Recent National Hockey League trade deadlines have proved massive disappointments, with few trades despite weeks of speculation and hours of television coverage. However, with several big-name players on the trade block, this year’s deadline promises to be more eventful. As the deadline approaches, both buyers and sellers could find value in less obvious options.
Columbus Blue Jackets trade F Artemi Panarin to the Colorado Avalanche for F Alex Kerfoot and a 2019 first-round draft pick
All indications suggest that Panarin is on his way out of Ohio and wants to play in a larger market like Denver. The Avalanche have the most offensively potent line in hockey in Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog. However, they lack firepower beyond those three players, and Panarin would fit well on their second line to boost scoring. In the future, the Avalanche will need to manoeuvre around the salary cap due to Rantanen’s impending contract extension, but for now, this trade would secure them a 2019 playoff spot. Moreover, they already have the lowly Ottawa Senators’ first-round pick, so sacrificing their own pick is a minor loss.
For Columbus, the trade would be ideal. For one, Panarin would be out of their conference. Furthermore, Kerfoot, a talented, young centre, would fill a hole in the Jackets’ lineup, and the pick could fetch another promising young player in the draft—or if they are bold, an immediate replacement for Panarin.
Blue Jackets acquire F Matt Duchene from the Ottawa Senators for Colorado’s 2019 first-round pick and a 2019 third-round pick
The best way for Columbus to replace Panarin would be to flip the aforementioned first-round pick from Colorado over to the Senators. The Blue Jackets would walk away with a strong haul: Duchene, a proven first-line forward, and Kerfoot, a young, up-and-coming centre. As for Ottawa, their roster is in desperate need of a shake-up. The struggling Senators’ trade for Duchene last season proved a mistake when their team ultimately put together a disappointing campaign. So far, Duchene’s performance has been inconsistent; however, his reputation will demand an impressive contract this summer and trading him would serve Ottawa well. Drafting well is critical to rebuilding a club, and Senators General Manager Pierre Dorion needs to rebuild quickly if he wants to salvage his job. Colorado’s first-round pick would go a long way toward building his team’s future, and the third-rounder only sweetens the deal.
New York Rangers trade F Mats Zuccarello to Winnipeg Jets for Winnipeg’s 2019 first-round pick
For the first season in a long time, the Jets have a legitimate chance at the Stanley Cup. As such, they should focus on building a championship team. Their one offensive weakness is on the right wing, and Zuccarello, a top-six forward for the rebuilding Rangers, can help to counter this flaw. He is on an expiring contract with a manageable $4.5 million cap hit, which means that he would be an affordable option for the Jets for the remainder of the season. Since Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor, and Jacob Trouba will all need new contracts this offseason, the Jets likely won’t commit to Zuccarello long-term, but he could have a significant impact in a Cup campaign. Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has made it known that his team’s first-round pick is available, and the Rangers have committed to a rebuild in which any pick is important. The Rangers and Jets are thus a perfect match.
These trades may seem odd at first glance but could prove valuable as the postseason approaches. As teams look to solidify their postseason position, those who want to hoist the Stanley Cup come June should seriously consider making moves that fundamentally change the NHL landscape.