Loui Eriksson (Getty Images)
The trade deadline has come and gone, but there are five players suiting up for their teams the rest of the way who should have been moved on deadline day. The picks or prospects may not have been much, but some return is better than nothing.
Monday’s trade deadline has come and gone, but it wouldn’t have been hard to miss it. Before deadline day could come, most of the big names had been moved, and the top name dealt on deadline day was Arizona’s Mikkel Boedker, who stayed in the West but headed north to Colorado to join the Avalanche.
Overall, though, deadline day was dull. Several players who were long-rumored to be on their way to teams in contention weren’t shipped out, and even depth players who could have found fits elsewhere weren’t sent along for as little as a single late-round pick. Blame the salary cap, no-trade clauses or team management and front offices, but fact of the matter is there are several players who likely should have been traded who weren’t dealt, none of whom stand out quite as much as the five players listed below.
These are the five players who, without a doubt, could have helped contending teams and have the ability to make post-season magic. They’re the players who should have been moved to fetch a return before they’re potentially lost for nothing at free agency. Most of all, they’re the players who will cause several fan bases to wonder what the future could have held had they been moved along:
The Canucks were in a tough spot because of Hamhuis’ no-trade clause, but the veteran blueliner gave Vancouver two clear destinations to which he was willing to go: Chicago and Dallas. According to reports, both teams had offers on the table, including a deal from the Stars that was similar to what the Calgary Flames received for Kris Russell — which is to say a potential first-round pick, a prospect and a young, roster-ready defenseman. As you’ve probably already heard, Hamhuis wasn’t traded.
There’s no telling what exactly Dallas’ offer to Vancouver was and the same goes for the offer that came in from Chicago, but the fact of the matter is that Hamhuis is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. He’s 33, a steady offensive producer and as solid a second-pairing blueliner as there was available at the deadline. The Canucks are eight points out of a wild-card spot and aren’t heading in the right direction. This was a chance for Vancouver to get some quality assets for Hamhuis — who might now be lost for nothing — and an opportunity the team will likely wish they would have taken advantage of in a few years.
When it came to Eriksson, the decision was never going to be easy. Eriksson, 30, is in the midst of one of the best seasons of his career. He’s on pace for 30 goals for the first time since becoming a Bruin and was likely the top offensive target of teams looking to add scoring at the deadline. The deadline came and went without Eriksson being moved, though, even though he’s set to become an unrestricted free agent.
The issue is that while, sure, anything can happen in the playoffs, you’d be hard-pressed to call the Bruins one of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference. Even if they make it out of the Atlantic Division, it’s hard to see them getting by the Capitals or Rangers or even the Penguins in a best-of-seven series. That means whenever the Bruins’ season ends, so too could Eriksson’s time in Boston. The Bruins, who probably could have gotten a comparable package to the first-round pick and NHL-ready prospect the Jets received in return for Andrew Ladd, will instead head into the off-season hoping Eriksson sticks around.
There’s no joy in piling on the Canucks, but Vrbata is a 34-year-old who is one season away from free agency and very unlikely to remain in Vancouver. It would have been tough to get a pick in the first three rounds for Vrbata given that he has underproduced this season, but at least getting some sort of asset for him would have been better than nothing. Again, the Canucks aren’t likely to make the post-season. Vrbata will pay no dividends when he ends the season without a deal for next season and heading to free agency. The best the Canucks could hope for at that point is recouping a draft pick for Vrbata’s negotiating rights, but that seems to be an unlikely deal, too.
Benning said he didn’t receive one “real offer” for Vrbata, but even a single pick could have gone a long way, even if that was a late-round selection or a prospect who might be more of a project. There’s no doubt Vrbata’s $5-million cap hit scared some teams off, but the Canucks had the room to retain salary, at least for the remainder of the season, to sweeten the pot.
Toronto’s front office has done a near perfect job of acquiring middle-six players in the off-season to flip at deadline day for a few draft picks for the Maple Leafs to further stock their cupboards. Since the end of last season, Toronto has acquired an additional eight picks in the first four rounds. That’s savvy dealing. The one player they couldn’t rid themselves of at the deadline, though, is the one who seemingly would have gotten them the best return.
Parenteau has 16 goals and 32 points in 60 games, is on pace for a 44-point season and fits perfectly in that depth scoring role most teams are looking at right now. It likely would have taken at least a second- or third-round pick to acquire Parenteau, but no one could make it work. Instead, he was a Maple Leaf before the deadline and he remains one after. The worst part is, though, Parenteau could very well be out the door. He would have been a fit on any contending team for even a low-level prospect, and he likely drew some interest. He should have been gone.
Contending teams could do a lot worse on their third and fourth lines than the 33-year-old Boyes, and it’s not as if his contract should have scared anyone off. He’s on a one-year, $700,000 deal, and he has produced quite well given his price — seven goals and 21 points in 49 games isn’t half bad.
Was Boyes going to come in for a sixth-round pick and score 10 goals the rest of the way? Probably not. Does he have potential to chip in a goal for your bottom-six down the road, though? Absolutely. There may not have been much interest, but you have to imagine some shopping could have gotten a deal done. In a market that saw Brandon Pirri moved for a sixth-rounder, there had to be some sort of market for Boyes for a seventh-round selection or a project prospect. However, like Parenteau, Boyes will remain in Toronto for the remainder of the campaign and could move on in the summer.