While some teams prefer to acquire draft picks for their rentals, others prefer to pick up some younger players that might benefit from a change of scenery. Marc Bergevin went that route already on Friday but will he try to add another one by the deadline?
There are a few types of young players that could be traded at this time of year – players that are about to lose their waiver exemption, are on a roster primarily because they’ve lost their exemption (like Jarred Tinordi), or their hold on a roster spot beyond this season is somewhat tenuous. In other words, nothing too exciting.
However, once in a while, these players can thrive in a new situation. More commonly, they can at least serve as young and cheap end-of-roster guys that can free up some money to be spent elsewhere. Again, that doesn’t sound too promising but does a player like that hold more value than the proverbial mid-round pick who might be ready for an NHL taste four or five years down the road? That’s more or less the return to expect for players like Devante Smith-Pelly or Torrey Mitchell at this stage. In some situations, the player is the better way to go.
With that in mind, here are ten players from buying teams that fall into one of the above categories that could be of interest to Bergevin if he wants to get a look at some other young players down the stretch:
D Derek Forbort (LA) – 15th overall pick in 2010
To say that Forbort’s development has been slow is an understatement. His offensive game hasn’t really improved much over the years but he still projects as a serviceable 6/7 blueliner with size. He has been up and down with the Kings this year since he’s still waiver exempt (just for this season). Forbort could be added to help St. John’s in the short-term but be in the mix for a spot with the Canadiens next season. With the Kings in win-now mode, I don’t think they’d be afraid to move Forbort for help now.
F Stanislav Galiev (WSH) – 86th overall pick in 2010
Galiev has shown signs of impressive offensive upside over the years but hasn’t yet been able to put it all together at the NHL level. His waiver eligibility has forced him to sit more often than not as he isn’t quite ready to play full time for the Caps. They’ve said recently that they’re not shopping him (I think they do view him as part of the future) but given their cap and immediate roster crunch, I could see them considering trading Galiev for a similar player who is waiver exempt in a prospect for prospect swap.
F Alexander Khokhlachev (BOS) – 40th overall pick in 2011
In each of his three pro seasons, Khokhlachev has put up big numbers in the AHL including hovering around the point-per-game mark this year. It hasn’t gone so well for him in limited action in the NHL as he has played in just nine games in his career. He has been vocal about his unhappiness from being in the AHL as long as he has and certainly would look favourably on a trade. Khokhlachev doesn’t appear to be a significant part of the future plans for the Bruins and will need to clear waivers next season so he may have more value now than in training camp.
D Scott Mayfield (NYI) – 34th overall pick in 2011
A right shooting stay-at-home defender, Mayfield hasn’t had much of a look in the NHL and will have to go through waivers next season. While he has a shot at being an end-of-roster player with the Islanders next season with a couple of their defencemen being UFA’s, I could see the Isles being willing to part with him for help now since they have a few good young blueliners in their system.
D Jamie Oleksiak (DAL) – 14th overall pick in 2011
His situation mimics that of Tinordi in many ways. They’re both big (Oleksiak is 6’7) blueliners who have really yet to put it together at the pro level and have spent most of this season as a healthy scratch to avoid losing them on waivers for nothing. With Dallas looking to buy, Oleksiak is the type of player who can be thrown into a deal for the right addition. Although the Habs soured on Tinordi, there is an opening to take a flyer on someone with the season-ending injuries to Tom Gilbert and Jeff Petry and Oleksiak could help replace what they traded to Arizona last month.
F Teemu Pulkkinen (DET) – 111th overall pick in 2010
After two straight really good seasons with Detroit’s AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids, it was expected that Pulkkinen not only would be a regular for the Wings but that he’d at least be a top nine player. Instead, he has spent a big chunk of this year as a healthy scratch (he is already waiver eligible) and hasn’t done much when he is in the lineup. Pulkkinen has strong offensive skills but the rest of his game remains a work in progress. Detroit can’t give him a long look in a bigger role while being in the playoff race; a team like the Habs could afford to give him that chance down the stretch.
F Brett Ritchie (DAL) – 44th overall pick in 2011
Ritchie spent a good chunk of time with Dallas last season, holding his own with nine points in 31 games while averaging just shy of 14 minutes a night. This year hasn’t gone as well as he missed three months with a wrist injury and has been in the AHL ever since. At 6’3, he’s a big bodied winger that the Habs lack in their system and he has shown a scoring touch at the AHL level. I think Ritchie is part of the plans moving forward for the Stars (at least more than Oleksiak) but since he has to clear waivers next year, they could opt to move him now to get help for their playoff run.
F Miikka Salomaki (NSH) – 52nd overall pick in 2011
If you’re looking for a young energy forward, this is who you might want. Although he is a bit undersized, Salomaki has been Nashville’s leading hitter up front this year which has helped keep him in the lineup on a largely regular basis. Like many others on here, he too is waiver eligible after this season and since his ceiling isn’t much higher than where he is now (Salomaki isn’t going to be a big scorer in the NHL), he may be expendable for someone who can make a bigger impact in the short-term.
F Nick Shore (LA) – 82nd overall pick in 2011
If you want a fourth liner that isn’t as physical but isn’t quite so small, perhaps this is who might be of interest. Shore had a big year in the AHL in 2014-15 which gave him a regular fourth line role with the Kings this season. Unlike Salomaki, Shore has a bit more offensive upside and is the type of player that could be deployed on a third line for a selling team to see if he can develop more of a scoring touch in the NHL.
F Austin Watson (NSH) – 18th overall pick in 2010
Watson was thought to be a big power forward with a bit of offensive upside. As is often the case when drafting size over skill, that hasn’t worked out too well. While Watson has produced in the minors in past years, he hasn’t with the big club this season, picking up just six points all season with the Preds. Like Tinordi, he’s basically on the roster so that they don’t lose him for nothing on waivers. He’s not looking like a part of Nashville’s future and seems to be a prime candidate for a change of scenery.
None of these players are going to come in and make a big impact if they do get traded. But with the Habs in a spot where the season is basically over and they’re looking towards next year already, adding a player or two like this makes some sense. If they don’t pan out, cut bait and move on. But if they come in and play well, they can be in the mix moving forward which makes this a worthwhile, if uninteresting, avenue to pursue.