Kevin Brown: The NHL’s trade deadline is still over a month away, but the transaction market typically heats up after the All-Star break as teams begin to separate themselves into groups of buyers and sellers. As we enter this period, which players do you think are most likely to see their fantasy value impacted by a change of uniform this season?
Ryan Dadoun: It's interesting because typically the potential players on the market are limited by the fact that most teams still consider themselves in the running for a playoff spot going into the trade deadline, but that might not be the case this season. You look at the Eastern Conference and of the teams that aren't currently in a playoff position, only really the Florida Panthers can claim to have a legitimate shot of avoiding elimination. Sure, other squads might claim to be in the running, but unless they come out of the gate red hot following the All-Star break, the reality of their situation might soon be too grim to deny.
To start though, I'll stay safe and pick Antoine Vermette. We all agree that Arizona is a seller and Vermette is the biggest available trade chip they have left unless they're willing to discuss Keith Yandle. Vermette has 11 goals and 30 points in 46 games on one of the NHL's weakest teams offensively and could see a moderate boost in production in the likely event that he's acquired by a playoff-bound squad. If nothing his plus/minus (currently -15) will finally stop being a liability.
Corey Abbott: I think it's likely that Andrej Sekera gets moved by Carolina. He will probably price himself out of their range and rather than lose him to free agency, I think the Hurricanes will trade him and get some value back. He's a top-four defender and he can post power-play points. His production has predictably dropped off from last year when he had a breakout year, but I believe he has more to give than he's shown so far this season and a move to a contender could give him a boost.
Kevin Brown: I definitely agree that Vermette is likely to find himself somewhere else in the near future as Arizona continues to empty their cupboards in the hopes of tanking for a high draft pick. The same can be said for Buffalo, who will almost certainly deal Chris Stewart prior to the deadline. He has been a fantasy asset in the past and should be of interest to a lot of NHL teams seeking toughness up front. Who do you think will be the biggest name traded?
Corey Abbott: The biggest name who could be on the move is Keith Yandle. He could be a major piece who changes teams during the Coyotes' fire sale. He's been involved in trade rumors for years and this may finally be the season that it happens. Yandle has already amassed 30 points in 46 games and his minus-20 rating should improve when gets on a better team. I find it intriguing that Jaromir Jagr and Ryan O'Reilly have surfaced in rumors as well, but it's harder to say if they'll be moved.
I think the Avalanche will eventually trade O'Reilly, but that may not happen until next year. He still has another year left on his contract and Colorado has a shot at the playoffs. However, I think that he will get dealt down the line because the Avs want to avoid the same situation they faced last off-season when they lost Paul Stastny to free agency. He is a versatile, two-way forward who should generate plenty of interest.
Michael Finewax: Vermette seems to be an obvious choice, but so could many members of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The only two Leafs who seem to be untradeable are Jonathan Bernier, who can be a top-five goalie in the NHL when he is on his game, and Morgan Rielly who looks to have a big future but there is no way to figure out his worth at this time. It's like any first or second year player in minor league baseball; the sky is the limit and there is no way to quantify a value on the perceived star player.
I think the Leafs will deal Joffrey Lupul and Dion Phaneuf before the deadline. Teams should be clamoring for a scoring forward (Lupul's injury history will be overlooked in the short term) and a top defenseman for their playoff run. Despite what most fans think, Phaneuf is a top 15-25 defenseman, and every team looking to win the Stanley Cup can use him.
Kevin Brown: The Maple Leafs present an interesting story since it's clear to anyone who has watched them that they're not competitive, but it remains to be seen whether they have accepted this reality. If they acknowledge their fate and begin to sell off assets, a player I think would be of interest to a number of clubs is Tyler Bozak. He's signed to a reasonable contract and could slot in as a second line center for a lot of different clubs. That said, Bozak's fantasy value would almost definitely take a hit since he's unlikely to play as large a role on his new team as he currently does inToronto.
Ryan Dadoun: While Lupul, Phaneuf, and Bozak might all be shopped, I think the guy everyone will ask the Maple Leafs about is Phil Kessel. Some seem to be of the belief that his contract makes him less desirable, but there simply aren't many goal scorers of his caliber in the NHL. As counter-intuitive as it might sound, I think playing for Toronto has actually created a situation were people tend to undervalue him, given the general negativity that surrounds the team. The Maple Leafs could get top dollar for him, but will they trade him? It's hard to say, but I consider him to be the biggest potential name on the market.
From a fantasy perspective, I think a trade can only help Kessel's value. He hasn't been given a ton to work with in Toronto and that would change if he were dealt to a playoff contender. Plus it frankly might be beneficial just to be exposed to a more positive atmosphere.
Michael Finewax: The problem with Kessel's contract is the problem right now of the NHL. Teams are not sure that the salary cap is going up with the state of the Canadian dollar and it is expected to plunge to 75-77 cents by the July 1 free agent frenzy. If that is the case, teams will not have the room for a large deal like Kessel's, especially teams that are going for it right now. I think playoff contenders will go after players who are on the last year of their contracts because of the flux of the Canadian dollar. I agree with Kevin that Chris Stewart, who becomes a UFA at the end of the season, is the most likely candidate to be dealt.
Ryan Dadoun:For what it's worth, I agree that the falling Canadian Dollar has to be a consideration because it could impact the salary cap, even moreso in the long term than for 2015-16 (given that teams this season haven't felt the full impact of the crashing loonie). However, I still there are ways to make it work for the sake of getting a guy like Kessel. I think the important thing to keep in mind is that while an $8 million cap hit is substantial, it's absolutely justified even if the cap declines. Since the start of 2011-12, only Claude Giroux and Evgeni Malkin have more points than Kessel. For what it's worth, ESPN also recently had a Western Conference team executive say there would be "a lot of interest" if Toronto ever auctioned off Kessel even with the contract factored in.
There's been rumors about Eric Staal too ($8.25 million annual cap hit), but I think he's more likely to be the type of guy you see pushed out of noteworthy consideration due to cap concerns.
I do side with both Michael and Kevin with regards to a guy like Chris Stewart being more likely to be dealt. There are so many potential obstacles to a Kessel trade, not the least of which being that it's not clear if Toronto is even looking to trade him, but a guy like Stewart makes a lot of sense.
Another big name - albeit more for the past rather than present - would be Jaromir Jagr. He said last month that he'd have no problem being traded if that's the team's wish and while I wouldn't peg him as much more than a secondary scorer on a good team, he obviously brings with him a wealth of knowledge.
Corey Abbott: If there was going to be a trade involving Phil Kessel, I think that's more of an off-season type of move when teams have more cap space.
Tyler Myers could also be a player to watch on deadline day. He definitely has a lot of work to do to regain the trust of potential fantasy owners, but it's possible that getting out of Buffalo will do wonders for him and help get his development back on track. He's still just 24 years old.
Rugged forwards like Zack Kassian and Curtis Glencross are rumored to be on the market as well. They can play up and down lineups and are sure to attract offers. Kassian could benefit from a change of scenery and I like the versatility of Glencross, who can become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Michael Finewax: Wow! Sounds like everyone from Toronto and Buffalo will have the chance to be traded.
Personally I would take a chance on Myers but I think that a team going for the Cup won't. He still makes too many mistakes and that's not what you are looking for if you are making a Cup run.
I think Kassian and Glencross make far better acquisitions although if Calgary remains in the hunt, I don't see them trading Glencross. Kassian is an extra piece in Vancouver, especially with Derek Dorsett there so I could see him leaving.
I could see the Hurricanes dealing Cam Ward. Anton Khudobin has won his last five in a row and I think he has his confidence back. If Ward is traded to a contender who is looking for a goalie (right now it looks like he'll need an injury to someone else), his value will increase dramatically.