2018 Trade Deadline Preview


Here is the problem with this piece: whenever I decide to put it out, there is a fear that it’ll be outdated.  Anyway, here it is, hopefully not outdated by the time you read it.  We are just five days away now, and while I’ve learned to be extremely skeptical when the insiders start talking like all hell is going to break loose on the trade front (2014 draft, crickets), I don’t believe there has been a trade deadline since 2004 with this many big names being talked about and teams with legitimate reasons to deal them.


Before I start, can I make a plea to all GM’s?  I guess this doesn’t just apply to the deadline, but can you guys start thinking of ways to be creative?  Before the Matt Duchene trade, when was the last time we saw a three way trade?  Have we ever seen a four way deal?  Trades are all over the place to be made!  One blog I’d like to do sometime is sit down and look at a big trade (six or eight player deals) that all 31 teams could do.  Because they are there, but so few of them are willing to make trades unless they feel like there is no way they can lose the deal.  And fellas, don’t be afraid to simply find ways to make the cap work in your trades.  “It’s just so tough to make trades these days because of the cap” is the biggest bunch of bull shit that NHL fans get dealt, and we get dealt a LOT of bull shit!  I can imagine the NTC’s and NMC’s making it tough, but not the cap.  The NBA cap is more restrictive than the NHL’s, and they now make more deals.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, GM’s these days don’t want to do trades because it draws a lot of attention to the job they’re doing.  If they don’t do any big deals, then it makes it tougher and delays any analysis on the job they’re doing and there for prolongs their tenures.


Now that I got that off my chest, and not one GM will read it making it a total waste of time….let’s take a look at some of the big names who’ll possibly be on the move.


Erik Karlsson

This is going to take a while to get through all the possibilities here, as this is the big one as of yesterday afternoon.  And despite people calling it 50/50, it sure sounds like it’s going to happen.  The theory in league circles is that you wait until the draft to get more teams involved.  But my belief is that teams at the draft put a much higher value on their future, where at the deadline it is all about making the big push for the Cup now and teams get more desperate.  You only need a few teams to create a bidding war, so it’s really quantity over quality.  I want quality, and really believe (especially with a guy like Karlsson) that you’ll get the best quality now because a team is getting him for potentially two playoff runs.  So what should the price be?  Extremely high.  In my mind, it’s in the ballpark of two first round picks, a second round pick, a top prospect (doesn’t have to be the teams best prospect but definitely a high end guy), and still another B-/C+ level prospect.  Apparently they would like someone to take Bobby Ryan’s boat anchor contract in the deal, so that for me would take one of the first round picks off.  So with Ryan, I would say a 2019 first (since the Sens will likely give their 2019 first to the Avs), a 2018 second, and two prospects.  In addition to this, any team is going to have to send some money back to Ottawa.  So for example let’s say that the Jets make an offer, and the Jets might be in the best spot of anyone to do this deal yet nobody is talking about them (maybe nobody believes Cheveldayoff would do it, or maybe it’s assumed they’re on Karlsson’s no trade list).  They would send money back (although they have an incredible 26 million in cap space come trade deadline), and the perfect fit to do that is Tyler Myers who only has a year left on his deal and is one of three RH shooting D the Jets already have.  2019 first, 2018 second, Kristian Vesalainen, and Tucker Poolman maybe is a deal the Sens would jump at.  It’s just an example.  Might be too rich for some, but imagine Karlsson with the Jets.


But let’s look at the other teams who can do it.  Tampa is of course the most talked about team right now.  That’s a possible tough move for Yzerman however if you really think about it.  You very likely aren’t re-signing Karlsson after next season.  And they’ve got a Cup contender with what they currently have.  The centrepiece to the deal probably has to be Mikhail Sergachev.  Do you seriously want to give him up?!  That kid is already close to being a stud and he’s only on the first year of his ELC.  If you don’t have Sergachev or Brayden Point in the deal (and Point is a none starter for them from the sounds of it), outside of taking on the Bobby Ryan contract (which is real tough for Tampa to do) or giving up 3/4 of your farm system….like where’s the deal here?  I think we all love the idea of him with Tampa as a fit, and the fact that he would make them the clear cut favourites for the Cup, but I just don’t know if it’s wise for Yzerman to do.  Go all in for a Cup the next two years, or trust your system which looks as though it can produce a consistent Cup contender?  It’s a tougher call than most are making it out to be.


I’m guessing the Pens will try hard with how desperate they are to get the three peat.  They own their next three first round picks, their next two second round picks, they have some kids who are worth looking at like Daniel Sprong and Tristan Jarry.  The key would be Kris Letang being willing to waive his NTC.  They could put Schultz in the deal instead of Letang to make it work, but for the Pens I’m sure they’d much rather Letang.  But don’t put it past them to blow up their next two drafts to do this.  If you can have one of Crosby, Malkin or Karlsson on the ice at all times, you’re likely going to win another two Cups.


Speaking of this, yes Oilers fans I’ve thought of them and do believe they can pull it off.  For the Oilers, you have to be sure moving forward that you can extend him after the season though.  The obsitacle is the ability to clear out at least two of the three big contracts which have NMC’s (Lucic, Sekera, Russell) than being assured by Karlsson that a deal can be reached.  So what would the Oilers have to give?  Lowetide talked about it a few days ago and he believed they only needed to do Klefbom if they take back Ryan and that they would add Lucic to do it.  Disagree.  They aren’t taking on Ryan even with Lucic going the other way, that eliminates a chance to re-sign Karlsson.  So in my mind you’d be looking at RNH, one of Larsson or Klefbom (preferably Klefbom), your 2019 first, and probably Ethan Bear.  The Sens might not be interested in RNH though thanks to that deal adding four million a season, so perhaps it then becomes a three team deal and the package for RNH then gets flipped to Ottawa.  But I fully believe they can do it if the desire is there, but the key is knowledge that you can then shed Lucic, and one of Sekera or Russell.


My dark horse team in all of this….can I have two?  One in the East, one in the West.  In the East, I love the idea of Jersey.  They’ve needed to upgrade their blueline for a few years now and have done a good job doing so this season.  But Karlsson?  That’s next level, and he fits so perfectly with how they play.  They have a boat load of assets, and they can definitely take on the Bobby Ryan contract if need be.  Sami Vatanen, Kyle Palmeri, Mike McLeod, Jesper Boqvist, and their 2018 first.  And that might be too much with the Sens shedding the Ryan contract, but he Devils could pay that much.  They’re very well setup and with Karlsson in the fold they’d become a contender.  In the West, I love the Ducks to jump in this.  Their window is closing fast.  They’ve done a terrific job of drafting and stockpiling young talent, they have a lot of cap room, and I believe they’d be very open to taking on the Bobby Ryan contract with how successful Ryan was in Anaheim (although it’s not lost on me the relationship Ryan had with Randy Carlyle….wasn’t good for those who don’t recall).  Again, you’re looking at a 2018 first (or 19, whichever the Sens prefer), a 2018 or 19 second round pick, Jacob Silfverberg (who was ironically a key piece in the last Ryan deal), and Jacob Larsson.


There are going to be SO many options.  It might be easier to list off the teams who wouldn’t have interest than would.  The only teams I can think of who wouldn’t have the appetite for it or else the Sens wouldn’t deal with would be Toronto, Montreal, Detroit, Florida, Carolina, Washington, Nashville and Arizona.  That’s about it.  Don’t sleep on the Islanders with how desperate they are right now and holding two first rounders (the Calgary pick is currently a lottery pick).  The Blackhawks might be done this season, but Stan Bowman could take the chance to load up for one more run with that core next season.  As Elliotte Friedman said on his 31 Thoughts podcast, Colorado could maybe give back the package they got for Duchene.  Talk about Tampa all you want media, I believe this one is wide ass open because we are talking about a superstar player and with the way he skates he’s going to be a superstar for many years to come.


Evander Kane

Here’s the surest player to go by Monday afternoon.  It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of where.  Just from an on ice POV, Kane is terrific, and I believe whoever gets him at the deadline is going to get a hell of a player.  The concern for me would be for whoever signs him, but short term I believe Kane would be on his best behaviour.  Pittsburgh, Calgary (tough without their 2018 first), Boston and perhaps Philly (though Ron Hextall is very calculated and might not feel it’s the right time for them) would be my choices.  St. Louis might have been in on him a few weeks ago, but the Blues all of a sudden are fighting for a playoff spot and if Doug Armstrong is smart then he knows his team simply isn’t a contender.  Whoever wants Kane is likely looking at giving up a first rounder, their second or third best prospect, and a young roster player with limited upside.


Rick Nash

He’s almost as big of a lock to go as Kane.  Only thing that gives Kane the edge is there is no chance he re-signs in Buffalo, where Nash MAYBE (highly doubtful) signs an extension.  He’ll do it, just probably not until July 1st when he becomes a UFA….anyway, it sounds like the Preds are all in on him.  He’s not what he used to be, but he still has great wheels and is real good in his own zone.  The best use for him is on a soft minutes line with a real good two way centre to do the dirty work.  And that’s exactly how Peter Laviolette could potentially use him.  I think the Leafs will be in on him, but I believe they’ll be smart enough to be very cautious on what they pay.  A Columbus reunion is very possible here as well.  If you want Nash, it sounds like the Rangers are looking for a first round pick.  I don’t think anyone should pay more than that, but perhaps to seal the deal a team will add a B level prospect to their first.


Max Pacioretty 

Not a guy who has to go, and it seems as though the noise surrounding him as cooled off a bit.  I don’t think he’s going to have the value that some believe he will.  He’s a one dimensional guy who will potentially command a monster contract extension this summer.  A lot of people want to link him to the Oilers for RNH, but if Chiarelli does that he then REALLY needs to be fired because that is an awful trade.  Three years left of Nuge as a terrific two way centre for a one dimensional winger who doesn’t even bring the RH shot the Oilers badly need for their PP.  If you’re going to trade RNH for a winger, it best be the exact guy they need coming back.  As for more serious options on “Patches”, I’d say mostly the same teams who could be in on Evander Kane.  I know…I want to say Elliotte Friedman, said Florida would be in on Pacioretty.  They definitely have the assets to get it done.  What I’d watch for here though is the Habs packaging Pacioretty with some other assets in an attempt to land Pierre-Luc Dubois from the Jackets.  I know I’ve heard that they want Dubois pretty badly, and perhaps giving the Jackets Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec at half the price, and Ryan Poehling?  Maybe instead of Poehling, two of their three second rounders in this draft (their own and then Chicago’s which should both be in the 30’s)?  Steep price, but that might be getting to the point where it would be worth it for Columbus.  Otherwise, I believe Pacioretty is going to cost someone something similar to Evander Kane, but if you aren’t getting a little more than Buffalo does then there isn’t much point in moving him now.


Mike Hoffman

This is starting to sound boring, but it’s the same market for Hoffman as it will be for Kane and Pacioretty.  With two years left on his deal instead of one or in Kane’s case none, you might find a bigger market.  Obviously his name has been linked to the Oilers a lot, but I’ve also read that the Sens don’t see a fit with the Oilers.  Pure shooter, not the best skater, isn’t physical, he’s more one dimensional than Pacioretty.  But he’s not far off Pacioretty offensively.  Because he’s a poor man’s Pacioretty, I don’t believe it should be a first rounder for him if we’re talking about a three piece deal.  A second rounder, a B level prospect and a roster player.  So let’s just take Dallas for example.  Maybe for them it’s a second, Denis Gurianov and Brett Ritchie.  Maybe the pick is a conditional and becomes a first if the team acquiring Hoffman makes the Conference final this season.  Something along those lines anyway.


Ryan McDonaugh

It sure sounds like this isn’t going to happen unless the Rangers are able to hit a home run here.  The Lightning and the Bruins are the two teams we’re hearing who are hot for McDonaugh, but of course the Lightning situation is now muddied because of the availability of Karlsson.  Still, he won’t cost near what Karlsson will, and is still a top pairing defenceman.  But the Rangers will need to get their money worth here, so it’s without a doubt a first, it’s a top level prospect, and it’s a good roster player….perhaps add in another conditional pick on top of all that.  So for yet another example, if it’s Boston then you’re looking at the pick, Urho Vaakanainen, and Matt Grzelcyk.


Patrick Maroon

It’s an Oilers bias on this blog, at least in terms of the content, so I have to touch on what they might do, yet I did this already the other day.  It’s pretty simple FOR ME with Maroon.  What you’re looking for is a first round pick.  If you can get it, you take it and run!  I’m looking at the Blues, and beyond Maroon being a St. Louis kid, beyond Maroon fitting their style, the Blues don’t have much space going into the deadline and I’m not sure who has the contract they’d want to move out to bring someone in.  So Maroon at next to no cap hit would be extremely intriguing for them I’m sure.  Still, I think the best the Oilers could do for Maroon on the first rounder front would be a conditional first.  Should the team make the conference final (which ensures it’s pick 28-31) or if Maroon is re-signed by the team.  Otherwise, a second and a B prospect.  Maybe with the Blues it could be a second (would have to be if it’s 2018 as they don’t have their first) and Robby Fabbri with another condition being that it becomes another second round pick in 2019 if Fabbri plays less than X amount of games.  I mentioned Dallas and Denis Gurianov earlier.  I’d really like to know what he might cost, or Val Nichushkin might cost.  Obviously you would need to ensure that Nichushkin is interested in coming back to North America, but those are two real intriguing pieces the Stars have.  Now, having said this, as I said the other day, this is where Peter Chiarelli fucks himself.  He has something he’s willing to deal, and he doesn’t seem to adjust his price and ensure he gets the best value.  Taylor Hall brought back Adam Larsson, when it should have been Larsson and probably two other assets.  Brandon Davidson brought back David Desharnais, when it should have been Desharnais and a mid round pick.  Jordan Eberle brought back Ryan Strome when it should have been Strome and a 2nd round pick.  But he seemingly gets the prototype of what he wants in his head, he just simply does the deal.  He wants a RH shot defenceman for Hall, he wants a veteran centre for Davidson, he wants a centre/winger with a cheaper cap hit for Eberle, and for Maroon there is some belief that he wants an older prospect who can play next season.  It would be so very much like Chiarelli to do Maroon for a kid like Ivan Barbashev or Adam Erne.


Mark Letestu

It was real simple for him when I spoke about him the other day.  I think a third and a fifth is possible because of how valuable coaches would believe a player like Letestu is despite the shitty season.  I don’t see it being for a prospect, but perhaps there is a deal out there which brings back a fifth and a similar player who has a little term.  Maybe a kid like Lukas Sedlak from the Blue Jackets interests them (no idea if that’s anything, just an example of a young guy who is being used on a fourth line).


Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

The value now might be greater than in the summer.  And I’ve looked hard at this.  As much as it sucks, they have to either buy down on Nuge or else they already have the guy in Strome and need to move Nuge for a D-man.  It doesn’t have to be for that specifically right now.  If you can get a killer package of futures for him now, why not do it, and then use those pieces in the summer?  RNH is probably going to be worth more at the deadline, and a package of picks and prospects will be worth more at the draft.  One thing that does make sense if they go the route of keeping Strome in that soft minutes role is RNH for Justin Faulk.  The Hurricanes can afford to move Faulk, they’ve supposedly had big interest in RNH in the past and need an upgrade down the middle, the Oilers need a top four RH shooting D-man (STILL….) and that could very well make sense for both sides.  It’s going to suck to see him go, but at this point it just makes too much sense to not deal him at some point before next season.


Kris Russell/Andrej Sekera

Teams are always looking for D-men at the trade deadline.  Of course with both it’s a matter of being willing to go, but if one or even both of them are willing to waive for a team, in my opinion the Oilers HAVE to pull the trigger.  Darnell Nurse needs a fat new contract this summer, and as I just discussed this team really needs a top four RH shooting D.  This is 9.5 million of dead cap space for the Oilers moving forward.  Not because they aren’t useful players, they very much so are!  Russell has been well worth the contract he signed this summer, it just shouldn’t have come with a NMC.  Sekera will be back to his old self next season I have no doubt.  The other move they could make is Oscar Klefbom moved for a top flight winger, and then use Sekera with a Justin Faulk.  But man, if they went that route, Klefbom better be getting close to what Larsson cost them!!  Max Domi wouldn’t be cutting it.


Obviously all the UFA’s are on the block at this deadline that I just don’t have time to hit on.  But there is one UFA in particular who I will take the time to hit on, and he’s highly unlikely to go anywhere.


John Tavares

So why am I mentioning him?  Because Garth Snow should trade him.  Unless he knows something nobody else knows, but if he does then why hasn’t Tavares been signed yet?  And so many people want to point to the Steven Stamkos situation, and believe he’s going to re-sign.  Stamkos was in a place where the team had just gone to game seven of the East final, won the East the year before, didn’t have major arena issues, and oh yeah…it’s Florida.  Steve Yzerman knew that he could wait out Stamkos because he was unlikely to find a better situation then that one.  Tavares, there are probably seven or eight different situations where he could go and they’d be better than the Islanders.  They aren’t a contender, they haven’t been a contender, they may have finally solved their arena issue long term but they won’t be in it for another three seasons, I just don’t know why he stays.  I hate the idea of Tavares going to Calgary, but why wouldn’t you sign in Calgary where they might not have a new rink on the way, but they’ve got one!  Add to that, they’re probably a better team than the Islanders without Tavares, and wouldn’t have to move anyone vital out to fit him in next season if they’re giving him a 10-12 million a year deal.  San Jose, St. Louis, Columbus, Carolina, Philadelphia, Colorado, and don’t sleep on Vegas who not only have a great thing going on and loads of cap space, but George McPhee was with the Islanders prior to the Vegas job.  If you’re Garth Snow, you seriously want to play this game when your team looks more likely than not to miss the playoffs, and you got a new star in Matt Barzal?  Seems like the perfect time to rebuild it around Barzal.  If you lose Tavares, you’re rebuilding anyway, minus about three key assets you could get for Tavares at the deadline.


Obviously, I don’t know what’s going to happen.  Something else to watch for though, Elliotte Friedman keeps hinting about expecting an out of left field trade.  “I think we get one bomb…one bomb that just throws us in a stunning way” is what Friedman said last night on his podcast.  I could write all night about what those could possibly be.  I do love the fact that it’s now Thursday morning and nothing big has happened yet, as it gives us a lot to chew on over the next five days.  I’m not sure if it’ll be good, but it should be real intriguing.


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