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Keeping up with the Metropolitans: 2019 Trade Deadline Part I

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The Sellers.

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Washington Capitals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

With the NHL reaching a breaking point in the season for the players to get away while the All Stars congregate in San Jose, this marks the official beginning of trade season in the NHL. The Metropolitan Division looks like it will be a four horse race between the Islanders, Capitals, Blue Jackets and Penguins. The Hurricanes can make things interesting, but still likely wouldn’t be considered over the teams ahead of them at the All Star break.

To get everyone primed for the hundreds of rumors about to get thrown into the trade deadline blender, I’ll break down the Trade Deadline for the Metro in two tiers - the buyers and the sellers. I’ll list each team’s upcoming UFA, RFA, and current salary cap limitations to add players this season and cap space for next season to give everyone a quick, but not so scientific, view of where each team sits in the Metro for this season and next offseason.

Part I: The Sellers

There are some obvious sellers this year in the Metro. There are several teams that are currently going nowhere this year and looking to the future. Although management may not want to use the word “rebuild”, that’s more-or-less what is happening.

The Flyers have cleaned house and have a new GM and head coach and will be selling off spare parts for immediate returns and future investments. The Rangers began doing that last year and have several players that are at the top of most buyer’s radars. The Devils caught lightning in a bottle last season and made the Playoffs, but are much closer to another 1st overall pick than the playoffs this season. These are the clear-cut sellers in the Metro.

The Rangers and Flyers have two of the hottest commodities in the NHL this year. The Flyers have Wayne Simmonds and a couple other forwards likely up for the taking. Wayne Simmonds was playing on one of the best team-friendly deals with Philadelphia, and will be likely be a rental for a contender before he cashes in during free agency. Teams may also be calling about goaltender Brian Elliott who is in the last year of his contract and may be a good depth pickup for a contender who may be looking for an insurance policy in net.

The Flyers are building from the ground up and may be looking to make a bigger splash than trading a rental player, but a blockbuster trade may be more likely in the offseason for Philadelphia. The Flyers have 10 draft picks in the upcoming NHL Draft, but only four picks in the first three rounds. With several players likely gone, the Flyers will likely end up with even more than 10 picks in the Draft.

The Rangers have two forwards that are likely to be moved before the trade deadline in center Kevin Hayes and winger Mats Zuccarello. Zuccarello is also on a fair deal and although he’s not having his best year, teams will be lining up trying to add him this deadline. Kevin Hayes comes at a higher salary which will require some creativity for a trade, but chances are Hayes will not be a New York Ranger once the deadline passes. Defenseman Adam McQuaid likely doesn’t fit in the Rangers plans past this season, so he will likely be gone to a team looking to add some size and grit on the blue line.

The Rangers are attempting to rebuild on the fly and will likely be looking to add draft picks and prospects and may go after one or two high end free agents this summer. There isn’t much left to play for in the Big Apple this season.

The Rangers will likely be looking to improve their Draft positioning, as they have already traded their 4th rounder for McQuaid and will also send their 7th round pick if he plays one more game or is traded by the Rangers. The Rangers do own the Lightning’s 2nd round pick which would become a 1st round pick if Tampa Bay wins the Stanley Cup. The Rangers have the ability to acquire several early round draft picks with their trade candidates this year.

The Hurricanes are somewhat in the middle, and may be looking to buy, especially at forward. The Canes have an entire corp of solid NHL defenseman and owner Tom Dundon has made it apparent that he’s looking to add more offense. However, they still haven’t taken that leap forward yet and may not be willing to trade those defenseman for a player that may not be worth weakening their only area of strength for. They may still be a year or two away from going all in at the deadline and will likely be sellers this trade deadline.

Things haven’t been going well in New Jersey and they have several players who will likely be playing for a new team before the season ends. Brian Boyle will most likely end up on a playoff bound team and has a pedigree of raising his game come playoff time. He comes at a reasonable cap hit but is an aging player so the return for him likely won’t be spectacular, but he could still fetch a decent haul for New Jersey.

Marcus Johansson had much bigger expectations when the Devils traded for him in 2017. He has recorded 12 goals and 18 assists for 30 points 65 total games with the Devils, who traded a 2nd and 3rd round pick to acquire him. The Devils may be looking to move on from him instead of resigning him, but his cap hit is $4.5 million and he has a five team no-trade list. A team may still be willing to trade picks and/or prospects for him to bolster their forward group for the playoffs.

The Devils also have several other players on expiring contracts who may be deadline trade candidates. Former Cup winner with Pittsburgh Ben Lovejoy has been having a good year and would be a nice piece for a team to add. Drew Stafford will come at a low price and may be worthwhile as a lower tier pickup. Goaltender Keith Kinkaid has been in New Jersey his entire career and doesn’t have very good numbers this season but could also find a new home before this season is over.

The Devils have one pick in every round in the upcoming NHL Draft, but traded their 3rd round pick last year to St. Louis for Patrick Maroon but own Anaheim’s 3rd round pick as part of a condition met in the Sami Vatanen trade. Adding another 1st round pick would be unlikely, but I’d expect Ray Shero to be looking to add more picks with some of the players available in New Jersey this season.

The last team I’d consider sellers and although they may not want to be, they may be forced to be is Columbus. The Blue Jackets sit near the top of the Metro standings but have arguably two of the biggest trade targets this year.

It’s no secret that Sergei Bobovsky’s days are numbered in Columbus. He’s made it clear he won’t be resigning there and the team has been frustrated with him and recently internally suspended him after an incident in a game against Tampa Bay. He hasn’t been very impressive this year, but is a two-time Vezina winner and has been one of the best goalies in the NHL since he was traded to Columbus in 2012. High end goalies don’t become available very often yet don’t seem to fetch a lot in return. Ben Bishop was likely the last instance and the return for him turned into Erik Cernak for Tampa Bay, who may turn into a solid NHL player, but not comparable to the level of Ben Bishop.

Columbus has been grooming Joonas Korpisalo into the starter’s role for several years, although Korpisalo hasn’t come close to the numbers he put up in 2015-16 when Bobrovsky struggled and only played in 37 games. Korpisalo will be turning 25 in April and is a RFA this offseason. The Jackets will have some decisions to make in regards to who will be guarding the net in the immediate future. Whether they decide to move on from Bobrovsky and possibly trade him for his replacement, or give the keys to Korpisalo, it would be wise for the Jackets to get any form of return before Bobrovsky is gone at the end of the season.

Artemi Panarin hasn’t ruled out a return to Columbus, but many analysts are expecting him to test the waters in free agency this summer. The Jackets have some key players coming off ELCs and RFA that need resigned. Zach Werenski, Ryan Murray and Anthony Duclair will need resigned an will come in at a much higher cap hit next year. They have the room to resign them and Panarin with roughly $30 million to spend in the summer.

The Jackets only have picks in the 1st, 3rd, 4th and 7th round in the upcoming NHL Draft. They should be able to get a decent player and draft pick for Bobrovsky if/when he is traded. If the Jackets feel Panarin is signing somewhere else this summer, they could replenish their picks in the draft in a trade, but otherwise the Jackets are likely not interested in trading their players for picks at the moment.

Of course these are just some of the names available and there could still be several trades nobody saw coming. The sellers are just as entertaining as the buyers at the trade deadline, as their fanbases debate on who won each trade and what they vision the newest acquisitions will turn into. It’s always tough to see some players put on a different sweater, but that’s life in professional sports.

Thanks for reading this Trade Deadline Preview, and be sure to check back for Part II featuring the buyers!

*Salary cap numbers via Cap Friendly.
*Stats via hockey-reference.


New Jersey Devils

Projected cap space: $13.980 million
Deadline cap space: $65.009 million
2019-20 projected cap space: $31.818 million

UFA:

  • LW Marcus Johansson; 27 years old
    36 GP, 7 G, 9 A, 16 PTS, -11
    $4.583 million cap hit
    5 team no-trade list
  • C Brian Boyle; 34 years old
    43 GP, 12 G, 5 A, 17 PTS, -11
    $2.55 million cap hit
  • RW Drew Stafford; 33 years old
    24 GP, 2 G, 5 A, 7 PTS, -2
    $810k cap him
  • RHD Ben Lovejoy; 34 years old
    43 GP, 1 G, 5 A, 6 PTS, +5
    $2.667 million cap hit
  • G Keith Kinkaid; 29 years old
    34 GP, 31 GS, 13-14-6, .899 save %, 3.10 GAA
    $1.250 million cap hit

RFA:

  • RW Stefan Noesen; 25 years old
    27 GP, 2 G, 5 A, 7 PTS, -7
    $1.725 million cap hit
  • C Pavel Zacha; 21 years old
    43 GP, 7 G, 4 A, 11 PTS, -2
    $894k cap hit
  • LHD Will Butcher; 24 years old
    47 GP, 2 G, 15 A, 17 PTS, -1
    $925k cap hit
  • LHD Mirco Mueller; 23 years old
    31 GP, 0 G, 6 A, 6 PTS, -7
    $850k cap hit


Philadelphia Flyers

Projected cap space: $8.434 million
Deadline cap space: $21.489 million
2019-20 projected cap space: $31.960 million

UFA:

  • RW Wayne Simmonds, 30 years old
    48 GP, 15 G, 8 A, 23 PTS, -11
    $3.975 million cap hit
    12 team no-trade list
  • G Brian Elliott, 33 years old
    14 GP, 13 GS, 6-7-0, .911 save %, 2.59 GAA, 1 SO
    $2.750 million cap hit
  • C Jori Lehtera, 31 years old
    27 GP, 1 G, 2 A, 3 PTS, -7
    $4.700 million cap hit
  • LW Michael Raffl, 30 years old
    34 GP, 3 G, 5 A, 8 PTS, +1
    $2.350 million cap hit
  • G Michal Neuvirth, 30 years old
    7 GP, 6 GS, 1-4-1, .859 save %, 4.27 GAA
    $2.500 million cap hit

RFA:

  • C Scott Laughton, 24 years old
    48 GP, 7 G, 12 A, 19 PTS, +5
    $962k cap hit
  • RW Travis Konecny, 21 years old
    48 GP, 12 G, 14 A, 26 PTS, -3
    $894k cap hit
  • LHD Ivan Provorov, 22 years old
    48 GP, 4 G, 13 A, 17 PTS, -14
    $894k cap hit
  • LHD Travis Sanheim, 22 years old
    48 GP, 4 G, 11 A, 15 PTS, -6
    $863k cap hit
  • G Anthony Stolarz, 25 years old
    9 GP, 7 GS, 2-3-2, .880 save %, 3.90 GAA
    $761k cap hit


New York Rangers

Projected cap space: $2.387 million
Deadline cap space: $11.099 million
2019-20 projected cap space: $20.756 million

UFA:

  • C Kevin Hayes; 26 years old
    39 GP, 10 G, 23 A, 33 PTS, +6
    $5.175 million cap hit
  • RW Mats Zuccarello; 31 years old
    35 GP, 8 G, 16 A, 24 PTS, -14
    $4.500 million cap hit
  • RHD Adam McQuaid; 32 years old
    24 GP, 0 G, 3 A, +0
    $2.750 million cap hit

RFA:

  • LW Pavel Buchnevich; 23 years old
    32 GP, 9 G, 6 A, 15 PTS, -3
    $925k cap hit
  • RHD Neal Pionk; 23 years old
    42 GP, 5 G, 15 A, 20 PTS, -7
    $925k cap hit
  • RHD Anthony DeAngelo, 23 years old
    31 GP, 4 G, 8 A, 12 PTS, +5
    $863k cap hit


Carolina Hurricanes

Projected cap space: $16.430 million
Deadline cap space: $76.402 million
2019-20 cap space: $28.336 million

UFA:

  • RW Justin Williams; 37 years old
    50 GP, 13 G, 15 A, 28 PTS, -13
    $4.500 million cap hit
    15 team no-trade list
  • LW Michael Ferland, 26 years old
    41 GP, 13 G, 12 A, 25 PTS, +6
    $1.750 million cap hit
  • LW Jordan Martinook; 26 years old
    50 GP, 10 G, 3 A, 13 PTS, -3
    $1.800 million cap hit
  • G Petr Mrazek; 26 years old
    23 GP, 23 GS, 10-10-3, .894 save %, 2.81 GAA, 1 SO
    $1.500 million cap hit
  • G Curtis McElhinney; 35 years old
    18 GP, 18 GS, 11-6-1, .914 save %, 2.50 GAA
    $850k cap hit

RFA:

  • RW Sebastian Aho; 21 years old
    50 GP, 22 G, 35 A, 57 PTS, +14
    $925k cap hit
  • Brock McGinn; 24 years old
    50 GP, 4 G, 10 A, 14 PTS, +2
    $887k cap hit


Columbus Blue Jackets

Projected cap space: $6.703 million
Deadline cap space: $31.172 million
2019-20 projected cap space: $29.847 million

UFA:

  • G Sergei Bobrovsky; 30 years old
    34 GP, 33 GS, 19-14-1, .904 save %, 2.91 GAA, 2 SO
    $7.425 million cap hit
    No Movement Clause
  • LW Artemi Panarin; 27 years old
    46 GP, 19 G, 34 A, 53 PTS, +10
    $6.000 million cap hit

RFA:

  • LHD Ryan Murray; 25 years old
    47 GP, 1 G, 21 A, 22 PTS, +13
    $2.850 million cap hit
  • LHD Zach Werenski; 21 years old
    48 GP, 9 G, 18 A, 27 PTS, -10
    $925k cap hit
  • G Joonas Korpisalo; 24 years old
    19 GP, 15 GS, 9-3-2, .901 save %, 2.95 GAA
    $900k cap hit
  • LW Lukas Sedlak; 25 years old
    33 GP, 2 G, 2 A, 4 PTS, +0
    $825k cap hit
  • LW Anthony Duclair; 23 years old
    41 GP, 10 G, 5 A, 15 PTS, -3
    $650k cap hit
  • LHD Scott Harrington; 25 years old
    42 GP, 1 G, 10 A, 11 PTS, +8
    $675k cap hit