The NHL’s March 1 Trade Deadline is quickly approaching, and as players across the league are returning from the All-Star weekend in Los Angeles, teams will almost certainly start to explore this year’s trading block.
Detroit Red Wings
There is no doubt that it has been a difficult year for one of the NHL’s most distinguished franchises. The Detroit Red Wings have made the playoffs for 25 consecutive seasons; however, that streak is in serious jeopardy this season. The Red Wings currently sit at the bottom of the Atlantic Division and are seven points back of the Philadelphia Flyers for the Eastern Conference’s last Wild Card spot, forcing general manager Ken Holland to focus on the team’s future.
The Red Wings should look at the second half of this season as an opportunity to add future assets. Ken Holland is aware that the Red Wings have long built their team through the draft, so I wouldn’t expect him to bring in any stars before the deadline but rather stock up on draft picks instead.
Detroit’s main focus must be to bring in young talent to complement players like Anthony Mantha, Dylan Larkin, and Andreas Athanasiou.
It would cost $4.5 million to re-sign 33-year-old Thomas Vanek, so it may be in Ken Holland’s better interests to trade him for draft picks. Expect teams like Washington, San Jose and Pittsburgh to make a move on the winger this season in an attempt to add depth to their roster heading into the postseason.
Goaltender Petr Mrazek could also be moved this season. Mrazek offers a lot of potential to a playoff team that would like to add some depth to their goaltending position down the stretch, and if the Red Wings receive a reasonable trade offer for the Czech goalie, they should consider moving him.
Perhaps the most interesting player on the Red Wings roster that could be moved this season is Tomas Tatar. The 26-year-old left winger could certainly make an immediate impact on a playoff-caliber team, but Tatar’s impending RFA tag makes him somewhat of a risk to trade for. If Tatar is moved, Detroit would surely look to get back at least a first round pick or a combination of a second or third round pick and a highly touted prospect.
It has been a year to forget for the Colorado Avalanche. They own the worst record in the league and the last time the team won a game in regulation was December 11th. Despite the team’s lack of success, Colorado still has a tremendous amount of talent on their roster.
Gabriel Landeskog or Matt Duchene should be moved this season. Both players are elite playmakers in today’s NHL, however it has become apparent that neither of them can fit into the Avalanche’s system.
The asking price for a top-6 forward is high enough to offer the team some promise in the future. Expect a high first round pick, elite prospects, top-4 defensemen or top-6 forwards in return for these two young talents.
Tyson Barrie has been another anomaly for the Avalanche. The young defenseman has tremendous potential but has been a liability on the blue line for much of this season. Teams in search of a top-4 defenseman like Edmonton, Buffalo, Ottawa and Philadelphia could potentially make a move on the 25- year-old defenseman before the deadline.
Tampa Bay Lightning
It’s been a disappointing year for the Tampa Bay Lightning and GM Steve Yzerman. Tampa’s captain and two-time Maurice Richard Trophy winner Steven Stamkos has been out with a knee injury since November, and the team is gradually falling out of the playoff race. It’s time for the Lightning to consider making moves for the expansion draft and free up some money to resolve their salary cap issues for the offseason.
If Yzerman doesn’t think his team can afford all three of their pending RFA’s – Tyler Johnson, Jonathan Drouin and Ondrej Palat – which could potentially make them huge players at the deadline.
Winger Ryan Callahan has not yet been asked to waive his no-movement clause for the expansion draft in June, but the 31-year-old veteran is a very interesting option for a number of teams in the NHL at the moment. If the asking price is fair enough, Columbus could potentially make a move on Callahan to gain some much needed experience heading into the playoffs, or a move could be made in the offseason by the Las Vegas Golden Knights to acquire the former Rangers captain.
-Featured image from NHL.com