Where will coveted blueliners Keith Yandle, Mike Green and Jeff Petry end up, if anywhere? Here are some mock trades to consider.
We take a second crack at mock NHL trade deadline moves, this time shifting to the blueline. Defenseman trades are interesting because they involve such a premium position. It can lead to overpays. Stay-at-home Douglas Murray netted two second-round picks in 2013. Andrew MacDonald? A second- and third-rounder in 2014. Offense-minded D-men, especially those with manageable contracts and an additional year on their deals, can haul in more still. Jay Bouwmeester got Calgary a first-round pick when it sent him to St. Louis in 2013. Marek Zidlicky alone brought three skaters and two picks to Minnesota in 2012.
What, then, of sought-after Keith Yandle, Mike Green and Jeff Petry? Yandle has boom potential with a year left on his deal. Green and Petry make for handy rentals as pending unrestricted free agents. Here are some mock trades to consider.
Yandle, under contract one more season at a $5.25-million cap hit, isn’t as easy to move as one of the unrestricted free agent rentals. It’ll take a team that can afford him next season, and Coyotes GM Don Maloney must ensure a nice return considering Yandle can still be an asset to the Desert Dogs in 2015-16. About that return, though. It can be really nice. Andrej Sekera landed Carolina a first-round pick and a prospect. What, then, will more than a year of Yandle’s services get for Maloney?
To Detroit Red Wings: Keith Yandle
To Arizona Coyotes: Teemu Pulkkinen, Xavier Ouellet, 2015 first-round pick
A lot for Detroit to pay? Not when you consider the precedent set by the Sekera deal. The Kings paid the rough equivalent of Ouellet and a first for just a Sekera rental. Yandle, who is 28 like Sekera, is a perennial 50-point threat who can continue to help the Wings next year. They’ll have to pay up – but that doesn’t have to mean surrendering a mega-prospect like Anthony Mantha or Dylan Larkin.
Arizona would get a pick in the bottom third of 2015’s first round to supplement its own high-first rounder. Blueliner Ouellet and left winger Pulkkinen are on the cusp of being regular NHL contributors, and Pulkkinen set the AHL blaze with 30 goals and 57 points in 44 games before his NHL call-up. Cap space would be difficult for Detroit here. It may mean putting the concussed Johan Franzen onto long-term injured reserve.
To Dallas Stars: Keith Yandle
To Arizona Coyotes: Brett Ritchie, 2015 first-round pick, 2015 third-round pick
The Dallas Stars aren’t as rich in prospects as Detroit is, so they probably wouldn’t surrender Ritchie and someone like Jason Dickinson or Radek Faksa. Instead, this swap gets Arizona a big, strong power forward with potential in Ritchie, plus additional coveted picks for the 2015 draft.
As for GM Jim Nill’s Stars, we know they’ve been linked to multiple top-four defensemen, from Cody Franson to Yandle’s teammate Zbynek Michalek. Getting Yandle, though, means more than a temporary solution and puts less pressure on the win-now Stars (they signed Jason Spezza long-term, remember) to hurry blue-chip puck-mover Julius Honka.
To Colorado Avalanche: Keith Yandle
To Arizona Coyotes: Ryan O’Reilly
With Colorado only on the fringe of the Western Conference wild-card picture, this deal seems more likely for the summer, but it sure has popped up often. We may never know the true depth of Colorado’s relationship with O’Reilly, but he’s a mainstay in the trade rumor mill. He’s precisely what Arizona covets as a center who can play on the first or second line. O’Reilly also has another year left on his deal, and that’s fine for the Coyotes, as Maloney has said he’s OK with taking on term.
The Avs simply lack a dynamic offensive presence after Tyson Barrie in their back end, so Yandle makes perfect sense. It would mean moving Nathan MacKinnon back to center when he seems to play much better on the right side, however.
That Mike Green will command at least $5 million per season on the open market, and that he’s a pending unrestricted free agent, should make his departure a certainty in theory. It’s not that simple in Washington, however. Green has repeatedly stated he wants to stay with the team. Secondly, with coach Barry Trotz steering the Caps into a comfortable playoff position, GM Brian MacLellan might not want to mess with a good thing. The offer has to be just right.
“What message does that send to the team if you’re sending Mike Green away for a prospect and a pick heading into the playoffs?” MacLellan told Mike Vogel. “I’m not going to do that. I want to win. He’s a part of our team. It’s a luxury to have him as a fifth defenseman who can move up and who is a first power play guy.”
Green has nowhere to play in the long term on a Caps team with John Carlson, Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen and Karl Alzner locked up. Based on MacLellan’s comments, a useful roster player has to come back in a Green deal.
To Boston Bruins: Mike Green
To Washington Capitals: Loui Eriksson
The Capitals want a winger to play with Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin. Eriksson, a Swede like Backstrom, could fit nicely. This is the type of blockbuster it might take for MacLellan to cave on Green. The Bruins are hurting for a top-four defenseman with a right-handed shot. The cap management would be tight, as the Bruins have $1.68 million in space, but with Eriksson’s number going to D.C., it wouldn’t be a disaster for GM Peter Chiarelli to figure out.
To St. Louis Blues: Mike Green
To Washington Capitals: Patrik Berglund
The Blues’ forward corps is as deep as any NHL team’s. They aren’t generating enough offensive support from the back end as long as Kevin Shattenkirk remains sidelined after abdominal surgery. Given how tricky abdominal injuries can be for recovery and aggravation, the contending Blues need help now.
Berglund, a big center chosen 25th overall in 2006, seems to do just enough to earn a contract extension before disappointing again. Eight goals and 19 points in 57 games doesn’t cut it at $3.7 million. He’s still just 26, though, and a change of scenery could rejuvenate him. Given his size, maybe he helps the Caps more than Green does as a fifth wheel.
Petry’s game lacks the sexiness of Yandle’s or Green’s. Petry is plenty useful, however. He’s a top-four D-man who skates well and plays a solid two-way game. He’s also less complicated to acquire. It’s all but written in stone that he’s done as an Oiler, and Edmonton will do everything in its power to acquire rebuilding assets for him.
To Detroit Red Wings: Jeff Petry
To Edmonton Oilers: Xavier Ouellet OR Ryan Sproul OR Alexey Marchenko
The Wings can spare one of ’em. And the Oilers would be right to demand a ‘D’ prospect of that caliber for Petry. The demand will be high with Sekera and Franson off the market already. Given what Edmonton needs, the hard-shooting Sproul or the big Marchenko make more sense. Stick tap to Jim Matheson for tabling this exact idea before I did.
To Montreal Canadiens: Jeff Petry
To Edmonton Oilers: Jarred Tinordi, 2015 third-round pick
We’re about to publish the latest edition of THN Future Watch, in which our panel of NHL scouts and executive ranks each development system and each prospect. One yearly feature, entitled ‘The Regulars,’ tracks which prospects are stuck in development hell, regularly cracking the Future Watch rankings because they never fully graduate to the NHL. Jacob Markstrom owns the list. But another guy right at the top? Tinordi. He’s been a Future Watch regular for five years. Yes, gigantic defensemen like him take a long time to develop, but he’s given the Habs enough reason to doubt him that they shouldn’t be afraid to trade him for Petry. Montreal has a chance at a Stanley Cup. Go for it.
The Oilers, meanwhile, can let Tinordi, 23, cut his teeth in the NHL far sooner. He could still become the punishing D-man they desperately desire. Why the third-round pick as a throw in? Just remember the price a UFA like Sekera already established. If Sekera’s worth Roland McKeown and a first-rounder, Tinordi and a third for Petry seems more than fair.
Matt Larkin is an associate editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin