Some NHL Trades That Could Work
The NHL trade deadline is on a leap day, and it is time for some teams to take a leap. There are a number of reasons for teams to make a move before the Feb. 29 date. Teams in the playoff chase want to boost their chances; teams out of the race are ready to dump. All are considering the financial consequences of salary caps and are looking for value. Here is a best-guess look at some simple swaps that could come down, along with some other teams who are willing to deal:
Roman Polak (D) Maple Leafs for Patrick Marleau (C) Sharks
The Maple Leafs are probably the most likely team to make some sort of trade. They already pulled a blockbuster, when they sent captain Dion Phaneuf off to Ottawa in a nine-player deal. They also had a notion of picking up Steven Stamkos from the Lightning, but that ship won't sail until the summer, if at all. The Leafs' season has been one of misery, so they are desperate for solutions. Polak is another of the players they're likely to deal, and the Sharks are in need of defensive depth. Marleau has previously asked for a trade. It's interesting that the Sharks' rivals in L.A. have shown interest in Polak, too. So don't be surprised to see an old-fashioned western ambush in the works.
Travis Hamonic (D) Islanders for Justin Schultz (D) Oilers
This looks like a strange swap, since they're both blueliners, but there's a lot going on here. The Islanders have needed another defenseman for their second line, and the Oilers have long wanted Hamonic. Even though Hamonic is having foot injury problems lately, Edmonton would welcome him for the future – the Oilers aren't exactly soaring in the standings these days. The Islanders would settle for Schultz, but might want to see if Edmonton is also willing to give up a winger like Teddy Purcell.
Andrew Ladd (LW) Jets for Brandon Pirri (C) Panthers
The Panthers are in great shape, but general manager Dale Tallon likes to deal, and he has close connections with Ladd from the old days in Chicago. Pirri hasn't been getting ice time lately, and the struggling Jets could give him all he wanted. The Blackhawks have also expressed interest in Ladd. He's a real shaker-upper.
Jonathan Drouin (W) Lightning for Kevin Shattenkirk (D) Blues
The Bolts are also in pretty good shape, but they could use another good defenseman to make a playoff push and hang in with the Panthers in the Atlantic Division. A top-six winger has been a need of the Blues for a while, and Drouin has been mentioned as trade bait before.
A number of teams have made deals, but are still looking for help or have players to offer up. It's just more difficult to figure how the matchups will go.
GM Ron Francis and the Hurricanes might be willing to send Kris Versteeg somewhere, maybe back to Chicago. But Versteeg contends he likes things in Carolina, and it's hard to tell if the Blackhawks would have enough to pay the high price Versteeg would command. If the 'Canes decide to throw it in for the season and really deal, forward Eric Staal and goalie Cam Ward have also been mentioned as bait.
Nashville's Ryan Johansen has also been a trade talk subject for a while, too, so look for him to find a new home. Chicago is considering Rangers' defenseman Keith Yandle, but he'll demand a high price, because Dallas has also come calling for Yandle.
The surging Pittsburgh Penguins have already made key moves this season by picking up defenseman Trevor Daley and winger Carl Hagelin. How they fare the rest of the month will decide if GM Jim Rutherford acts again.
The Columbus Blue Jackets' season has been a bust, so they're looking to revamp. Defenseman Fedor Tyutin might be a nice fit for the Capitals, if the Caps don't want to stand pat with a winner.
How all of this affects the chances of any team can only be called when the dust settles. But take a good look at the betting futures before the deadline, and again on March 1. It will be interesting to see if the oddsmakers react.
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