Five Who Should Be Traded Before the Deadline

Though the NHL trade deadline doesn't pop up on the calendar for a little more than two weeks, the Atlanta Thrashers and Montreal Canadiens kicked off the silly season a little early this year with a deal that returned defenseman Mathieu Schneider to Montreal, the city where he started his NHL career and the place in which he won his one and only Stanley Cup in 1993. Overall, it's a pretty typical deadline deal, with a high-salaried veteran on the verge of free agency going one way in exchange for some draft picks heading in the other. ↵

↵Obviously, Schneider won't be the last veteran player moved before the deadline. Yesterday, I outlined the reasons why the Ducks ought to be a seller at the deadline. Looking ahead, here are five other names that ought to be moved before the NHL hits the stretch run. ↵

↵

↵Jay Bouwmeester: The latest word out of Florida is that Bouwmeester has rejected a multi-year contract offer, a pretty definitive word that the defenseman wants out. That puts the Panthers in something of a pickle, as they've been playing well enough of late to make the playoffs for the first time in nine years. If they are forced to move Bouwmeester, the team will have to get some bodies in return. If there's one team that can afford to sacrifice some offense in exchange for a defenseman, it's Philadelphia, which has a surplus of forwards who can score. ↵

↵

↵Keith Tkachuk: Another veteran on the verge of unrestricted free agency, the 36-year old Tkachuk is in much the same position he was two seasons ago when the Blues dealt him to Atlanta at the deadline, only to see him re-sign with St. Louis in the subsequent offseason. Despite the fact that they're currently sitting near the bottom of the standings in the Western Conference, the Blues are rebuilding the right way, stockpiling loads of young talent that won't mature until Tkachuk is comfortably retired. Depth up the middle is always at a premium, and word is that Boston might be willing to re-import the Massachusetts native. A spot with Boston where he's not expected to shoulder a heavy load might be the perfect spot for Tkachuk, much like it was when Carolina acquired Doug Weight from St. Louis before the Hurricanes’ run to the Finals in 2006. ↵

↵

↵Olli Jokinen: It's hard to describe how much it pains me to place Jokinen on this list considering how badly his team needs to make the playoffs. But after seeing the Phoenix Coyotes drop three straight and nine of their last ten, it looks like the writing is on the wall for the 2008-09 season. Jokinen has been something of a disappointment thus far, as he's on track for his worst offensive performance since the 2003-04 season. Still, you'd figure that Phoenix general manager Don Maloney would be able to coax a sizable return out of a player who hasn't scored fewer than 26 goals in a season since 2002-03 and has managed to play an entire 82-game schedule in five of his 11 seasons in the league. With the status of Brad Richards unknown in Dallas, might the Stars be looking for some depth down the middle for the stretch run? ↵

↵

↵Chris Neil: If Sean Avery has reasonable hopes of snagging another gig in the NHL, then Ottawa's Chris Neil will more than likely find a couple of suitors come the first week in March. At a pro-rated salary of $1.1 million, there are plenty of places the impending unrestricted free agent might be able to call home for the rest of the season. I'm sure Bryan Murray will be able to leverage a second-round pick out of Neil, but something tells me his ultimate destination will be somewhere out West. ↵

↵

↵Erik Cole: Things are so fluid at the bottom half of the Western Conference, that the Edmonton Oilers could very well wind up being buyers if they hold onto their spot in sixth place. But if that's not the case closer to the deadline, then the former Carolina Hurricane could very well be on the move. Like Jokinen, Cole has been something of a disappointment offensively, as he's on track for his worst season offensively since before the lockout. Still, a player's most recent performance can often be overlooked at the deadline by a team looking for a boost going into the stretch run, so there should be a ready market for Cole from a team looking to add some grit in high traffic areas. ↵

↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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