With the NHL trade deadline quickly approaching (3pm EST), hockey fans all over will be glued to their TV, phone, tablet, you name it. In such a unique year it is hard to make sense of everything, especially the cap and how some teams seem to make it bend as far as they need it to. With that said, we at Hot Sauce have attempted to breakdown the Trade Deadline across the league.
You can stay up to date by following along with TSN’s Trade Tracker for up to date transactions.
*Note: Things move quickly in the NHL, not only for trades but every day transactions. These numbers were accurate as of 9:30 am EST*
Before diving into all 31 teams it is important to understand the Long Term IR (LTIR) and Accruable Cap Space Limit (ACSL). With so many teams using their LTIR this year, this will help explain how Tampa Bay can be $17M+ over the cap and still has cap space left. Condensed version, when a team goes into LTIR they can adjust the upper limit of their salary cap; among other things but let’s focus on this. The new upper limit can be calculated by:
ACSL = Salary Cap Upper Limit – Team Cap Space
New Upper Limit = ACSL + LTIR Relief Pool
A couple quick notes, if a team plans to enter LTIR they would want their ACSL to be as high as possible which is why you will see a team call up their taxi squad guys to make a full roster. The higher the total Projected Cap Hit, the higher the ACSL, the higher new upper limit. The second thing to keep in mind is that the player who is being placed on LTIR must fit on the roster under the cap before the team can begin to use the relief pool. For example, in Toronto, the team had to fit Riley Nash under the cap before placing him on LTIR. They could not trade for him, circumvent the cap on place him directly onto LTIR.
Not to suggest that they tried so please don’t yell at me. Also this is a very simplified explanation so if you would like more info or clarity check out Capfriendly.com. Now for the fun stuff
The top three teams appear relatively set heading into the home stretch. The Avalanche are the clear front runners at this moment of the three and they also happen to be the only team that figures to be active at the deadline. GM Joe Sakic got out ahead and secured the necessary depth pieces for this team by trading for Devan Dubnyk and Patrick Nemeth. Collectively this cost the team Greg Pateryn a 5th this year and a 4th in 2022. The team still has $6.775M in cap space to go big name hunting, which at this point is playing with house money for the Avs.
Vegas does not have much in the way of cap space to work with and will likely see themselves remain quiet at the deadline for the first time in their existence. Minnesota on the other hand is in a precarious position where they have far exceeded expectations. Team GM Bill Guerin has publicly stated he is not interested in sacrificing the future for today, however the looming expansion has major implications. No matter which way you slice it, the Wild will be leaving a talented core player exposed to Seattle which begs the question, will they address this now or in the offseason?
The middle part of this division is where things get interesting. The Blues, Coyotes and Sharks all figured to be sellers a few weeks ago, however recent develops may have changed things. I still think that Sharks are likely to sell of some pieces given the fact they already moved Dubnyk in-division, however the Blues and Coyotes find themselves at a cross road with pieces that could fetch solid returns.
In St Louis the Blues have a few pending UFAs that would be key rental pieces to a contender. Jayden Schwartz was crucial to the team’s cup run a few years ago and would immediately make any team better. Mike Hoffman and Tyler Bozak could also be on the market should the team decide to sell, but they may require some cap gymnastics to yield the return the team probably wants. Finally RFA Vince Dunn has been a name that continues to pop up in trade rumours and if the team were to move him, now would be the time.
The Coyotes lack of a 1st Round pick this year limits what they can do in Free Agency. They do have a decent amount of cap space left ($4.28M) and based on what Taylor Hall fetched, the team’s two second round picks could come in handy.
The Kings and Ducks will be sellers. The Kings have been selling off parts for a while now so there may not be much to offer other than cap space. Oh and Jeff Carter apparently. The Ducks seem to be open for business, willing to part ways with almost anyone for the right price.
Even more so than the West division, the top three in this division are literal locks for the playoffs. The Lightning wasted no time getting their guy, somehow making a trade for David Savard work. GM Julien Brisebois is putting his team in the best situation to go back-to-back.
Their main competition will be the Hurricanes and Panthers, both of whom have been on fire this season. Neither team really needs an upgrade, but with the amount of cap space they have, it would be foolish to not try. The Hurricanes kept Jake Bean out of their last game, which is typically the first sign of a trade. The team also has three more than capable goalies sharing the crease, so don’t be surprised to see them possibly move one.
The Panthers have been busy making multiple smaller moves for what seems to be a much bigger move coming. They shipped out Brett Connolly along with Riley Stillman and Henrik Borgstrom and quietly signed Nikita Gusev who was bought out in New Jersey. The Panthers have more than enough cap space to pick up who ever they please. They also happen to be in fantastic shape for next season so they can pick up a contract with term. Will Mattias Ekholm get traded after all?
Speaking of Nashville, the Preds may not be ready to sell just yet. They are back in the mix while the rest of the teams around them in the standings are selling off parts. Their only real competition at this point is Dallas. Both teams are in similar position from a cap and draft stock standpoint. Both teams would likely be better served selling off a few pieces like Granlund (NSH), Jamie Oleksiak (DAL) or dare I say Anton Khudobin.
No GM has gotten a better return for their player thus far than Jarmo Kekalainen. He already has two 1st Round picks and has yet to move either of his young goaltenders. The Blackhawks and Red Wings have roughly $55.5M in cap space between the two and will likely continue to pick up picks to take on salary.
As the NHL calendar approach the trade deadline I anticipated the East to be the most active division. It is easily the most competitive division with the most amount of team’s still in the hunt. However outside of the Islanders it has been very quiet. Lou Lamirello set his sights on Palmieri and Zajac and got them right away. They also picked up Braydon Coburn in what would appear to be their final tinkering for the season.
The Capitals may be shaving some cap space in order to make a bigger move. The team moved Jonas Siegenthalen to New Jersey for a conditional pick. This gives the Caps $1.175M which is more than enough to get a guy like Luke Glendening to shore up their Center depth. The team could also be getting King Hank back as Lundqvist hopes to join the team, health permitting.
The Penguins have a ton of cap space but only have their 2nd and 5th Round picks with but a handful of prospects of value. The team made a lower level move to get Jeff Carter which is a bit surprising, but it’s not like they had a ton of options.
The Bruins have made the biggest splash in the division so far landing Taylor Hall. For only a 2nd round pick no less. The exact details have yet to be released but the Bruins may have potentially acquired the best rental for a handshake.
The Flyers and Rangers both have an outside chance at making the playoffs but the odds are slim. The Rangers are on an upward trajectory as they approach the finishing phases of their rebuild. It wouldn’t make sense for the team to sacrifice any part of their future right now so their fans may just have to accept this season for what it is.
The Flyers on the other hand attempted a quick reset but have yet to recover from the loss of Matt Niskanen. I personally wouldn’t be so quick to sell off assets. I’m not convinced Vigneault is the right guy but more importantly this is the risk you take when you gamble on a 20 year old goalie. My Keeper league fantasy team knows this all too well.
The Devils and Buffalo are in full rebuild mode. I must commend the Sabres for doing the right thing and letting as many players are possible leave their franchise.
F***ing Dubas. I hate to admit it, but this guy knows what he’s doing. He and his team have done a masterful job bending the salary cap to their will in order to solidify their roster. While opposing fan bases will say this is a lot of work to lose in the 1st round (I kid, I kid), this is a defence mechanism because who would want to face the Leafs in the playoffs right now?
I would, but that’s because I desperately want to see as many Habs/Leafs series over the next 5 years as possible.
For the Winnipeg Jets I have sought council from friend of the Chtib & Zhang Show, Jake Legault:
The Winnipeg Jets, a team loaded with talent up front, but lacking consistency in the back end, is in need to make a move by the deadline. With Nathan Beaulieu being placed on LTIR, it leaves a little extra space for GM Kevin Cheveldayoff to make a move, one where he doesn’t need to hinder the roster, while also addressing the obvious need on defense.
If this were to be written a couple weeks ago, I would have to say that defenceman Mattias Ekholm would be a perfect fit for the Jets. And with recent trades including David Savard and Brandon Montour, there are only a few options remaining, those being Stars defenseman Jamie Oleksiak and Ducks defenseman Josh Manson. Both players would be great fits for the Jets, bolstering the top 4 with both size and defensive improvement. Jamie Oleksiak, obviously being the cheaper option, would probably cost a 2nd/3rd round pick and a mid tier prospect, whereas Manson has been rumoured to be worth a 1st and a mid tier prospect. All in all, this trade depends on how much Cheveldayoff is willing to spend to achieve a solid top 4 defenseman, and with his history, he isn’t scared to trade high draft picks if it means for a chance at a deep playoff run
A special thank you to Jake as we move on to the province of Alberta! The Oilers are comfortably sitting in a playoff spot and should be buyers today. Ken Holland has just over $3.75M to work with which should be more than enough to provide McDavid with a winger. Rakell, Hoffman, Iafallo, basically any NHL winger on the market should be on the radar.
The Flames find themselves in the complete opposite situation. The team has already moved Big Save Dave, hinting that they will be sellers today. The fan base seems dead set on shaking up the core and who can blame them? To me the bigger issue is that management has set up a turnstile in the coaches office. Not taking blame away from the players because they have to be accountable in their own right, but constantly changing the message year after year takes its toll on the players.
The Senators remain in the middle of a rebuild with a few names left to sell off. I still think Dzingle gets traded à la Marco Scandella (last year) and guys like Chris Tierney, Anton Forsberg, Erik Gubranson or Artem Anisimov could all find themselves on the way out should Ottawa get the return they would like.
Finally, the Montreal Canadiens. As I frantically write this hoping there are no more trades or even basic paper transactions, Marc Bergevin is likely working the phones like a mad man. It has been clear that Bergevin has done, and will do everything possible to make this team better, however this is not him going ‘All In’. For starters, the Habs still have their 1st Round pick and 11 picks overall for the 2021 draft, the most in the league. Name me the last time a team was all in and still held the most trades in the draft? Of course there’s still time but 11 picks!
Yes this is definitely Bergevin taking the next step in his (third) reset, however there is still some work to be done and Bergevin has the Canadiens in a strong position. This does not mean that I think the Canadiens are done trading before the deadline. I would love to see the Canadiens trade for Alex Iafallo and the subsequently make a nice playoff run before signing him to an extension.
That’s just me though, who would you like to see the Habs (or your favourite team) trade for? Leave us your trade proposals in the comments as we all prepare for what could be a massive dud of a day or an absolute wild ride.
As always don’t forget to check out the rest of the Hot Sauce Family and check us out on Youtube! This week Chtib and Zhang sit down with Hockey Hall of Fame broadcaster Dick Irvin Jr. The guys talk all things hockey as Mr. Irvin takes us through some of the his favourite moments from his storied career!