Playoff Bubble Clubs That Could Become Sellers at the NHL Trade Deadline

Anthony DeAngelo, Buffalo Sabres, Carey Price, Chris Kreider, Conor Sheary, Craig Smith, Evan Rodrigues, Ilya Kovalchuk, Jason Zucker, Jeff Petry, Jonas Brodin, Kyle Turris, Matt Dumba, Michael Frolik, Mikael Granlund, Mikko Koivu, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, New York Rangers, NHL Free Agents, NHL Rumors, Nick Bonino, Rasmus Ristolainen, Ryan Strome, Shea Weber, Tomas Tatar, Zach Bogosian

With the NHL’s Feb. 24th NHL trade deadline less than three weeks away, only a handful of clubs can be considered sellers. That includes those mired at the bottom of the standings, such as the Anaheim Ducks, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils, Ottawa Senators, and San Jose Sharks.

That number could grow, however, as clubs currently on the playoff bubble slip further out of contention. Here’s a look at five teams that could become sellers by deadline day.

Buffalo Sabres

Another promising start has once again come to naught for the Sabres. With 53 points in 52 games, they’ll need a long winning streak to avoid sliding further out of contention.

Defenseman Zach Bogosian and forward Evan Rodrigues have already requested trades. Given their struggles this season, neither seems to have attracted much attention in the trade market. Recent acquisition Michael Frolik could hit the trade block again, and there’s speculation Conor Sheary could become available. Bogosian, Frolik, and Sheary will become unrestricted free agents in July.

Last spring, Rasmus Ristolainen reportedly asked to be traded, but Sabres general manager Jason Botterill held onto him. The 25-year-old blueliner enjoyed playing under coach Ralph Krueger this season, but perhaps he’s still open to a trade.

Minnesota Wild

First-year GM Bill Guerin has yet to make a major roster move, but that could change if the Wild fail to gain ground in the standings. With 52 points in 51 games, they have little margin for error. Failure to improve could lead to a roster shake-up in Minnesota.

Mikko Koivu is the only Wild roster player slated for UFA eligibility this summer.  It’ll be a surprise if he agrees to waive his no-movement clause.

There’s trade speculation buzzing about winger Jason Zucker and defensemen Matt Dumba and Jonas Brodin. All three are signed beyond this season. Guerin’s predecessor made two failed attempts to move Zucker last year. It remains to be seen if the winger has a future with the Wild.

Montreal Canadiens

Two lengthy losing skids, fueled in part by a rash of injuries to key forwards, sent the Canadiens tumbling down the standings. With 55 points in 54 games, they face long odds climbing back into a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.

With the Habs on the verge of missing the postseason for the fourth time in five years, some disgruntled fans are calling for major changes, such as trading goalie Carey Price and defenseman Shea Weber. That’s not going to happen, but there are a couple of valuable Canadiens who could draw interest from playoff contenders.

Leading scorer Tomas Tatar and defenseman Jeff Petry have surfaced in media trade speculation, but it could take significant offers to pry them out of Montreal. Winger Ilya Kovalchuk, considered washed-up when the Habs signed him a month ago, has boosted his stock with 10 points in 12 games with Montreal.

Nashville Predators

Considered a Stanley Cup contender entering 2019-20, the Predators have been a big disappointment. With 55 points in 51 games, they’re within range of a wild-card spot, but they’re also one losing streak away from tumbling out of contention.

GM David Poile will likely evaluate his club’s performance over the next couple of weeks. If they’re still spinning their wheels, he could move from buyer to seller before Feb. 24.

Pending UFA forwards Mikael Granlund and Craig Smith could hit the trade block. Poile could also revisit last summer’s efforts to move center Kyle Turris, though that could mean picking up a portion of his $6-million annual salary through 2023-24. Veteran center Nick Bonino has a year left on his contract, but he’s also surfaced as a trade candidate.

New York Rangers

The rebuilding Rangers have shown improvement this season. With 54 points in 51 games, however, their postseason hopes are fading.

Rangers GM Jeff Gorton tends to wait until almost the last day before dangling veteran free agents as trade bait. Winger Chris Kreider is considered the best player potentially available, but Gorton could hang onto him until the last minute to drive up his trade value.

Restricted free agents Tony DeAngelo and Ryan Strome could also draw interest from playoff contenders. They’re among the Rangers’ leading scorers, and their RFA status could be intriguing for clubs in the market for players whose rights they can retain beyond this season.

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