The NHL’s Trade Deadline is Monday Feb. 25, and while some teams have already started to make moves, most of the big names are still on the board.
TSN’s Frank Seravalli put’s out his Trade Bait board every year of players who are most likely to move. For this piece I’m going to break down the bigger names on the board and then look into which players the Toronto Maple Leafs might be interested in.
As for Leafs on the list, there are two in #38 Andreas Johnsson and #49 Kasperi Kapanen.
Their 2019 first-round pick was also on the list but that was traded to Los Angeles in the Jake Muzzin trade.
#6 Mats Zuccarello/Kevin Hayes
The Rangers have been looking to get younger for a while, basically ever since they put out a letter to their fans about how they want to get younger leading into last years trade deadline.
Zuccarello is a 31-year-old pending UFA and has played his entire nine year career with the Rangers but it’s time to move on. Hayes is a 26 year old pending UFA. The 6’5 centre would bring size to a lineup looking to make a playoff run. He has 17 goals and 38 points in 47 games.
Posting nine goals, and 34 points in 42 games this season, Zuccarello would be an attractive piece for a contender looking to add offence to their top nine forwards.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie speculated that the Rangers’ asking price for Zuccarello could be a 2nd round draft pick. McKeznie says that they might be more inclined to take a run at re-signing Hayes unless teams meet their asking price.
#5 Mark Stone
Perhaps the best all around player on the board, Stone has hit the 20 goal mark in every season he’s been in the league (save for his rookier year where he played 19 games). A pending UFA, Stone is having another great season, scoring 26 goals and 57 points in 56 games for the Sens.
The 26-year old forward is in the enviable position of hitting the free agent market next year in the prime of his career coming off a great year. Stone is likely going to command more money than the Senators and owner Eugene Melnyk are willing to commit, so it would be in their best interest to get something in return before he walks on July 1.
The asking price for Stone will be understandably high, but he would be a terrific add for a teams playoff push.
#4 Jets First-Round Pick
The only non-player on the list, the Winnipeg Jets’ first rounder is reportedly on the block. The Jets sit firmly entrenched in a playoff spot as they sit in first place in the western conference and second place in the NHL. They also have a decent pool of prospects so moving on from a late first-round pick would not be a huge loss for the franchise.
The Jets are reportedly looking to add a top-six forward and TSN’s Darren Dreger says Winnipeg native Mark Stone could be a potential fit, if the Jets are willing to meet the steep asking price.
#3 Wayne Simmonds
A perennial 20 goal scorer who brings size and grit to a lineup, Simmonds is one of the more coveted players available. He has 16 goals and 25 points in 57 games this year and is a pending UFA.
Simmonds does control his destiney some what as he has a modified no trade clause that requires him to submit a list of 12 teams that he would not want to be traded to.
There was also some doubt about how willing Philly would be to move on from Simmonds as they did kind of play themselves back into the playoff race, but now that they sit eight points out of the final wildcard spot, trading Simmonds seems like an eventuality.
#2 Matt Duchene
The second Senator in the top five is perhaps the most painful one. Duchene was acquired in a three team trade in November of 2017 that saw the Sens part with their 2019 First Round Pick*, C Kyle Turris, FW Shane Bowers (a 2017 first round pick), G Andrew Hammond and their 2019 3rd Round Pick. Now Ottawa is dealing with the very real possibility of handing the 1st overall pick to Colorado and watching Matt Duchene wear a different uniform next season.
The good news for Senators fans is that they can trade Duchene and recoup some assets that they parted with. They don’t have a first round pick in 2019 so that must be the top priority in the Duchene trade. Columbus is said to be among the teams interested in Matt Duchene.
* Ottawa had the option of giving Colorado their 2018 or 2019 First Round pick. They used their 2018 pick to choose Brady Tkachuk fourth overall.
#1 Artemi Panarin
Speaking of the Blue Jackets… Artemi Panarin tops the 2019 trade bait board. Panarin has informed the Blue Jackets (and any team that trades for him) of his willingness to test the open market in July. Panarin is an electric top line forward who has 22 goals and 64 points in 55 games this season.
Complicating this scenario is the fact that the Blue Jackets sit in a playoff spot right now heading down the stretch. Attracting fans is always a top concern for the Jackets and it would be a tough message to send to the fans that they are blowing the team up yet again. GM Jarmo Kekäläinen will be faced with one of the toughest decisions of anyone on the deadline. Go all in and risk hurting an already murky future, or sell off and risk angering a dicey fan base.
Even with the addition of Jake Muzzin, the Maple Leafs are reportedly still looking to add to their blueline. The right side of their defence has been a topic of conversation all season, and while Muzzin may help improve their defence, he doesn’t help improve the right side.
In addition to the defence, some grit up front has been on the wish list for the buds. While their top nine seems fairly set in stone, adding a little more size to the fourth line might be in the cards for the Maple Leafs.
Complicating any trade is the fact that the leafs pretty much have to be money in for money out right now as they need to budget to take on Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews’ performance bonuses this season. Should the Leafs not be able to pay these bonuses this year, they will be forced to carry them over into next year, which could be catastrophic for the already cap-strapped team.
Regardless, the Leafs will still be looking to improve at the deadline, even if it means losing someone off of their roster.
Brett Pesci/Michael Ferland
The Carolina rumours won’t go away. The leafs continue to scout the hurricanes and the most logical fits for the team appear to be Ferland and Pesci.
It’s hard to imagine any trade scenario that involves Pesci that doesn’t involve Nikita Zaitsev and his albatross of a contract going back the other way. Zaitsev is scheduled to make 4.5 Million dollars a year for the next five years following this season. Pesci on the other hand is also a right handed defenceman with term on his deal. He will be making 4.025 million for the next four season after this one.