The Ultimate Guide to the 2017 NHL Trade Deadline: Eastern Conference Edition

The Ultimate Guide to the 2017 NHL Trade Deadline: Eastern Conference Edition

This post is broken up into five parts per team. First is the record as of Wednesday, 2/15, which is two weeks from the trade deadline. 

Secondly is the top prospects per each team. Note, this doesn’t include players like Auston Matthews and Brandon Carlo since they are contributing on a major scale in the NHL. There is room to still call those players and others of that nature as “prospects”, but for this use, they are not considered in that category. 

Also listed is each team’s 2017 unrestricted free agents. After that is an analysis, which is essentially what the team is likely to do at the trade deadline. 

Lastly is potential targets. These players come off of a list from @NHLRumourReport’s “Rumor Board” which can be found here: Make sure to give him a follow on Twitter as well. 

Metropolitan Division

Washington Capitals — 

Record as of 2/15: 39-11-6 (56 GP)

Top prospects: Lucas Johansen (D), Madison Bowey (D), Stanislav Galiev (W), Jakub Vrana (W), Ilya Samsonov (G), Vitek Vanacek (G), Zach Sanford (W)

2017 UFAs: TJ Oshie, Justin Williams, Karl Alzner, Daniel Winnik, Brett Connolly, Tom Gilbert

Analysis: The Capitals are essentially all in at this point, so don’t expect them to sell any of their unrestricted free agents. They already made one move, which was acquiring Tom Gilbert from LA in exchange for future considerations. With a hefty number of guys coming off the books this season that will be due for pay raises, specifically TJ Oshie and Karl Alzner, it’s safe to expect to see the Capitals as aggressive buyers this deadline. Although it’s likely not going to be major pieces, depth will he added. 

Potential targets: Radim Vrbata, Alex Burrows, Patrick Eaves

Pittsburgh Penguins — 

Record as of 2/15: 35-13-7 (55 GP)

Top prospects: Derrick Pouliot (D), Jake Guentzel (W), Daniel Sprong (W), Filip Gustavsson (G)

2017 UFAs: Chris Kunitz, Trevor Daley, Nick Bonino, Matt Cullen, Kevin Porter

Analysis: The Penguins, coming off a Stanley Cup win, are essentially in the same mindset as the Capitals. They need to and want to win now. Derrick Pouliot is a name that could be moved out. He hasn’t progressed well since being drafted high in 2012. Colorado could be a fit, but not for Duchene or Landeskog. Maybe another rental, though. 

Potential targets: Jarome Iginla, Radim Vrbata, Shane Doan, Dmitry Kulikov, P-A Parenteau

Columbus Blue Jackets — 

Record as of 2/15: 35-15-5 (55 GP)

Top prospects: Joonas Korpisalo (G), Sonny Milano (W), Oliver Bjorkstrand (W), Paul Bittner (W), Dillon Heatherington (D), Gabriel Carlsson (D), Pierre-Luc Dubois (C), Vitaly Abramov (W)

2017 UFAs: Sam Gagner

Analysis: The Blue Jackets surprised many this season by soaring to the top of the league after an abysmal 2015-2016 season. The emergence of young players like Josh Anderson and Markus Nutivaara have put the Jackets in a good position moving forward to the deadline. A few tweaks may be made, but likely nothing significant. 

Potential targets: John Mitchell, Michael Stone, Brian Boyle, Andreas Martinsen, Tyler Johnson

New York Rangers —

Record as of 2/15: 37-18-1 (56 GP)

Top prospects: Igor Sheshtyorkin (G), Ryan Graves (D), Ryan Gropp (D), Sean Day (D), Ty Ronning (W)

2017 UFAs: Steve Kampfer, Tanner Glass

Analysis: As always, the Rangers are looking to win it all. Henrik Lundqvist is not getting any younger. A primary concern for them is on defense, although an immediate fix may not be in the plans. Kevin Shattenkirk certainly makes sense from both sides, but the Rangers likely won’t cough up what the Blues want for him and will rather wait until the offseason. 

Potential targets: John Mitchell, Kevin Shattenkirk, Michael Stone, Fedor Tyutin, Dmitry Kulikov, Cody Franson

New York Islanders — 

Record as of 2/15: 25-20-10 (55 GP)

Top prospects: Michael Dal Colle (W), Josh Ho-Sang (W), Mathew Barzal (C), Kieffer Bellows (W), Ilya Sorokin (G) 

2017 UFAs: Dennis Seidenberg 

Analysis: The Islanders are stuck in no mans land between making and missing the playoffs currently. They only have one asset to sell, Seidenberg, but it’s unlikely that Garth Snow will do that. However, an expansion prep trade involving Thomas Hickey or Calvin de Haan would certainly be interesting. Regardless, it’ll likely be a quiet day on Long Island. 

Potential targets: Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Tyler Johnson

Philadelphia Flyers —

Record as of 2/15: 27-22-7 (56 GP)

Top prospects: Anthony Stolarz (G), Sam Morin (D), Travis Sanheim (D), German Rubtsov (C), Carter Hart (G), Oskar Lindblom (W)

2017 UFAs: Mark Streit, Steve Mason, Michael Del Zotto, Nick Schultz, Michal Neuvirth, Boyd Gordon, P-E Bellemare, Chris VandeVelde

Analysis: The Flyers are in a very similar spot to the Isles. One spot they have to fix up moving forward is goaltending. One of Steve Mason or Michal Neuvirth, both pending free agents, could be moved out in the upcoming two weeks to allow for Anthony Stolarz to see more NHL playing time. Also, you have to wonder, could Ben Bishop make sense there? It seems like more of an offseason move but it’s definitely interesting. 

Potential targets: Tomas Jurco, Ben Bishop

Carolina Hurricanes — 

Record as of 2/15: 24-22-7 (53 GP)

Top prospects: Jake Bean (D), Julien Gauthier (W), Nicholas Roy (C), Alex Nedeljkovic (G), Haydn Fleury (D)

2017 UFAs: Bryan Bickell, Ron Hainsey, Viktor Stalberg, Jay McClement, Matt Tennyson

Analysis: Continuing with teams in the middle of the pack, the Hurricanes find themselves in a tricky situation as well. However, they differ themselves from the Flyers in the fact that they do not have many quality assets to sell this deadline. Viktor Stalberg is a nice depth piece for a playoff run, but is dealing him for little return worth it at this point? Either way, Carolina will be a fun team to watch these next few months. As I’ve said before, Duchene makes a lot of sense for them. 

Potential targets: Tomas Jurco, Matt Duchene, Ben Bishop, Ryan Spooner, Tyler Johnson

New Jersey Devils — 

Record as of 2/15: 24-22-10 (56 GP)

Top prospects: Michael McLeod (C), Nathan Bastian (C), Joey Anderson (W), Mackenzie Blackwood (G), John Quenneville (C), Josh Jacobs (D), Steve Santini (D)

2017 UFAs: Kyle Quincey, P-A Parenteau, Keith Kinkaid 

Analysis: The Devils are going to be a seller this deadline with the few pieces they have. Kyle Quincey may fetch a late round pick as a depth defensemen. P-A Parenteau is much more enticing as a scorer and could go for upwards of a second round pick depending on the market. Not bad for a player picked up off of waivers in October. 

Potential targets: Tomas Jurco, Ryan Spooner, Derrick Pouliot


Atlantic Division 

Montreal Canadiens — 

Record as of 2/15: 31-19-8 (58 GP)

Top prospects: Mikhail Sergachev (D), Noah Juulsen (D), Nikita Scherbak (W), Michael McCarron (W)

2017 UFAs: Andrei Markov, Alex Radulov, David Desharnais, Brian Flynn, Chris Terry

Analysis: Montreal’s big move was firing Therrien and hiring Julien, but that does not mean a few changes won’t be made at the deadline. For starters, Bergevin will try to find suitors for Plekanec and Desharnais. Even if that does not work, I’d expect them to shore up their offense a little bit. Seeing how Alex Galchenyuk does at center under Claude Julien in the upcoming two weeks will have a profound impact on where that offense will be going.  

Potential targets: Martin Hanzal, Shane Doan, Alex Burrows, Patrick Eaves, Brian Gionta 

Ottawa Senators — 

Record as of 2/15: 29-19-6 (54 GP)

Top prospects: Logan Brown (C), Thomas Chabot (D), Colin White (C), Johnathan Dahlen (C)

2017 UFAs: Tommy Wingels, Chris Neil, Chris Kelly, Tom Pyatt, Mike Condon

Analysis: The Senators sit in a pretty good spot right now. They have a solid core of players currently and few UFAs to deal with this summer. As a budget team, there aren’t many big pieces they can add, although Matt Duchene was looked at. Some bottom pairing defense would help them greatly. 

Potential targets: Michael Stone, Fedor Tyutin, Cody Franson

Toronto Maple Leafs — 

Record as of 2/15: 26-18-11 (55 GP)

Top prospects: Carl Grundstrom (W), Joseph Woll (G), Travis Dermott (D), Jeremy Bracco (C), Rinat Valiev (D), Andreas Johnson (W)

2017 UFAs: Brooks Laich, Milan Michalek, Colin Greening, Roman Polak, Matt 

Matt Hunwick, Curtis McElhinney, Ben Smith

Analysis: I wouldn’t expect the Leafs to buy heavily or sell heavily at this trade deadline. Their rebuild has certainly taken an accelerated approach, but they need to stay on track. Trading prospects for a player like a Kevin Shattenkirk should not be in the picture currently. Some veteran bottom-six presence for cheap would be a good addition, though. 

Potential targets: Kevin Shattenkirk, Fedor Tyutin, Brian Boyle, Cody Franson

Boston Bruins —

Record as of 2/15: 29-23-6 (58 GP)

Top prospects: Charlie McAvoy (D), Trent Frederic (C), Jakub Zboril (D), Jake DeBrusk (W), Zachary Senyshyn (W), Jeremy Lauzon (D), Malcolm Subban (G)

2017 UFAs: John-Michael Liles, Dom Moore, Zac Rinaldo

Analysis: Despite not being in a great spot heading into the trade deadline, it seems that the Bruins are looking to do something big. Gabriel Landeskog has been linked to them for a while now. Kevin Shattenkirk makes sense too, but like the Rangers, waiting until the offseason is probably for the best. 

Potential targets: Kevin Shattenkirk, Gabriel Landeskog

Florida Panthers — 

Record as of 2/15: 24-20-10 (54 GP)

Top prospects: Henrik Borgstrom (C), Adam Mascherin (C), Ian McCoshen (D)

2017 UFAs: Jaromir Jagr, Jakub Kindl, Shawn Thornton, Reto Berra 

Analysis: The Panthers don’t have much to do this trade deadline, quite frankly. Jagr is a free agent but I think it’s unlikely he gets moved. A new team to start next season is not out of the question, though. Florida has a lot of front office confusion to sort out in the next few months. A report came out a few months ago that they’d be willing to take on bad contracts if prospects came along with it. That’s after they traded Lawson Crouse with Dave Bolland to Arizona this summer. Very strange. 

Potential targets: prospects

Tampa Bay Lightning — 

Record as of 2/15: 25-24-7 (56 GP)

Top prospects: Brett Howden (C), Boris Katchouk (W), Taylor Raddysh (W), Matthew Spencer (D), Dennis Yan (W), Adam Erne (W)

2017 UFAs: Ben Bishop, Brian Boyle 

Analysis: The Lightning have had a disappointing year, which could be attributed to a number of things. Steven Stamkos being out long term did not help. They’re likely to sell this year. Brian Boyle is a solid bottom six center that can fetch them a second and a B-prospect at worst. Ben Bishop is another interesting piece, but he’s probably going to be available in the summer anyways. So it remains unknown if there will be any takers for him. 

Potential targets: prospects

Detroit Red Wings — 

Record as of 2/15: 22-24-10 (56 GP)

Top prospects: Dennis Cholowski (D), Evgeny Svechnikov (W), Vili Saarijarvi (D), Tyler Bertuzzi (W)

2017 UFAs: Brendan Smith, Thomas Vanek, Drew Miller, Steve Ott 

Analysis: For the first time in a long, long, long time the Red Wings will be sellers. Thomas Vanek has had a very strong year and will get them a decent return. Something similar as to when he was traded to Montreal (for Collberg and a 2nd) is likely in line. Even if he is dealt, I think there’s a strong possibility Vanek returns to Detroit next season. Smith could move too, but a late round pick is all they’ll get. 

Potential targets: prospects 

Buffalo Sabres —

Record as of 2/15: 24-23-10 (57 GP)

Top prospects: Alex Nylander (W), Rasmus Asplund (C), Casey Fitzgerald (D), Brendan Guhle (D)

2017 UFAs: Dmitry Kulikov, Brian Gionta, Cody Franson, Anders Nilsson, Derek Grant

Analysis: It has been another bad year for the Sabres. Tensions are boiling over in the locker room, as seen by Robin Lehner’s recent comments. They’ll be sellers again. Dmitry Kulikov has not been a fit and won’t be back with the team next season. If he’s not dealt in two weeks, he will be in the offseason. Cody Franson could fetch a decent return, despite the fact that he’s struggled in his time in Buffalo. Captain Brian Gionta also is a free agent, although he says he wants to stay. I doubt that’ll happen. He’s a good piece for a young team looking to go on a run, whoever that may be. Evander Kane’s name has been out there as well, but he carries term and salary. 

Potential targets: Derrick Pouliot, Ben Hutton

Western Conference coming soon. Please share. Thank you!
-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

A match made in heaven? Colorado could have a perfect trading partner for Duchene 

Not much has been going right for the Colorado Avalanche this season, however they do have the chance to do now what other teams sometimes dream of: start over. 

For a couple of weeks now, left-wing and captain Gabriel Landeskog and center Matt Duchene have been in trade rumors across the league. These two players will come at a high price, but it’s hard not to want to pay up when it is players of this caliber available. 

Matt Duchene is certainly the more interesting name of the two. Drafted third overall in 2009, the speedy center has solidified himself as a premier talent in the league. 

Duchene hit a career high in points three seasons ago with 70 in 71 games played. He’s trailed off a bit since, but that could be attributed to a number of things — most notably Colorado’s horrible possession numbers and lack of depth. 

Sitting at 32 points in 45 games this season, Duchene would be on pace for almost 60 points in 82 games. Pretty solid numbers on a squad that may go down in the records books for the worst team in the salary cap era. 

The popular rumor is that in exchange for Duchene, the Avalanche are looking for a proven player, a prospect, and a first round pick at minimum. They’ve placed an emphasis on wanting to get younger on defense. 

A few teams come to mind when looking at these categories, but one team should stand out beyond the rest. It’s almost a match made in heaven. 

The Carolina Hurricanes. 

The Hurricanes have a glut of young defensemen and also have a need for a star center. They have the likes of Victor Rask and Jordan Staal, who are by no means slouches, but Duchene is on another level. 

For defensemen 23 years old and under, the Hurricanes have Noah Hanifin, Brett Pesce, Jaccob Slavin, Ryan Murphy, Roland McKeown, Haydn Fleury, and Jake Bean. 

Between all of the players on that list, which doesn’t even include Justin Faulk and Klas Dahlbeck, Carolina has a few parts they could spare. 

It’s unlikely the Hurricanes trade Slavin. Pesce is a nice piece, but he alone is not enough to garner Duchene. Hanifin is an intriguing one, but giving him up would be a tough pill to swallow for Rom Francis. It’s not impossible, though. 

Another bonus for both teams is the current position of Carolina in the standings. If they were to trade a 2017 first round pick to Colorado, it would likely fall into the 10-16 range. Not a deal breaker for Carolina, but certainly nice for Colorado. 

At the end of the day, a lot of moving pieces are going to be needed for any team to acquire Matt Duchene. Carolina is perhaps in the best position to get him, 

but it’s a matter of will for both teams. 

More trade deadline coverage coming soon. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Trade Possibility: Tyler Johnson 

Despite Steven Stamkos’ long-term injury at the start of the season, few picked the Tampa Bay Lightning to miss the playoffs. They’ve gone through this before without their captain multiple times — when he broke his leg and when he suffered from blood clots. 

However, this season has been different. The trade deadline is less than four weeks away and the Lightning sit only one point away from last in the Eastern Conference. 

Steve Yzerman has been patient over time with his roster, as exhibited by the situation with Jonathan Drouin last year, but a shakeup may be coming. Tampa Bay has too much talent to be suffering this badly. 

One name that could pop up in trade chatter during the next few weeks: Tyler Johnson. 

Johnson, 26, had a breakout year with Tampa Bay in the 2014-2015 season with 72 points in 77 games. Last season he dipped mightily with 38 points in 69 games. This year, he is on pace for 49 points in 82 games. 

Johnson has fought his way through the ranks as a small forward (listed at 5 feet 8 inches) and has established himself as an NHL caliber forward, but his play lately is concerning. As an upcoming RFA, getting his pay raise off the books would be quite helpful for the Lightning. 

Another motive to trading Johnson could come on behalf of the expansion draft. If Johnson is traded for an exempt player and/or prospects/picks, it would open up a slot for Tampa Bay to protect another forward. 

They could do something along the lines of the following up front: Stamkos (NMC), Callahan (NMC), Filppula (NMC), Kucherov, Palat, Drouin, and Killorn. If they trade or buy out Filppula, it would open up a slot for Vlad Namestnikov to be protected as well. 

Trading Johnson after he showed so much promise is a tough pill to swallow. But with the way things have been going recently for both player and team, it may be the right move to make. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Three surprising players that could be traded in the next few months 

In less than six months, the entire shape of the NHL will be shifted. 

By that time, four major events will have passed: the trade deadline, the entry draft, free agency, and — most importantly — the expansion draft. 

The expansion draft is going to have huge ramifications on trades. In fact, it already has. Trades are at an all time low currently in the league, with no general manager moving a muscle due to the uncertainty ahead. 

As the days grow closer to March and then eventually June, trade chatter will be rampant. Due to protection lists being so limited this time around, some unusual names may pop up in trade rumors, including the following three. 

Brent Seabrook, D, Chicago Blackhawks 

The Blackhawks signed Seabrook to a massive eight year contract not too long ago. The deal carries a $6.875 million cap hit until the defenseman is 39 years old. 

There is a huge risk taken when signing a player, especially a defenseman, to a large contract that takes him that late in his career. Seabrook’s play is already declining which isn’t a good look for Chicago in the first year. 

You have to wonder if Stan Bowman will gauge the market on this one. It frees up a lot of cap space for the team (potentially for Panarin in two years), as well as gives young players such as Ville Pokka, Trevor van Riemsdyk, and Gustav Forsling a chance at more minutes. 

Trading Seabrook would also allow the Blackhawks to protect one of Pokka, the main piece in the Nick Leddy trade, or van Riemsdyk from Las Vegas. 

One hitch, however, is that Seabrook has a full no movement clause. The fit would have to be prefect for the team acquiring him as well as the player. 

Stan Bowman would be wise to try to find a way to wiggle out of this deal before it is too late. Seabrook still has value in the league, but there is no saying how long that will last for due to his play style. 

Nate Schmidt, D, Washington Capitals 

Schmidt had an impressive first full year with Washington last season, boasting two goals and 16 points in 72 games. The smooth skating defenseman proved to be a reliable asset in both ends of the rink for the team. 

This season, though, hasn’t been as great. Schmidt has found himself in Barry Trotz’s doghouse, being a healthy scratch on numerous occasions. 

With the Capitals likely protecting John Carlson, Matt Niskanen, and Dmitri Orlov, Nate Schmidt would be exposed to Las Vegas. As a 25 year old defender, that could be very enticing for former Capitals general manager George McPhee. 

Although his value may not be overly high, Schmidt would be a good acquisition for many teams. He has all the fundamental characteristics of being a good top-four NHL player, including being a good skater and having good instincts. 

This’ll be an interesting one to keep an eye on. If Alzner is re-signed, Orlov will be as well. 

Andreas Athanasiou, C, Detroit Red Wings

Like Schmidt, this is another player who had an impressive season last year but has seemingly fallen out of favor with his current club. 

Athanasiou is one of the quickest players in the league and has amazing hands to go along with that. He is routinely scoring highlight level goals, albeit being a little streaky at times. 

With the emergence of Anthony Mantha, the Red Wings have a glut of forwards to be protected for the expansion draft. Zetterberg, Nielsen, Tatar, Nyquist, Mantha, Abdelkader make up for six of the seven spots.

It’s entirely possible that Athanasiou could be the seventh player protected, but you cannot rule a trade out of the picture. Despite his tendencies to disappear at times, there would be a boatload of teams interested in Athanasiou’s services. 

Riley Sheehan would be another name to keep an eye on depending how things progress. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles 

Looking back at the Jack Capuano era in New York 

The Jack Capuano era, which started on November 15, 2010, is officially over in New York. 

The head coach was relieved from his duties by Garth Snow on Tuesday afternoon, finishing a turbulent run of highs and lows within the organization. 

When Capuano took over in 2010, the Islanders were in a very dark place. They had drafted cornerstone superstar John Tavares one year earlier, but had managed to finished bottom five in the league in 2010-2011 after a disastrous start under Scott Gordon. The 2011-2012 campaign was not any better, as the Isles picked fourth overall in the draft. 

However, in the lockout shortened 2012-2013 season, Jack Capuano managed to lead the Islanders to the playoffs as the #8 seed. They pushed the dominant Pittsburgh Penguins to six games, providing hope for a pesky team that had just made its first playoff appearance in a handful of years. 

The next season was more of the same however. The Islanders traded Matt Moulson, a first round pick and a second round pick for a Thomas Vanek early in the season, but still finished bottom five. Capuano had much of the same roster, with only Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Peter Regin being the offseason acquisitions. Capuano’s future was in doubt back then, but the organization continued to show faith in the head coach and kept him around. 

In the fall of 2014, after a pitiful finish the year prior, Garth Snow went out and acquired Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy. These two moves were franchise altering, as the Islanders compiled a 100 point season in their final year at Nassau Coliseum. They wound up losing to the Capitals in seven games that postseason. 

The success came again in 2015-2016, with another 100 point season. This time, however, the Isles advanced past round one in the playoff by defeating the Florida Panthers. They were eventually smoked out by Tampa Bay in five games, which was marked by Jon Cooper’s impressive job of out-coaching Capuano. 

On July 1st of that same year, Charles Wang relinquished majority ownership of the team to John Ledecky and Scott Malkin. The new owners came in and promised to make the Islanders great once more and to add a fifth banner to the rafters. 

In this first year, things have not been going as planned. The Islanders sit last in the Eastern Conference, despite only being eight points out of the playoffs. This resulted in the firing of Capuano, who, admittedly by Garth Snow, was not going to be back as head coach next season. 

You could describe Capuano’s tenure with the New York Islanders in a number of ways. 

From one aspect, you could look at him as the coach who endured seven years here and accelerated the team out of the dark ages. Truth be told — whether you liked him or not — Capuano lead the Islanders to three playoff appearances in the recent four years and put together back-to-back 100 point seasons. 

The flip side of the coin is Capuano was never a coach that was going to take the team to the next step. It’s doubtful the Islanders were going to win a Stanley Cup under the current regime. 

Perhaps a big reason why fans, and maybe management, were so irked with Capuano over his time here was his treatment of rookies. Brock Nelson was a healthy scratch multiple times early in his career. Ryan Strome went through the same thing in recent seasons, which even included a trip down to the AHL in 2015. Recently, it’s been Anthony Beauvillier in the doghouse. 

The most notable of the list, however, is Nino Neiderreiter. The Swiss right winger was continually put with the likes of Jay Pandolfo and Marty Reasoner when he was playing on the team. This resulted in him demanding a trade and eventually being moved to Minnesota. You have to wonder how different the Islanders roster would look if Neiderreiter had been played to his strengths. 

In all, it’s been a bumpy ride. It was time to move on. The Islanders have over eight full months to decide on a new coach for next season. 

The most interesting part, though, is that this may not even be the end of the changes. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Five players who are likely to be moved at the 2017 NHL trade deadline 

The trade deadline is almost upon us, and so far it is unclear what will happen when it officially rolls around. With expansion on the horizon, trades are at an all time low. The market is stagnant. However, that could change when teams feel the crunch before playoff time. Here are five players likely to move at or before the February 28th trade deadline. 

1. Jarome Iginla, Colorado Avalanche

The ex-Calgary Flames captain bounced around for some time in the NHL before landing a four year contract with Colorado. He has reached the last year of that deal, but things are not going well in the Mile High City between player and team. 

Iginla only has five goals and 11 points in 39 games this season. The 39 year old right winger has lost a considerable amount of speed and skill over the years. 

Despite all that, Iginla can be a valuable asset for a team in the playoff hunt. He provides a great deal of leadership and still has the scoring touch in him that can be revitalized. 

If the Flames stay in the race in the Pacific, a trade back “home” would be quite the story. Montreal makes sense as well.  

2. Martin Hanzal, Arizona Coyotes

Things are not much better in Arizona than they are in Colorado. The Coyotes sit second to last in the league despite having a promising 2015-2016 campaign. 

Lucky for them, they have a number of assets to deal at the deadline, one of them being Martin Hanzal. In the last year of his five year deal, Hanzal, 29, carries a $3.1 million cap hit. 

Although he does not put up a large amount of points, Hanzal is revered for his two-way game. His career high in points came last season with 41. 

Hanzal is the best fit for any team looking for center help at the deadline. Minnesota maybe?

3. Michael Stone, Arizona Coyotes

Stone is another asset the Coyotes hold. He is Arizona’s second best defenseman behind Oliver Ekman-Larsson and he has really solidified himself as a top-four mainstay in recent years. 

Stone would likely be classified as a defensive defenseman. He does not put up goals (he has zero in 27 games this year), but you get what you pay for and know what to expect night in and night out with Stone. 

I could see a team like Columbus or Edmonton being interested in Stone’s services.  

4. Ryan Spooner, Boston Bruins 

Spooner has had trouble finding his groove since entering the NHL with Boston, who don’t want to lose him for nothing on waivers. 

Spooner was a second round pick in 2010 and had a promising season with Boston last year tallying 49 points, but this season only has 19 points in 40 games. 

A big reason for this may be his shift to wing. With the likes of David Backes, Patrice Bergeron, and David Krejci down the middle, it has been tough for Spooner to gain a consistent center spot in the lineup. 

Spooner still has loads of potential and could thrive in the right situation. The price for him wouldn’t be high, but you certainly won’t get him for pennies on the dollar. 

Possible suitors include Vancouver and Carolina. 

5. Cody Franson

After holding out all the way until training camp when he was a free agent a few summers ago, Cody Franson eventually decided to sign a two year deal with Buffalo. That deal is now ending, and with the Sabres at the bottom of the standings, Franson may become subject to trade rumors. 

Franson’s time in Buffalo has not been anything to write home about. In 85 total games, he has five goals and 21 assists. However, he can still be utilized as an effective defenseman in a bottom-pair role on the correct team. 

Franson is an effective puck mover and is not too far removed from solid seasons with Toronto. 

He probably will not cost much from Buffalo, so it may be worth the risk. 

The Rangers could look at him, as could the Capitals. A Toronto reunion, if they stay in the race, would be interesting as well. 

The trade deadline is 52 days away. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles 

The shootout has become a necessary evil for hockey 

The ending of the World Juniors championship game between Canada and the United States has been causing quite a stir in the hockey world. 

The game was action packed and was tied 4-4 after regulation. The overtime was even better than the regulation, with both teams having a multitude of chances. The overtime looked more like a 3 on 3 than a 5 on 5 at some points. 

However, after the twenty minute extra period concluded, the game was to be decided by a five round shootout, which the USA won 1-0, giving them the gold medal. 

There was rightful outrage that a game of this magnitude was decided by a skills competition. Many comparisons were made such as a basketball game being decided by a dunk contest or a football game being decided by a field goal kicking contest. 

Although this may be true, the shootout has become a necessary evil for hockey. The shootout’s power can be abused at times, with last night’s game being a prime example, but it cannot be taken away from the game all together. The call for the shootout to be removed from hockey after last night’s game is a rash and foolish proposition. 

The players interests have to be kept in mind when it comes to overtime and shootout regulations. In an already grueling 82 game season, adding continuous overtime in the regular season is a death wish. 

Travel has to be taken into affect as well. If a team is playing in the first night of a back-to-back set, or playing in any road game for that matter, they cannot afford to be playing in continuous overtime until late in the night when they have a flight to catch. It simply does not make sense. 

The NHL has clearly taken steps to draw back in the use of shootouts over the past few seasons, with 3 on 3 overtime being the primary change. It would not be surprising to see them add an additional five minutes of 3 on 3 before a shootout in the near future. 

The shootout simply cannot be taken out of the game, but changes can be made, starting with the IIHF. The ending of last night’s championship was disrespectful to both players and fans after such a hard fought 80 minutes of battle. 

The fact of the matter is: changes can be made, but the shootout had to stay in the game for the sake of the players, whether fans like it or not. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

The first instances of expansion prep came this week via Montreal and Anaheim 

The expansion draft is looming. Teams have been planning for this event below the surface for months, but now that we are within half a year of the actual event, more public moves are beginning to be made. 

Previous expansion teams, such as the Columbus Blue Jackets, Minnesota Wild, and Nashville Predators, among others, took a while before becoming competitive teams. The NHL has ensured this is not the case with Las Vegas. 

For this draft, each current NHL team is allowed to protect only one goaltender, plus seven forwards and three defensemen OR any combination of eight skaters. Essentially, each team is either losing a decent goalie, a top-four defender, or a top-nine forward. First and second year professionals are exempt. 

Due to these tight restrictions, which include games played exposure requirements, teams will be forced to make moves to ensure they get something back for unprotected players rather than potentially losing them for nothing. Trades are at a standstill for now, but these next few months are certainly going be a tricky, yet extremely exciting one for general managers and fans alike. 

A way NHL teams are trying to weasel around requirements is signing current players, primarily upcoming free agents, to new deals in order to expose them. 

The Canadiens and Ducks are the first instance of this. 

Montreal re-signed goalie Al Montoya to a two year contract extension earlier this week. By doing this, they can expose Montoya to Las Vegas in the draft as their goalie requirement. Before the signing, Montreal would have been required to expose Carey Price. 

The Ducks did the same with Dustin Tokaraki. He was signed to a one year deal in order to keep John Gibson safe. 

Now that it is January, there are going to be plenty more of these signings. Players reaching both restricted free agency and unrestricted free agency on July 1st are now eligible to be re-signed by their current clubs. 

As time goes on, and as the expansion draft gets closer, there is going to be a lot of maneuvering taking place in the NHL. This is only the tip of the iceberg. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

The Five Most Influential Hockey Figures of 2016

The NHL, like any other sports league, has a large number of influential figures. These big names come from on the ice and off the ice. Many men and women had a large impact on hockey in 2016, but here are some who have had the biggest.

5. Jaromir Jagr

Jagr, the ageless wonder at 44 years old, has put together yet another successful year in the hockey world. He helped lead the young Panthers to the playoffs last season, although they lost in the first round. This season, the Panthers are not doing as well as the year prior, but Jagr is still putting up numbers. Currently, he sits at 21 points in 37 games. That is good for third on Florida’s roster.

The biggest accomplishment for Jagr in 2016 came recently. In a game against Boston on December 22, he assisted on Aleksander Barkov’s goal late in the third period. This assist propelled Jagr to 1,888 career points, which led him past Mark Messier for second all time. He still has almost 1,000 points to hit Gretzky, but second all time is no small feat.

2016 was a fantastic year for Jaromir Jagr, and who knows how many more years he will play.

4. John Chayka

The Coyotes finished in the middle of the pack in the 2015-2016 season, but still felt they needed a front office change. They fired Don Maloney just as the season ended, but did not name a new general manager for another couple of weeks.

The man that was later named was John Chayka, the youngest general manager in hockey history at 26 years old.

Chayka represented a revolutionary change in hockey philosophy. The divide between the “eye test” people and the “analytics” people is still evident, but Chayka’s hire proved how much weight analytics now has. His hire leads the way for a new wave of young minds to make their way into front offices.

As time goes on, there will be more hires like Chayka. The mindset of hockey is changing, and the numbers are not black and white anymore. John Chayka is just the beginning of that.

3. Connor McDavid

Drafted first overall by the Edmonton Oilers in 2015, expectations were astronomically high for Connor McDavid. So far he has produced on a large scale, despite being injured for a few months early in his career.

Currently, McDavid is arguably the second best player in the NHL behind Sidney Crosby. His electrifying speed and all around skill is something fun to watch every night. McDavid is case one of the NHL moving from size to speed.

Another accomplishment on McDavid’s list this past year is being named the youngest captain in NHL history, breaking Gabriel Landeskog’s record. McDavid also captained Team North America at the World Cup of Hockey.

2016 was just the start for Connor McDavid. He has many, many, many more years to come and the sky is only the limit for him. To be able to watch him progress as a player and captain is something the entire NHL and it’s fans should feel privileged to be watching.

2. Donald Fehr

Although he flies under the radar for a majority of the year, Donald Fehr has a massive pull on the strings of the NHL.

Fehr is the executive director of the National Hockey League Players Association. Recently, Fehr and the NHLPA rejected a CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) that would have seen the current agreement be extended in exchange for NHL players being able to participate in the 2018 Olympics in South Korea.

Participation in the Olympics has been an issue for some time now and a push-pull battle between Fehr, Bettman, and their associates. NHL players not going to the Olympics would be a huge loss for both the league’s popularity and the players and fans themselves.

It is unclear what is going to happen in terms of the Olympics, or even a potential lockout, but regardless Donald Fehr has an astronomical say in how things go and will continue to be an important figure in hockey for years to come, just as he was in 2016.

1. Bill Foley

There were not many, if any, bigger moves in NHL this season than the addition of the 31st franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights. The team was formally introduced in 2016, with their owner being none other than Bill Foley.

The expansion to Las Vegas is already having huge implications of the league. The expansion draft is looming, so trades are at a halt. Teams also have to figure out what they are going to do with players of no movement clauses.

The success of Las Vegas under Bill Foley is going to have a large impact on Gary Bettman’s legacy. Bettman has had his fair share of location controversies, including with the Islanders, Coyotes, and Thrashers, so he cannot afford a loss in Las Vegas.

Foley’s dedication to Las Vegas is going to reshape the league and change it forever. There is no saying how it is going to go or how good the team will be, but Foley is changing the landscape in the NHL forever.

Here’s to a good 2017. Thank you for all the continued support this year.

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

2017 NHL Mock Draft: Edition I

2017 NHL Mock Draft

Edition I

Standings as of December 18, 2016

Bear in mind, it is nearly impossible to predict at this point. There will be two or three more mock drafts coming out over the course of the year.

  1. Colorado: Timothy Liljegren, D
  2. Arizona: Nolan Patrick, C
  3. Vancouver: Eeli Tolvanen, LW/RW
  4. Las Vegas: Maxime Comtois, C/LW/RW
  5. Islanders: Owen Tippett, RW
  6. New Jersey: Gabe Vilardi, C
  7. Winnipeg: Klim Kostin, RW
  8. Buffalo: Nicholas Hague, D
  9. Toronto: Elias Petterson, C
  10. Nashville: Michael Rasmussen, C
  11. Dallas: Nico Hischier, C
  12. Detroit: Cal Foote, D
  13. Florida: Adam Ruzicka, C
  14. Tampa Bay: Casey Middlestadt, C
  15. Carolina: Kristian Vesalainen, LW
  16. Calgary: Kailer Yamamoto, LW/RW
  17. Los Angeles: Nikita Popugaev, LW
  18. Edmonton: Ryan Poehling, C
  19. Boston: Lias Andersson, C
  20. Anaheim: Shane Bowers, C
  21. Ottawa: Martin Necas, C
  22. Louis: Uhro Vaakanainen, D
  23. Minnesota: Henri Jokiharju, D
  24. Philadelphia: Antoine Morand, C
  25. Washington: Jacob Paquette, D
  26. Columbus: Dmitri Samorukov, D
  27. Rangers: Luke Martin, D
  28. Montreal: Marcus Davidsson, C
  29. San Jose: Juuso Valimaki, D
  30. Pittsburgh: Erik Brannstrom, D
  31. Chicago: Matthew Strome, LW

You can find short profiles on mostof the players here.

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Five Players Off to Disappointing Starts in 2016-2017

As every new season rolls around, there are bound to be players that come in hot and players that come in cold. Most of the time these come as surprises, especially for teams paying big money for players that start the season slow.

1. Justin Williams, Washington

At 35 years old, Williams is at the tail end of his career. After seven seasons and two Stanley Cup wins in Los Angeles, he signed a two year, $3.25 million per deal with the Capitals in hopes to give them the extra push in the playoffs to make it past the second round.

So far this season, Williams has two goals and four points in 21 games. He is on pace for 16 points, which would be down 36 from 2015-2016. Washington needs Williams to start producing immediately. Currently playing on a line with Lars Eller and Zach Sanford, becoming an extra layer of scoring would help push the Capitals up the standings and win their second consecutive Metropolitan Division title.

2. Anthony Duclair, Arizona

After an impressive rookie campaign in 2015-2016, Duclair has fallen off a cliff early this season. Acquired in the Keith Yandle deal with the Rangers in the spring of 2015, the Coyotes envisioned Duclair as a future top-six mainstay, but now are reportedly listening to offers on him.

In 21 games this season, Duclair only has one goal. On pace for only a handful of goals, Duclair is not doing much to help Arizona improve after last season, as they are currently tied for last in the league.

The Coyotes forward core is primarily young, with the likes of Max Domi, Christian Dvorak, Lawson Crouse, and Laurent Dauphin making up a large majority of the group, so inconsistency is expected. But, Duclair has been here before and has a 20 goal season under his belt. Arizona needs him to turn his season around if they want to turn theirs around as well.

3. Andrew Ladd, New York (I)

Signed to be John Tavares’ left winger for he next half-decade, things have not gotten off on the correct foot for Andrew Ladd and the New York Islanders.

Ladd has bounced around on all four lines and subsequently only has two goals in 21 games. He played with John Tavares for around ten games and had no goals, but it may be time for another trial run, seeing that he is going to be wearing blue and orange for a long time.

If Ladd can find his groove next to Tavares, Nelson, or Cizikas, it would be a huge plus for the Islanders. Currently in last place with Arizona, they’ve taken a huge step back after two straight 100 point seasons.

4. Jimmy Hayes, Boston 

Hayes has struggled since being traded to Boston from Florida, but this season has been far worse than the previous. He has one goal and no assists in 21 games and has been a healthy scratch on occasion.

Hayes has one year left after this year at $2.3 million, but his future with Boston appears uncertain. A trade does not seem out of the question at this point in time. Hayes is 6’5 and a good skater for his size, and at his current contract there may be a few takers. A scenario change may be good for him to get back on track.

5. Jiri Hudler, Dallas

Hudler signed a one year, $2 million deal with the Stars this offseason, which appeared to be a very team-friendly deal at the time. However, in the four games Hudler has played when he has not been injured, he has zero points and zero shots on goal.

Hudler has been regressing since being almost point-per-game with Calgary in 2014-2015. If he can return to that form, he would become a very valuable asset for the Stars, either on the roster or on the trade market.

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

The next two years for the Islanders are about retooling, not winning

After two straight 100-points seasons and three playoff appearances in four years, things are looking pretty bleak for the New York Islanders.

They currently sit in 28th in the league, two points ahead of Arizona in the cellar. They have 42 goals for, 22nd in the league, and 54 goals against, 23rd in the league. The team is getting no depth goal scoring. Only three players, John Tavares (.76), Brock Nelson (.70), and Dennis Seidenberg (.53) are averaging above .50 points per game.

The lack of scoring on the Islanders, a fun, fast paced team just two seasons ago, is astonishing. Jason Chimera and Andrew Ladd, the two big offseason acquisitions for the Islanders, have combined for three goals total. Anders Lee and Nikolay Kulemin have one each, and Ryan Strome and Josh Bailey have two each.

A decade filled with promises and hope has gone off the rails in one short offseason. It’s not an impossibility that the Islanders can turn around their 5-8-4 record, but the lineup they currently have does not seem to have the tools to win.

So where does it go from here? Turning to the New York Rangers, oddly enough, and what they did over the summer is a good start.

Outside of Jimmy Vesey and Pavel Buchnevich, the Rangers made some high quality moves this offseason after a disappointing five game playoff run. They flipped Derrick Brassard for electrifying Swedish center Mika Zibanejad, a move that has already paid dividends. They also signed some cheap, fast options for the middle six in Brandon Pirri and Michael Grabner, both of which have had success so far.

The core was certainly in place for the Rangers, but they were able to make the right moves to turn them into a contender again in just a few months.

The same has to be done by the Islanders in the upcoming two seasons. These years aren’t about winning. Fact of the matter is – the Stanley Cup is not finding it’s way to Brooklyn before John Tavares needs a new contract.

The Islanders will have a total of 19 players (on the roster as of November 19, 2016) in need of new contracts in the next two offseasons, with nine of those being RFAs. Those players are:

2017 UFAs: Cal Clutterbuck, Dennis Seidenberg, Thomas Greiss

2017 RFAs: J-F Berube, Calvin de Haan, Adam Pelech

2018 UFAs: John Tavares, Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolay Kulemin, Josh Bailey, Jason Chimera, Thomas Hickey, Jaroslav Halak

2019 RFAs: Ryan Strome, Brock Nelson, Shane Prince, Alan Quine, Ryan Pulock, Scott Mayfield

It’s hard to predict who will stay and who will go, but assuming at least Grabovski, Kulemin, Seidenberg, Halak, and Chimera are off the books by 2018-2019, that’s almost $18 million in cap space. Take into account re-signings and the massive contract you hope you can sign John Tavares to and that number dwindles, but it’s still a heap of bad contracts coming off the books regardless.

The Islanders have a plethora of young prospects eager to make the leap as well. After a few years to fine tune their abilities in the minors, you have to assume Michael Dal Colle, Josh Ho-Sang, and Mathew Barzal will be ready to go, or at least traded for quality, NHL-ready pieces. The Isles also have Parker Wotherspoon on defense who looks like a gem, but it is uncertain when he’ll be able to crack the lineup.

If all goes well, the Islanders could have these 12 forwards on their roster come the start of the 2018-2019 season: John Tavares, Andrew Ladd, Brock Nelson, Anders Lee, Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck, Michael Dal Colle, Josh Ho-Sang, Anthony Beauvillier, Mathew Barzal, Josh Bailey, Shane Prince.

There are still more variables though. It’s near impossible to predict a lineup two seasons into the future.

One is the expansion draft. Due to the Islanders likely protecting Leddy, Hamonic, Pulock, and Boychuk on defense, only four forwards can be protected. It’s entirely possible that one forward from the aforementioned list winds up on Las Vegas. Cal Clutterbuck or Josh Bailey could walk to free agency as well.

Ryan Strome was also omitted from the list. Whether he is taken by Vegas, or is traded (more likely), it is hard to see a future with Ryan Strome as a New York Islanders player. The team has a ton of young centers ready or almost ready, and Strome doesn’t play as well on the wing as he does at center.

Remember the Rangers comparison from before? This is where it could fall in. The draft glamour of Strome has certainly fallen off, but he is still a valuable trading asset. If Garth Snow can flip him for a better, perhaps younger player like the Rangers did with Derrick Brassard and Mika Zibanejad, it will be a win.

Another thing the Islanders have to figure out is goaltending. Jaroslav Halak almost certainly is not coming back when his contract is expired. I’d bet Greiss gets a new one this summer, but you never know. The Islanders have to hope and pray that Ilya Sorokin, a goalie who has torn it up in the KHL the past two years, wants to come over and play in North America next season or the year after that. If he doesn’t they’ll need to resort to Plan B in net, whatever that may be.

The end all and be all of it is this: the New York Islanders are not in a place to win these next two seasons. It’s now on Garth Snow to spend this time retooling the roster and getting the correct core of players surrounding John Tavares before he has the chance to talk to other teams in June of 2018.

-Kevin, @theNHLFiles