The NHL trade deadline is just under a month away from happening in this shortened, last man standing season. Injuries will leave teams still in the hunt looking for replacements, or have moved faltering clubs into seller status. Positions in the standings will of course have more effect on anything, and that being said I’ll begin my preview series by the most obvious situations going forward.
Today’s preview is of the Florida Panthers. As per usual, the Florida Panthers will be heading into this deadline as sellers. Unfortunately for this club they will be doing it without a healthy Stephen Weiss. Although his production to this season wouldn’t justify it, some team desperate for a center would have surely overpaid for him. As it stands, they will likely lose him for nothing in free agency during the offseason. No shortage of contracts to ditch in Florida though, even with Weiss’ injury. They are currently last place in the East with only 19 points, and I have to think anybody from Tallon’s spending spree during his first year with the club will be on the block. Draft picks will be coming in bunches. Here’s a look at some of the players likely to go, and what they could garner in a return.
Peter Mueller: It’s been somewhat of a revival for Mueller in Florida. Having struggled with concussions in his past, it appears as though he’s put those problems behind him and is having a productive season with the Panthers. That being said, he is on a 1yr/$1.725M deal, which makes him expendable.
Possible returns: Most likely return is a draft pick somewhere in the second or third round.
Tomas Kopecky: As a part of spending spree Tallon used to get this team to the cap floor, the Panthers signed Kopecky to a 4yr/$12M contract. He is a relatively affordable depth forward best suited to a bottom six role. His experience as a Cup winner with the Chicago Blackhawks could help in any prospective return.
Possible returns: If Gaustad could land a first rounder last deadline, anythings possible. Nothing less than a second rounder for Kopecky though.
Marcel Goc: With only one season remaining after this one on his 3yr/$5.1M contract, it’s almost a given Goc will be dealt. Goc is a defensive specialist best suited to playing in a checking role on teams third lines. The kind of player needed to help in a long playoff run.
Possible returns: Probably two mid round draft picks, maybe one second rounder. Possibly a project player/prospect as well.
Alex Kovalev: Not sure how he’s back in the NHL, but believe it or not his no effort ways have already worn thin on Panthers management. Shocking really. His $1M cap hit though could make him an attractive option for teams desperate for secondary scoring.
Possible returns: Late round draft pick.
You can follow J.D. Burke for more hockey commentary, stats, tweets, etc. @WeveGotTwins and find his blog at We've Got Twins