It’s T minus four days now until the Friday afternoon NHL trade deadline and around the league the transactions are starting to fire off as teams buy and sell their way towards the end of the season.
Via Daily Faceoff, here are some names from around the circuit that are available. Over the years, they do a good job of the listed players having a pretty high batting average for getting traded shortly after being named to these type of lists.
Trade Targets Top 50: Welcome to NHL Wild Card Week. With most big-name rentals gone, teams are looking to get creative.— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) February 27, 2023
#Flyers Kevin Hayes
#preds Mattias Ekholm
#preds Mikael Granlund
#Yotes Nick Schmaltz
#NHLDucks Adam Henriquehttps://t.co/T5MjMEqDzC
Which names on the list make sense for the Penguins to at least check in on? Let’s go through some of the more realistic potential fits considering what we know about Pittsburgh’s need, likely trade cost, cap space and the price they’re willing to pay (i.e. no sense dreaming of a Maserati when you’re on a Honda budget..)
5. James van Riemsdyk Left Wing, Philadelphia Flyers
Stats: 40 GP, 9 G, 14 A, 23 Pts
Contract: Pending UFA, $7 million AAV
Scoop: Death, taxes and ‘JVR’ scoring at a 20-goal clip in the NHL. Those are three things you can bank on. Van Riemsdyk has rebounded from a fractured finger earlier this season into his usual form. He’s never been fleet of foot, so his speed isn’t a concern, because he has a knack like few others to find the puck at the exact right moment. It’s for that reason that ‘JVR’ is the 12th-best net-front scorer in the NHL, according to our Archetype Rankings series. If the Flyers are willing to retain half, which every indication is they would be willing to do, they can salvage a nice asset from a most disappointing season. That’s a long way from having to pay to move him last summer. For more on why JVR is a handy addition to a team’s toolbox, read his in-depth Trade Deadline player profile.
About the only thing that doesn’t make sense is the team he plays on. Ron Hextall knows first-hand that the Pens and Flyers organizations don’t like teaming up on trades — because after all it was Hextall himself serving as Philadelphia’s GM where he opted to send Mark Streit to Tampa instead of Pittsburgh. (Tampa would turn later that day and flip Streit to Pittsburgh anyways).
According to CapFriendly, the Pens can add $1.8 million in salary today, a figure that grows to $2.0 million by Friday — due to the NHL’s cap being calculated on a pro-rated basis every day, they gain the ability to add a little bit more incrementally each day. Pittsburgh is also at 23 players on their roster (they can go over it after the deadline) but if they were to trade or assign a player to the AHL that $2.0 million could easily go to $2.75+ million in workable space as well.
In order to get van Riemsdyk to Pittsburgh, the Flyers would have to retain 50% of his contract ($3.75m) and then a third team would have to retain 50% of what is left ($1.875m), and send van Riemsdyk to Pittsburgh now with a $1.875 million cap hit. That lines up just perfectly with the amount of space they have left.
The price/gain for that third team is fairly modest — last week Minnesota retained the identical $1.875 million in exchange for only a 2025 fourth round pick in the transaction that sent Ryan O’Reilly to Toronto.
Daily Faceoff’s player profile on van Riemsdyk is interesting. At 6’3, 220 pounds, he’s a big body that scores a lot from in tight to the net. His compete and willingness to work hard got him some props from coach John Tortorella who noted that JvR was better in those areas than he knew or expected before taking over.
Though van Riemsdyk’s WAR% has fallen off this season on a bad Flyers team, there does look like he has something to contribute to a playoff team.
The cap hit presents a hurdle that could be easily solved, dealing with the Flyers however may prove to be a bridge too far from the Eastern side of the state. But as far as the Pens’ need for a legitimate third line winger? It makes a lot of sense.
6. Mikael Granlund Left Wing, Nashville Predators
Stats: 57 GP, 9 G, 27 A, 36 Pts
Contract: Two more seasons, $5 million AAV
Scoop: Granlund hails from Finland, but he might as well be from Switzerland because he is the perfect Swiss Army Knife for any contending team. He impacts the game in so many different ways. He skates well, he produces offense at even-strength, he can play on the power play and penalty kill. Granlund is also a tireless worker and gets in on the forecheck well. All of those things, and with some term and a salary cap hit that is in line with his production, and that makes him a very sought after commodity on the trade market as the Predators begin to tear it down.
Now that the Pens have shed Kasperi Kapanen’s contract, Granlund is a player they could consider now that probably would have been impossible to reasonably look at just a few days ago. He has an two more years on his contract, which could be considered a plus in terms of Pittsburgh not wanting to shell out assets for a rental.
Granlund also had 53 assists and 64 points in a season just last season and could be an eventual top-six replacement for Jason Zucker next season in Pittsburgh, but it’s worth noting that this season has been absolutely dreadful for him so far. The financials would be fuzzy, but including Teddy Blueger and his $2.2 million in a trade, plus the Pens’ $2 million in cap space brings them pretty close to making the math work with one more move (like maybe dropping Danton Heinen from the roster).
Granlund also has center capability, taking 282 draws this season for Nashville. He hasn’t been a full-time center, but then again neither was Jeff Carter immediately before Pittsburgh added him.
7. Adam Henrique Center, Anaheim Ducks
Stats: 57 GP, 19 G, 14 A, 33 Pts
Contract: One more season, $5.825 million AAV
Scoop: We’re told Ducks GM Pat Verbeek would like to make something happen prior to the deadline, but he doesn’t have much by way of assets to trade. Henrique is one. He hasn’t been widely talked about, but a few more teams have recently engaged – if not directly with Anaheim, then in internal team discussions. Chatter has increased. The Nino Niederreiter trade is a pretty direct comparable – although center instead of winger – because their production is similar. The Ducks might be able to get more than a second-round pick if they’re willing to retain half. That’s one way to do it.
Henrique is an oft-mentioned trade target, but would the Pens give up more than a second rounder to acquire him? That would seem to be a bridge too far, even if he’s not a pure rental. The possibility of sending Blueger out in this deal would help make the math work, but wouldn’t bridge the gap completely.
17. Brock Boeser Right Wing, Vancouver Canucks
Stats: 51 GP, 11 G, 27 A, 38 Pts
Contract: 2 more seasons, $6.65 million AAV
Scoop: Word is the Canucks are willing to entertain a deal for Boeser that includes Vancouver retaining some salary. It likely would not be a significant amount, but the Canucks are ready to move on. Their push to finally, once and for all, create some salary cap flexibility is real. We know that Boeser is looking for a change of scenery, too. He’s already been given the ability to seek a trade through his agent. Boeser hasn’t scored at his typical rate this season, but he’s still at 0.73 points per game (61-point pace), and he does have value as a scoring winger. The concern for teams is the term. For a detailed breakdown of Boeser’s game and potential fits, read his in-depth Trade Deadline player profile.
Boeser would be a bold move and huge swing for the Pens. It’s probably a little outside of their comfort zone, but at this point they probably should be venturing to considering such an idea — especially if Vancouver is willing to retain some of his contract. The math is fuzzy and the need for a scoring line forward isn’t great, but would help a trickle-down effect if perhaps that means someone like Bryan Rust could drop down to fortify the third line. This addition is more wishful than likely, but is an avenue that should be seriously considered. Boeser’s age, production and tools are all very favorable for an acquiring team.
22. Nick Bonino Center, San Jose Sharks
Stats: 57 GP, 10 G, 9 A, 19 Pts
Contract: Pending UFA, $2.05 million AAV
Scoop: Two Stanley Cup brothers-in-arms right next to each other at No. 21 and No. 22. If you listen closely, you can still hear Harnaryan Singh’s call from the Pittsburgh Penguins’ run in the Stanley Cup playoffs – “Bonino, Bonino, Bonino, Booooonnniiiiiiiinnnnnooooooo.” It was the soundtrack of the spring in the Steel City, a legendary call on a player who showed up in significant situations for the Pens. Bonino has never been fleet of foot, but he’s incredibly smart and his attention to detail is second to none. He is a diligent worker and has a strong work rate, and his point production hasn’t wavered much at all from his career averages. The Rangers, Bruins and Penguins were among the teams that have inquired about him.
A player being tied to the Pens in trade talk these days is rare. Bonino has been mostly on the wing this year in San Jose, but likely would be an acquisition that would interest Mike Sullivan to boost and fit into the bottom-six somewhere. His cap hit is workable, and he probably wouldn’t cost the moon. This could be a wise pickup, considering needs and those other factors lining up favorably.
28. Lars Eller Center, Washington Capitals
Stats: 60 GP, 7 G, 9 A, 16 Pts
Contract: Pending UFA, $3.5 million AAV
Scoop: Add Eller to the list of potential pieces for the Caps to sell. His game and impact have slowed, but he’s still valuable for a playoff run. He’s a flexible center who is rarely rattled. He has Stanley Cup pedigree. And he’s well-respected in any locker room he steps into.
Copy and paste everything about trade reluctance from van Riemsdyk straight to here as well between the Caps and Pens. Eller’s game has fallen off this season, at times being a healthy scratch. He’s probably not the above-average third line center he once was. Any trade to Pittsburgh would be difficult, and possibly require a third team as a broker (and perhaps retaining salary as well). This doesn’t score high on the likely scale and would require some finessing, but in terms of a player the Pens need (fairly capable bottom line center) there aren’t many options on the table across the league that check some boxes for fit.
37. Brock McGinn Left Wing, Pittsburgh Penguins
Stats: 59 GP, 10 G, 5 A, 15 Pts
Contract: Two more seasons, $2.75 million AAV
Scoop: As the Penguins look for ways to try and create more salary cap space after Kasperi Kapanen was claimed off waivers, McGinn presents one avenue to do so – and improve Pittsburgh’s bottom six at the same time. Center Teddy Blueger is another option, although GM Ron Hextall really values building through the middle. The complicating factor for McGinn is the two more seasons remaining on his deal.
Moving McGinn would be tremendous — if the Pens are able to find a taker. Therein lies the troubles, but it’s nice to see him listed as a possibility. Would Vancouver be a possible spot in a potential Boeser trade to help even up the cap hits? After finding a way to move on from Kapanen, you can never say never at this point, but it is has got to be easier said than done at this point.
48. Colin White Center, Florida Panthers
Stats: 47 GP, 7 G, 7 A, 14 Pts
Contract: Pending RFA, $1.2 million
Scoop: White’s name has popped up in trade conversations in recent days as the Panthers have sought some salary cap flexibility. He is by no means a lock to get traded, but he is playing fourth line minutes and likely believes he has a little more to give. If the Panthers trend toward missing the playoffs by Deadline Day, they may consider moving him.
White might not be better than the Blueger/Ryan Poehling mix of lower line centers, but his age, very workable cap hit and right shot has him standing out.
50. Sean Monahan Center, Montréal Canadiens
Stats: 25 GP, 6 G, 11 A, 17 Pts
Contract: Pending UFA, $6.375 million AAV
Scoop: Monahan participated in Canadiens practice on Thursday, albeit wearing a non-contact jersey, which was a critical step forward in getting him moved before the NHL’s trade deadline. Monahan’s last game was all the way back on Dec. 5. Teams would like to see him in action again before committing any assets to him – and even then, the injury risk is significant. Nonetheless, Monahan had a really solid first quarter of the season. If his salary is run through a third-party broker, it will be down to the $1.6 million range, which is doable for a quality fourth line center piece on a championship team. If healthy.
Monahan would represent a big risk, given his injury history, but also provides a big reward. The Pens would need that third team to help manage the cap hit. There might not be interest or willingness to move for him at this time given the circumstance, but Monahan while on the ice this season has been good.