As 2018 winds to a close, there’s been more activity than usual at this time of year in the NHL trade rumor mill.
A handful of noteworthy trades in November is one reason behind the increase in speculation. Another is once-dominant teams, like the Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues, could consider roster shakeups as they wallow near the bottom of the standings.
Several notable stars have become the focus of media trade chatter. Many of them are on long-term contracts that make them unlikely to move in-season, but that’s a subject for another day.
Players shopped by the NHL trade deadline tend to be eligible for unrestricted free agent status on July 1 skating on non-contending clubs.
Here’s a look at the players most likely to be moved by the 3 pm ET deadline on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019.
Wayne Simmonds – Philadelphia Flyers
Having changed their general manager and head coach within the last several weeks, a roster shakeup could be next for the struggling Flyers. Like many on this list, Simmonds is slated for UFA status in July. If new GM Chuck Fletcher finds the 30-year-old winger too expensive to re-sign he won’t have difficulty finding suitors. While offseason pelvic surgery seems to have slowed Simmonds this season, he remains a well-regarded two-way power forward.
Mats Zuccarello – New York Rangers
Center Kevin Hayes is the focus of most Rangers’ trade chatter this season but they could still re-sign him. Zuccarello, on the other hand, seems a more likely trade chip. A pending UFA like Hayes, the 31-year-old winger might not fit into the Blueshirts’ rebuilding plans. A reliable 50-point performer with plenty of postseason experience and an affordable $4.5-million cap hit, Zuccarello should garner lots of interest in the trade market.
Jimmy Howard and Gustav Nyquist – Detroit Red Wings
Both are on expiring contracts and began the season considered prime trade candidates. They each have some form of no-trade protection but management could convince them to waive it for the right offers.
Howard, 34, is putting up solid numbers (2.66 goals-against average, .922 save percentage) on a rebuilding club. Contenders seeking goaltending depth could come calling.
Nyquist, meanwhile, has regained his offensive touch after struggling the last two years. With 31 points in 38 games, the 29-year-old winger could reach a career-high 70 points.
Alexander Edler – Vancouver Canucks
With the Canucks in rebuild mode for the last couple of years, Edler frequently surfaced in the rumor mill. GM Jim Benning has proven reluctant to shop the 32-year-old defenseman but could consider it if Edler no longer fits into the club’s long-term plans. He has a no-trade clause but could waive it if management indicates no intention of re-signing him.
Jake Muzzin – Los Angeles Kings
Muzzin‘s performance is among the few bright spots in an otherwise miserable season for the floundering Kings. He’s also among their few attractive trade chips. The 29-year-old blueliner is signed through 2019-20 with an affordable salary-cap hit ($4 million) and lacks a no-trade clause. If management opts to rebuild, Muzzin could fetch a decent return.
Jay Bouwmeester – St. Louis Blues
The Blues’ struggles have sparked reports claiming they’re willing to entertain offers for stars like Vladimir Tarasenko and Alex Pietrangelo. A more likely trade option is Bouwmeester, who’s coming to the end of his contract. The 35-year-old has an injury history and isn’t the top-pairing defenseman he once was but could attract interest from Cup contenders seeking experienced blueline depth. He could be willing to waive his no-trade clause for perhaps one last shot at a Stanley Cup.
Andre Burakovsky – Washington Capitals
A restricted free agent next July, Burakovsky‘s been plagued by injuries and inconsistency. He’s had his ice time reduced this season and was a healthy scratch from several recent games. It’s believed the Capitals don’t want to give up on the 23-year-old winger. Still, if they get an offer that can immediately help their quest for a second straight Stanley Cup, Burakovsky could be on the move.
Matt Duchene and Mark Stone – Ottawa Senators
The Senators’ top forwards, Duchene and Stone are both slated for UFA status in July. Both are playing well and will be expensive to re-sign. Recent reports indicate both could be open to staying in Ottawa and the Senators hope to keep them. But with a wildcard like Sens owner Eugene Melnyk controlling the purse strings, one or both could end up on the trade block in February.