The trade deadline is approaching, and rather than list off the same NHL names you'll hear in rumors for the next two weeks, lets look at some of the prospects that could be in the return packages come Feb. 26. Big name players like Nash, Hoffman, Pacioretty, Kane, and others most likely wont be traded straight-up for picks; teams trying to add at the deadline are going to have to give up prospects that have proven to be legitimate. Let's jump right in! Prospects are arranged by team, in no particular order.
Mathieu Joseph (TBL)
Joseph tore up the QMJHL after being drafted in 2015, scoring 36 goals and 82 points in his final campaign despite missing time to play for Team Canada in the WJC. His first pro campaign is going reasonably smoothly in the AHL, where he's on pace for double-digit goals and the 50-point ballpark. The proven scorer will be at the top of many teams' wishlists should they do business with Tampa – and this may be good news for Joseph fantasy owners. Obviously being in the Lightning lineup is the best possible scenario, but his pathway to the NHL gets significantly less blocked in another organization.
Matthew Peca (TBL)
A slightly older prospect at age 25, the AHL vet has Lightning experience with 5 points in 8 NHL games this season. He also scores consistently in the AHL, but isn't getting any taller from his current listed height of 5'9". This might scare people off, but in today's league talent trumps everything else and Peca has a track record and is clearly close to being ready for full-time duty. Like Joseph, this could be good news for fantasy owners tired of waiting.
Mitchell Stephens (TBL)
Yes, another Tampa Bay prospect for the list. Why? Because Tampa has the cap room, cup contender status, and the incredibly deep prospect pool to make a lot of noise at the deadline. Should the rumored McDonough or Karlsson deals come to fruition, at least one of these names will be going the other way. Stephens isn't an A+ scoring prospect but he's every coaches dream – plays in every situation, can take hard matchups, scores at a good pace, and has Team Canada WJC experience. He's a rookie pro doing just fine and shouldn't be long before jumping into an NHL 3rd line role.
Taylor Raddysh (TBL)
Just one more Lightning I promise. Raddysh is a top-tier scoring prospect and isn't going anywhere unless a serious catch is coming back (Karlsson). Remember when Washington lost prospect Filip Forsberg at the deadline? Tampa wont want to make a similar mistake.
Jordan Schmaltz (STL)
With Dunn earning the "first choice call-up" role this year (even more than that really), Schmaltz may have achieved all he can in St. Louis. The 24-year-old is scoring the AHL and deserves a chance – he's an ideal target for sellers at the deadline and considering STL will likely be a buyer, he is probably the most likely prospect to move on this whole list. Good news for fantasy owners who have been very, very patient.
Sam Blais (STL)
Blais got a call-up earlier this season but managed just 3 points in 10 games (not all that bad first first-crack). He's over the point-per-game mark in the AHL and looks like a serious scorer, but with names like Thompson and Kyrou and Thomas in the pipeline in St. Louis, it's hard to imagine Blais being an important piece to keep around. Should he get moved, fantasy owners can expect another NHL look.
Pontus Aberg (NSH)
Nashville already made their big move, acquiring Kyle Turris and losing top prospect bait Girard and Kamanev in the process. This emptied the cupboard a bit, so if picks aren't enough to get a deadline deal done, it could come at the cost of semi-prospect-graduate Pontus Aberg. The former 2nd-round pick comes with a pedigree and talent but hasn't found his scoring touch in 36 NHL games this season. Exactly the type of player that gets upgraded (given up on?) at the deadline (see: Andrighetto, Duclair).
Julius Honka (DAL)
It scares me to write this, knowing how talented Honka is, but Sam Girard got traded earlier this year by a contender so Honka certainly isn't off the table. He isn't scoring at the NHL level, and doesn't exaclt fit the mold of a "Hitchcock-ian" d-man. Throw in the emergence of Klingberg as an elite rearguard who can handle the big minutes and the scoring responsibility, and Honka isn't exactly essential. I'm not predicting this happens, just preparing…
Josh Leivo and Nikita Soshnikov (TOR)
Fine, I put the easy ones on the list. But I let you read the good stuff first. The Leafs are at the contract limit, Soshnikov is returning from injury any day, and Kapanen has leapfrogged them both to secure a spot on the wing in Toronto. Both Leivo and Soshnikov are too good to pass through waivers, so unless names like Komarov or Martin are moved out, these two fringe-NHLers will have new homes very soon. Both should provide a boost to your fantasy teams – both have scoring upside and Soshnikov provides some hits as well (hopefully his game wasn't too affected by his concussion).
I chose not to include any Vegas prospects on this list, because I don't believe a team so fresh into a pipeline build should be moving out bodies. They have enough draft picks stockpiled to take care of any minor additions they want at the deadline.
There's also no Jets prospects on the list, because…well…look at their lineup! Their a deep team in every position so any major upgrades would be roster-player for roster-player, and and minor trades can be covered by picks or prospects not worth worrying about right now. Names like Roslovic and Comrie and Vesalainen aren't going anywhere.
For more good Trade Deadline coverage, check out this Ramblings by Joel henderson on the value of 2nd round picks:
Thank you for reading, and best of luck in your fantasy playoffs!