With the NHL’s trade deadline fast approaching, you can expect some trade movement following the All-Star break. These are five players you can expect to see on the go on or before the March 2 trade deadline.
In the salary cap era, trades before the All-Star break are becoming increasingly rare. But once the All-Star festivities come to an end and teams get back to business, the trade winds really start picking up.
There are several players that have been headlining trade talks from opening night, and with only five weeks remaining until the March 2 trade deadline, you can be expecting there will be a few significant moves made. These are five players you can expect to be traded following the break.
5. Colin Greening, Ottawa Senators
With only one goal in 20 games this season, it’s not going to be easy for Senators GM Bryan Murray to move Greening, but he’s going to make it happen. He’s made his intention clear to the winger and now all he needs is a taker.
Realistically, the Senators will have to eat some salary in order to get rid of Greening’s contract. In the first year of a three-year, $7.95 million contract that pays him $2 million this season, $2.75 million in 2015-16, and $3.2 million in 2016-17, Greening is not producing up to what the Senators are paying, and the entire situation has been a mess.
It wouldn’t be crazy to see Greening land in Buffalo with a team that will likely have to take on some deals to hit the salary cap floor next season.
4. Cody Franson, Toronto Maple Leafs
Up until today, this didn’t seem so certain. However, amidst a report from Darren Dreger that Toronto and Franson haven’t been able to see eye-to-eye on contract numbers, it’s more likely that Franson leaves Leafland than it is he stays and leaves for nothing as an unrestricted free agent.
A right-handed shot and one of the better defenseman on the Maple Leafs, if Franson leaves he could actually fetch a considerable return for Toronto. With all the calls there have been to blow things up in Toronto, trading Franson might be enough to get a significant enough return that it could speed up any rebuilding process the Maple Leafs may have to go through.
3. Chris Stewart, Buffalo Sabres
If nothing else, he needs to be gone so the rumors surrounding him can dissipate and he can start playing hockey again. It seems as though Stewart’s name has been bandied about from opening night, and with a deal that expires at the end of this season, he might be worth a look for competing teams that are looking for a big winger that has the ability to score.
Twice a 28-goal scorer, Stewart has talent that is going to waste in Buffalo. On pace for the lowest full-season goal total of his NHL career, it’s going to mean that trading Stewart is going to fetch a much lesser return than Sabres GM Tim Murray may have expected. Even so, a trade is still worth it, as Stewart is unlikely to be back in Buffalo next season.
2. Keith Yandle, Arizona Coyotes
Yandle has been one of the best offensive defensemen in the league for some time, and the prospect of picking up the swift-skating 28-year-old rearguard will certainly be enough for many of the league’s GMs to make a call to Arizona GM Don Maloney.
What makes Yandle even more enticing for a team that is willing to part with some pieces to land him is that he has one year remaining on a five-year, $26.5 million contract. The $5.3 million annual cap hit isn’t an awful one, and it’s workable for most teams, even in the salary cap era. As an added bonus, the team that takes on Yandle would get the opportunity to work out a contract extension on July 1.
On pace to match last season’s 53-point output, Yandle already has four goals and 26 helpers from the backend. With his ability to play a lot of minutes and lend a hand to a struggling power play, Yandle is one of the best players who is known to be available.
1. Antoine Vermette, Arizona Coyotes
The youth movement is on in Arizona, and the Coyotes are going to slough off talent with big contracts in favor of a few seasons with high draft selections to try to bolster their roster. As it stands Arizona is in a good position, 28th in the NHL, to have a shot at landing either Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel, so it wouldn’t be surprising if they go into full tank mode.
Vermette has long been one of the most underrated two-way talents in the NHL, one of the true checking-line centers that can get the job done on either side of the puck. In the final year of a five-year, $18.75 million contract, Vermette is the epitome of a rental player that teams in contention will look at bringing in to make a run at the Stanley Cup.
With 11 goals and 30 points in 46 games, Vermette is having his best offensive season since 2009-10, and will be in line for a hefty raise once the season is through. Whichever team lands Vermette will immediately get an upgrade down the middle.