Out of all the rumored players who might move at the trade deadline, which one would you stay away from?
Greg Wyshynski, senior writer: Patrick Maroon has two obvious virtues: a contract that carries a $1.5 million cap hit, which is remarkably low for a guy with 14 goals in 56 games, and a contract that expires after this season, so there's no multiyear commitment the way there is with Mike Hoffman or Max Pacioretty.
After that, it's a matter of perception. There's no question that Maroon's numbers are a product of playing with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl -- he has played more than 827 minutes with them at 5-on-5 during the past two seasons. At last check, only one team in the NHL has a Connor McDavid, with due respect to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs. So one way to look at it is that Maroon is a product of Connor and Leon.
Another way of looking at it is that he's talented and effective enough not only to hang with them but also to excel without them. His 63 even-strength points are third best for the Oilers over the past two seasons. His physical game fits well with two of the most talented players in the league, and he could replicate that in another team's top six.
But life without McDavid and Draisaitl gives me pause, as does the fact that Maroon doesn't exactly bring much speed to the table in comparison to other left wing deadline options like Evander Kane and (especially) Michael Grabner. I feel like much of the buzz around him comes from the contract and the hope that he costs via trade less than players like Kane, Rick Nash and Hoffman. I wouldn't give up a first-rounder for him, but someone probably will.
Emily Kaplan, national NHL reporter: I don't know if there's any player in particular I would avoid, but I do think some have price tags that are toxic. As the trade deadline approaches, you hear the names Martin Hanzal and Kevin Shattenkirk surface in conversations. Of course, those were the two big names on the move last year. The Minnesota Wild, at the time, had the second-best record in the Western Conference but still felt a need to solidify their roster down the center. In acquiring Hanzal, Minnesota surrendered a first- and a second-round pick. Hanzal had one point in a five-game playoff series with the St. Louis Blues The Wild couldn't get out of the first round.
Meanwhile, the first-place Washington Capitals couldn't resist the services of Shattenkirk, a power-play maven. Washington had to give St. Louis forwards Zach Sanford and Brad Malone, plus a first-round pick and conditional draft picks in the process. While most agree that Shattenkirk performed just fine for the Capitals, the truth is they couldn't get over their playoff hump. Washington coach Barry Trotz clearly had buyer's remorse, telling reporters earlier this year: "I think everybody thought of him as a 1-2 [top-pairing defenseman], and he really wasn't. He was a little lower." (Trotz later apologized to Shattenkirk for those comments.)
Neither Hanzal nor Shattenkirk is with the team he was paired with at last year's deadline. Both the Wild and Capitals are doing just fine. I can almost assure you both teams look wistfully at the picks they gave up. The lesson here is to be wary of true rentals -- players with expiring contracts who are questionable to re-sign -- who come at astronomical costs. There's a reason a dynamic winger like Evander Kane is still on Buffalo's roster, despite being subject of trade rumors for months. (The Sabres' asking price was reportedly a first-round pick, a prospect, a roster player and a conditional pick; that will certainly have to come down, as other talented wingers have joined the market.)
So I would certainly be wary of Kane, especially if you're giving up too much, considering he will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and it would behoove him to test free agency to maximize his value. I'd also shy from Detroit's Mike Green if it means giving up a first-round pick. Similar to Shattenkirk, Green is a difference-maker on the power play. But at age 32, he has flaws defensively and probably shouldn't be in a team's top two pairings. There are more well-rounded and equally seasoned defensemen on the market (the Penguins' Ian Cole, the Columbus Blue Jackets' Jack Johnson, the Vancouver Canucks' Erik Gudbranson -- should extension talks with the Canucks fall through) I'd rather explore.
Chris Peters, NHL prospects writer: This is a tough one, but I think the player I'd stay away from is Evander Kane. This doesn't have much to do with his reputation, though I think that will play into a GM's decision-making process. Much more of it has to do with the price. The Sabres need to ask for a lot for Kane because of the position they're in. The market is starting to crowd a bit with other rental wings, but I still think Kane would attract some good assets. Some options might include the destinations Greg, Emily and Sean Allen noted last week. If I were a GM, however, I would let other teams pay the high price and look elsewhere for scoring depth.
Since the holiday break, Kane has only six points in 24 games. Perhaps he is beginning to heat up again, as he has three goals in his past six games, but I think this is a real buyer-beware scenario. You can chalk the lack of production up to a bad team, tough environment or whatever else. His shots per game are down too. Maybe Kane would rebound after a breath of fresh air with a new team, but it's tough to bank on that. When you're dealing with high-priced rentals, you have to manage that risk. His first half was so strong, as he was an offensive leader for the team. His going really quiet since gives me pause.
Another factor I would consider, and this is only a small one, is that Kane has never played in the Stanley Cup playoffs. There's no track record to help tip the scales toward affirming him as a trade option. That actually could be a benefit for some teams who hope that getting a shot to play in the postseason would drive his competitiveness. It's just another risk point for me. On top of that, I'd at least be concerned about how bringing in Kane would affect the locker room dynamic. Knowing the way things ended with the Jets and other, more recent incidents
There is no such thing as a surefire rental who will guarantee playoff success, but there are enough unknowns with Kane that I wouldn't want to pay the high price the Sabres naturally should command for a few months of his services.