In this week’s NHL Power Rankings we look ahead to the trade deadline and some of the players who could be on the move.
We have split the rankings into four different tiers focusing on the likelihood of a trade.
The first three tiers focus on players that are most likely to be traded for one reason or another (expiring contract, playing on rebuilding teams, requested a trade, etc.).
The fourth tier looks at players that could make a big impact and bring big returns, but aren’t anywhere near as likely to be traded.
To the rankings!
Tier 1: Players almost certain to be traded
1. Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Ottawa Senators. This is a no-brainer for the Senators. With Taylor Hall already moved to Arizona, Pageau is the top rental available and there are going to be a number of teams lining up to acquire him in the hopes he can be their missing piece. Even as a rental his value in a trade will probably be worth more than his long-term value to a rebuilding Senators team that is still years away from contention.
2. Tyler Toffoli, Los Angeles Kings. He may not be a star, but I want to see what he can do on a better team with more talent around him. The Kings need to start turning the page on this core and Toffoli — a pending unrestricted free agent — is a good place to start. (UPDATE: Toffoli has been traded to the Canucks.)
3. Chris Kreider, New York Rangers. There is always the possibility that the Rangers could try to re-sign him, but you have to think if that was going to happen it would have already been done by now. He would be a great addition for a Colorado team that is all-in on winning right now. He would also be an intriguing replacement for Jake Guentzel on Sidney Crosby‘s wing in Pittsburgh, provided the two teams were willing to trade within the division.
4. Alex Galchenyuk, Pittsburgh Penguins. His value is at an all-time low, but there does not seem to be any chance he remains with the Penguins beyond the trade deadline. GM Jim Rutherford is quick to move on from mistakes or acquisitions that do not work, and this would qualify. (UPDATE: Galchenyuk has been dealt to the Wild.)
Tier 2: Expiring contracts that could/should be be traded
5. Brenden Dillon, San Jose Sharks. Even with their improved play as of late the Sharks are going to need a massive turnaround in the second half to make the playoffs. The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reported that the Sharks are going to look to reset at the deadline, and that could mean a Dillon trade. As far as blue line rentals go he would be an intriguing option. He won’t put up a lot of points, but he makes a big impact defensively (UPDATE: Dillon has been traded to the Capitals.)
6. Robin Lehner, Chicago Blackhawks. Both of the Blackhawks’ goalies are free agents after this season, and Lehner doesn’t seem willing to take a below market contract again to stay in Chicago. Not keeping him creates another hole on a team that has too many to begin win. But can they re-sign him?
7. Erik Gustafsson, Chicago Blackhawks. He is not going to come close to matching his offensive output from a year ago, but he could be a good depth addition for a team that needs a little more scoring punch from its blue line.
8. Sami Vatanen, New Jersey Devils. Ray Shero’s firing kind of throws a wrench into the things for the Devils, but given their spot in the standings and the expiring contracts they have you have to think they are going to be sellers. Vatanen might have the most value out of that group.
9. Wayne Simmonds, New Jersey Devils. He was a good low-risk signing for the Devils, but he hasn’t quite bounced back as either side hoped. His pending free agency makes him a potential rental, but there may not be a lot left here.
10. Craig Anderson, Ottawa Senators. One of the many veterans in Ottawa playing on an expiring contract. He is not the goalie he was during his prime years, but he could be a solid backup addition for a contender.
11. Mikael Granlund, Nashville Predators. Granlund was an outstanding player in Minnesota, but things simply have not worked for him in Nashville. If the Predators do not play their way back into a playoff position they could become sellers, and Granlund’s expiring contract might be at the top of the list.
12. Zach Bogosian, Buffalo Sabres. Bogosian already requested a trade earlier this season and the Sabres have dropped like a rock in the standings. It is probably a matter of when and not if he moves. Do not expect a significant return when he does. (UPDATE: Bogosian has signed a one-year, prorated $1.3 million deal with the Lightning.)
Tier 3: The change of scenery candidates
13. Alexandar Georgiev, New York Rangers. Should they trade him? No. But they are currently carrying three goalies and seem to love Igor Shesterkin. The ideal situation is to simply keep both Shesterkin and Georgiev — two very good young goalies! — and see who emerges long-term. And if they both do? Even better! He will have more value to them that way than he will in a trade.
14. Kyle Turris, Nashville Predators. Maybe things change with John Hynes behind the bench, but Turris hasn’t worked out in Nashville and he still has a ton of money left on his contract.
15. Josh Ho-Sang, New York Islanders. Just because it has to happen at some point, right?
16. Lias Andersson, New York Rangers. He has requested a trade and a fresh start somewhere else would probably be in everybody’s best interest.
17. Jesse Puljujarvi, Edmonton Oilers. He can not play in the NHL this season but he has zero future with the Oilers and needs a fresh start somewhere else.
Tier 4: Really players that could make huge impacts, but probably won’t move
(Several of these players are the best players on the list and would make the biggest impact, but they are also far less likely to actually be traded this season than the players above)
18. Jason Zucker, Minnesota Wild. Former general manager Paul Fenton seemed determined to trade him but was never able to get it done. He is an outstanding two-way player that would bring a big return given that he still has a year remaining on his contract, but it would also be a pretty big white flag from the organization if the Wild move him. (UPDATE: Zucker has been dealt to the Penguins.)
19. Brandon Saad, Chicago Blackhawks. He doesn’t seem likely to be traded, but the Blackhawks would be wise to at least listen to offers. He is a good two-way player and has performed in big spots in the past. A contender would love to have him.
20. Alec Martinez, Los Angeles Kings. Out of all the potential trade candidates on the Kings’ roster Martinez might bring the biggest return given his position, ability, and contract (one full year remaining after this one at a fair price). Trading him would actually require a commitment to a rebuild, however. (UPDATE: Martinez has been dealt to the Golden Knights in exchange for second-round picks in 2020 and 2021.)
21. Tomas Tatar, Montreal Canadiens. It is going to be fascinating to see what the Canadiens do at the deadline. They lack quality scoring depth so trading one of their most productive players would be a step backwards, but this team is going nowhere fast as currently constructed and might need to change course.
22. Kyle Palmieri New Jersey Devils. Trading him would be a pretty drastic move for the Devils, but all options should be on the table. He is an excellent player with another year remaining on his contract at a good price. His value would be high.
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.