As we arrive closer and closer to the NHL trading deadline on Feb. 27 at 3 p.m. ET, more teams start to fall out of contention while others are buying to get better for the playoff run. Here’s a list of five players to watch at the trade deadline and my predictions on what uniform they will wear next Monday.
1. Rick Nash, RW Columbus Blue Jackets: The Blue Jackets aren’t really intending to trade their star player, but when you’re last in the Western Conference with a player who is owed $7.8 million per year, why not sell your stock on him?
Nash was drafted by the Blue Jackets in 2002 and was thrown right onto the team instead of going through a minor league assignment. The result has been nearly 300 career goals and 528 points.
The first team that sounds perfect for Nash is the New York Rangers. The Rangers have had problems scoring on the power play this season, and Nash would be the missing piece to most likely the best team in the league.
The problem? The asking price. It is rumored, the Blue Jackets want Brandon Dubinsky, Michael Del Zotto or Ryan McDonough, Wojtek Wolski, prospects Tim Erixson and Chris Kreider, and a few draft picks.
I’m not sure Rangers general manager Glen Sather would pull the trigger on this since the team has had their best season since 1994 and head coach John Tortorella has his core of young home grown players.
Another team interested in the services of Nash would the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings average the worst goals per game in the league. What they would have to give up would include Jonathan Bernier, Jack Johnson, and Andrei Loktionov.
Philadelphia is also rumored to be in the sweepstakes, but the package they would have to trade involves James van Riemsdyk, Sergei Bobrovsky, Brayden Schenn, and Sean Couturier. Nash isn’t a need for the Flyers, so don’t expect that to happen.
In the end, Nash will stay as a Blue Jacket unless one team is that crazy enough to give half of their team for one player.
2. Jeff Carter, C Columbus Blue Jackets: The reason why I have Jeff Carter up here is because of the Los Angeles Kings. If the Kings think the price is too high for Nash, Carter could be the perfect second option.
Los Angeles needs all the scoring they can get, battling the Calgary Flames and Phoenix Coyotes for the last three playoff spots in the Western Conference.
Unlike Nash, the asking price for Carter would be lower. Bernier would still be part of the deal, as well as Johnson. The only difference would be one less draft pick to relinquish.
Carter has scored near 200 goals in just six and a half seasons, tallying a career-high 46 with the Philadelphia Flyers in the 08-09 season.
I think Jeff Carter will be a King by the end of this week. The Kings are in need of a scorer, plus Carter played with current Kings forward Mike Richards for six seasons on the Flyers, and they are good friends. The friend factor could lead to a lot of wins in the future.
3. Zach Parise, F New Jersey Devils: If your team was near second in the conference for total points and had a good chance to win, would you leave? According to Zach Parise, that doesn’t matter to him.
Parise has declined to negotiate out a new deal with New Jersey before the trade deadline or even the end of the regular season, which could force the Devils to move him to get as much as possible now. Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello can say to the public he won’t trade him, but it doesn’t sound like Parise wants to stay.
The team that I would speculate to be involved for Parise is the Toronto Maple Leafs. Since Parise signed a one-year deal over the offseason with New Jersey, Toronto has planned to acquire him via trade or offseason contract.
The deal would involve a few high prospects (Jerry D’Amigo, Jussi Rynnas) and a few draft picks. D’Amigo would replace Parise, while Rynnas could be the goalie Martin Brodeur passes the torch to.
My thought is Lamoriello will stick to his word and not trade Parise at the trade deadline. This could be costly in the future, as he might not sign long-term with the Devils, but it’s a smart move if they want to win now.
4. Ryan Miller, G Buffalo Sabres: I think it’s a known fact Ryan Miller isn’t himself this season.
With a 17-17 record with four overtime losses and a career-high goals against average of 2.80, Buffalo might have to just unload him for what his name is worth. It wouldn’t hurt, as the Sabres sit at the cellar of the Eastern Conference, only ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Ryan Miller has reportedly waived his no-trade clause for the Chicago Blackhawks and is unhappy with his current situation with the Sabres. Maybe a change of scenery will rejuvenate him.
What the Blackhawks might have to give up to acquire Miller is just Patrick Kane. Kane might be 23 years old and have more room to grow, but Chicago needs a solid goaltender to compete in the playoffs. Corey Crawford has been solid as of late, but Miller has been more proven.
The Blackhawks could survive without Kane, as they have the likes of Jonathon Toews, Marian Hossa, and Patrick Sharp.
As much as this deal makes sense for both teams, it won’t happen. Would you want to take a risk on a 31-year-old goaltender who has been average (maybe worse) for a 23-year-old forward who helped bring you Lord Stanley? That has to be in the mind of Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman. It will all depend on the play of Crawford the next few games.
5. Ales Hemsky, RW Edmonton Oilers: With the Oilers at the bottom of the Western Conference and Hemsky being an unrestricted free agent after this season, it would be in their best interest to get as much as they can for the 28-year-old.
A team that could trade for his interests could be the Florida Panthers.
For the first time in years, the Panthers are buyers instead of sellers, and general manager Dale Tallon is making that known. Hemsky has a couple 20-goal seasons under his belt and could use his veteran experience to help the Panthers contend in the Eastern Conference.
The players involved in the deal shouldn’t be much, as the Oilers might be inclined to dump Hemsky’s $4.1 million salary and the Panthers have enough room to gulp it up.
I think this deal will get done simply because it works out for both teams. The Oilers will get as much out of Hemsky as possible while Florida rents out the winger the rest of the season to contend in their conference and possibly sign him to a new deal.