Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Let's Look At The NHL Trading Block

As everyone in the world of hockey media turns their attention to the February 29th NHL trade deadline, loads of information will be flying in all directions. Trading blocks, team needs, injuries, and losing streaks will all lead to hundreds of blogs and columns about possible roster moves.

TSN's Frank Seravelli conveniently examined every team's current roster looking to find needs and surpluses for each NHL team. I'm going to classify everything into pools, and then we'll try to see how we can get Andrew MacDonald or RJ Umberger out of Philly before the end of the month.

(Spoiler alert: we won't, but let's take a look anyway.)

Pool A: Not Going To Make Any Significant Moves

Arizona Coyotes, Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, St. Louis Blues

Whether because they're pretty set for the future (Arizona) or they just need their current team to be healthy and click (New York and St. Louis) or they have the best goalie in the world but he's hurt (Montreal), Frank doesn't expect these four teams to make too much noise in the coming weeks.

That's a bit surprising, as the Blues were always thought to be a player in the Jonathan Drouin sweepstakes and the Islanders' Travis Hamonic requested a trade earlier this year.

Pool B: Selling Off Assets 

Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, Columbus Blue Jackets, Edmonton Oilers, Philadelphia Flyers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Winnipeg Jets

Just going off of the names Seravelli listed, here's the pool of players that are available to our potential buyers. I organized them based on HERO Charts (forwards here and defensemen here), so yes Mark Streit is most certainly a top-pairing defensemen and your favorite team should absolutely give up a first round pick for him.
Top Line Forwards: Scott Hartnell, Radim Vrbata, Andrew Ladd 
Depth Forwards: Tyler Ennis, Jamie McGinn, David Legwand, David Jones, Jiri Hudler, Teddy Purcell, PA Parenteau, Shawn Matthias, Alex Burrows 
Top Pairing Defensemen: Cody Franson, Mark Streit, Dan Hamhuis, Jacob Trouba 
Depth Defensemen: Kris Russell, Dennis Wideman, Fedor Tyutin, Justin Schultz, Eric Gryba, Evgeny Medvedev, Roman Polak
I won't lie, it'd be tough to sell a fan base on Vrbata, Franson, or Streit being the starting-caliber reinforcement necessary for a deep playoff run. But behind Hartnell, Ladd, and Hamhuis there isn't going to be a ton of talent available.

The first chip to fall is Ladd - Winnipeg wants to get as much as possible for him, and that will set the market for Vrbata and then Hartnell. Hartsy, to be honest, has a horrible fucking albatross contract and will probably be impossible to move.

Should the Ladd trade never happen, a Trouba trade probably would. That would set the market for the rest of the defensemen that are available.

So the ball's in Winnipeg's court for now, and then I'd expect Vancouver to sell their pair of assets shortly thereafter.

Pool B2: Haven't Realized They Have To Sell Off Assets Yet

Carolina Hurricanes

Hey 'Canes, you have two great potential trade assets in Eric Staal and Jeff Skinner, and you have a killer defensive core on the horizon. Ship Staal/Skinner out to some of the teams in the next category and bring back some young talent for the next ten years.

Pool C: Looking To Add Forwards

Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks, Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins

Here's who Frank expects to be in the Ladd discussion (and then, after that, the Vrbata and Hartnell discussions and so on down the line): Ducks, Hawks, Panthers, Preds. The idea of Ladd going to any of the first three would terrify me if I had to play against them in the playoffs. They're already three of the 6-8 best teams in the league, and they actually have the room to add a player like Ladd? Gosh, that must be an incredible feeling.

As for the Wild, Rangers, Senators, and Penguins, I get the sense that they're looking to make smaller, less-splashy moves to retool their current cores and maybe add some young depth.

The most interesting piece of Seravelli's post to me was the idea that Columbus might try to ship Hartnell to (their partner in the Ryan Johansen-Seth Jones deal) Nashville. The front office familiarity is there, Hartnell has played well for Nashville coach Peter Laviolette in the past, and anything Columbus could take back to alleviate their cap situation would be beneficial.

Pool C2: Haven't Committed To Buying Yet, But Will

New Jersey Devils

After they beat the Flyers tonight, the Devils will leapfrog the Islanders for the third Metro playoff spot. They don't have a ton of assets to work with, but according to Seravelli, GM Ray Shero would look to add some forward depth to replace some of the elderly players he currently has.

Pool D: Looking To Add Defensemen

Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals

The teams that are in play for the Hamhuis/Trouba/Streit/Franson class of blueliners seem to be Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Tampa. I can see a situation where Trouba goes to Boston, Hamhuis goes to LA, Franson goes to Dallas, and the Flyers are stuck with Mark Streit for another year.

As for the teams that are looking for less flashy defensive help, see above - there is a ton of blueline depth available at the deadline, and it's a good time to need a second- or third-pairing type of player. There's a ton of supply, and so teams like Washington and Detroit should be able to get even better.

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