With the February 25th trade deadline rapidly approaching, who makes the most sense for contending teams to target? For our list, we decided to only look at players who are pure rentals—meaning only those who will be unrestricted free agents come year’s end. If I was an NHL general manager, here are the five players atop my list to acquire for a playoff push.
- Artemi Panari – This one’s a no brainer. Panarin is in the prime of his career and always a threat in the offensive zone. With it appearing abundantly clear that his future lies outside of Columbus, it would be wise for Blue Jackets GM JarmoKekalainen to acquire whatever assets he can for them. And that price likely starts with a 1st rounder and a prospect.
- Wayne Simmonds – Kings fans will remember Simmonds fondly for his time spent in the City of Angels. Some might question why he’s above our player at number three and the answer is simple—Simmonds is the type of player to help win you championships. He’s a tough, gritty winger who will battle hard and make life hard for opponents. If I’m aiming for a deep playoff run, I spend wisely and go after Simmonds.
- Matt Duchene – The first of two Ottawa Senators to make our list, Duchene has had a strong year and his future is uncertain in Canada’s capital. If the Sens can’t re-sign the speedy forward, you’ve got to think they move him. And there will be no shortage of suitors. Duchene can play center or wing, can play on the power play and the penalty kill, and can back defenders off with his speed. Center depth is something all teams look for come the post-season.
- Mark Stone – Boy, the Sens could look different come February 26th. After trading captain Erik Karlsson to the Sharks, they could also be without their two best forwards before the end of the year. Stone can flat-out score. He’s had five seasons in a row scoring at least 20 goals. GMs looking to shore up their forward groups would love to plug Stone into their playoff lineup.
- Kevin Hayes – The New York Rangers have some great young players, but are they close to turning the corner? Doubtful. Hayes is six-foot-five and can play center and wing. While he’s not as big of a name as others on our list, his versatility and size make him an attractive option for contending teams.
The performance of these five over the next few weeks will, in part, play a factor in determining their ultimate landing place. Each of them are scheduled for about 6-10 games before the Trade Deadline. Some of their respective teams are pushing for a playoff spot, others are just playing out the string. Either way, betting on NHL games had become quite popular and if you’d like to join the action, lines and information on legal USA betting can be found there.