2016 NHL Trade Deadline: Top 15 Players GMs Should Target For Playoffs

by NESN Staff

February 23, 2016

The NHL trade deadline is less than a week away.

There are plenty of quality players who could be moved in that time, including a mix of veterans with expiring contracts, players in their prime with term remaining on their contracts and young players on entry-level deals.

Here are the top 15 trade targets leading up to the Feb. 29 deadline:

Steven Stamkos, Center, Tampa Bay Lightning
Stats: 59 GP, 25 G, 21 A, 46 Pts
Age: 25
Contract: $7.5 million, UFA on July 1

Stamkos is having a bit of a down year by his standards, but he’s still likely to score 35 or more goals and tally 65 or more points. The Lightning have been one of the NHL’s hottest teams since New Year’s Day and are back in a playoff spot. Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman already has said Stamkos won’t be traded, but you never know. The Lightning cannot afford to let him walk July 1 as a free agent and not get anything in return for their franchise player.

Jonathan Drouin, Left Wing, Tampa Bay Lightning
Stats: 19 GP, 2 G, 6 A, 8 Pts
Age: 20
Contract: $894,166, RFA in 2018

The Lightning shouldn’t rush a Drouin trade since he still has term left on his contract. The No. 3 overall pick in 2013 has spent most of the season in the AHL with the Syracuse Crunch.

There’s no doubt Drouin has star potential and the high-end offensive skill to be a consistent point producer, but he still needs to round out the other areas of his game to make the most of his potential. Tampa Bay must be careful not to sell low on a player whose value isn’t very high given his lack of NHL production so far.

Eric Staal, Center, Carolina Hurricanes
Stats: 60 GP, 9 G, 22 A, 31 Pts
Age: 31
Contract: $8.25 million, UFA on July 1

Staal is not producing many points this season, but that can be partly contributed to an unlucky shooting percentage of 5.26, which is well below his career average. Still, the Hurricanes captain could be a solid No. 2 center for a contending team, and he has the size and offensive skill to be a factor in the playoffs. Staal won a Stanley Cup with Carolina in 2006.

Andrew Ladd, Left Wing, Winnipeg Jets
Stats: 49 GP, 10 G, 17 A, 27 Pts
Age: 30
Contract: $4.4 million, UFA on July 1

Ladd arguably is the best winger available. He scores and drives puck possession at a high second-line level and his relatively low salary cap hit makes him a good target for any team with Stanley Cup aspirations.

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 6.23.59 AM

Ladd is reportedly drawing interest from at least six teams.

James Reimer, Goaltender, Toronto Maple Leafs
Stats: 11-11-7, 2.47 GAA, .919 SV%
Age: 27
Contract: $2.3 million, UFA on July 1

Reimer actually has played pretty well for a Leafs team at the bottom of the standings. His injury history certainly is a concern, but when healthy, he’s a capable backup or even a starter for short periods of time.

Jiri Hudler, Left Wing, Calgary Flames
Stats: 51 GP, 9 G, 24 A, 33 Pts
Age: 32
Contract: $4 million, UFA on July 1

Hudler is a versatile forward with his ability to play center or on the wing in either a top-six or a third-line role. He’s struggled at times this season, but the veteran forward has tallied nine points (three goals, six assists) in 10 games in February. Calgary might as well trade him for a draft pick or a mid-level prospect in case he bolts in free agency.

Patrick Marleau, Left Wing, San Jose Sharks
Stats: 58 GP, 17 G, 20 A, 37 Pts
Age: 36
Contract: $6.67 million, UFA in 2017

Marleau was involved in trade rumors in October, when he reportedly would have accepted a trade to the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings or New York Rangers. Those rumors have died since then, and the Sharks have shown tremendous improvement to climb back into a playoff spot in the Pacific Division.

It’s hard to imagine San Jose trading Marleau when it could be making a final playoff run with its current veteran core, but you never know how desperate a rival team could become if injuries create depth issues near the deadline.

P.A. Parenteau, Right Wing, Toronto Maple Leafs
Stats: 57 GP, 15 G, 15 A, 30 Pts
Age: 32
Contract Remaining: $1.5 million, UFA on July 1

Parenteau would be a depth acquisition for a team in search of bottom-six scoring and someone capable of driving puck possession. He also has a cheap salary cap hit and some playoff experience.

Mikkel Boedker, Right Wing, Arizona Coyotes
Stats: 59 GP, 13 G, 25 A, 38 Pts
Age: 26
Contract Remaining: $3.75 million, UFA on July 1

Boedker is a top-six forward with above-average offensive skill and good speed. He also would upgrade a team’s power play, as evidenced by his playmaking ability and 18 power-play points (three goals, 15 assists).

The Coyotes should re-sign Boedker, but he’s not going to be cheap and Arizona is a budget team. If his price is too high, Coyotes general manager Don Maloney should trade him. Maloney did well at the deadline last season when he acquired multiple first-round picks and prospects for players such as Antoine Vermette and Keith Yandle.

Travis Hamonic, Defenseman, New York Islanders
Stats: 53 GP, 4 G, 10 A, 14 Pts
Age: 25
Contract Remaining: $3.85 million, UFA in 2020

Hamonic is a top-four defenseman and signed through 2020 at a very reasonable cap hit. So, why would the Islanders trade him? He requested a trade out West earlier in the season because of a family matter.

That said, the Isles must maximize his value, which is pretty high given his age, skill and term left on his contract. Hamonic is an excellent player and would be a significant upgrade to a contender’s blue line, but it probably would come at a high cost.

Dan Hamhuis, Defenseman, Vancouver Canucks
Stats: 35 GP, 0 G, 5 A, 5 Pts
Age: 33
Contract Remaining: $4.5 million, UFA on July 1

Hamhuis has missed more than 20 games because of injuries this season. When healthy, he’s a top-four defenseman with plenty of experience playing against the opposing team’s top lines. He’s not going to produce much offense, though.

It should be noted Hamhuis has a no-trade clause in his contract and must waive it for a deal to go through.

Radim Vrbata, Right Wing, Vancouver Canucks
Stats: 57 GP, 12 G, 12 A, 24 Pts
Age: 34
Contract Remaining: $5 million, UFA on July 1

Vrbata is a UFA, and the Canucks, as a rebuilding team, would be wise to make him available and stockpile assets. Although, given the high number of questionable moves made by general manager Jim Benning during his short tenure with the club, anything is possible.

Vrbata could play in a contending team’s top six. He’s a good goal-scorer and adds a lot of skill and puck poise to the power play. A third-line winger role would be the ideal fit for him, though.

Kris Russell, Defenseman Calgary Flames
Stats: 34 GP, 8 G, 10 A, 18 Pts
Age: 28
Contract Remaining: $2.6 million, UFA on July 1

Russell is not a good defenseman, but he does all the things general managers put too much stock in: blocking shots, high character, intangibles, playing with grit, etc. His HERO chart below shows he does most things at a bottom-pairing rate. He also spends a lot of time in his own end despite starting slightly more than 50 percent of his 5-on-5 shifts outside the defensive zone.

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 8.51.48 AM

Russell, in fairness, does eat up a lot of minutes, and that’s certainly valuable in the playoffs when injuries and fatigue are a factor. The Leafs got two second-round draft picks for a similarly below-average D-man in Roman Polak on Monday, so it wouldn’t be surprising if the Flames received a package like that for Russell.

Kris Versteeg, Right Wing, Carolina Hurricanes
Stats: 59 GP, 11 G, 22 A, 33 Pts
Age: 29
Contract Remaining: $2.2 million, UFA on July 1

Versteeg would be a quality third-line addition to a contending team. He provides decent scoring production and has won two Stanley Cup titles with Chicago in 2010 and 2015. He’s a UFA this summer and has a small salary cap hit, so there isn’t much risk in acquiring him. Carolina is making its own push for the playoffs, though, so it might decide to keep him for the entire season.

Teddy Purcell, Right Wing, Edmonton Oilers
Stats: 60 GP, 11 G, 21 A, 32 Pts
Age: 30
Contract Remaining: $4.5 million, UFA on July 1

Purcell has played well for Edmonton this season, but a young, rebuilding team is better served moving veterans for assets. He’s been a pretty good player at 5-on-5 with 24 points, an 8.09 shooting percentage and a 52.19 Corsi percentage.

Thumbnail photo via Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports Images. Salary info via General Fanager.

Thumbnail photo via Feb 13, 2016; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Winnipeg Jets left wing Andrew Ladd (16) controls the puck against the Edmonton Oilers during the shoot out period at Rexall Place. Winnipeg Jets won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
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