Molasses, in a dead cold January, has moved faster than NHL executives at this season’s deadline.
In other years, the days leading up to and including the deadline produced a flurry of activity. Not so much this year.
On Sunday, the Boston Bruins did bite on the rental of the deadline, sending three players and two picks (including a 2018 first round pick) to New York for Rick Nash. This was preceded by the Pittsburgh Penguins acquiring Derick Brassard and spare parts from Ottawa for D Ian Cole (since flipped to Columbus), minor league goalie Filip Gustavsson, a first rounder (2018) and a third round pick (2019).
Other than that in the last week, only two deals of minor significance took place. Those involved “Cy Young” candidate Michael Grabner going from the Rangers to New Jersey for a 2018 second round pick and a prospect, as well as Boston getting Rangers defenceman Nick Holden for a 2018 third rounder and a prospect.
Though there have been a few expensive rentals available, we can’t imagine too many well-compensated players are going to move in blockbuster deals.
With just hours to go before the deadline arrives, we are focusing on 16 experienced, yet relatively inexpensive players from 10 teams we are certain will be golfing when the season concludes. Here they are, in no particular order.
10. Detroit Red Wings – D Niklas Kronwall And C Luke Glendening
The Wings, for the second straight season, find themselves on the outside looking in at the playoffs. Thus, GM Ken Holland has to be thinking about the future of his club and unloading older assets, with an eye to recouping draft picks and prospects. Holland is a wily executive who has already jettisoned 2018 RFA goalie G Petr Mrazek to Philadelphia for conditional third and fourth round picks, but he may just sit on the rest of his roster until the entry draft. Of the players who could be available, and relatively cheap, are C Luke Glendening and D Niklas Kronwall. Glendening would be easiest to trade, given he’s 28 and making a very friendly $1.8 million per year (until 2021). A fourth line center, Glendening is known for his work at the face-off dot (58.5 percent effective this year) as well as secondary scoring with 14 points in 50 games. Kronwall, meanwhile, has a modified no trade clause and under control for another year at $4.75 million. He’s still a good puck mover who has 17 points in 59 games and plenty of playoff experience.
9. Montreal Canadiens – LW Paul Byron And D Jordie Benn
Max Pacioretty may or may not be out the door come Monday afternoon, and with Tomas Plekanec gone to Toronto already, that leaves just a few depth players to be had on the market. Two we can think of who could help other teams measurably are 28-year-old forward Paul Byron and 30-year-old D Jordie Benn. Byron is currently Montreal’s second line left winger and would provide decent secondary scoring, as he has 14 goals and 11 assists in 61 games. He is on a contract that pays him $1.167 million until 2019. Benn is a no-nonsense defenceman who does a lot of little things well, like blocking shots (122 in 59 games) and contributing a few points here and there (four goals and eight assists in 59 games). And, he makes even less than Byron, at $1.1 million per season until 2019.
8. Ottawa Senators – C Tom Pyatt
Ottawa already unloaded C Derick Brassard to Pittsburgh, which means that Erik Karlsson could still be in play. The betting money, though, should be on the Sens holding on to Karlsson until the entry draft this summer. Mike Hoffman’s name has been thrown around, as has that of Zack Smith. Available, we think, for the right return is journeyman Pyatt, the third line right wing in Ottawa. He makes a very digestible $1.1 million, until the end of the 2018-19 campaign, and has chipped in 17 points. He is most effective 5-on-5, since none of his points have come via the powerplay and he can kill penalties well. Formerly a center, he can be a good fall-back for key defensive zone draws and he also has 40 games of playoff experience.
7. Buffalo Sabres – D Josh Gorges And LW Benoit Pouliot
The most sought after name on the Sabres roster leading up to today’s deadline will be that of Evander Kane, who, at 26 and UFA at the end of the season will most likely be a rental for a contending team. Two on the Sabres club who are a little longer in tooth, and considerably cheaper, are D Josh Gorges and LW Benoit Pouliot. Gorges, 33, has but two points in 28 games and is a -4, but he isn’t afraid of the rough going and has significant post-season experience. Gorges is making $3.9 million on the last year of his contract and has competed in 68 playoff games, logging nine points, 75 hits and 156 blocked shots. Pouliot, 31, is even cheaper at $1.15 million on an expiring deal and has proved he can still score, potting 12 goals and adding four assists in 59 games as the third line left winger. Pouliot also has a passel of playoff games under his belt, scoring 14 points in 67 contests.
6. New York Rangers – C David Desharnais
With big-time rental Rick Nash gone, ditto scoring winger Michael Grabner, the Blueshirts most marketable asset left is Ryan McDonagh. They may wait, though, to deal their captain at the entry draft. Available on the cheap, then, is diminutive center David Desharnais. He has been decent offensively for a mediocre Rangers squad, scoring 26 points in 60 games as the third line center. Desharnais would be even more valuable on draws for a contender, since he has won 341 of his 615 face-offs for an admirable proficiency of 55.4 percent. The 31-year-old pivot has also skated in 51 playoff games and tallied 17 points, along with a 49.8 effectiveness rate on draws. He is making just $1 million on a one-year deal and is UFA at the end of the season.
5. Florida Panthers – C Derek MacKenzie
The Cats are treading in playoff purgatory right now, with buyer/seller status unknown. They won’t catch the top three teams in the Atlantic Division for a spot (they are 20 point behind Boston), but are five points out of the last wild card owned by Columbus. If they do decide to become sellers, one player who could be made available is 36-year-old fourth-line pivot MacKenzie. He’s making $1.375 million on a contract that expires in 2019, while providing grit and a bit of scoring. In 54 games this season, the veteran has 11 points and has won 51.4 percent of his face-offs. MacKenzie also has 90 hits and 33 blocked shots. He doesn’t have a ton of post-season experience, having played in 12 games, with two points and 55.5 percent efficiency on draws (71-for-128).
4. Edmonton Oilers – LW Patrick Maroon and LW Mike Cammalleri
The tire fire that has been the Oilers 2017-18 season will mercifully come to a close soon. The Oilers, for all intents and purposes, are out of the playoff hunt, which is embarrassing and disappointing when taking into account the talent they possess and that they went to the playoffs in 2017. A full scale strip down of the club is out of question, since they have a lot of long-term deals and some no movement clauses thrown in. The cheapest of the available guys are Maroon — who was held out of Edmonton’s victory in Anaheim Sunday — and possibly veteran Mike Cammalleri. Maroon, who has 14 goals and 16 assists in 57 games this season, is almost certainly gone and is a UFA making just $1.5 million. He’s got got good two-way sense, too, logging a +5 on a minus team. Cammalleri, 35, is making just $1 million and has 27 total points in 54 games between L.A. and Edmonton, as well as a +1 rating. He has the added bonus of being a good playoff scorer, logging 32 points in 32 games, though his last post-season games came in 2011.
3. Chicago Blackhawks – LW Tommy Wingels
The Blackhawks also find themselves in unfamiliar territory, staring an early end to the season right in the face. They are 10 points out of a wild card spot with just 19 games to go, so there is little hope. The Hawks also have aging players on big deals with no movement clauses, so their only avenue is ridding themselves of the odd cheap pact that might bring them a late round draft pick. One player we originally earmarked for this spot was forward Lance Bouma, who was put on waivers Sunday after being auditioned. One player still in the mix is veteran winger Tommy Wingels, who is 29 and on a $750,000 contract. The Blackhawks have had him playing right wing on the top line with Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews, so we believe he will be gone by mid-afternoon Monday. He has seven goals and 12 points in 57 games, logging just over 11 minutes of ice time. A reserve center, Wingels has also won 185 of 403 face-offs this year. He has also skated in 54 playoff games and registered eight points and 200 hits.
2. Vancouver Canucks – LW Thomas Vanek and D Michael Del Zotto
Like Patrick Maroon over in Edmonton, the sorry Canucks sat scoring winger Thomas Vanek for their 3-1 victory over Arizona Sunday. Which means he could be joining a new club before the puck drops between Vancouver and Colorado tonight. Vanek, 34, is making $2 million on a one-year deal and is currently tied with Daniel Sedin for second in scoring on the Canucks with 41 points in 61 games. The Vienna, Austria native has 63 games of post-season experience, scoring 20 goals and adding 14 assists. Del Zotto is just 27 and should he be made available, would provide depth on a second pairing, as well as good puck moving skill. He is on the first year of a two-year, $6 million contract and has 18 points and 177 hits in 62 games and averaging almost 21 minutes per game. Del Zotto got into 32 games in the post-season with the Rangers, logging 12 points and 96 hits.
1. Arizona Coyotes – D Luke Schenn and C Brad Richardson
The last place overall ‘Yotes really don’t have that much to offer anyone, other than Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who is 26 and their best player right now. Whether he gets traded or not is anyone’s guess and we think it might not happen until the summer. Of those the team can deal and who have friendly contracts, Schenn and Richardson stand out. Richardson, the team’s assistant captain, skates on the third line and would be valuable for his face-off acumen and playoff experience. He has 11 points in 56 games and has won 369 of 707 draws for a 52.2 effectiveness rate. Richardson, who won a Stanley Cup with L.A. in 2012, has played 50 playoff games, scoring five goals and five assists. Schenn, 28, is on an expiring $1.25 million contract and would provide depth on defence. He is currently Arizona’s seventh defenceman and has played in 51 games (five points). He is a noted hitter who has 160 so far this season, along with 79 blocked shots. He has three points and 45 hits in 12 post-season games.