Top 15 Best Trade Targets for NHL Deadline 2018

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With the NHL Trade Deadline ending at 3 pm EST on Monday, Feb 26, I decided to post who I think are the best available trade targets, especially since a lot of fans are starting to wonder who their team should acquire.

This has been a crazy season, as Edmonton and Montreal are out of the playoff picture, and the Senators and Rangers are rebuilding. As a result, this year has a plethora of good talent available. However, the price for everyone will be high, especially since there are so many teams within just a few points of reaching the post-season. To qualify for this list, any player must have a realistic chance of being traded. This year’s crop of talent is also a Left Wing heavy collection.


15. Tomas Plekanec (Montreal Canadiens-Center)-35 years old

17-18: 22 points in 59 games played

16-17: 28 points in 78 games played

The first entry on this list, Plekanec is in the final year of his contract, owing him $6 million AAV (average annual value). An Unrestricted Free Agent in July, Plekanec could be a nice 3c for any playoff team. While Plekanec has regressed significantly over the last 2 seasons, he previously had 54 and 60 point campaigns, which indicates he might have a bounce back year with a contender. With some added talent on his wings, and some motivation to finally win a Stanley Cup, Plekanec could have a resurgence with his new squad.

A good General Manager would likely be able to acquire him for cheap, even in this thin center market, and have Montreal retain a large portion of his deal. My first article went into extreme depth on his stats, but he is a solid player, especially in a bottom-6 center role.

14. Max Domi (Arizona Coyotes-Left Wing/Center)-23 years old next week

17-18: 26 points in 59 games played

16-17: 38 points in 59 games played

After trading Anthony Duclair and Tobias Rieder, Arizona is apparently willing to part with Domi for the right price. Domi could be a great 3rd line addition to a playoff team, as he brings toughness and skill. While he has regressed over the last two seasons, his fantastic rookie season (52 points in 81 games) keeps him on this list. After all, a change of scenery will probably help him.

Domi is a Restricted Free Agent after this season and is currently playing on the final year of his rookie contract. He could be a nice scoring option for teams in the midst of a cap crunch, if they are willing to take a chance on him.


13. Patrick Maroon (Edmonton Oilers-Left Wing)-29 years old

17-18: 30 points in 57 games played

16-17: 42 points in 81 games played

Maroon found a scoring touch while playing with Connor McDavid in Edmonton, but I’d be concerned that his numbers reflect more on McDavid than on Maroon himself. With 14 goals this season and 27 last year, he can obviously find the back of the net, but he never managed more than 11 goals in a season with the Ducks, while often playing on a line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. That is a red flag!

Maroon is owed $1.5 million AAV for this season before he becomes an Unrestricted Free Agent, so he might be worth taking as a rental. He also has a big body and plays a physical game against the boards, so worst case scenario, you use him on the bottom-6.


12. Tyler Bozak (Toronto Maple Leafs-Center)-31 years old

17-18: 32 points in 61 games played

16-17: 55 points in 78 games played

Bozak, an Unrestricted Free Agent after this season, is owed $4.2 million AAV. Since Toronto needs to pay William Nylander and possibly James Van Riemsdyk after this season, they could consider moving Tyler Bozak. I personally think it’s unlikely he is traded, hence why he is so high on the list, but maybe some team gives the Leafs an offer that they can’t refuse. Bozak is a solid faceoff man, has great possession numbers, is currently 9th on the team in scoring, and plays on the powerplay. But those are also reasons why the Leafs should hold on to him as an “in house rental.”

11. Alex Galchenyuk (Montreal Canadiens-Center/Left Wing/Right Wing)-24 years old

17-18: 34 points in 59 games played

16-17: 44 points in 61 games played

The misaligned Canadien could be quite the redemption project if he lands with the right team. At 24, he still has a lot left in the tank and he is owed $4.9 million through 2019-20, which could be a bargain if a change of scenery sparks his play. Galchenyuk scored 30 goals in 2015-16, but has regressed under coach Claude Julien. Whether a team uses Galchenyuk as a Center or Wing, he has potential for a Galchenya-ssaince.

10. Mike Green (Detroit Red Wings-Defense)-32 years old

17-18: 29 points in 56 games

16-17: 36 points in 72 games

Green should be an awesome addition to any team. He would be the perfect trade deadline target, if this wasn’t a season with an unrealistic amount of superstars available for trade. A large part of his cap hit of $6 million AAV through this season will likely be retained before he hits Unrestricted Free Agency, which will make him a hot commodity. Green is an above average powerplay quarterback and should fit in nicely to any team that needs a right handed defenseman.

While no longer the 30 goal threat he once was with the Capitals, Green should provide an instant boost for someone looking for a right handed defenseman to play on the second or bottom pairing. While he can make defensive mistakes, his offensive ability should excuse them depending on his role.

9. Michael Grabner (New York Rangers-Left Wing/Right Wing)-30 years old

17-18: 31 points in 59 games played

16-17:  40 points in 76 games played

Owed $1.65 million for this season before he hits Unrestricted Free Agency, Grabner should provide middle-6 depth to any contender. He is one of the fastest, if not the fastest players available and should provide an instant boost to anyone looking for speed. He has also flourished offensively with the Rangers and scored at least 25 goals this season and last season. While he won’t come cheap, he would make a nice addition for any team, especially with a western team looking for some speed for a deep run.

8. Rick Nash (New York Rangers-Left Wing)-33 years old

17-18: 28 points in 60 games played

16-17: 38 points in 67 games played

It is abundantly clear that Nash is no longer the 40 goal scorer that he was in his prime, but Nash could still be useful to a playoff team. First things first: he is owed $7.8 million this season and then is an Unrestricted Free Agent. There is no way anyone takes him without the Rangers retaining a chunk of that.

Nash can play shorthanded or on the powerplay and should be a great addition to the middle-6 of any contending team. He also has a lot of experience (77 career playoff games) and has even played in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2014.

However, Nash has awful playoff numbers when you considering the caliber of player that he has been, hence why he ranks so low on my list. In the post-season, he averages 5.7 percent shooting and has scored 15 goals during those 77 games. But he can be used in a lot of scenarios, so his versatility can be a huge asset. If the team acquiring him isn’t looking for just a goal scorer, Nash can be really effective.

7. Evander Kane (Buffalo Sabres-Left Wing)-26 years old

17-18: 39 points in 60 games played

16-17: 43 points in 70 games played

I know putting Kane ahead of Nash is going to upset a lot of people, but hear me out.

While Kane doesn’t put up a ton of points, he does do one thing extremely well: find the back of the net. He currently has 19 goals, scored 28 last year, and 20 the year before that, all while averaging only 8.9% shooting throughout his career (almost 3% lower than any wing ahead of him on this list). Imagine if he went on a hot streak with a new team or found a center that could maximize his potential.

Unfortunately, Kane is perceived to be a detriment to the locker room (his clothes in the shower story is now infamous), but having never played past the 82 game plateau, it’s easy to see how he could get frustrated. Maybe a chance at a Cup is just what he needs. Kane is owed $5.25 AAV for this season and then is an Unrestricted Free Agent. Because he could just be a rental, a team could be willing to take on his attitude for his goal scoring touch.

6. James Van Riemsdyk (Toronto Maple Leafs-Left Wing)-28 years old

17-18: 38 points in 61 games played

16-17: 62 points in 82 games played

He is a controversial pick, since he is probably the second least likely to be traded on this list. JVR’s name has been floating around for years and it is unlikely that Toronto can afford to keep him beyond this season, so it is possible he gets moved. Owed only $4.25 million AAV for this year, then an Unrestricted Free Agent, the Leafs could choose to keep him as an “in-house rental,” or they could move him to a (likely) western contender as part of a 3-way trade for the defenseman they so desperately need.

JVR is a solid goal scorer and averages between 20-30 goals per year. If moved, he should provide a solid scoring boost to the top 6 of any team looking for a left wing.


5. Derick Brassard (Ottawa Senators-Center)-30 years old

17-18: 36 points in 57 games played

16-17: 39 points in 81 games played

Brassard, the top choice at center on this list, has always been a dominant playoff performer (55 points in 78 playoff games). While his numbers with the Senators during the regular season have decreased, he was once a 60 point 2c for the Rangers. He can play on the powerplay or penalty kill and is an average faceoff option (fluctuating between 48-50%), which should make him extremely attractive. Thus, he will make an above average 3c on any contending team. Brassard is also owed $5 million AAV this season and next, so paying the price to acquire him will be mitigated by his extra season.

4. Mike Hoffman (Ottawa Senators-Left Wing)-28 years old


17-18: 39 points in 59 games played

16-17: 61 points in 74 games played

Mike Hoffman has 2 major positives. First, he is locked up through 2019-20 at just under 5.2 million AAV. Second, he is a consistent mid-20s goal scorer. With 14 points in 25 career playoff games, he should provide a necessary boost to any team. What else can you ask for out of a trade deadline target, especially when he’s under 30?

3. Max Pacioretty (Montreal Canadiens-Left Wing)-29 years old

17-18: 35 points in 56 games played

16-17: 67 points in 81 games played

Pacioretty is the closest thing any playoff team can get to an elite, top line forward and he should slide in nicely to any team’s top 6 at Left Wing. Pacioretty is a five time 30 goal scorer and is only owed a bargain $4.5 million AAV for this year and next year. The captain in Montreal can also play shorthanded and on the powerplay. This versatility will easily improve anyone.

2. Ryan McDonagh (New York Rangers-Defense)-28 years old

17-18: 26 pts in 49 games played

16-17: 42 points in 77 games played

Whoever loses the Karlsson sweepstakes has a pretty good consolation prize. McDonagh is an elite top-2 defenseman who can be a Swiss Army Knife for any playoff blue line. This year, McDonagh is averaging over 2 minutes per game on the powerplay and over 3 minutes per game shorthanded. Moreover, he has 41 points in 96 career playoff games, showing that he will positively impact any team’s playoff run.

Owed only $4.7 million AAV for this season and next, the captain of the Rangers should certainly be a hot commodity by Monday.

1. Erik Karlsson (Ottawa Senators-Defense)-27 years old

17-18: 41 points in 54 games played

16-17: 71 points in 77 games played

I mean come on, he’s Erik Karlsson. Even Karlsson in a down year is better than pretty much any defenseman in the league, unless your roster has Drew Doughty or Brent Burns.

With $6.5 million AAV left for this year and next year, Karlsson will not come cheap (either in cap hit or in assets to acquire him), but he can, single-handedly, turn a fringe-playoff team into a Cup contender. He is also a powerplay quarterback, possession machine, and elite defender who plays a lot of minutes.

The only foreseeable downside is cost. Karlsson will not come cheap. Whether the buyer is forced to take Bobby Ryan as part of the trade, or is willing to give up several top prospects and picks to acquire him.


Thomas Vanek (the perennial trade deadline target)

Radim Vrabata (the 2nd perennial trade deadline target)

Mark Letestu (who barely misses this list)

Robin Lehner (who would make this list if anyone needed a goalie)

*all stats from

*all cap information from

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