The NHL trade deadline has been mostly bark with little bite. Some big names have been dealt, but several players rumored to be on the market are still waiting for the April 3 deadline to pass.
A tight playoff race in both conferences and the looming $6 million decline in next year’s salary cap have created a strange imbalance. Teams want to gear up for a playoff push, but few are willing to take on extra salary or give up draft picks that can be used for cheaper players.
Still, the market has to break open at some point. With some notable players still available, trade-deadline action will heat up before it’s all said and done.
Let’s take a look at three of the most notable players rumored to be on the market and break down potential destinations for each.
While interest is sure to follow in the final hours before the April 3 deadline, it’s hard to get a read on viable buyers. Several teams are in need of extra defensemen, especially those with as much potential as the 25-year-old.
The Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers could all potentially be on the market for added depth at the position. While none have been specifically linked to McBain, the rumors tend to pick up in the final hours before the deadline.
Of the those three teams, Detroit is arguably the best landing spot for the youngster, though he might not find more playing time with the Wings than he’s currently getting in Carolina (18 minutes, 57 seconds). Still, Detroit needs an infusion of more young potential and added depth for a playoff push. McBain is one of the best options still on the market.
Defensemen seem to be the hottest commodity on the trade market this year.
According to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, the Phoenix Coyotes may be looking to deal defenseman Derek Morris, and there’s plenty of interest:
Morris’ limited no-trade clause certainly adds a new wrinkle to the discussion, but his list of eight possible trade partners will give him a chance of landing with a contender that can get the most out of the 34-year-old.
With one more year left on his current deal, Morris will have to go to a team that can absorb his 2013-14 salary, but $2.75 million isn’t all that worrisome. Given the shape of the playoff race in both conferences, there will almost assuredly be a team willing to take on his final year.
According to a March 3 report by LeBrun, the Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers have previously shown interest in the defenseman.
Boston probably won’t be in the running (provided it is even on Morris’ list), but Washington is an intriguing option. Just three points out of eighth place in the Easter Conference playoff race, the Caps would offer Morris the potential to be part of a potential playoff squad, as well as a chance to work in a few more minutes than he’s currently getting with Phoenix (21:32).
Like Morris, Buffalo Sabres winger Jason Pominville has a modified no-trade clause with a list of eight teams to which he is willing to be traded, as reported by Renaud Lavoie of RDS:
Buffalo’s captain hasn’t asked for a trade, but he understands the business of the sport (as quoted by John Vogl of The Buffalo News):
I understand the business of things. I understand Darcy has a job to do, and he’s trying to do his best to do what’s best for the team and the franchise. By no means does it mean I’m gone or stuff like that. I think it’s just part of the process. It’s a step that he has to do and he has to deal with.
ESPN’s Craig Custance proposes a couple good potential landing spots for Pominville should he be traded, though he also points out the unlikelihood of either being on his list of eight:
The Buffalo captain has some control of his destiny, with a list of eight teams to which he can decline a trade, but that leaves GM Darcy Regier plenty of options. He'd be a great fit on a young team looking to add an experienced top-six forward, not only for the stretch run, but for next season. A team like the Islanders or Blue Jackets would be a perfect destination for Pominville, but those are often the kind of teams on a no-trade list.
Without knowing which teams are on that list, it’s hard to accurately assess where he could be dealt before the deadline, but Columbus is shaping up to be a decent option at this point.
The Jackets strung together an impressive March and are in the playoff hunt after a subpar start. With three first-round draft picks this year and a young team with some potential, adding a veteran leader like Pominville would be a terrific option.