THN mock deadline trades: Yandle, Green and Petry

Keith Yandle. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

We take a second crack at mock NHL trade deadline moves, this time shifting to the blueline. Defenseman trades are interesting because they involve such a premium position. It can lead to overpays. Stay-at-home Douglas Murray netted two second-round picks in 2013. Andrew MacDonald? A second- and third-rounder in 2014. Offense-minded D-men, especially those with manageable contracts and an additional year on their deals, can haul in more still. Jay Bouwmeester got Calgary a first-round pick when it sent him to St. Louis in 2013. Marek Zidlicky alone brought three skaters and two picks to Minnesota in 2012.

What, then, of sought-after Keith Yandle, Mike Green and Jeff Petry? Yandle has boom potential with a year left on his deal. Green and Petry make for handy rentals as pending unrestricted free agents. Here are some mock trades to consider.

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THN mock deadline trades: Jagr, Lupul and Vermette

Jaromir Jagr (Getty Images)

Better rush to get this blog up before every name in the headline above finds a new team.

The writing on the wall is pretty much in perma-Sharpie for right winger Jaromir Jagr and center Antoine Vermette. Left winger Joffrey Lupul has a decent shot at changing addresses before March 2′s trade deadline, too, assuming the Toronto Maple Leafs eat some of his $5.25-million cap hit.

Admit it: one of the funnest things to do this time of year is speculate on deals and propose some of your own. Let’s take a crack at it in this space with a few plausible swaps for each on-the-block player.

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World Cup of Hockey 2016: Projecting the Czech Republic roster

Matt Larkin
Tomas Plekanec should return to lead the Czechs at the 2016 World Cup. (JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s fair to assume the Czechs would like a do-over on the 2014 Olympic roster. It stood out for a few odd roster decisions, opting for the likes of Petr Nedved over Radim Vrbata and Tomas Kaberle over Jan Hejda. It wasn’t a shock to see the Czechs head back to their respective club teams without medals.

The Czechs are a team in transition right now, like Finland is, slowly saying goodbye to aging legends and paving the way for the next crop. Will the new wave, including David Pastrnak, Jakub Vrana and Pavel Zacha, crack the 2016 World Cup team?

Here’s the last of my projected rosters. To answer a frequently asked question: the NHL and NHL Players’ Association expect a large majority of their own players to comprise the teams but have not excluded players from other leagues at this time.

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World Cup of Hockey 2016: Projecting Russia’s roster

Matt Larkin
Even as Alex Ovechkin nears the end of his prime, he'll be a staple on Russia's 2016 World Cup squad. ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Only two teams left to forecast for the 2016 World Cup of hockey, and we’ve reached the murkiest entry. Team Russia is perpetually toughest to predict because politics play a role in the choices. How many KHL players will be honored for their loyalty to their country and make the team over superior NHLers? It’s a delicate exercise.

I’ve given it my best shot below. Note the lack of right-handed shots on the blueline. It’s typically better to achieve balance, but shockingly few elite Russian defenseman shoot right.

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World Cup of Hockey 2016: Projecting Sweden’s roster

Matt Larkin
Loui Eriksson and Daniel Sedin would make fine linemates again at the World Cup. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

We continue our virtual tour of 2016 World Cup of Hockey rosters with Team Sweden. The Swedes are a unique case in that, unlike the other European nations, they can assemble virtually their entire team from NHL players. Per, Swedes comprise 8.1 percent of active NHLers. That’s more than double the representation of any country other than Canada and the U.S. Veteran power forward Jimmie Ericsson, a Swedish League vet now playing in the KHL, was the only non-NHLer on Sweden’s 2014 Olympic silver medallist squad in Sochi.

Carving out a 2016 lineup is especially difficult with the Swedes. They have tremendous depth and, with few true superstars, they have little separation between their 10th- and 15th-best guy at each position. Let’s get to it.

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World Cup of Hockey 2016: projecting Finland’s roster

Matt Larkin
Tuukka Rask is a lock to make Finland - but has competition for the starting goalie job. (Chuck Myers/MCT via Getty Images)

The Finns have performed consistently well in recent international competition. They’ve medalled in four of five Olympic tournaments since NHL participation began. They won the 2011 World Championship and finished second last year.

But the Finns are witnessing a changing of the guard, saying goodbye to Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu. They’re a team in transition that must rely on new, younger pillars. Their 2014 world junior gold suggests they can do so successfully. What type of roster might they field at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey? Here’s a rough projection.

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World Cup of Hockey 2016: Projecting the North American Youngstars

Matt Larkin
Good friends Nathan MacKinnon and Seth Jones should compete together on the North American Youngstars squad. (Getty Images)

The dust has finally settled on the next World Cup of Hockey, set to commence Sept. 17, 2016. The rumored format came to fruition, with the eight-team field including Canada, USA, Russia, Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic, a Euro all-star squad and the North American Youngstars team.

The latter two groups are highly polarizing, of course. Will the Euro all-stars have any motivation to succeed without playing for their nations? Is the Youngstars team a cheap gimmick? I’m fine with both entries – It’s not like we know this tournament replaces the Olympics – though it’s surprising to learn any players 23 and younger can only play for the Youngstars. That means a Nathan MacKinnon or Johnny Gaudreau can’t even make Canada and the U.S, respectively, on merit.

After forecasting Canada, the U.S. and the Euro all-stars, it’s time for the difficult task of predicting the 23-and-under group. Here goes. I’ll deploy 25 players again, even though the official designation is 23, as I’m factoring in the taxi squad members. Also worth noting: the league has not yet designated an age cutoff date. In this case, we’ll go with players 23 and younger on Sept. 17.

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World Cup of Hockey 2016: projecting USA’s roster

Matt Larkin
Phil Kessel, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter would be staples on a Team USA 2016 World Cup roster.  (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

It was crazy enough to project a Team Canada roster before the 2016 World Cup of Hockey was even officially unveiled. And heck, that came more than a month after forecasting the Euro all-star team. Why stop there? Let’s explore the American team, which includes much more agonizing decisions because the talent gaps are so tiny between the top players at each position.

Players are alphabetized by position. Keep in mind the forecast is for summer 2016. Also, some roster choices may change if the NHL announces players under 23 years old cannot play for their country and must suit up for the under-23 team.

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