Adding the right player at the NHL trade deadline can make all the difference for teams looking to win the Stanley Cup. Sometimes moves don’t pan out—Jarome Iginla to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2013 comes to mind.
But other times, they propel contenders to another level. We’re talking Mark Recchi to the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006. Ray Bourque to the Colorado Avalanche in 2000.
What the Tampa Bay Lightning did over the last two deadlines was a more recent masterclass in how to add the right pieces to an already outstanding group of players.
Acquiring Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow in 2020 was risky for Tampa Bay but worked out pretty well, propelling them to a championship. Adding David Savard at the 2021 deadline gave the Lightning more defensive depth, and the former Columbus Blue Jacket helped his new team win its second consecutive Stanley Cup.
It’s tough to know exactly how a player will fit and factor in whenever a trade is made, but it’s possible to make educated guesses based on whom they’ve worked out with prior and by taking a peek at some underlying numbers.
That’s what the goal is here: to find players who are part of the rumor mill and not only figure out where they could land but on what line they could play. As always, sound off in the comments and let us know what you think we got right and got wrong.
What creative trades do you want to see created ahead of the March 21 trade deadline?
Hampus Lindholm to the St. Louis Blues
The St. Louis Blues are in the market for a veteran left-shot defenseman, per The Fourth Period, with an eye on Montreal Canadiens blueliner Ben Chiarot.
That doesn’t seem like a great fit for St. Louis, however. When the Blues won the Stanley Cup in 2019, it was on the back of a possession-heavy style of play. Dump-ins were few and far between, so the defensemen on that squad needed to be proficient at getting the puck up ice.
That is not what Chariot brings to the table. He’s a demonstrably declining defenseman in all three zones, and that has been the case for a few seasons now. St. Louis could do worse than him, but they could certainly do better.
Enter Hampus Lindholm.
The 6’4″, 216-pound blueliner would be a stronger fit for the Blues and how they prefer to play. He’s an offensive-minded defenseman who could play on either the first or second pairing in St. Louis. Lindholm won’t blow the doors off on the scoresheet, but he’s on pace to score more than 30 points and could score 10 goals on the year.
His 19 points would tie him for second among Blues defensemen in production, and he’s a staple on Anaheim’s seventh-ranked penalty-killing unit. St. Louis, who is trying to hang onto a wild-card spot in the Western Conference, already has a fantastic ranked PK (fifth), but adding Lindholm would further bolster the group.
All told, Lindholm, who is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, would likely be the most cost-effective blueliner St. Louis could add ahead of the trade deadline.
Tomas Hertl to the Minnesota Wild
Tomas Hertl has a no-trade clause that allows him to limit potential destinations to just three. There probably won’t be any bidding war on the center, mostly because the veteran pivot holds almost all of the power.
It’s also not entirely clear whether or not he wants out of San Jose at all. And as Sheng Peng of San Jose Hockey Now points out, the Sharks have given Hertl a lot to consider with their play to this point in 2021-22. They probably aren’t a playoff team, but they also aren’t the bottom feeders most pundits assumed they would be this year.
If Hertl wants to take a run at his first Stanley Cup championship with a different team, however, the Minnesota Wild would be a perfect fit.
Ryan Hartman has been as shockingly good as pickles on top of pizza this season, forming incredible chemistry with Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello. Now imagine what Hertl would look like skating with those two on his wings.
Even if he slotted onto the second line, suddenly the Wild would sport a one-two-three punch down the middle that featured Hartman, Hertl and pain-in-the-neck Joel Eriksson Ek.
Minnesota will be in salary cap hell next year after buying out Ryan Suter and Zach Parise this past offseason. They’ll have almost $13 million in dead cap space in 2022-23 before it jumps to nearly $15 million the next two campaigns.