NHL trade deadline 2019: Nine deals we're rooting for with an eye on the Stanley Cup Playoffs
There's potential for a number of teams to get way scarier at this year's deadline
The NHL trade deadline is just a week away and this is shaping up to be one of the more interesting deadline days in recent memory. There are a number of big names that could potentially get moved on (or before) Feb. 25, and there are a number of teams that are interested in loading up for a run down the stretch.
With the postseason in mind, here are eight potential deals that would ramp up excitement for the Stanley Cup Playoffs this spring.
1. Matt Duchene to the Winnipeg Jets
At last year's trade deadline, the Jets went out and got Paul Stastny for an upgrade at the second line center position. Stastny provided a huge boost to Winnipeg down the stretch and into the playoffs, but then he departed for Vegas in free agency. The Jets will likely be looking to upgrade at that spot once again this year and Duchene is the best available center rental on the market.
Adding Duchene, 28, and his point-per-game production to the second line would make an already dangerous Jets team that much more explosive up front. Pairing him with Patrik Laine, who has had his share of struggles this season, could certainly be beneficial for both sides.
2. Artemi Panarin to the New York Islanders
The Blue Jackets face an extremely tough decision heading into the deadline. They can either trade Panarin -- their leading scorer and best player -- or hold onto him for a playoff run and risk losing him for nothing to free agency this summer. Panarin doesn't seem particularly interested in staying in Columbus and a potential return package could be too nice to turn down, so let's just assume the Blue Jackets trade him.
A deal to the Islanders would satisfy Panarin's reported desire to play for a major market or "destination city" and the Islanders would get an elite offensive talent to help replace what they lost in John Tavares. Panarin slotting next to young stud Mat Barzal could be a hell of a lot of fun to watch. The Isles would not only be able to load up for a playoff run this year but also get first bidding rights on Panarin's new deal.
3. Wayne Simmonds to the Boston Bruins
Boston has seemingly had a longstanding love affair with Simmonds, and it's not really hard to understand why. The veteran winger brings a mix of high-end skill and fearsome physicality that is tough to find in today's NHL, and it's the type of player that Boston typically adores.
The Bruins could certainly use some additional goal scoring in their top six, as they've not gotten enough contributions behind their first line and just lost leading scorer David Pastrnak to a hand injury. Simmonds is having a down year in Philly but could serve as upgrade from some of the inconsistent youngsters that the Bruins have been slotting in so far this year, and his pending UFA status means his rental price may not be too high.
4. Jimmy Howard to the Calgary Flames
The Flames have been one of the best teams in the Western Conference to this point in the year, despite battling some struggles between the pipes. Mike Smith has had a very rough year and Calgary ranks near the bottom third of the league in collective save percentage. They've lucked out that David Rittich's emergence has softened the impact of Mike Smith's issues.
Still, they could use goaltender insurance as they approach the postseason and Howard would be a viable option, though likely only as a rental. Howard is on the final year of his current deal and there seems to be mutual interest in extending his time in Detroit, but the Red Wings aren't competitive. They could loan out Howard to a legitimate contender for the remainder of this year while getting an additional asset or two for their rebuild, then look to re-sign him this summer. Winning situation for everybody.
5. Mark Stone to the Predators
Nashville is reportedly interested in bolstering their forward group and there may not be a better available 200-foot player than Stone. Not only would Stone, 26, add an additional scoring threat to a Preds team that has suffered a bit from a lack of secondary firepower in each of their past two playoff runs, but they'd also get a legitimate Selke candidate.
Despite being on the final year of his deal, Stone will likely come at a premium cost (unless Ottawa finds a way to bungle things ... again) and it's a bit of a risky venture to pay that price given what his ask might be this summer. But Nashville has made two strong playoff runs over the past couple of years without a Cup to show for it, so maybe they're willing to get aggressive and go all-in if they feel that Stone can put them over the top.
6. Kevin Hayes to the Stars
Dallas desperately needs offense and while Hayes isn't going to light up the score sheet on a nightly basis, he can be a strong secondary contributor that gives the Stars a little more depth behind their big names as they try to hold onto a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Hayes is on pace for a career year this season despite playing on a struggling Rangers team and he's pretty much a lock to be moved at the deadline thanks to his pending UFA status.
He might be more suited to be a final piece for teams like Winnipeg, Nashville, or even Tampa, but Dallas needs help if they're going to be taken seriously down the stretch. Hayes could provide a bit of a spark and help out their second or third lines (as well as special teams) down the stretch.
7. Gustav Nyquist to the Vegas Golden Knights
Last year, Vegas made a deal for Red Wings forward Tomas Tatar at the deadline to help boost their offensive group. They overpaid and the deal didn't exactly work out like they'd hoped (Tatar was swiftly traded to Montreal last summer) but perhaps a redux with Nyquist this year could be in order?
The 29-year-old free-agent-to-be could provide a little more offense and security on the right side for the Knights as they look to make another strong playoff push this year. Vegas also has a surplus of assets that they stockpiled during the Expansion Draft, so they're in good position to make a move. In fact, if they're looking to be aggressive, they have the ability to make a play for a guy like Stone instead.
8. Mats Zuccarello to the Flames
Zuccarello is another one of those Rangers who is sure to move thanks to his expiring deal. He'd be a great fit in Calgary, where they could really use him for depth on the wing -- especially now that James Neal's health is in question -- and possibly on the penalty kill. He's a spark plug that would be able to help the Flames as they make a play for the Pacific crown down the stretch, then into the playoffs.
He's also a cheaper option on the wing than some of these other guys, which would allow Calgary to explore other adds -- like the goaltender insurance mentioned above.
9. Marcus Johansson to the Blues
Johansson has struggled to stay healthy lately but he's still a player that can contribute and be a nice piece when he's in the lineup. The Devils are probably going to deal him so he could be a relatively low-cost rental option for the Blues, who already traded away their first round pick this year and are making a push for the playoffs after an extremely slow start.
St. Louis could benefit from adding a versatile playmaker and some insurance to their forward group and Johansson fits the bill. Given how quickly the Blues have turned their season around, it would be intriguing to see where they can finish if they add some additional depth to the lineup.
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