Not every team looking to add at the trade deadline will be able to get the big names such as Andrew Ladd or Eric Staal. But there are several depth players who could offer some scoring punch for cheap without putting a roster in salary cap peril.
Canadiens winger Dale Weise seemingly believes it’s likely he’s playing in his final games in Montreal.
This past weekend, Weise told The Montreal Gazette’s Stu Cowan that contract talks with Montreal have been relatively non-existent since the summer, and the unrestricted free agent-to-be was honest about his chances at staying a Canadien beyond the trade deadline.
“Obviously, you got to look at where we are, look at my contract status and we haven’t had a lot of talk,” Weise said. “So I think you would weigh a little more on the side that there’s a pretty good chance that I’m going to get moved, but crazier things have happened.”
And with 14 goals and 25 points through 55 games, Weise stands to be one of the better, more cost-efficient options available at the deadline. Making only $1.025 million this season, Weise has produced at one of the highest cost-per-point ratios for pending unrestricted free agents this season. He brings that to the table as a third- or fourth-line player who has been skating on a team that has been middle of the pack in scoring this season.
If Weise is set to be traded by the Canadiens, he could be the perfect depth acquisition by a team looking for effective scoring without having to free up a ton of cap space. He’s not the only player who fits that bill, though. Here are five other players who could provide the same punch as Weise without contending teams having to break the bank:
Lee Stempniak, New Jersey Devils
It took almost the entire off-season before Stempniak, 33, was signed. He first came aboard with the Devils on a professional tryout in mid-September and finally came to terms on a one-year, $850,000 deal with the club on Oct. 3, less than a week before the season began. Now, through 60 games, he’s the Devils leading scorer.
The Devils are in a tough spot with Stempniak and other upcoming free agents. New Jersey is only three points out of a playoff spot and are one of the unexpected wild card contenders in the Eastern Conference. They aren’t built to make it deep in the post-season, though, and it might be best to let Stempniak go.
If he’s traded it will be the second time in as many years that he’s a deadline acquisition. He finished 2014-15 as a Winnipeg Jet, but wasn’t brought back in the off-season, and that could mean Stempniak has another shot at a Stanley Cup this season.
P-A Parenteau, Toronto Maple Leafs
The Canadiens were hoping Parenteau was trending up when they acquired him in 2014, but he failed to score 10 goals in his first season and Montreal bought him out one season into his contract. The 32-year-old has responded with an awesome 15-goal, 30-point season in 57 games with Toronto and is en route to a 40-plus point campaign, his first such season since 2011-12.
It’s not necessarily going to be cheap to pry Parenteau away from the Maple Leafs, but when it comes to fitting him under tight salary cap constrictions, he stands to be an awesome fit. Of the upcoming UFAs, Parenteau has the seventh-lowest cost per goal at $100,000 per tally according to CapFriendly, and that stands to sink further as the season continues.
There are a handful of teams who want added scoring punch and have less than $1 million in cap space. With Parenteau carrying a paltry $1.5-million cap hit, he might be just the fit those teams are looking for.
Brad Boyes, Toronto Maple Leafs
Boyes’ off-season buyout was somewhat unexpected, but it has been the Toronto Maple Leafs’ gain in more ways than one. He landed with Toronto on a one-year, $700,000 deal in late-September and has managed six goals and 19 points for the Maple Leafs. That’s far from his 30- and 40-goal form earlier in his career, but likely enough to land Toronto at least a draft pick at the deadline.
Boyes, 33, is only two seasons removed from a 21-goal campaign in Florida. He still has some of the offensive ability that he possessed earlier in his career, and in the right situation, it’d be hard to find a veteran scorer that will be able to come in as cheap as Boyes. Teams right up against the salary cap that can’t land the big fish like Andrew Ladd or Eric Staal might want to consider someone like Boyes to offer up depth scoring.
Tomas Fleischmann, Montreal Canadiens
Like the others on this list, Fleischmann was a late, veteran signing. Not much was expected of the 31-year-old, so it was remarkable when he had registered four goals and 11 points in his first 15 games. Fleischmann’s production has fallen off by more than half since then, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t still come in and provide some bottom-six firepower. That’s not to mention that in terms of trade value and cap hit, Fleischmann may be among the cheapest options available.
His one-year deal with Montreal was worth $750,000, and he’s been scratched four times in the past 20 games. He’s not getting ice even on a struggling Canadiens squad. If there’s a team looking to give up next to nothing and potentially get a lot, Fleischmann might be the best option.