The NHL’s trade deadline is Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET. Now that the biggest fish, Ryan Miller, has already been traded from the Buffalo Sabres to the St. Louis Blues, here are the 10 players most likely to get dealt before time runs out:
The New York Islanders gave up Matt Moulson along with a first- and a second-round pick to get Vanek earlier this season. It’s safe to say general manager Garth Snow’s gamble did not pay off. After Vanek rejected a contract offer to stay on Long Island, it’s up to Snow to cut his losses and build toward the future, when franchise centrepiece John Tavares is back and healthy.
Buffalo got Halak from St. Louis in the Miller trade and could easily flip him for more assets. The Minnesota Wild are looking for a goaltender with so much uncertainty surrounding Josh Harding and not a long resume on rookie Darcy Kuemper. Halak could even see the Blues in the first round if that were to happen.
Former Sabres GM Darcy Regier was the one who pulled the trigger on the Vanek trade that brought in Moulson plus-picks. But new GM Tim Murray could take the next step if he gets another first-round pick or something close for the 30-year-old winger. Moulson put up 11 goals and 16 assists in his first 43 games in Buffalo, so his value is pretty good.
It may finally be time for the last Oilers player who was on the 2006 Stanley Cup final team to go. GM Craig MacTavish made it abundantly clear last summer he was trying to trade Hemsky, but his US$5.5-million salary and $5 million cap might not seem so bad as a late-season rental.
Sent from the Nashville Predators to the Washington Capitals for prospect Filip Forsberg and grinder Michael Latta at last year’s deadline, Erat asked for a trade earlier this season after being on the fourth line and in the press box as a healthy scratch. Erat has one year left at a cap hit of $4.5 million, but the Capitals might have to suck up some of that and take a mid-round pick just to move on.
Rumours that Kesler wanted out of Vancouver came just after he returned from Sochi, where he suffered a hand injury while playing for the United States. An injury to Daniel Sedin suffered during the Heritage Classic could keep GM Mike Gillis from making any move involving Kesler, but there should be no shortage of demand for the strong two-way centre.
Buffalo’s First Niagara Center might as well have a neon “For Sale” sign on it, and that includes the recently acquired Stewart who was also part of the Miller trade. Among the five true so-called “sellers,” the Sabres have the most assets and therefore could end up with the biggest windfall. Or they could keep the 26-year-old who has one year left on his deal at a cap hit of $4.15 million.
If there’s anyone Murray and the Sabres have time to move it’s Ehrhoff, who’s in the third season of a US$40-million, 10-year deal. That length of contract could make the 31-year-old defenceman more valuable or hinder a deal, depending on the viewpoint, but with the salary cap going up he’s locked in at $4 million for the length of it.
The NHL’s leader in blocked shots—no one else is even close—also possibly has best value of any defenceman with a salary of US$575,000 and cap hit of $550,000 in the final year of his contract with the Islanders. MacDonald is due a big raise in the off-season, maybe in the neighbourhood of $4 million annually, and he’s a strong defensive option as a rental or long-term piece.
At a cap hit of $3.375 million, the 35-year-old is the perfect low-risk rental for a contender in need of some help on the blue-line. With plenty of other pieces to trade, the Sabres might not need much for Tallinder, either, as they likely wouldn’t re-sign him this summer anyway.
Others potentially on the move: Ryan Callahan, Rangers; Mike Cammalleri, Lee Stempniak, Flames; Brad Boyes, Panthers; Ryan Smyth, Corey Potter, Oilers; Martin St. Louis, Lightning; Chris Phillips, Senators; Cam Ward, Hurricanes; Martin Brodeur, Devils.