Looking Ahead to the NHL Trade Deadline: Buyers and Sellers

nealPhoto: Sports Illustrated

As the NHL Trade Deadline is now just 44 days away, it’s time to start looking teams, assessing their needs and determining who might be players in the upcoming trade market. Teams who will not be in contention for a playoff spot will have an opportunity to trade their pending free agents instead of losing them for nothing in free agency. Here’s a look ahead to the trade deadline on February 26


  • Buffalo Sabres – Buffalo has one of the top free agents available in Evander Kane. The forward has 16 goals and 36 points through 44 games, good for the second most on the Sabres. It does not look like the Sabres are ready to compete for the playoffs and trading Kane would help begin their rebuild. Their reported ask for Kane is a first-round pick in the draft and a high-end prospect. He will be one of the best players available at the deadline.
  • Ottawa Senators – the Senators have gone from a team that almost made it to the Stanley Cup Final last season to an absolute mess this year. Trade rumors surrounding forward Mike Hoffman have been buzzing as of late. Hoffman has tallied 11 goals and 29 points through 42 games, good for the third most points on the team. The team could also look at shipping captain Erik Karlsson out of town. Karlsson’s -16 rating is tied for the worst on the team and he only has three goals this year. He could become an unrestricted free agent in 2019 and the Senators may look into trading him rather than risk losing him for nothing.
  • Montreal Canadiens – Montreal has the third-fewest goals in the league at 108 and have given up 129. Trade rumors in Montreal have mostly surrounded Alex Galchenyuk, who only has 23 points this season after scoring 30 goals two years ago. That season was the only time he had reached at least 50 points. His -17 is the 11th worst in the NHL. Trade rumors have also been talked about Max Pacioretty, who only has 10 goals and 23 points this season. He can be an unrestricted free agent in 2020.
  • Detroit Red Wings – Former Capital defenseman Mike Green is expected to be one of the top players available at the deadline. He can become an unrestricted free agent July 1. He has 24 points and his -1 rating marks the third best +/- among Detroit defenseman. Detroit looks nowhere close to being a contender sitting with the fourth worst record in the Eastern Conference.
  • Arizona Coyotes – Arizona’s 26 points mark the fewest in the league. They will likely be shopping Luke Schenn, who has a -11 rating. Schenn, who can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, has three assists this season. Arizona has not made the playoffs since 2012 and have scored the second-fewest goals in the league (100) and have allowed the second-most goals in the league (154).
  • Vancouver Canucks – Vancouver has 40 points, marking the fourth-fewest in the NHL. The Sedin twins can become unrestricted free agents July 1 but will most likely keep them. The Canucks also have Thomas Vanek, whose 31 points rank second on the team, and Erik Gudbranson, who only has a -1 rating. They could shop Vanek and Gudbranson on the market.
  • Edmonton Oilers – The Oilers have been one of the biggest disappointments in the league this season with just 41 points after making the playoffs last season. Forward Patrick Maroon, who has 10 goals and 22 points this season, will most likely be on the trade market. He can become an unrestricted free agent July 1. After scoring 27 goals last season, a lot of teams could be calling the Oilers next month.


  • Vegas Golden Knights – The Golden Knights could keep their current core together but they may want to add more depth to chase the Cup. At 29-10-2 through the first half of the season, Vegas is looking like a serious cup contender. They will have to lock up James Neal and David Perron, who could become unrestricted free agents July 1.
  • Washington Capitals – The Capitals lost a lot of depth over the summer but are still the top team in the division. Washington could look to add more defensive depth. John Carlson has averaged 26:10 ice time per game (the fourth-most in the league). The Capitals have a six-point advantage for first place in the Metropolitan Division. It is unlikely that they will trade Lars Eller or Jay Beagle, who can become unrestricted free agents July 1. If they get a top-four defenseman who can play with Carlson, they will likely be set for the playoffs with strong goaltending and scoring. Philipp Grubauer is a restricted free agent, but could be involved in potential trade discussions. In an interview with NHL.com, MacLellan was asked about the upcoming trade deadline. “I’m OK with the forwards. I’d like our defense to settle in, be a little more stable. I’m a little aware of if you bring a [veteran] in, then Djoos and Bowey aren’t playing as much. That’s the balancing act of developing and winning. How you manage that is the key.”
  • Tampa Bay Lightning – The Lightning have a six-point advantage over the Capitals for first in the East. They lead the league with 161 goals and have allowed the fourth-fewest with 121. Even with a strong defense, Victor Hedman will miss 3-6 weeks with a lower-body injury; that is a huge loss for Tampa as he has six goals and 33 points in 44 games. He is a +24 rating. The Lightning could go after Nick Holden of the New York Rangers or Luke Schenn of the Arizona Coyotes to deepen their blueline.
  • Pittsburgh Penguins – The Penguins have scored an average of 2.84 goals per game (17th best in the NHL) and have allowed 3.07 goals against per game (9th most in the NHL). They are just two points clear of the New York Islanders, who have a game in hand on them. Their priority will most likely be to bolster up their offense. Riley Sheahan has 14 points for the Penguins but is not having the kind of effect that Nick Bonino had on the team the past two seasons.
  • New Jersey Devils – The Devils have been one of the league’s most surprising teams, sitting third in the Metropolitan Division with 52 points. Like the Capitals, the Devils will most likely be in the market for defensive depth. They acquired Sami Vatanen from the Anaheim Ducks on November 30 but the Devils still have holes to fill on the backend. They have allowed an average of 33 shots per game, the sixth highest in the league, and 2.95 goals per game, the second most of any team currently in a playoff spot.
  • Toronto Maple Leafs – the Maple Leafs have a dynamic offense and Frederik Andersen is playing very well in goal. The Maple Leafs will be another team looking for depth on defense. They have allowed an average of 2.89 goals per game and 33.8 shots, the fourth most in the league.

By Harrison Brown


About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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