There’s only one day during the NHL season that can bring excitement, stress, nervousness, anger and disappointment for every fan, and no, it is not game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. The day I’m talking about is the NHL Trade Deadline.
It’s the only day of the regular season where things can really get extremely crazy. Contenders trading for renal players to assure the cup is theirs, bubble teams trading for what they hope is that final piece that can help a playoff push and lottery teams trading pieces they know will not be back for future pieces/draft picks for the rebuild.
Every year, there are always a few names that jump out as obvious trade bait. You know they will be traded, it’s just a matter of where to.
Most people thought star center Matt Duchene, who headlined the trade bait list last season, might be headlining again this year, before the blockbuster three-way trade that center Duchene to Ottawa. With Duchene off the board, fans are wondering who the “big name” will be there. This year, there may be 3 STAR players on the move come February 26.
1) Alex Galchenyuk – Montreal Canadians
Alex Galchenyuk has had an up and down career since entering the league back in 2012. The former 3rd overall pick is off to a luke warm start to the year, with 6 points in 18 games. Currently on pace for 27 points, his lowest since his rookie season (which was the lockout shortened season), Galchenyuk needs a change of scenery.
Anyone who knows the Canadians or Galchenyuk knows he is much better than a 27 point player. This is a guy who’s potted a 30 goal, 56 point season, not exactly an easy feat. With Montreal undergoing a possible rebuild in the near future, Galchenyuk could be moved for future assets.
THE TRADE – Montreal trades Galchenyuk to the Winnipeg Jets for Jack Roslovic and a 2018 2nd round draft pick.
Why It Works – Winnipeg is currently sitting in 2nd place in the always tough Central Division. They sit 6 points out of 1st with 3 games in hand. With Galchenyuk joining the likes of Mark Scheifele and Bryan Little, that would give Winnipeg excellent strength down the middle. Winnipeg also has the cap space to accommodate the 3 years left on Galchenyuk’s contract worth $4.9M per season.
Montreal, in return, would receive a solid center prospect who was excellent for Team USA at the World Junior Championship and will be a solid NHL player in the future. You can never go wrong with stocking up on draft picks with what looks to be like a very deep draft pool.
2) James Neal – Vegas Golden Knights
“The Real Deal” James Neal is on the trade bait list. Vegas is thanking the Nashville Predators each and every day for not protecting him in the expansion draft. While Nashville had to protect its younger players to ensure long term stability, the were forced to leave Neal unprotected and Vegas jumped at the opportunity.
With 13 points in 16 games, Neal is off to a fantastic start in “Sin City”. However, chances he resigns at seasons end are slim. Neal has played for serious cup contenders, like Pittsburgh and Nashville, prior to joining Vegas and always came up short. While Vegas is off to a better start than most people expected, they are definitely not a contender.
Neal is hungry for a cup, especially after coming up short to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Finals just last season. Vegas would be foolish not to trade Neal by the deadline and risk losing him for nothing in free agency. This is a guy who’s never scored below 21 goals in a season. These types of scorers don’t exactly grown on trees. Vegas needs something in return for the sniper.
THE TRADE – Vegas trades James Neal to the New Jersey Devils for Steve Santini, Blake Speers and a 2018 2nd round draft pick.
Why It Works – New Jersey is off to a start absolutely no one expected. Pegged by almost everybody to be last in the NHL’s hardest division, the Metropolitan Division, and towards the bottom of the overall league, they’ve proved experts wrong. Currently sitting 3rd overall in the entire league, the Devils are for real.
Not only they are one of the few teams that can handle Neal’s $5M cap hit, they’re a team that appears to be on the rise for years to come. Add James Neal’s wrist shot to an offense that already has the likes of Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmieri and rookie stud Nico Hischier, and that spells trouble for goalies, especially in the playoffs.
3) Rick Nash – New York Rangers
Rick Nash is entering the final year of his contract which carries a hefty $7.8 M cap hit. While the Rangers appear to be slowly overcoming their slow start, there is a good chance they do not make the playoffs. With this season looking like Nash’s last season as a blueshirt, the Rangers need to seriously consider trading the former #1 overall draft pick.
THE TRADE – NY Rangers trade Rick Nash and a 2018 3rd round draft pick to the Edmonton Oilers for Ryan Strome and a 2018 1st round pick.
Why It Works – Edmonton has been shaking their heads at the Ryan Strome acquisition this past offseason. When they brought in Strome from the New York Islanders, they expected Strome to thrive on Connor McDavid’s wing and recapture that spark that saw him post 50 points in his first full NHL season.
That chemistry never happened and reports out of Edmonton suggest that the Oilers are already looking to move the winger. In come the Rangers. The Rangers are well aware of Strome’s talents, as he’s had great success against them during his time with the Islanders. Strome’s $2.5 M cap hit is a lot cheaper, which could allow the Rangers more cap flexibility for perhaps another move.
Edmonton, in return, would get a proven, pure goal scorer to aid in the lack of offensive firepower. This could easily be a trade that works for both sides the best this coming deadline.