Big fish disappearing from NHL rental market; helpful pieces still available

Big fish disappearing from NHL rental market

The biggest fish in the NHL trade market are disappearing fast.

Kevin Shattenkirk is gone, dealt to Washington on Monday night; Martin Hanzal went from hopelessness in the desert to hockey country in Minnesota; Ben Bishop joined fellow American goaltender Jonathan Quick in Los Angeles; and hulking six-foot-six centre Brian Boyle is off the market too, dealt to Toronto as the Lightning reload.

“If there was one guy we were going to pursue that could make our team better it was him,” Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said of Shattenkirk.

MacLellan described the landscape ahead of the Wednesday trade deadline as a “pure rental market” and while the glitziest names are almost all gone, a few helpful players on expiring contracts still remain:

Thomas Vanek, Detroit

Position: Right-wing

Cap hit: US$2.6 million

Report: The Montreal Canadiens picked up Vanek at the deadline three years ago and he helped them by scoring 15 points in 18 regular season games before adding five goals and 10 points in the playoffs. Though no longer the prolific scorer he was in Buffalo, the 33-year-old Vanek is still headed for his 10th 20-goal season and could offer a nice boost at limited cost on the cap.

P.A. Parenteau, New Jersey

Position: Winger

Cap hit: $1.25 million

Report: The Toronto Maple Leafs couldn’t find a buyer for Parenteau at the deadline last year, but perhaps the Devils will this time around. Parenteau costs next to nothing on the cap and still brings production on the wing, on pace for nearly 20 goals and 40 points. Still, he’s cooled right down in the new year — one goal in his last 21 games — and got hurt over the weekend, all of which could dampen interest once more.

Radim Vrbata, Arizona

Position: Right-wing

Cap hit: $1 million

Report: The 35-year-old has bounced back from last season’s disappointment in Vancouver and is tied for 13th among right-wingers  in points per-game this season. Vrbata, on a bargain one-year contract, could be a helpful add to any power play while offering some punch down the lineup for a playoff team.

Patrick Sharp, Dallas

Position: Winger

Cap hit: $5.9 million

Report: Sharp missed a large chunk of time this season with concussion and the 35-year-old hasn’t produced to his usual standards, with his points per-game at its lowest in a decade. He’s only a year removed from a 20-goal, 55-point campaign though and has tons of playoff experience as a three-time Stanley Cup winner in Chicago. The problem with Sharp is that contractm which also carries a no-trade clause. Though it expires after this season, the cap hit might be too hefty for some playoff contenders to absorb, unless they send a troublesome contract back Dallas’ way.

Ryan Miller, Vancouver

Position: Goaltender

Cap hit: $6 million

Report: Miller is having another relatively effective year at age 36 for the Canucks and could be a solid No. 2, or even 1-A, for squads with goaltending needs. Miller is expensive with a very limited no-trade clause though, which could shrink an already thin market. Rightly or wrongly, Vancouver has a playoff push to consider too. 

Anders Nilsson, Buffalo

Position: Goaltender

Cap hit: $1 million

Report: Nilsson struggled in every one of his NHL stints previously, but he’s been effective for the Buffalo Sabres and could be a helpful backup for the stretch drive — perhaps for Edmonton, where he played last season. The 26-year-old has equalled starter Robin Lehner with a .931 even-strength save percentage, and his .921 overall save percentage is among the top-10 goalies league-wide with at least 20 games of action.

Mark Streit, Philadelphia

Position: Left defence

Cap hit: $5.25 million

Report: While among the league’s oldest players Streit still appears to have a little bit left in the tank. The 39-year-old remains a capable puck-mover and power-play point man, both valuable attributes for a club with depth issues on defence. The Flyers are right on the bubble between giving the playoffs a go or selling assets like Streit. The Swiss defender should draw interest if they opt for the latter course.

Michael Del Zotto, Philadelphia

Position: Left defence

Cap hit: $3.875 million

Report: Like Streit, Del Zotto’s availability surely depends on the Flyers opting in or out of the playoff race. The 26-year-old has bounced in and out Philadelphia’s lineup with injuries and the occasional healthy scratch this year, but he’s still an able puck-mover and helpful add potentially for a team in need on the back-end.

Jonas Siegel, The Canadian Press

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