With the NHL Trade Deadline only a few weeks away, teams are looking for that next piece to push them over the hump. Some teams, like the New York Rangers and New York Islanders, have already struck gold. They are going with top talent for playoff momentum. The NHL has many different role players, whether they help score, generate momentum, or keep the puck out of the net. Teams know there is always room for improvement in the lineup. So without further ado, here are five players who will be traded by the deadline.
To say the Arizona Coyotes have been a disoriented disaster would be a catalytic understatement. This team is hopelessly begging to get upcoming superstar Connor Bedard and will move any talent to ensure their tank is a success. One major key player who will be moved is left-handed defenseman Jakob Chychrun. Although he has struggled with injuries, Chychrun is a young superstar in the making. After scoring 28 points in 36 games with a team-friendly contract, expect the Coyotes to get a haul in talent for teams looking to win in the upcoming years.
While every team will be in on the Chychrun sweepstakes, the team that makes the most logical sense to pursue the star is the Los Angeles Kings. They need a two-way defenseman, and with the young talent on the way, Chychrun could be a major factor in the core moving forward. In addition, they are in a transitional stage, and pursuing Chychrun would help their cup chances increase exponentially.
The San Jose Sharks have locked themselves into long-term mediocrity. Having little star power, they should get draft picks and rebuild their core. However, right winger Timo Meier has played phenomenally this season, scoring 51 points in 54 games. With a limited six defensive zone giveaways, he is someone who teams can rely on to play on both the powerplay and penalty kill. In addition, he is not afraid to shoot and create space, with 32 high-danger shots taken this season and an on-ice shot attempt of 60%.
Some teams building for a deep playoff run need that extra-piece scorer who can play a defensive style. A team like the New Jersey Devils or Vegas Golden Knights would be a perfect fit for a two-way sniper who is not afraid to take shots and make a play. Both these teams have high-flying offenses but are weak in the back end of their zone. A player like Timo Meier can help them take that next step.
Although superstar Patrick Kane headlines all Chicago Blackhawks news, centerman Jonathan Toews has also been headlined in rumors as well. The Blackhawks captain is not the player he used to be, scoring 28 points in 46 games. With that said, he has played a solid defensive game, with only 13 defensive zone giveaways and a 63.3 percent success rate on faceoffs. He still has proven he can play at an elite level. He was the captain during all three of the Blackhawks’ cup runs, proving he has what it takes on and off the ice to get things done. A team gearing up for a playoff run could be in need of such leadership.
The main team that comes to mind is the Winnipeg Jets. They have some talent, but adding a leader like Toews on a line with Blake Wheeler or Kyle Conner would do wonders for the organization. He is a player who can lead that team on a deep run and not rely on star goaltender Connor Hellebuyck to carry them to playoff success. Kane is getting all the hype, but expectations should be moved onto Toews to be the first out the door.
When looking at the playoff picture, some teams will be salivating for defenseman Luke Schenn. Although he is not a scorer, with only 18 points in 53 games, his talent is seen more in the defensive zone. He is not afraid to take a hit to make a play. Schenn has 250 hits on the season, putting him far ahead of the Vancouver Canucks players. He is averaging 5.16 shots blocked per game, and he has proved he can get a momentum shift by drawing 27 total minutes of penalties. Come playoff time, he is going to be a player used to shifting momentum and making a big play.
The team that best fits this request is the Boston Bruins. The Bruins have some superstars who are capable of making a big play. The face of the franchise is David Pastrnak. He is a goal scorer who can produce at will, and teams will want to shut him down. The best thing the Bruins’ front office can do is get someone to protect him come playoff time. A player like Schenn can stand up and create fear in opposing players who mess with the stars. Schenn has grit and plays with an underdog mentality, which the Bruins need to make a deep run this year.
When the Coyotes entered this season, it was seen as a year of treacherous pain with no bright spots. However, one player has proven to be game-changing, stealing some wins and giving the Coyotes confidence that they can win. That player is goaltender Karel Vejmelka, the best goaltender in the trade market. He is proving he can shut down teams’ offensive scoring chances, with 16.3 goals saved above expected and a save percentage of .906. When a player gets a high-danger scoring chance, he can shut them down, with a .740 save percentage in those areas. To put this in perspective, the arguably best goaltender in the league, Ilya Sorokin, has a .791 save percentage in high-danger situations, proving Vejmelka can compete with the best. He will not be a Coyote after the deadline, as goaltending is the most important position in the playoffs.
The two teams that make too much sense for Vejmelka are the Kings and the Minnesota Wild. They both fancy themselves as contenders and will need to go big game hunting to have a chance. These two teams have struggled to find stability in the net. Vejmelka will be able to give them a piece to work and win with, along with building around him for the future. Expect these two teams to be heavy in the market. Eventually, we may see Arizona with a bidding war on its hands.
Who are some other players that should be traded? Will we see a team sacrifice its future for a big, game-changing piece, or will some teams be absolutely silent? Make sure to follow and stay tuned for the trade deadline.
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