Draft picks and prospects are a tricky target at trade deadline deals. There’s always rumors flying around, and it’s never really clear exactly who’s on the market and how much they’ll garner. Often seen as a “throw-in” to a deal, the right pick or a properly developed prospect can make ultimately a major impact on an NHL roster.
For example, Jake Gardiner was mostly an afterthought in the Lupul-Beauchemin trade, but is now one of the key players on the Leafs moving forward.
It’s easy to take a look at each team’s prospect bank and try to acquire their most recent 1st round pick or their most prized possesion, but it’s unlikely teams would be willing to part with that. Rather, it’s more realistic to look at teams who are looking to offload a contract and/or gear up for a playoff run. Here’s three potential fits for the Leafs future.
A 2011 3rd round pick of the Blackhawks, he’s got 30 points in 32 games with the University of Vermont this year, in his senior season as a defenceman, leading his team in scoring. With the Blackhawks potentially looking to move a struggling Johnny Oduya, throwing in a defenceman with offensive upside like Paliotta could work the deal positively both ways if the Leafs can send a piece over. Roman Polak could make a good fit if paired with the right partner as a bottom-pairing defenceman in Chicago.
Erne isn’t the flashiest prospect either, but he’s not half bad. He’s put up 253 points in 232 career games with the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL, and was selected 33rd overall by the Lightning in 2013. With not much space in the Tampa Bay forward lines in the foreseeable future, Erne could make a useful piece moving forward, as he’s just 19 years of age.
Washington’s draft picks
Hey, has anyone realized Alex Ovechkin’s already 29 yet? It’s obvious Ovechkin’s been one of the most talented players in the league since the second he stepped onto the ice, but he’s been the victor in just three playoff series in his career. If Washington’s ever going to make a deep run with Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom (who’s tied for the league lead in points) as their two marquee players, they’re running out of time to do so and likely still a few pieces short. Without any real marquee offensive prospects waiting in their wings, Washington could use a top-line forward such as JVR or Lupul to complement their dynamic duo. Flipping Troy Brouwer, Joel Ward, or Jason Chimera are three forwards on short-term deals that could give Washington enough cap space to complete the deal, with the possibility of a first round pick coming Toronto’s way. If Ovechkin’s in the future plans of the franchise, the Capitals need to sell off some draft picks if they’re ever going to have legitimate playoff success while #8’s still performing at a high level. As it’s looking unlikely Washington will be in a position to draft a player of Ovechkin’s caliber in the near future, attempting to build a contender over the next two-three years is likely their best bet.
As always, it’s impossible to truly know exactly who and what will be moving on trade deadline- but while these three potential trading partners might not be the flashiest options, they could help provide depth options to the rebuilding Leafs.