The 2021 NHL trade deadline is Monday, April. 12 at 3 p.m. ET. There were a flurry of deals over the weekend, so let’s take a look at who’s left and who might be dealt before this afternoon.
Mattias Ekholm, D, Predators (30 years old / signed through 2021-22 / $3.75M cap hit): As Juuse Saros keeps juicing the Predators’ win-loss record, defensemen like Ekholm keep slipping down various “trade bait” boards.
It makes sense that the Predators might get cold feet about trading Ekholm, as he checks oh-so-many boxes. Blueliners as defensively adept as Ekholm simply don’t hit the market (trade or free agent) very often. When given the opportunity, Ekholm’s also revealed some offensive upside, too. Combine those skills with his bargain cap hit and the notion that you can get two playoff runs out of his current deal, and it’s easy to see why he’s so sought-after. And he might just end up too valuable for the Predators to trade.
Rickard Rakell, LW, Ducks (27 years old / signed through 2022 / $3.789M cap hit): Rakell would be the Ducks’ most marketable trade asset right now. Not only because he is an excellent top-six winger, but also because he is signed through the end of next season at a very affordable salary cap number.
The Ducks are in a tough spot where they are more than a couple of players away from contending in the near future and it might make sense to cash in on Rakell now while his value is as high as it is going to be. He seems like the kind of forward that could excel in a new environment, similar to the one Tyler Toffoli did when he was traded away from the Kings.
[Trade deadline primer: Rakell, Ducks could both use a change]
Mikael Granlund, C, Predators (27 years old / UFA this summer / $3.75M cap hit): Yes, Nashville is taking ownership of the final playoff spot in the Central Division, but shouldn’t the correct decision for the development of team be to sell whatever assets it can? Maybe there’s heat on David Poile finally and his job as the only GM in franchise history may not be so secure. Granlund can provide some secondary scoring for a playoff hopeful and long-term benefits of a deal could prove more valuable than taking a swing at the postseason.
James Reimer, G, Hurricanes (33 years old / UFA this summer / $3.4M cap hit): Petr Mrazek is back, which means Carolina has three serviceable goaltenders available. One has to go, and the way Alex Nedeljkovic has emerged (plus his age, 25, and RFA status) he’ll be staying in Raleigh. Mrazek, 29, is a UFA this summer like Reimer, and comes with a slightly cheaper cap hit ($3.125M). GM Don Waddell said he may use one as a trade chip, which would be beneficial to strengthen the rest of the roster as the playoffs approach.
Chris Driedger, G, Panthers (26 years old / UFA this summer / $850K cap hit): The mix of Spencer Knight signing, Sergei Bobrovsky’s contract still having five years remaining, and Driedger able to be a UFA this summer puts him on the trade bait list. He’s emerged as a viable starter for the Panthers in 18 appearances this season.
Driedger’s status as a rental and his cheap cap hit makes him an attractive option for playoffs teams looking to add to their goaltending depth. But should the Panthers be eager to flip him for futures or ride this out with him and Bob and be fine with letting him walk in free agency?
Alex Iafallo, LW, Kings (27 years old / UFA this summer / $2.425M cap hit): Iafallo is a very good “middle six” player that could play on any team’s second-or third line and make a positive impact. Could the Kings re-sign him before he reaches the open market? Or could they get enough in return in an NHL trade deadline deal that makes a move worth it? [UPDATE: Iafallo is staying in LA after signing a four-year, $16M extension.]
Jamie Oleksiak, D, Stars (28 / UFA this summer / $2.14M cap hit): Oleksiak is a huge defenseman with solid experience. He’s mostly been lingering around average, although he enjoyed a startling burst of offense when Rick Bowness allowed him to take some chances. Could be an interesting possibility if the Stars shop him at the NHL trade deadline.
Jonathan Bernier, G, Red Wings (32 years old / UFA this summer / $3M cap hit): Back from injury, Bernier could be good insurance for a playoff team, and the Red Wings will be looking to add to their slew of picks this offseason (10 in the opening five rounds).
Mike Hoffman, LW, Blues (31 years old / UFA this summer / $4M cap hit): Hoffman had his first multi-goal game since February over the weekend, but it’s not be the most successful stint in St. Louis. After scoring 29 goals last season, he has 11 in 37 this season and has been healthy scratched by Craig Berube. The Blues are making a playoff push, but have a difficult remaining schedule. Doug Armstrong has a big decision to make.
[Trade deadline primer: Mike Hoffman could use a change of scenery]
Luke Glendening, C, Red Wings (31 years old / UFA this summer / $1.8M cap hit): He is not going to provide much in the way of offense but NHL GMs love to trade for players like Glendening ahead of the NHL trade deadline because they value their defensive play so much. Is his defensive play good enough to warrant that? It only takes one general manager to think it is.
Ryan Dzingel, LW, Senators (29 years old / UFA this summer / $3.375M cap hit): The Senators reacquired Dzingel earlier this season and he really does not have much long-term value to them given where their rebuild is and the fact he is an unrestricted free agent after this season.
Scott Laughton, C, Flyers (26 years old / UFA this summer / $2.3M cap hit): This would probably depend on whether or not GM Chuck Fletcher believes his struggling team can claw back into a playoff spot. Laughton would be a popular trade chip given his age (26), cheap contract, versatility, and the fact he has been pretty productive with 20 goals and 24 assists in 82 games over the past two seasons. [UPDATE: Laughton will not be moving after signing a five-year, $15M extension.]
Jake DeBrusk, LW, Bruins (24 years old / signed through 2022 / $3.675M cap hit): This is an interesting one because the Bruins need more scoring depth, not less, and DeBrusk is still at an age where he should theoretically be considered part of the Bruins’ future. He has also been pretty good over the first three years of his career. But he has been mentioned in trade speculation for most of the season and could be part of a larger deal. The problem is that moving DeBrusk now would be risky because his value is probably at its lowest possible point. That is not a good way to get value in trades.
Mattias Janmark, C, Blackhawks (28 years old / UFA this summer / $2.25M cap hit): Given the way the Central Division playoff race is starting to shake out the Blackhawks are far from a lock at this point, and Janmark is another short-term contract that could be flipped ahead of the NHL trade deadline for a pick. [UPDATE: Janmark will be heading to the Golden Knights as part of a three-team trade.]
Elvis Merzlikins, G, Blue Jackets (26 years old / signed through 2021-22 / $4M cap hit)
Joonas Korpisalo, G, Blue Jackets (26 years old / signed through 2021-22 / $2.8M cap hit)
Jarmo Kekalainen is in sell mode with Nick Foligno, Riley Nash, and David Savard exiting town over the weekend. Among his remaining options, what to do in goal is a question that needs answering. Teams are always looking for goalie depth, and he has two options for teams to consider with Daniil Tarasov waiting in the wings. Both have a year left, but Merzlikins is the richer option between his cap hit and the $5M in salary he’s owed next season versus $3.4M for Korpisalo.
Josh Manson, D, Ducks (29 / signed through 2021-22 / $4.1M cap hit): A few years ago, Manson ranked as one of the NHL’s most underrated defensemen. His game has slipped in recent years, though. You can see it even in his deployment, as his ice time average dropped from 22:18 per game in 2018-19 to 20:38 per night last season, and all the way down to 17:30 this season. Not ideal on a Ducks team that’s basically asking John Gibson to save them most nights. That said, Manson’s experienced without being too old, is a right-handed shot, and some might hope that he merely needs a change of scenery. (If you need a laugh, consider the reported asking price of “first-round pick and top prospect” for Manson, as Pierre LeBrun reported for TSN.)
Antti Raanta, G, Coyotes (31 years old / UFA this summer / $4.25M cap hit): There is a catch when it comes to acquiring Raanta at this year’s NHL trade deadline. He’s been a solid goaltender, but injuries have hindered him from keeping hold of the No. 1 job in Arizona. If he can stay healthy when he returns, all is good. But when did you know of NHL GMs taking risks as opposed to being ultra-conservative?