With the trade deadline one week away, the focus in all trade chatter tends to shift to the rentals. And, hey, not without reason. Given the teams in true Stanley Cup contention are up against the cap or will have major contract concerns to address in the off-season, the best course of action at times is adding nothing more than a mercenary, the kind of player who can come in and get the job done before moving on to his next locale.
But as the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Sunday swap with the New Jersey Devils for Blake Coleman showed us, that’s not the only approach teams looking to add ahead of the deadline can take. If the price is right and the cost of acquisition can be stomached, there are instances where teams will take on a contract that goes beyond the current campaign, particularly if they believe it not only solves a problem in the present but can be a boon to future success, as well.
So, which non-rental players have potential to be dealt at the deadline? Here’s a look at 10 players with contracts that go beyond this season who could be on the move:
Ondrej Kase, RW, Anaheim Ducks – $2.6-million through 2020-21
Teams looking to add a quality top-six scorer on a budget will be hard-pressed to do much better than Kase, who has seven goals and 23 points in 49 games with a bottom-feeding Ducks team. There is ample concern about Kase’s injury history, and with good reason as the 24-year-old has a history of concussions, but his price tag makes him difficult to ignore. Plus, Kase has proven he has 20-goal upside and can be a consistent contributor. If he stays healthy, he can be a legitimate post-season difference-maker.
There’s an added bonus with Kase, too, which is that he will not only remain under team control for the remainder of next season, but he’s a restricted free agent at the end of his current contract. He does have arbitration rights, but any team acquiring Kase will have every opportunity to keep him around for several seasons.
Colin Miller, D, Buffalo Sabres – $3.875-million through 2021-22
There are no two ways about it. This deal has been a flop for the Sabres. When Buffalo shipped a second- and fifth-round pick to the Vegas Golden Knights for Miller, they were hoping to net a high-caliber, offense-producing rearguard who could quarterback their second power play unit and skate meaningful minutes on the backend. Instead, Miller has seen his ice time fluctuate, his average drop by more than two and half minutes per game and he’s producing at .26 points per game, far and away the worst clip of his past three NHL campaigns.
Miller, 27, needs to find a fit elsewhere. He hasn’t been able to get settled with the Sabres, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a decent middle-pairing chip for another club. He flourished with the Golden Knights and could be a nice addition for a team that plays an up-tempo game.
Vincent Trocheck, C, Florida Panthers – $4.75-million through 2021-22
He’s the only player on this list who plays for a team that isn’t a clear-cut seller with the deadline approaching, but Trocheck, 26, falls firmly into the give-something-to-get-something category. What the Panthers want is a top-four defenseman and a blueliner who can skate quality minutes alongside Aaron Ekblad. What the Panthers have to offer is a legitimate top-six forward who can play center or the wing.
Why move Trocheck? Three reasons. First, he’s experiencing a second consecutive season of declining offensive output. Second, he’s skating far fewer minutes than he was prior to coach Joel Quenneville’s arrival. And finally, if any player is going to net the Panthers the kind of high-profile piece they seek – a top-four and especially top-pairing defenseman isn’t cheap to add – it’s going to have to be a player of significant value.
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Tomas Tatar, LW, Montreal Canadiens – $4.8-million through 2020-21
Teams looking to add middle-six scoring will certainly kick the tires on Tatar, but any acquisition of the 29-year-old is going to be met with a certain amount of apprehension. Yes, he’s played incredibly well over the past two seasons in Montreal, posting 46 goals and 111 points in the 141 games he’s skated with the Canadiens, but his atrocious post-deadline stint with the Golden Knights isn’t yet a distant memory. It was less than two years ago Vegas paid a first-, second- and third-rounder for Tatar and proceeded to bench him throughout nearly an entire playoff run. That might scare some teams off.
That said, if he continues on as he has in Montreal, he’s going to be a great addition to the middle of the lineup and he’ll be cost-controlled at $4.8-million for next season. Given this summer’s thin free-agent market, that’s a good price tag for a 20-goal, 55-point player.
Jeff Petry, D, Montreal Canadiens – $5.5-million through 2020-21
So, it turns out Shea Weber might not miss anywhere near the amount of time that was first reported. That doesn’t, however, mean the Canadiens should suddenly look to buy and make some late-season push into the playoffs. Montreal is nine points out of a wild-card spot and eight points back of a divisional berth with not a single game in hand. Time to sell, and that process can start with Jeff Petry, who should fetch a nice return.
The 32-year-old is a legitimate top-four defenseman who can skate the puck out of danger and puts points on the board. Most importantly, though, is that he’s right-handed. The hunt is always on for high-quality right-shot rearguards around this time of the season, and Petry is near the top of the list. That he’s cost-controlled beyond this season only adds to his value.
Alexander Georgiev, G, New York Rangers – RFA
Technically, Georgiev is a rental in the sense that he doesn’t have a contract beyond this season. However, that he’s not an unrestricted free agent and instead restricted with arbitration rights means that any team acquiring him will be able to keep the netminder beyond this season. Chances are that it’s not going to be all that expensive to ink the 24-year-old to a few-season deal, either.
While he’s performed well in his 71 appearances over the past three seasons – 32-29-6 record, .914 save percentage, 2.97 goals-against average and four shutouts – he doesn’t yet have a full season as a starter to his name. That’s going to keep costs down on any short-term deal. And even if such a deal can’t be worked out, a one-year pact through arbitration is always an option.
Eric Staal, C, Minnesota Wild – $3.25-million through 2020-21
Wild GM Bill Guerin hasn’t gone ahead and said Minnesota is open for business, but one has to assume that’s the next logical step for a franchise that has already sold off one of its best offensive performers and fired its coach in stunning fashion amid a run towards the playoffs. And when the time comes for the Wild to start moving out any non-essential pieces that aren’t bolted to the floor, Staal, 35, should be among the first to go.
Is Staal the game-breaker he once was? Not one bit. But after an offensive downturn with the New York Rangers led some to believing the veteran had little tread left on the tires, he’s had a nice resurgence in Minnesota. He’s a 20-goal scorer who can be a power play contributor and would be an excellent middle-six addition. And you can’t beat the price for next season.
Jonas Brodin, D, Minnesota Wild – $4.167-million through 2020-21
To be sure, Matt Dumba is the most attractive long-term, non-rental blueline option in Minnesota. However, any trade involving Dumba, 25, seems more likely to be executed in the off-season, if at all. The $6-million cap hit Dumba carries is hefty and going to be a chore for some teams to fit into their cap structure without a corresponding salary-out move. That limits the trade partners.
So, let’s turn focus instead to Brodin, 26, who isn’t near as valuable but has some of the same tools. For instance, he can contribute offensively, play top-four minutes and is slightly rangier at 6-foot-1. If the Wild can be persuaded, too, maybe there’s a way for a team acquiring Brodin to get him at a cut rate. If the pot is sweetened with a better future asset, Minnesota could be willing to retain some salary. Less than $4 million for a top-four defender is a nice price for this season and next.
Alec Martinez, D, Los Angeles Kings – $4 million through 2020-21
Speaking of less than $4 million for a top-four defender, Martinez might be the better option for teams seeking a true-blue defensive option to add to their ‘D’ corps. The 32-year-old has more own-zone acumen than Brodin and has one thing the Wild defender does not: Stanley Cup experience. That’s going to be enticing to GMs going deadline shopping.
The Kings may be more open to the idea of retaining salary than the Wild, as well. Los Angeles is in need of a full-scale rebuild and should entertain any option to acquire a higher-quality asset at the deadline. With upwards of $20 million in projected cap space for next season, the Kings have the space to eat a bit of Martinez’s cap hit in order to make the money work for a trade partner.
Marcus Sorensen, LW, San Jose Sharks – $1.5 million through 2020-21
This is the option for buyers on a budget, but also the exact kind of trade chip a team seeking to bolster their bottom six will chase. Sorensen is by no means a top-of-the-lineup producer and he’s taken an offensive step backwards this season – granted, who hasn’t taken a step back in San Jose? – after posting 17 goals and 30 points in 80 games with the Sharks last season.
It’s really hard to beat the price, though. Sorensen, 27, will cost next to nothing to keep next season and it’s evident he can be a great bottom-six producer in the right situation. Come the off-season, teams who need to supplement their third and fourth lines will be looking for players of Sorensen’s ilk. The deadline could be a chance for a team to get in on landing him early and also nab a winger with 34 games post-season experience at a time when playoff experience comes at a premium.
(All salary cap information via CapFriendly)
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