NHL Trade Rumors: 5 Hypothetical Deadline Deals That Could Happen

Feb 18, 2017; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres left wing Evander Kane (9) against the St. Louis Blues at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

NHL Trade Rumors: Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-andre Fleury (29) looks on before the game against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

NHL Trade Rumors: 5 Hypothetical Deals Ahead of the Trade Deadline That Could Actually Happen, That Makes Sense for Both Sides

NHL trade rumors continue to ramp up as we near closer to the March 1st deadline. Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch has suggested that trade talk has increased overall in the last 48 hours and at least three more teams might be willing to trade guys for future assets. According to Garrioch, the Carolina Hurricanes, Dallas Stars, and Detroit Red Wings have joined the list of sellers that currently includes teams like Arizona, Buffalo, Tampa Bay, and a few others.

Now that we’ve got a clearer picture of what the market looks like, it’s a good time for another edition of our hypothetical deals. You may not necessarily agree with the proposed offers I put forth. I tend to put bias aside and try to look at things as a neutral arbitrator. You’ve gotta consider things like annual cap hit, contract length, age, how a particular player fits into another lineup, and numerous other factors to find something that works for both sides. There’s a reason it’s become increasingly difficult to make trades in today’s NHL.

That being said, many teams are still facing complications ahead of June’s expansion draft. It could give this year’s trade deadline a bit of a boost in comparison to past season’s. Now, I’m not suggesting we’re in for a dramatic flurry of trades, but we may definitely see an increase in those minor-league type deals.

NHL Trade Rumors: 5 Hypothetical Deals That Could Actually Happen/Make Sense for Both Sides

NHL Trade Rumors: St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (22) waits for a face-off during the second period against the Chicago Blackhawks at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Blues trade D Kevin Shattenkirk and D Petteri Lindbohm to Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for F Valtteri Filppula and D Slater Koekkoek (sign-and-trade)

This would have to be a sign-and-trade for Shattenkirk. The rumors suggest he could be seeking upwards of $7 million/year, but in all honesty, that sounds more like a number you start with that inevitably comes down. Once the dust settles, I’d expect Kevin to sign somewhere in the range of $6-6.5 million dollars/year.

TB has a ton of key RFAs to re-sign, including Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, and Jonathan Drouin (among others), so it may seem farfetched to imagine the Lightning absorbing another massive contract. While that’s true, don’t be surprised if Steve Yzerman is overly active shedding contracts such as Braydon Coburn or Jason Garrison for example.

In this deal, TB addresses a major need on the blue line, while adding another quality defensive prospect in Lindbohm. For the Blues, they get a 2nd/3rd line center that could help push someone like Patrik Berglund or Jori Lehtera to the wing, or play it himself due to his versatility. Due to the five-year age difference that St. Louis is taking on, the Blues get the upgrade on the defensive prospect side with a promising blueliner in Slater Koekkoek.

NHL Trade Rumors: Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene (9) controls the puck in the third period against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado Avalanche trade F Matt Duchene, D Matt Barberio, and 2017 4th Round Pick to Montreal Canadiens in exchange for F David Desharnais, D Mikhail Sergachev, G Zachary Fucale, F Michael McCarron, and 2017 2nd Round Pick (WSH’s pick)

Before getting into my explanation, it’s worth noting this could very well be a situation that carries over into the summer. We know teams are calling about Matt Duchene, so at this point, it’s a matter of who is willing to compromise. Will Joe Sakic realize his astronomical asking price needs to come down? or, will another team offer one more piece than they’d maybe be comfortable with in order to get a deal done?

NHL Trade Rumors: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (22) warms up before the first period against Tampa Bay Lightning at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Desharnais, Sergachev, Fucale, McCarron, and a 2nd almost sounds like too much for Duchene, Barberio, and a 4th rounder, but let’s break it down. Desharnais isn’t really an acquisition for Colorado, it’s merely a piece to help make the dollars work. He’s a pending UFA and will struggle to make even half of his current $3.5 million dollars/year on his next deal. Sure, the Avs could re-sign him, but he’s more likely headed to free agency anyways – heck maybe even Europe.

The key pieces are top prospects Sergachev, Fucale, and McCarron. Sergachev is that big defensive piece Colorado is seeking in return; Fucale is a top goaltending prospect; McCarron is a big-bodied forward who could fit into a 2nd/3rd line role long-term.

Given the plethora of prospects the Habs would be giving up, it’s only fair that Mark Barberio head back to Montreal. He was signed to a two-year extension at the start of the year, only to be claimed off waivers by Colorado. The Habs would love to have the Montreal-native back in his depth role with the club.

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NHL Trade Rumors: Detroit Red Wings left wing Thomas Vanek (62) reacts during the first period against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Red Wings trade F Thomas Vanek to Edmonton Oilers in exchange for F Anton Lander and 2017 3rd Round Pick (STL’s Pick)

Not a lot to explain here. On one hand, we’ve got the Edmonton Oilers, who finally look destined to be playing some hockey in mid-April (possibly beyond). On the other, we’ve got a Red Wings team that has come to terms with the fact their quarter-century playoff streak is in jeopardy.

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It’s not like the Oilers necessarily need any more help up front. In fact, they’d love to get their hands on another RH defenseman. Unfortunately, it’s a process and Edmonton will get there, so 2017 is more about a learning experience for these younger guys. If you can bring in a savvy veteran with some playoff experience, it may help extend how long the Oilers stick around. Any extra game of experience in the postseason will be extremely valuable moving forward.

Some folks may believe that Vanek is worth a first-round pick. And hey, maybe there’s a GM desperate enough to do it. But that would be a mistake. All we have to do is look at past history with those types of trades. Chicago gave up a 1st rounder and Marko Dano to acquire Andrew Ladd this time last year – that sure worked out well, didn’t it?

In my opinion, Vanek should fetch something similar to the above proposal. They acquire 25-year-old Anton Lander, a player the Oilers had high hopes for. Unfortunately, he continues to struggle to stay in the lineup and may just need a change of scenery. Include a third-rounder, it’s a deal that actually works pretty well for both sides.

NHL Trade Rumors: Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) defends during the first period against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Penguins trade G Marc-Andre Fleury and D Brian Dumoulin to Dallas Stars in exchange for G Antti Niemi, D Patrik Nemeth, F Radek Faksa, and 2017 2nd Round Pick

Let’s make something very clear first and foremost. If Marc-Andre Fleury is still a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins following the trade deadline, it should be safe to assume there were precisely zero offers left on the table (if any ever existed in the first place).

How do we know this?

NHL Trade Rumors: Arizona Coyotes left wing Brendan Perlini (29) shoots the puck as Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) defends during the third period at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Well, if Fleury is still hanging around, the Pens will be forced to buy out his contract (as Bob McKenzie has suggested could happen). There’s no GM in a tight cap world that’ll force themselves into a situation like that on purpose just because they’re not getting a suitable offer in return. Heck, even if a team says I’ll give you a 7th rounder, you say thank you very much for getting that contract on my books.

So, what would it take for Marc-Andre Fleury to be traded if other clubs know there’s a chance he could be had for free on the open market in a few months? Well, it would take a team or GM that isn’t willing/interested in a potential bidding war. Or, maybe if it’s a smaller market, they don’t like their chances competing against the bigger fish.

Who might fit that mold? Jim Nill and the Dallas Stars. Here’s a team that could very busy in the offseason addressing different areas. They’ve got some key pending UFAs and RFAs to worry about and an expansion draft on the horizon.

NHL Trade Rumors: Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi (31) and goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) skate in warm-ups prior to the game against the Colorado Avalanche at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

So, why waste a protection slot on one of Kari Lehtonen or Antti Niemi when neither is the long-term answer? Why not address the no.1 starter role and get perhaps the biggest issue/headache out-of-the-way so Dallas can focus on rebuilding their blue line in the summer?

The first step to helping fix the back end could be the addition of Brian Dumoulin. I know Pens fans won’t be happy at the idea of losing a quality d-man who only makes $800k, but he is a pending RFA. He will be looking for a well-deserved pay raise in the summer, as will other Penguins defenders. The fact is, Justin Schultz made a complete mess of things (in a good way, don’t get me wrong).

Debate heading into the season was whether or not Pittsburgh protects Brian Dumoulin or Derrick Pouliot on the back end, with chatter about protecting both via a conditional pick. But with the emergence of Justin Schultz, the Pens have some tough decisions to make. If they had to leave Dumoulin unprotected or were forced to use a conditional pick for further protection, you’ve gotta ask yourself whether it’s worth it or not. If adding Brian Dumoulin to a trade means getting a big piece in return such as Radek Faksa, it might be worth it.

Dealing Fleury on his own might yield a very underwhelming return, somewhat similar to Ben Bishop. The Pens would obviously get a little more value given that MAF still has term on his contract, but unfortunately, there aren’t many teams lining up to acquire 30+-year-old goaltenders regardless of their past/current success.

NHL Trade Rumors: Buffalo Sabres left wing Evander Kane (9) against the New York Rangers at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo Sabres trade F Evander Kane and D Dmitry Kulikov to Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for D Jack Johnson, F Scott Hartnell, and D Blake Siebenaler

You’ve gotta feel for the Buffalo Sabres. They showed a lot of promise in 2015-16 despite having their starter on the IR for much of the year. 2016-17 was intended to be a year of growth and development, possibly even sneaking into the postseason. But unfortunately, the Sabres have been decimated by injuries all year long. Management has taken a lot of heat and some fans are fed up with Tim Murray and Dan Bylsma. To those folks, I’m gonna take a page out of Aaron Rodgers playbook and say “R-E-L-A-X”. It’s not the time to make drastic changes or tear things down. In all honesty, a little shake-up might be all the team needs.

Now, if you’re a Blue Jackets fans, you might have concerns about this proposed deal. Adding a personality such as Evander Kane, it’s a legitimate concern. I’m not gonna sit here and defend the past actions of Evander in Winnipeg and Buffalo. That being said, Kane is now 25-years-old and as Alex Radulov has shown us, players can mature as they grow into adults. And the way I look at it, if this young man can’t settle down under John Tortorella and around veterans such as Brandon Dubinsky and Nick Foligno, there may be little hope for him.

The big piece for Buffalo in this deal would be D Jack Johnson. At 30, he has two years remaining on his contract at a $4.357 million dollar cap hit. He’s capable of logging 20+ minutes/night and fits into the 3/4 slot on the back end. Most importantly though, Jack Johnson is a PK stud – something the Sabres could use a little help with.

Some might be wondering, “why would Columbus trade Jack Johnson considering the year they’re having?”. Great question. The sad fact is, the Blue Jackets are in tough ahead of the expansion draft. Using a 4-4-1 protection scheme is borderline impossible, which could leave Jack exposed with Ryan Murray, Seth Jones, and David Savard in the mix. Include the emergence of Zach Werenski in 2016-17, Johnson becomes almost expendable on the blue line. So, if CLB can replace Jack temporarily with a rental in Dmitry Kulikov, they can still stay competitive in hopes of a deep run.

Since the Blue Jackets are assuming a bit of extra risk along with a rental player, it seems only fair that Buffalo take a contract off of Columbus’ hands. Now, it’s important to note that Scott Hartnell has a no-move clause and could essentially say no thanks. Still, I think Hartnell is a savvy enough veteran to understand what’s going on around him. At this point, if he’s not willing to accept a trade elsewhere, he could be forced to waive his NMC for the expansion draft or risk being bought out. If you’re Scott Hartnell and a new opportunity arises with another up-and-coming franchise like the Sabres, wouldn’t it make sense to embrace it?

The NHL Trade Deadline is now less than 48 hours away. Who knows how much activity we’ll see this year, but for hockey fans, this time of year is almost like a second Christmas. The vibe this year is even more exciting with an expansion draft now just four months away.

So, Buckle yourself in folks, it’s gonna be a wild ride over the next little while!

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