Slowly but surely, we are inching towards the NHL stretch drive, a.k.a. the final 20 games of the season. This generally begins to help separate the contenders from the pretenders. It also helps identify buyers and sellers at the trade deadline. What teams are going to try to add that final piece? What teams are looking for a big splash to put themselves into contender status? What experienced veterans will be sold to the highest bidder for draft picks and prospects?
A lot of the bigger names that trade rumours have been around, such as Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, Ryan O’Reilly and Dennis Seidenberg will not be on the list. Those players have a lot of term and are more of the off-season trade variety.
By: Adam Pyde – @Adam_Pyde
5. Roman Polak, Jan Hejda, Bryce Salvador
I grouped these three players together because they are all more or less the same player. The big, strong, bottom pairing defenceman that is not necessarily good with the puck or quick but teams love to add for the playoffs because of toughness.
These guys are options for teams that miss out on the other higher profile defenders but still feel the need to add a defenceman. Polak has an extra year on his contract which can make things a bit trickier, but a desperate team may not care. Hejda and Salvador are your prototypical rental depth defenceman that are soon to be UFA’s and can add some veteran presence and experience.
Potential landing spots: Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, Los Angeles Kings, Chicago Blackhawks
4. Jiri Tlusty
He’s not the player that is going to necessarily be a defensive wizard. He’s not exactly going to run the other team through the boards. But he is the kind of player that can add a some offensive ability and be a nice addition to your second powerplay unit. He’s a utility offensive forward who can play in a top-six role and provide an offensive boost with some speed.
He’s shown the ability to score before and is the kind of player that a team will be thankful they added once a winger goes down or to provide a nice depth option.
Potential landing spots: Boston Bruins, Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks
3. Curtis Glencross
His best days are definitely behind him but in a depth role he could help beef up a team’s depth. I would not rely on him to be a top-six forward anymore, but he has value if you were to bring him in to New York to replace a player like Tanner Glass or in San Jose so that John Scott never has to play. Essentially, improving your fourth line to the point that you can play it regularly and remove a deadweight player.
Basically, a utility forward that would be good on your fourth line, fine on the third and probably not great anywhere else.
Potential landing spots: New York Rangers, Washington Capitals, Philadelphia Flyers, San Jose Sharks
2. Cam Atkinson
He is essentially the same player as Jiri Tlusty, but smaller. So why is he listed higher? Because he is a North American player compared to European. To GM’s that automatically means he is grittier and tougher and better in the playoffs.
I’m being a little facetious here, but I’m also pretty on point. I really don’t know what he brings to the table that Tlusty does not. Neither are defensive wizards. Neither are going to run you over. Besides the on ice ability, Atkinson is a pending RFA to Tlusty’s UFA status.
Potential landing spots: Winnipeg Jets, Boston Bruins, San Jose Sharks, Pittsburgh Penguins
1. Daniel Winnik
Why is he number one? Well he’s basically the perfect checking line utility forward. He’s great defensively and when he is on the ice he pushes the puck away from your net and towards the other. He does not score much, but he is good at generating shots on the opposing net which can be good anywhere in the lineup to help increase offence by proxy.
This is the kind of depth addition that a smart GM will do for cheap and then have people praising his ability to “beat the market”. Strong penalty killer, good speed, can make a play and not just the safe play, and has the ability to take faceoffs.
Potential landing spots: San Jose Sharks, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals