The NHL Trade Deadline is just 12 days away and, with that in mind, the Los Angeles Kings decided that they were going to be pro-active and make the first move. Tuesday night, the Kings acquired Defenseman, Dion Phaneuf and forward Nate Thompson from the Ottawa Senators for Marian Gaborik and Nick Shore.
“Dion brings to our club a great deal of experience and leadership. He also plays with a physical edge which complements our line-up well. Nate has a good reputation of being a high-energy player on the ice. Both guys are also high character guys,” said Kings GM, Rob Blake.
The key to this deal from the Kings perspective was for the Senators to retain a portion of Phaneuf’s salary. Ottawa will pick up 25% of Phaneuf’s salary leaving the Kings on the hook for 5.25 million of the total 7-million-dollar yearly salary. Both Phaneuf and Gaborik have three years remaining on their deals.
Shore, an RFA at season’s end earns $925,000 while Thompson has one year left at 1.65 million.
Here’s a look at what players the Pacific Division contenders might be looking at and how much wiggle room they have to work with under the salary cap. (Note: Salary Cap dollar figures from Capfriendly.com)
Los Angeles Kings
Deadline Cap Space Available: $15,414,996
Roster Size: 22/23
GM Rob Blake has already made two moves to bolster the blueline with the acquisition of Dion Phaneuf and help to the bottom six with Nate Thompson. Thompson will bolster the Kings down the middle, can kill penalties and is the prototypical type of player that you want for a playoff run.
Blake may not be done yet. The Kings could also use some scoring help on the wing. While Rick Nash and Evander Kane would be great fits in Los Angeles, the Kings would not be willing to move the assets for two players that would be rentals. Pat Maroon and Michael Grabner, both UFA’s at seasons end come with a lower price tag.
The eventual return of Jeff Carter will almost feel like another deadline deal. Carter has played just six games this season, the result of a tendon injury.
Vegas Golden Knights:
Deadline Cap Space Available: $37,871,465
ROSTER SIZE: 21/23
Heading into the season, the thought was the Vegas Golden Knights, without question, would be Trade Deadline Sellers. That meant GM, George McPhee would be taking calls on players like James Neal and David Perron (both UFA’s on July 1).
Don’t try predicting the future and if you put money down that one or both of James Neal and David Perron would be leaving the 702-area code by February 26, 2018, you might as well tear up that ticket.
The Golden Knights are a comfortable 10 points up on second place San Jose in the Pacific Division and the Golden Knights will likely be “buyers”, at the deadline, all be it, “moderate”. Look for Vegas to try and add to their bottom six.
Players on the Golden Knights radar include, Mark Letestu.
San Jose Sharks:
Deadline Cap Space Available: $24,455,289
ROSTER SIZE: 23/23
Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson has never been shy of being active at the Trade Deadline, but the health of Joe Thornton may change what Wilson decides to do. There has been no confirmation if Thornton will be back this season and I don’t see Wilson overpaying for any of the big-name rentals, especially if Thornton is not able to return.
While the Sharks have over 24 million dollars in cap space as the deadline approaches, they will have another 14 million come off the books at season’s end with Thornton, Joel Ward and Jannik Hansen all UFA’s. I would expect Wilson to save that money for impending free agents, most notably, John Tavares.
The Sharks have been in the market for help down the middle prior to the Thornton injury. The Canadiens, Tomas Plekanec and the Oilers Mark Letestu could be options. If Wilson wants to add scoring help on the wing, it would likely be for someone along the lines of Patrick Maroon or Michael Grabner.
Deadline Cap Space Available: $9,454,110
ROSTER SIZE: 23/23
The Flames are believed to buyers and at the top of their list would be a scoring winger. Pierre LeBrun (TSN and The Athletic) reported last week that without a first or second round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, the Flames would consider using Jon Gillies as a trade chip.
The injury to Mike Smith, though believed to not be serious (listed day-to-day), might force GM Brad Treliving to seek a goaltender with NHL experience.
Players on the Flames radar include, Mike Hoffman, Evander Kane, Michael Grabner, Pat Maroon and Gustav Nyquist.
Deadline Space Available: $15,850,622
ROSTER SIZE: 23/23
Ducks General Manager Bob Murray struck early when he moved defenseman, Sami Vatanen to New Jersey for Adam Henrique. Henrique, alongside, Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie have provided the Ducks a solid third line though Ritchie’s inconsistencies are cause for concern.
The biggest issue for Murray is whether the Ducks are a playoff team. It will likely force him to hold out as close to the deadline as possible before pulling the trigger on any deal. One other concern must be the health of Ryan Kesler. Kesler, who had off-season surgery has used many of the teams off-days to rest and recuperate as opposed to practicing. If Murray feels this team can be part of the elite eight in the Western Conference, he may explore additional help down the middle.
Players on the Ducks radar include, Michael Grabner, Mark Letestu, Thomas Vanek and former Anaheim Duck, Pat Maroon.