From ESPN Insider- Craig Custance. 20 top rental players
One look at the bunched-up NHL standings suggests that there won't be as many pure sellers at the April 3 trade deadline this year as in years past. A 48-game season will do that. When asked to estimate how many he teams he thought would be traditional sellers, an NHL GM took a look at the standings and guessed "five or six."
That alone doesn't make for a very exciting trade deadline and it's quite possible there's less movement this year because of the lack of sellers along with teams' preference for signing their own potential free agents rather than trading them. It's also quite possible that general managers look at what happened last year to New Jersey and Nashville, who lost franchise players for absolutely nothing, and decide that it can't happen to them.
"You can't let players walk," said one NHL source. "If you're going to lose players, you have to get something."
Those are the tough decisions NHL GMs will be facing when their team is fighting for contention and contract talks are stalled.
With that in mind, here's a look at the top 20 potential trade rentals and their estimated market value with this philosophy from an NHL exec as the trade return standard: "A good rental for the most part, and I'm not talking a [Marian] Hossa, the market has been a second-round pick. That's from a serviceable top-six defenseman to a guy who can play in your top nine."
A rental is defined as any player with an expiring contract after this season who can become an unrestricted free agent (salaries per CapGeek.com). Not all of these players will be dealt between now and the deadline but their teams will no doubt have a conversation about their future, especially if contract talks stall.
1. F Corey Perry, Ducks
Contract: $5.3 million
This is also a placeholder for Ryan Getzlaf because it's going to be a challenge for GM Bob Murray to sign both of his high-priced forwards. Murray is in a tough spot and the nightmare of losing Justin Schultz is still fresh in his mind. The problem, of course, is that the Ducks are one of the best teams in the Western Conference and Anaheim is experienced enough that they could go on an extended playoff run. "Will be interesting to see," said one NHL source, sharing the opinion of every team's front office.
Reasonable asking price: This is your Grade A premium rental. Murray can get a bigger return if he allows interested teams to make a call to Perry's agent to talk about a possible extension, but there's risk in that as well if that conversation doesn't go far. Either way, acquiring Perry will cost an NHL roster player, first-round pick and good prospect.
2. F Daniel Alfredsson, Senators
Contract: $4.9 million
First of all, at this point there aren't many people who think Alfredsson is going to get traded. The Senators would have to fall out of contention and Paul MacLean has Ottawa competing at a high level nearly every single night. "He's not going anywhere," said an NHL source. Complicating it further is that, if the Senators do decide to trade him, they're not going to ship him just anywhere. The Bruins and Penguins would be on the short list and maybe Detroit because of the heavy Swedish influence in their organization.
Reasonable asking price: First-round pick, B-level prospect and conditional draft pick based on playoff success.
AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams
David Clarkson could be dealt if the Devils can't get him under contract.
3. F David Clarkson, Devils
Contract: $2.7 million
Lou Lamoriello typically gets his contract extensions done but Zach Parise showed us last year that occasionally one gets away. And if Clarkson contract negotiations don't progress before the deadline, New Jersey has to think really hard about losing both players in consecutive years without anything to show for it. He's coming off a 30-goal season and has 10 goals this season, although he's cooling off. The challenge in getting him signed is determining what kind of player you're getting, because not everybody is convinced he's a 30-goal scorer.
Reasonable asking price: First-round pick and a prospect. "You only try to do that if you think you can re-sign him," said one source.
4. F Jarome Iginla, Flames
Contract: $7 million (no-movement clause)
The Flames still are fighting for a playoff spot and the return of Miikka Kiprusoff could push them closer to the top eight. But Iginla presents an opportunity for Calgary to infuse much-needed youth into the system. He's off to a bit of a slow start with six goals in his first 20 games but he's exactly the kind of veteran forward that the Penguins and Bruins would love to add for a playoff run. "He's a guy, on the right team, he could push you over the top," said an NHL exec.
Reasonable asking price: Grade A prospect and second-round pick that becomes a first if the acquiring team wins the Stanley Cup.
5. F Mike Ribeiro, Capitals
Contract: $5 million (no-trade clause)
Ribeiro has been a great fit in Washington and there's a push there to keep him, no surprise because he has 25 points in 21 games as a member of the Capitals. But he won't be cheap to re-sign and that's the tough decision GM George McPhee will have to make. On the open market, Ribeiro probably can get a deal in the five-year range that isn't too far off what he's earning now. Considering he turns 34 in the middle of next season, that's a big commitment.
Reasonable asking price: First-round pick and a B-level prospect.
6. G Mike Smith, Coyotes
Contract: $2 million
First and foremost, the Coyotes would prefer to sign Smith but despite a great management team and a coach players love competing for, it's hard to get anyone in Phoenix signed to a long-term deal because nobody knows where they'll be playing next season. Smith has seen his save percentage drop from .930 last season to .900 this year, but his career save percentage in 247 games is .913. Smith was outstanding in the playoffs last year for the Coyotes, (1.88 goals-against average, .945 save percentage) and if a team like Chicago runs into injuries in goal, he'd be an impressive solution.
Reasonable asking price: First-round pick, prospect
7. D Mark Streit, Islanders
Contract: $4.1 million
The Islanders would prefer to get Streit signed to a long-term contract extension but as of last week, the discussions were still in the early stages. One NHL source compared Streit to Brian Campbell, who was traded at the deadline in 2008 to San Jose for Steve Bernier and a first-round pick (which became Tyler Ennis). He's great on the power play and would be the kind of addition you'd feel comfortable signing to an extension if he's a good fit.
Reasonable asking price: A-level prospect plus a second-round pick.
8. F Jaromir Jagr, Stars
Contract: $4.6 million
There's pressure on Dallas to get in the playoffs and it's possible GM Joe Nieuwendyk makes another deal to add instead of subtract. If that doesn't pan out and the Stars fall out of the hunt by the deadline, trading Jagr makes sense. He's still a game-changer when healthy and would be a force on a playoff power play.
Reasonable asking price: A second- and a third-round pick.
9. D Lubomir Visnovsky, Islanders
Contract: $5.6 million
He's an interesting player who could be a power-play boost to a team looking for veteran help on defense. It has been a tumultuous year for him both on and off the ice as he has dealt with his son's illness along with being traded across the continent against his wishes. He has maintained his professionalism, putting up six points in 12 games with the Islanders. "He's a year [removed] from being dynamic in Anaheim," said an NHL source.
Reasonable asking price: Second-round pick, which would help the Islanders recoup the second-rounder they sent to Anaheim to acquire him.
10. F Clarke MacArthur, Maple Leafs
Contract: $3.3 million
His first two 20-goal seasons came after joining the Leafs, but Toronto's depth on the wing makes him expendable, ideally in a hockey trade that would bring talent back to the Maple Leafs in support of their playoff bid. In 2010, the Thrashers sent third- and fourth-round picks to Buffalo to acquire him at the deadline and he's more proven now than he was in his days with the Sabres.
Reasonable asking price: Second-round pick plus a good prospect.
11. F Dustin Penner, Kings
Contract: $3.3 million
It's counterintuitive that the Kings, in a bid to repeat as Cup champs, would trade a piece who was so important to their title run last spring, but GM Dean Lombardi is anything but conventional. He already has shown he's willing to move players this year in dealing Simon Gagne to the Flyers and Andrei Loktionov to the Devils. And in Penner's case, it's looking as though he won't be in Los Angeles' long-term plans. The Kings would like to get Rob Scuderi signed and captain Dustin Brown can be signed to an extension this summer. Those players, not Penner, will be the priority moving forward.
Reasonable asking price: Second-round pick
12. F Brenden Morrow, Stars
Contract: $4.1 million (NTC)
Morrow adds depth, grit and experience, something playoff teams are looking for around the trade deadline, but he's not the player he used to be. He's got serious mileage considering the way he plays. He hasn't been to the playoffs since 2008 but during that 18-game run with the Stars he had nine goals and six assists. It's easy to picture him digging deep and sparking a playoff team in the spring.
Reasonable asking price: B-level prospect plus conditional draft pick based on playoff success.
Greg M. Cooper/US Presswire
Sergei Gonchar could help the Pens or the Rangers on the power play.
13. D Sergei Gonchar, Senators
Contract: $5.5 million (NMC)
If the Senators get into sell mode before the deadline they'll move Gonchar, their veteran defenseman. He has nine points in 21 games this season (one off Erik Karlsson for the team lead) and still logs 24:05 of icetime per game, a number that might be best scaled down a little for a Stanley Cup contender. He'll provide defensive depth and can run a power play, valuable components for a contender such as Pittsburgh or the Rangers.
Reasonable asking price: Second-round pick. Maybe more if there are a couple teams interested.
14. F Milan Hejduk, Avalanche
Contract: $2 million (NMC)
Hejduk has been with Colorado his entire career but if Iginla and Alfredsson can get traded, so can Hejduk. His goal scoring has been on a steady decline for a few years now and he had only 14 last season in 81 games. In his first 20 games this year, Hejduk has three goals and six assists. But he's got experience on the big stage, representing the Czech Republic in the Olympics three times and helping the Avalanche win a Stanley Cup in 2001.
Reasonable asking price: Third-round draft pick
15. F Steve Sullivan, Coyotes
Contract: $2.6 million
Phoenix is another team that may prefer to keep its veterans if the Coyotes are in the middle of the playoff hunt, but they're also a franchise that needs to maximize every single asset, which means trading Sullivan will be considered. He gets regular power-play time in Phoenix and has 10 points in 20 games. The Coyotes' even-strength shooting percentage when he's on the ice is only 6.54 percent, which means he'd probably have more points this season with a little more luck. He showed last year that he's still capable of producing during the postseason at this point in his career, putting up two goals and four assists in six games with the Penguins.
Reasonable asking price: Conditional second-round pick
16. D Ian White, Red Wings
Contract: $2.9 million
White has gone from Nicklas Lidstrom's partner on defense to a healthy scratch in one year, which is quite a difference. When the Red Wings are healthy, and that hasn't been the case too often this season, they have plenty of bodies on defense. GM Ken Holland may prefer to upgrade his top four rather than deal one of his veterans, but if he can spin White into an asset that helps him trade for more playoff help, it would be a smart move. He's not big or particularly gritty but White has offensive skills that teams teams can use on defense. He's also a right-handed shot, which helps the cause. "He's a puck-mover who can play on your power play," said one NHL source.
Reasonable return: Second-round pick.
17. F Nate Thompson, Lightning
Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has shown a willingness to be a seller even when it's not clear his team is completely out of the playoff hunt. He's a general manager who is still thinking big picture in building the Lightning and wouldn't want Thompson leaving the organization without an asset coming back in return. One NHL source compared Thompson to Rich Peverley in that he's still young enough that you'd be perfectly comfortable adding him to your group of players long-term if you traded for him near the deadline as Boston did with Peverley. Thompson isn't going to light things up offensively but he'd immediately become a regular on the penalty kill, an area all contenders look to boost before the playoffs.
Reasonable asking price: Second-round pick. He's a player you trade for and hope to sign to an extension.
18. F Stephen Weiss, Panthers
Contract: $3.1 million (NMC)
Yes, we know he's out for the season but it was suggested to us that a savvy team should at least give Florida GM Dave Tallon a call to try to land Weiss before the deadline in order to have first crack at signing him during what's going to be a crazy, rushed offseason. And who knows? Maybe his recovery goes faster than originally projected. "Worst-case scenario, you're in the game two months before anyone else can be," said the source. "[Florida] would get more for him at the deadline than two weeks before free agency when you flip him for a conditional third."
Reasonable asking price: Third-round pick that becomes a second if he re-signs with the team that acquires him.
19. D Robyn Regehr, Sabres
Contract: $4 million (NMC)
The Sabres worked hard to get him from Calgary, which may make GM Darcy Regier reluctant to deal him and a contract extension more likely. "I don't know if he's going anywhere," said an NHL source. The Sabres have depth on defense when they're healthy and probably would prefer to move Jordan Leopold, but he wouldn't get the return Regehr potentially could get at the deadline. Leopold probably is worth a late-round pick.
Reasonable return: B-level prospect plus fourth-round draft pick.
20. F Nik Antropov, Jets
Contract: $4 million (Modified NTC)
Antropov adds size and depth up front for a contender, although his offensive production has declined as he has entered his 30s. He has only one goal in 22 games this season after scoring 15 last year and isn't particularly helpful with faceoffs. He's closing in on 800 career games played but has only 35 games of playoff experience, the last coming in 2009 with the Rangers. The Jets also have an expiring contract in defenseman Ron Hainsey, who is averaging over 23 minutes of icetime per game with the Jets this season.
Reasonable asking price: Third-round pick