The 2019 NHL trade deadline is just 21 hours away. Already, the league has seen top players such as Matt Duchene and Mats Zuccarello find new homes. Still, though, there is a plethora of talent on the market.
As the clock ticks closer to 3 p.m. on Feb. 25, a clearer picture will be made of what the 2019 Stanley Cup playoff picture looks like. With the amount of talent left out there still, there are large implications on the lines for those who get a new addition — and more importantly, for those who do not.
With this little time separating now and the deadline itself, Stone is easily the best option left on the market. The superstar right winger signed a one-year deal to remain in Ottawa over the summer, but now, he is encroaching on reaching free agency on July 1. The Senators had negotiations to keep him, but it seems that those fell through and that he will be looking for a new home soon, whether that be with the team he is dealt to or a new team in free agency.
On an awful Ottawa team, Stone is having a fantastic season. In 59 games, he has 62 points, and his possession markers are trending upwards. He also only has 13 penalty minutes.
Ever since his breakout season in 2014-15, Stone has been known as an elite powerforward. Few and far between can you find players who excel in nearly all areas like Stone does, so he provides an invaluable asset for many clubs.
At the moment, the front runners appear to be the Winnipeg Jets and the Calgary Flames. The Jets pipeline is loaded, and I wonder if Kristian Vesalainen could be the major piece in the Stone trade. The Flames are looking, too, but I think that they are trying to be wary and shore up other issues first, potentially.
Other teams that potentially make sense are the New York Islanders and the Vegas Golden Knights. Both pose unique cases, as the Islanders are defying expectations this season and the Golden Knights are quickly depleting their prospect pool. In any case, I would expect Oliver Wahlstrom and Erik Brannstrom, respectively, to be the main pieces looked at by Ottawa.
As dictated by its preseason letter, New York is committed to rebuilding the Big Apple. That started with Zuccarello, and it continues with Hayes.
Although Hayes is not an elite player, he provides solid middle-six center coverage for any team. Originally drafted by Chicago in 200, the Rangers got him for free and he has put up 0.6 point-per-game numbers since joining the league, so they are playing with house money at this point.
Again, the Flames and Jets are in the middle of this one. If one (or both) strike out on Stone and still want size in their lineup, then Hayes is the way to go. Nashville has also reportedly been interested, but I think that has subsided slightly since the acquisition of Brian Boyle.
On the outside, Colorado could potentially be a match, as Hayes would provide a nice cushion that Tyson Jost would not have to fill yet.
Finally, after many years of sitting in limbo, the Red Wings are tearing it down and flying into the rebuild.
With that, Gustav Nyquist, once a staple of the team for the future alongside Tomas Tatar, has one foot out the door.
Nyquist has long been inconsistent but still provides a solid scoring threat on any team’s second line. As a left-handed shot that plays right wing, he also has the versatility to bounce around the lineup.
This season, he has 48 points in 61 games. This is the first time that he has been producing at this rate since 2013-14, so it is a little bit concerning, but even if he drops down a bit, he would still be a nice addition.
The only holdup may prove to be Ken Holland’s stinginess. Holland is sometimes a little hesitant to pull the trigger unless the deal is seemingly great for Detroit. He got a nice return for Nick Jensen a few days ago. Last year, he received three draft picks for Tatar.
If a team really wants Nyquist, it may have to overreach a bit to appease Holland. But, if Stone and some of the other options exit the market, that may be the only choice.
Nyquist and the New York Islanders seem like a match made in heaven. Other than that, maybe red-hot St. Louis takes a swing to give some of its younger players a break.
After playing only 77 games in New Jersey over a year and a half, Johansson days in the Garden State appear over. In recent games, he has been held out of the lineup for precautionary reasons pertaining to a trade.
Johanasson has had his fair share of injury issues — most notably concussions. It has severely limited him over his career, but when he has been healthy, he has been effective.
While playing this season, he has 27 points in 48 games. Not the best numbers, but he does play on an offensively dismal Devils team.
He is another player that could be a fit for the Blues. Other than that, the market on him is pretty wide open.
Yes, this is not Wayne Simmonds or Derrick Brassard. Ristolainen, although flying under some radars, could be seeing his days in Buffalo be numbered.
Once projected to be a top-two guy, he has faltered in many aspects of his defensive game. He is still good for 40 points a season, but his play on the other side of the puck is concerning. That could easily be a mark of ineffective and roundhouse coaching over his career, but that will never be known until he escapes Buffalo.
This is certainly a tricky situation, though. Rarely do 24-year-old, right-handed defensemen hit the open market. It will become a bidding war, and more and more the feeling is that Buffalo will be listening.
Two names jump out immediately in this hunt — the New York Rangers and the Edmonton Oilers. Both teams have younger defensemen to flaunt in Neal Pionk/Anthony DeAngelo and Caleb Jones/Ethan Bear, respectively. Each team also has young forwards, most notably Jesse Puljujarvi on Edmonton, that could be moved in return.
Maybe this is more of a trade for the summer, but it is not something to be overlooked. Buffalo sits at 66 points and six points out of the playoffs. They have a big hill to climb over with Carolina and Pittsburgh, and a shakeup to the roster is not out of the picture. It will be an interesting situation to keep an eye on.
For more 2019 NHL trade deadline news and analysis, follow us here or on Twitter @HighWrapHockey.