buffalo beyond 2021? I couldn’t imagine this possibility a year ago at this time, but do you think there’s a legitimate chance the team trades its captain?

Wyshynski: There are actually two separate questions here. The first is whether Eichel has hit his tipping point. Last summer, he was frustrated. I’m not sure the world’s most comprehensive thesaurus could conjure up the word to properly capture how Eichel was feeling after watching the Sabres plummet to a .221 points percentage while a coach he admired was fired. If he wants out, the Sabres have to honor that request.

If he wants to stay … do the Sabres still trade him anyway? Centers of Eichel’s age, ability and contract term rarely become available. There are teams such as the Kings and the Rangers that could restock the Buffalo cupboard quickly in a trade for Eichel. I tend to believe the Sabres are better off using Eichel as the foundation for whatever their next build looks like. But it might not entirely be up to them. Emily, what’s the best plan moving forward for the Sabres?

Kaplan: First, the immediate plan: Acquire as many prospects and draft picks as possible ahead of the April 12 trade deadline. Make unemotional decisions — which means perhaps parting with recent top draft picks who have thus far underperformed.

What we have yet to mention: This season isn’t an isolated issue for the Sabres. They’re mired in a nine-year postseason drought (soon to be 10), which is the longest in the league. The bandage fixes in free agency haven’t helped; they need to build from the ground up. Compounding this issue: Buffalo made massive cuts to its scouting department in the pandemic, and it hasn’t filled a lot of those positions. The Sabres haven’t had a scouting presence in Russia for the past several years. They don’t have a scout in Finland. They also don’t have a scout assigned to the WHL or OHL this season (though the OHL season remains in flux). They’re relying heavily on video scouting for the 2021 draft, which might not be ideal.

Organizationally, the Sabres need to shore up that area first, but it will mean even more of a financial commitment from team owners Terry and Kim Pegula. What the Sabres crave most is stability. They can’t keep cycling through coaches and GMs. They need one voice, one direction, because all of this pivoting has led them nowhere. Greg, do you see reasons for optimism that this could be a quicker fix?

Wyshynski: I was speaking with an executive from another team this week who expressed something that startled me. “I don’t think the Sabres are that far off,” he said. “A new coach who can change the attitude around the team and they’re not nearly as bad as this.”

They had the wrong coach. They had a season interrupted by COVID-19. They’re now stuck in a losing streak of historic proportions and don’t know how to pull the nose up from the tailspin.

I acknowledge that looking at the Sabres and pondering their potential for 2021-22 is like walking into dilapidated, haunted house and measuring for an open-concept kitchen/dining room, but … I kind of like the flooring and the fixtures? Am I off-base here?

Kaplan: Well, sometimes I think you’re off-base (like your insistence that Central Jersey is, in fact, a real place) but not here.

The hardest thing to acquire in the NHL is a No. 1 center. The Sabres have one on their roster, who is signed to a long-term deal and about to hit his athletic prime. (Obligatory reminder that Eichel is only 24).

Buffalo can use the rest of the season to evaluate if Ullmark can be the answer in goal or if they need to look elsewhere. Dahlin, the No. 1 pick of the 2018 draft, was touted as a generational talent. Sure, it’s fun to say the Sabres “ruined him,” but he’s only 20. Perhaps they rushed his development. Even more likely: They underestimated how being surrounded by a losing culture can negatively impact a young player. Get a better support system around him and there’s still time for him to flourish.

But maybe I’m an optimist. Maybe this still has to get worse before it can get any better.

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NHL trade grades – Montreal Canadiens get a steal in landing Eric Staal from Buffalo Sabres

The Buffalo Sabres traded center Eric Staal to the Montreal Canadiens for two draft picks on Friday, perhaps starting off a period of serious roster reshaping that will take place between now and the April 12 trade deadline.

The Canadiens sent 2021 third- and fifth-round draft picks to Buffalo for Staal. The Sabres retained 50% of Staal’s salary: $1.625 million of his $3.25 million cap hit.

So how did both GMs do in this swap? Here are our grades for the deal.

Perhaps this stellar grade should go to the Canadian government instead, for dropping the federal quarantine period for NHL players entering Canada from two weeks to one week of isolation. Staal waived his no-trade clause to move to the Canadiens, as Montreal had been one of the teams on his no-go list. We’re not sure if he does that if it meant 14 days in a hotel room before playing again.

Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin said on Thursday that the Canadiens were hamstrung by the salary cap in trying to make a deal. “At the end of the day, it always comes back to the cap. Once you’re a team that’s up against the cap, it’s money in and money out, unless you want to give up an asset. I wouldn’t be expecting a lot near the deadline,” he said.

Around 24 hours later, Bergevin acquired Staal and didn’t send a contract back to Buffalo in the trade. Which, it turns out, makes this a solid deal for the Habs.

Staal was bad for a terrible team in Buffalo. His 10 points in 31 games and minus-20 were some of the worst numbers of his career. He had a 0.09 goals-per-game average with the Sabres. When your calling card is as a goal-scoring center and you’re generating as many goals per game as Cal Clutterbuck, something is amiss.

But it wasn’t for a lack of trying. The Sabres had 2.29 expected goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 when Staal was on the ice, second best among their forwards. He got his share of high-danger shot attempts. No, the results weren’t there. But it’s not hard to understand why Bergevin would look at Staal and think a change in scenery to a contending team might spark the player who had 47 points in 66 games last season for the Minnesota Wild — even if Staal is now 36 years old.

The Canadiens needed a center, specifically one who was solid on faceoffs. They could have done better in that department: Staal has been under 50% on draws during the past two seasons. But while a trade deadline option like Luke Glendening of the Detroit Red Wings could win you a faceoff, he can’t provide the offense that Staal is capable of providing. That includes in the postseason, where Staal has 51 points in 62 career games and seven points in his last nine games.

But what makes this an ‘A’ trade for the Canadiens is that it didn’t really cost them anything. They have two more third-round picks this season, from Chicago and Washington. They have two more fifth-round picks this season, from Ottawa and Philadelphia. They had two second-round picks and didn’t have to give either of them up for a name-brand center on an expiring contract, even with the Sabres retaining salary. That’s wild!

Again, some concerns here about whether time has caught up with Staal. But in a short sprint to the postseason, and nothing contractually beyond that, it makes tremendous sense from a financial and personnel standpoint. Plus, Shea Weber, Carey Price and Corey Perry now have someone else with whom to reminisce about the Canadian Olympic team.

Acquiring Staal from Minnesota was Kevyn Adams‘ first big move as general manager, and it was widely praised for giving the team another offensive center behind Jack Eichel. No one thought the Sabres would be this bad. No one thought Staal would be this bad. Things happen.

Staal was traded for Marcus Johansson in September 2020. Here he could only fetch a third-rounder and a fifth-rounder from Montreal, even with Buffalo retaining 50% of Staal’s salary.

The Canadiens have two second-round picks. One of their third-rounders will be determined by Chicago’s final spot in the standings. One of their fifth-rounders will be similarly determined by the Senators. Not only did Adams not get at least a second-rounder for Staal — in a trade market with very few good options among veteran scoring centers — he didn’t even get the best versions of the picks he received from the Habs.

What’s the point of retaining salary to bail out a trade partner if you can’t maximize the return? To do an old teammate a solid by trading him to a desirable contender?

If you’re a Sabres fan — first off, condolences — you have to be a little worried about what the return for players like Taylor Hall is going to look like.

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NHL trade tiers by position

The NHL trade deadline owes a debt of gratitude to the Canadian government.

On Thursday, a league source confirmed to ESPN that the 14-day quarantine for NHL players traded from U.S. teams to Canadian teams would be reduced to seven days, with additional COVID-19 testing. This removes a roadblock for North Division teams seeking to reach across the border to complete deals ahead of the April 12 trade deadline.

But that was only one of several unusual influences on this season’s trade market. Consider:

  • The flat $81.5 million salary cap that limits the trade options for teams, unless they’re shipping out money as well.

  • The expansion draft for the Seattle Kraken looming in the offseason. There are more nuanced rules, but the basic requirements for teams: They must protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie, or eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goalie.

  • The fact that some teams aren’t eager to overreact to what they see as an anomalous, COVID-impacted season.

As trade activity intensifies ahead of the April 12, 3 p.m. ET deadline, here is a tier-by-tier look at the rentals, the investments and the wild-card stars whose availability could turn this deadline on its collective head.

All salary and contract information comes from our friends at CapFriendly unless otherwise noted. Stats are collected from sites such as Natural Stat Trick, Hockey Reference and Evolving Hockey.

Jump to:
Rentals: Center | Wing | Defense
With term: Center | Wing | Defense


Age: 24 | Stats: 31 GP | 3 G | 3 A | 6 P
Contract: $2.55 million AAV, RFA this summer, no trade protection

Bennett’s trade request went public last month, with his agent saying that the center needs a change in scenery. GM Brad Treliving answered that request on Calgary sports radio: “We’ll determine, whether it be Sam Bennett or anybody else, what their scenery is and when it’s going to change.” Perhaps that ends up being before the trade deadline.

There was some hope the coaching change to Darryl Sutter could spark Bennett’s game. His ice time has increased. The lack of offensive production in the regular season, something that has plagued him during his seven seasons with the Flames, has unfortunately continued.

Age: 31 | Stats: 31 GP | 3 G | 6 A | 9 P
Contract: $1.8 million AAV, UFA this summer, no trade protection

Glendening, 31, can play all three forward positions and gives you around 15 minutes per game. But the reason anyone is dabbling in the Luke Glendening business is his prowess in the faceoff circle: Through 31 games, he has won 314 of 489 faceoffs for an incredible 64.2% winning percentage. He has been linked to the Canadiens, who are not good on faceoffs (48%).

Age: 28 | Stats: 29 GP | 6 G | 6 A | 12 P
Contract: $3.75 million AAV, UFA this summer, no trade protection

He’s the most coveted center available due to his contract, his age (29) and his offensive potential. However, Granlund’s 0.41 points-per-game average is his lowest since his rookie season, despite an uptick in ice time (19:27) and offensive zone starts (57%). It still makes sense for the Predators to move him, with only a 20% chance of making the playoffs per Money Puck. But they might want to keep him for a playoff push in the Central if they don’t get back the value they’re seeking.

Age: 29 | Stats: 29 GP | 3 G | 6 A | 9 P
Contract: $1.75 million AAV, UFA this summer, no trade protection

If the Predators are going to move a center, Haula would seem the most likely. He’s the worst player in goals scored above average (-4.5) and hasn’t generated a fraction of the offense the team hoped he could, with nine points in 29 games on a third line that’s been a drag on possession. But he’s a veteran hand with a cap-friendly contract and could likely be had for a middle-round pick.

Age: 31 | Stats: 32 GP | 2 G | 4 A | 6 P
Contract: $2.75 million AAV, UFA this summer, no trade protection

Nash’s stock has risen this season, as the checking center played well when pressed into service in the Jackets’ top six. While it hasn’t led to an offensive uptick, his defense has been a steadying presence. If Columbus is in the hunt, the Blue Jackets might end up keeping him around as a versatile option at their thinnest position. But Florida Panthers beat writer George Richards recently speculated that Nash could be reunited with GM Bill Zito in Sunrise, Florida.

Age: 36 | Stats: 31 GP | 3 G | 7 A | 10 P
Contract: $3.25 million AAV, UFA this summer, 10-team no-trade list

Staal didn’t choose to fester in the mess that is the Sabres. The Sabres chose him, trading for the 36-year-old in the offseason. His trade protection complicates things, but it’s hard to imagine Staal won’t be moved to a contender at the deadline. His 10 points in 31 games and minus-20 are glaringly bad, but Staal has created high-danger chances for a team that plays too much on the perimeter. Carolina fans and media have been trying to will a reunion with the Hurricanes (and brother Jordan) into existence.

Age: 31 | Stats: 35 GP | 6 G | 2 A | 8 P
Contract: $4.375 million AAV, UFA this summer, 15-team no-trade list

The Canucks have a 3.4% chance of making the playoffs, so let the selling begin. Sutter is a bottom-six center who wins faceoffs (55.5%) and chips in with occasional goals. His lines are consistently on the negative side of possession relative to his teammates. His salary-cap hit is a shade too high under a flat cap, and his trade protection limits the market.


Age: 20 | Stats: 14 GP | 2 G | 1 A | 3 P
Contract: $894,167 AAV, RFA in 2022, no trade protection

The No. 5 overall pick in 2018 has floundered in the Coyotes’ development pipeline. He has only seven points in 34 career NHL games and one goal in 12 AHL games this season. He’s just 20, but he’s a holdover from the John Chayka regime, and there’s no reason to believe GM Bill Armstrong is wedded to Hayton as a building block for the future, especially with him underperforming.

Age: 31 | Stats: 30 GP | 9 G | 6 A | 15 P
Contract: $5.825 million AAV, UFA in 2024, 10-team no trade list

With Ryan Getzlaf having no interest in waiving his no-move clause to leave Anaheim, the Ducks will continue trying to move their other veteran center’s considerable contract. Henrique cleared waivers in February without any takers. The Ducks might have to eat up to 50% of the contract to get real value back under a flat cap. He has been their third-best player in goals scored above average (2.7) and excels in the faceoff circle. Good player, but that’s a rough contract in these trying times.

Age: 26 | Stats: 32 GP | 5 G | 9 A | 14 P
Contract: $3.5 million AAV, UFA in 2023, no trade protection

The Leafs know what they have here in Kerfoot: around 14:36 in ice time per game, around 0.44 points per game per season and a frustrating inability to excel in the faceoff circle. The theory is that Toronto would move Kerfoot if it found the right upgrade for his spot on the roster. He’s only 26 and has two more years left on his reasonable deal.


Age: 28 | Stats: 21 GP | 7 G | 2 A | 9 P
Contract: $3.375 million AAV, UFA this summer, no trade protection

His versatility in the lineup and relatively small cap number should make him a desirable asset for the Senators. He had five goals in his first 10 games back in Ottawa after the Hurricanes shipped him there for Cedric Paquette and Alex Galchenyuk in February. The question is whether Ottawa would like to retain him beyond this season, and if he’d be interested in circling back with the Senators if they deal him now.

Age: 33 | Stats: 33 GP | 5 G | 7 A | 12 P
Contract: $5.5 million AAV, UFA this summer, 10-team no-trade list

It’s funny: Foligno started his career in Ottawa, and arrived in Columbus in 2012, but he’s absolutely one of those players who would look odd wearing another jersey. That’s how synonymous the captain is with the Blue Jackets franchise.

But, he’s 33 years old and facing free agency. He also has an incredible amount of value for a contender looking to bolster its bottom six with a strong defensive player who can chip in offensively and brings it in the playoffs. But with the Blue Jackets inching toward the playoff bubble, do they keep him?

Age: 24 | Stats: 32 GP | 9 G | 16 A | 25 P
Contract: $775,000 AAV, RFA this summer, no trade protection

It’s really simple: GM Bill Armstrong builds through the draft. The Coyotes do not have a first-round pick this season because the NHL took it away, penalizing the franchise for the previous regime’s violation of the combine testing policy. Garland, 26, has 25 points in 32 games and can bring back a first-round pick and much more for a franchise looking to reload. To the surprise of no one, the Boston Bruins are rumored to have interest in the Scituate, Massachusetts, native.

Age: 28 | Stats: 20 GP | 2 G | 3 A | 5 P
Contract: $4.5 million AAV, UFA this summer, eight-team no-trade list

The best that could be said about Gusev is that his contract is expiring. Otherwise, his offensive production has been paltry despite a massive leap in offensive zone starts (64%), and he has minus-6.3 goals scored above average, worst on the Devils. The 28-year-old has trade protection, too.

Age: 29 | Stats: 31 GP | 2 G | 15 A | 17 P
Contract: $8 million AAV, UFA this summer, no-move clause

Hall is one of the most complicated game-changing players available. On Thursday, Hall said he would “for sure” listen to trade options if offered by GM Kevyn Adams. The Sabres would have to pick up a healthy portion of his cap hit to facilitate any trade with a solid return. What does that return look like for a player whose stock has plummeted as though a bunch of Reddit users got bored with trading it? He has two goals (!) and 15 assists in 31 games. That’s a 2.7 shooting percentage.

Many of the analytics point to a player whose level of care and commitment is much higher than that of some of his teammates, which is good. The perfect situation for Hall: second-line left wing on a team like Colorado, Toronto, Boston or the New York Islanders. Can the Sabres gin up a bidding war for him among contenders for whom he’d waive his no-movement clause?

Age: 41 | Stats: 31 GP | 1 G | 4 A | 5 P
Contract: $700,000 AAV, UFA this summer, no trade protection

Marleau told Kevin Kurz of The Athletic that he would be open to a trade at the deadline to a contender, much like the deal that sent him to Pittsburgh last season. Of course, now he’s a year older (41) and his output this season won’t exactly have teams pounding down GM Doug Wilson’s door. He’s 13 games away from Gordie Howe’s all-time record for games played.

Age: 29 | Stats: 29 GP | 6 G | 9 A | 15 P
Contract: $4.65 million AAV, UFA this summer, eight-team no-trade list

The Devils are blessed with two great young centers in Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes. In theory, it would be nice to have someone for them to pass the puck to over the next few seasons. That’s why it’s not outlandish to think that the 30-year-old Palmieri could get another contract in New Jersey.

But it’s also not outlandish to think that he could bring back a lot at the trade deadline to continue the Devils’ rebuild. His offensive numbers are a tick down this season, but he’s coming off five straight seasons of 20 or more goals. One obvious potential landing spot: the Islanders. Palmieri, a Smithtown, New York, native, screams “Barry Trotz Guy” with the way he competes.

Age: 28 | Stats: 33 GP | 6 G | 5 A | 11 P
Contract: $3.75 million AAV, UFA this summer, no trade protection

He’s currently out four weeks with a lower-body injury, and GM Jim Benning has spoken about trying to extend the 28-year-old winger, who had played well on the Canucks’ top six with Bo Horvat. That would seem to be the plan, but Vancouver had been listening to offers for the solid two-way forward. The injury might complicate matters.

Age: 25 | Stats: 29 GP | 11 G | 9 A | 20 P
Contract: $5.2 million AAV, RFA this summer, no trade protection

The 25-year-old, who can play on the wing or at center, would seem to be part of the solution in Buffalo, with three straight 20-goal seasons and 20 points in his first 29 games this season. But the Sabres have more holes than a block of Swiss, he’s going to make bank on his next long-term contract, and he’s coveted by several teams. He would bring back an impressive return, given his age and status as a controllable asset since he’s an RFA instead of UFA this summer.

Age: 33 | Stats: 30 GP | 6 G | 7 A | 13 P
Contract: $1 million AAV, UFA this summer, no trade protection

Is it too much to ask to get Bobby Ryan a chance to contribute to a Stanley Cup contender? Ryan’s one-year “show me” contract saw him increase his points-per-game (0.43) and shots-per-game (2.30) rates over last season, playing 15:44 per contest. His cap number makes him extremely portable, if someone is willing to give him the chance.


Age: 36 | Stats: 30 GP | 14 G | 7 A | 21 P
Contract: $5.875 million AAV, UFA in 2022, seven-team no-trade list

The most attractive forward asset from the Kings is Alex Iafallo, but there are indications he’ll be extended by the Kings. Brown is in the penultimate campaign of his eight-year, $47 million contract and is having a career renaissance at 36 years old, with 14 goals in 30 games. He’s a veteran leader they like having around, but it’s hard to imagine his stock ever being as high as it is now. There’s been speculation he could be an Anders Lee replacement for the Islanders.

Age: 24 | Stats: 21 GP | 3 G | 4 A | 7 P
Contract: $3.675 million AAV, UFA in 2022, no trade protection

Another trade deadline, another spin in the rumor mill for the 24-year-old winger. DeBrusk has struggled this season offensively, has been sub-replacement level for the Bruins overall, and was a healthy scratch at times this season.

“Clearly, we understand that Jake’s not where he needs to be: He recognizes that, takes ownership of it. And we have to do everything we possibly can to put him in a situation that he can work his way out of it, and work is a big part of that,” said GM Don Sweeney. That established, DeBrusk likely only leaves Boston as part of a package for a significant trade target.

Age: 29 | Stats: 27 GP | 9 G | 6 A | 15 P
Contract: $2 million AAV, UFA in 2022, no trade protection

The perfect time to sell on this versatile forward. Jarnkrok has 15 points in 27 games playing 15:34 per contest. He’s in his prime (29) with a very portable contract that could also be Kraken bait. But it’s all contingent on where the Predators see themselves as a contender, both this season and next.

Age: 36 | Stats: 29 GP | 3 G | 9 A | 12 P
Contract: $7,538,461 AAV, UFA in 2025 full no-move clause

Times have not be swell for Parise and the Wild. He was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career this month, paying the price of an extended overtime shift. His ice time is fluctuating. He could use a change in scenery. But with his age (36) and his trade protection, it’s not like there’s going to be a bidding war for Parise.

But, given how close the Islanders and GM Lou Lamoriello — who drafted Parise in New Jersey — got to acquiring him last year, it’s worth listing him in case those conversations happen again. But he’s a year older and the salary cap is much flatter.

Age: 27 | Stats: 34 GP | 6 G | 15 A | 21 P
Contract: $3,789,444 AAV, UFA in 2022, no trade protection

A few general managers we surveyed said there were surprised Rakell might be available. For a 27-year-old with that low of a cap number and that high of an offensive ceiling — he’s the Ducks’ leading scorer and has hit 30 goals twice in his career — to become available is rare. But Anaheim needs to transition to its next phase, and dangling him for young assets and draft picks is one way to facilitate that. With that contract for this season and next, it’ll be quite a high return.

Age: 24 | Stats: 32 GP | 4 G | 0 A | 4 P
Contract: $2.55 million AAV, RFA in 2022, no trade protection

Squarely on the block and headed out of Vancouver after a disastrous season offensively. There was a deal with Anaheim that seemed close — potentially for Danton Heinen — but fell through. There was a report this week that a deal with the Panthers for Markus Nutivaara could be in the cards. A change of scenery here is mandatory, for the team and the player.


Age: 33 | Stats: 31 GP | 1 G | 8 A | 9 P
Contract: $2 million AAV, UFA in summer, five-team no trade clause

Benn’s average ice time has dropped to 14:40 per game this season, and he has been more effective in that role from a possession and expected goals against (2.68 per 60 minutes) perspective. A nice addition to someone’s third pairing, and can play both sides.

Age: 32 | Stats: 22 GP | 0 G | 2 A | 2 P
Contract: $3,937,500 AAV, UFA in summer, no trade protection

Demers’ trade protection ended last season. The Panthers are still retaining $562,500 of his salary this season, dropping his cap hit down from $4.5 million. He’s a sub-replacement level player this season, whose ice time has dropped by nearly three minutes per game (17:41). The 33-year-old has been a healthy scratch, too. He used to be known as a somewhat reliable two-way defenseman; he has 13 points in his past 72 games.

Age: 24 | Stats: 31 GP | 5 G | 7 A | 12 P
Contract: $1.875 million AAV, RFA in summer, no trade protection

Dunn was on the trading block earlier in the year, but the 24-year-old puck mover has actually played more on average (19:36) than he has in any previous season. He has played alongside Marco Scandella, Robert Bortuzzo, Colton Parayko and Justin Faulk. Dunn has been valuable and effective this season; do the Blues protect him in the expansion draft over Faulk?

Age: 34 | Stats: 36 GP | 0 G | 6 A | 6 P
Contract: $6 million AAV, UFA in summer, no-move clause

There’s a notion that Edler, 34, would waive his no-move clause for a shot at a Stanley Cup. While it would appear Edler’s offensive numbers have fallen off a cliff this season, with a 0.17 points-per-game average, please note the dramatic change in his deployment: Edler is starting only 23.33% of his shifts in the attacking zone.

Age: 35 | Stats: 33 GP | 1 G | 3 A | 4 P
Contract: $5.475 million AAV, UFA in summer, eight-team no-trade clause

Goligoski, 35, has been positioned as the “option B” behind Mattias Ekholm for teams seeking a defensive defenseman but not wanting to pay Mattias Ekholm prices. Unlike the Predators defenseman, Goligoski has an expiring contract. He’ll give you 22:27 per game on average, and has been consistently good in his own end. Maybe another team can figure out how a player who had never been below 0.36 points per game is scoring just 0.12 points per game this season.

Age: 30 | Stats: 19 GP | 0 G | 2 A | 2 P
Contract: $1.25 million AAV, UFA in summer, full no-move clause

Hamonic joins Benn and Edler as veteran Canucks defensemen who are hitting unrestricted free agency after this season. Unlike the other two, he has full no-move protection and has a stated desire to play only in Western Canada. So unless the Winnipeg Jets come calling — and they might! — Hamonic is hoping to remain in Vancouver. “When we decided on Vancouver, we looked at it as a long-term situation of where we wanted to be for my career and family. I’ve loved every second of it and it’s been a good fit,” he said recently.

Age: 30 | Stats: 29 GP | 0 G | 2 A | 2 P
Contract: $1.15 million AAV, UFA in summer, no trade protection

Another defensive defenseman option, the 30-year-old Kulikov plays the left side and averages 19:27 per game. His calling card has been as a penalty killer, but the Devils’ 31st-ranked PK isn’t exactly something for the résumé this season.

Age: 29 | Stats: 27 GP | 0 G | 4 A | 4 P
Contract: $925,000 AAV, UFA in summer, no trade protection

A steal for some thrifty shopper out there, Merrill has arguably been the Red Wings’ best defenseman this season. He skates over 19 minutes per game on average, and is their top defenseman in expected goals percentage at 5-on-5 (46.25%, on a terrible team).

Age: 26 | Stats: 29 GP | 1 G | 8 A | 9 P
Contract: $3.850 million AAV, UFA in summer, no trade protection

Montour has been Buffalo’s best defenseman this season, and not just by default. He has a better expected goals percentage than his teammates (47.96) and skates 20:47 per game on average. His offensive output is on par with last season. It’s a fire sale. The 26-year-old blueliner, who can play both sides, should be part of it.

Age: 27 | Stats: 22 GP | 0 G | 4 A | 4 P
Contract: $3.850 million AAV, UFA in summer, no trade protection

The defensive defenseman has averaged 18:16 per game on average, but has lagged behind his teammates in expected goals percentage (44.68). His salary under the flat cap might be a little high given his season, but the 27-year-old could have value.

Age: 30 | Stats: 32 GP | 0 G | 5 A | 5 P
Contract: $4.25 million AAV, UFA in summer, no trade protection

The 30-year-old, right-handed defenseman is having an uncharacteristic off year, with a minus-12 while playing his lowest average ice time in three years (19:40). But he’s a defensive defenseman with an expiring contract, and that means he’ll have value on the market; the Blue Jackets would do well to maximize it.

Age: 34 | Stats: 33 GP | 2 G | 4 A | 6 P
Contract: $5.7 million AAV, UFA in summer, full no-move clause

The 34-year-old blueliner has skated 18:14 per game on average, including work on the penalty kill. He has 107 playoff games to his credit, which is no doubt attractive to contenders out there. The Red Wings will have to retain a portion of that cap hit to get good value back, and he has control over his next destination.

Age: 29 | Stats: 20 GP | 2 G | 3 A | 5 P
Contract: $2 million AAV, UFA in summer, no trade protection

Vatanen must be feeling like the trade deadline is on Groundhog Day, after getting dealt just last season from the Devils to the Hurricanes. The 29-year-old puck mover could be on the move again, despite his numbers being down across the board.


Age: 25 | Stats: 6 GP | 0 G | 1 A | 1 P
Contract: $3.725 million AAV, RFA in 2022, no trade protection

It’s entirely possible that GM Jeff Gorton just lets DeAngelo sit through the season into the summer where he either becomes a member of the Seattle Kraken or gets the last year of his contract bought out. But if a team feels it can handle his considerable baggage and is desperate for a puck-moving defenseman who can run a power play, this would be a low price.

Age: 26 | Stats: 26 GP | 5 G | 6 A | 11 P
Contract: $6 million AAV, UFA in 2023, no trade protection

Dumba has trade protection that kicks in this summer. The Wild are in a pickle for the expansion draft, having to protect Jonas Brodin, Jared Spurgeon and Ryan Suter, who have no-movement clauses. But Dumba plays 22:09 per game, has been one the team’s best defenseman this season (58.62 expected goals percentage) and is only 26. Unless he’s part of a considerable package for a considerable player, one imagines he’ll stick out the rest of the season for the playoff-contending Wild.

Age: 30 | Stats: 26 GP | 5 G | 9 A | 14 P
Contract: $3.75 million AAV, UFA in 2022, no trade protection

The belle of the trade deadline ball among defensemen. The 30-year-old has been an outstanding two-way defenseman for the Predators over the last several seasons: Skating around 23 minutes per game, helping to drive possession and averaging over 0.50 points per game in his best seasons. He’s a complete player whose star would shined brighter were it not for Roman Josi winning a Norris Trophy and Ryan Ellis being an analytics darling.

If the Predators decide to deal him, they’ll expect a package resembling what the Kings received for Jake Muzzin in 2019: a first-round pick, a blue-chip prospect and another prospect. Or, failing that: a first-rounder and an NHL-caliber player. Teams have been lining up for weeks to land Ekholm if the Predators deal him.

Age: 29 | Stats: 8 GP | 0 G | 1 A | 1 P
Contract: $4.1 million AAV, UFA in 2022, 12-team no-trade list

The 29-year-old defenseman has shown in the last few seasons that his 37-point performance in 2017-18 was an anomaly. He can be a potent defensive defenseman even without the point output, but has been in need of a change in scenery for a couple of years now. He’s back from an injury absence and has a ton of value if GM Bob Murray wants to deal him — and if Murray’s asking price isn’t unreasonably high.

Age: 28 | Stats: 29 GP | 3 G | 3 A | 6 P
Contract: $4.1 million AAV, UFA in 2022, 12-team no-trade list

Like nearly everyone else on the Sabres, Miller has been a disappointment this season, skating to a minus-18. The 28-year-old needs a refresh. He averaged 0.48 points per game in two campaigns with the Golden Knights; he’s averaged 0.21 in 80 games with Buffalo. Miller can be a very nice piece on someone’s blue line, but that extra contract year with the expansion draft looming could be a problem — but not for Buffalo, who would surely expose him to the Kraken.


Age: 32 | Stats: 17 GP | 8-6-0 | 0.918 SV% | 2.78 GAA
Contract: $3 million AAV, UFA this summer, no trade protection

Bernier, 32, is in his 13th NHL season, and has played himself onto the radar of any team looking for goalie depth. He’s saved seven goals above average this season, in posting a .918 save percentage in 17 games for a porous Red Wings defense. Hopefully a recent leg injury doesn’t linger.

Age: 34 | Stats: 16 GP | 3-8-2 | 0.899 SV% | 3.19 GAA
Contract: $3 million AAV, UFA this summer, 10-team no-trade list

Dubnyk said he’d like to remain in San Jose and have “an opportunity to see what a normal season would be like in this beautiful place.” But it’s also been reported that he would waive his trade protection to play with a contender. Dubnyk’s played well in March (.907 save percentage) and might garner interest because of his expiring deal.

Age: 30 | Stats: 18 GP | 7-7-2 | 0.914 SV% | 2.41 GAA
Contract: $4.5 million AAV, UFA in 2022, no trade protection

Injuries have plagued the Coyotes’ goalies this season. Antti Raanta has appeared on many trade deadline “big boards,” but how many teams are going to ante up for Antti when he’s been injury-prone for the last three seasons? Kuemper hasn’t been much healthier, but he should be back by the trade deadline. He’s also a better goalie who has an incredible postseason run in the bubble to his credit.

The Coyotes are desperate to get a first-round pick this season; Kuemper won’t move unless a first (and more) are coming back to the desert.

Age: 26 | Stats: 12 GP | 5-3-2 | 0.912 SV% | 2.91 GAA
Contract: $4 million AAV, UFA in 2022, no trade protection

Joonas Korpisalo and Merzlikins are both under contract for next season. Barring a side deal, one of them would be in danger of ending up in Seattle in the expansion draft. This could easily be Korpisalo on the trade block instead of Elvis, but we’ll assume the Jackets want to deal the goalie with the higher cap hit — even if he might have the higher upside. The important thing to know about Columbus: The future in goal is in 21-year-old prospect Daniil Tarasov.

Age: 35 | Stats: 14 GP | 6-6-2 | 0.898 SV% | 2.91 GAA
Contract: $5.8 million AAV, UFA in 2023, no trade protection

The 35-year-old goalie hasn’t had a notable campaign since 2017-18, and is barely above replacement this season. But goalies with two Stanley Cup rings and a Conn Smythe aren’t exactly commonplace, and Quick has gotten a little more attention on the trade market as he nears the end of his 10-year contract.

Age: 28 | Stats: 12 GP | 3-6-1 | 0.908 SV% | 2.86 GAA
Contract: $2.75 million AAV, UFA this summer, no trade protection

Given how few goalies are available with expiring contracts, the Flames should shop “Big Save Dave” hard to teams like the Washington Capitals. He has a .908 save percentage in 12 games this season for Calgary, which has Louis Domingue on the taxi squad ready to move up if a trade goes down.

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