The trade deadline is one week away and so far…it’s been pretty quiet. Fans of contending teams everywhere are waiting to see what additions will be made to their favourite squad.
So, as we await actual trades let’s take a look at three of the players most likely to be moved and which teams might be the best fit for each.
DAVID SAVARD: FLORIDA PANTHERS
This trade makes a lot of sense to me for a few reasons. One, the Panthers lost their top right-shot defenceman, Aaron Ekblad, for the season to a broken leg. Two, Panthers GM Bill Zito knows Savard as well as anyone having served as the Blue Jackets assistant GM for seven seasons before taking the job in Florida. And while Ekblad's and Savard’s games are quite different, Savard would bring several desirable attributes to a Panthers team that is looking more and more like a legitimate threat to make some noise in the playoffs.
Ekblad is an offensive weapon while Savard is a shutdown defenceman. We know the Panthers can score, ranking fourth in goals and third in expected goals per game. However, Florida ranks 10th in goals against per game and 17th in expected goals against. Acquiring a defensive defenceman like Savard would address a need on a team that would benefit from tightening up a bit defensively.
Savard eats the toughest minutes of any Blue Jackets defenceman and among the toughest of any D-man in the NHL. He starts just 25 per cent of his shifts in the offensive zone, which ranks second-lowest among Columbus’s six most-used defencemen. Combine that with the Blue Jackets as a whole not being at the level they were last season and it’s not a big surprise that Savard’s while-on-ice numbers (expected goals against, high-danger shot differential) are nothing to write home about. That said, he is still capable of being an impactful defender in a top-four role on a contending team.
Savard does a terrific job of denying clean entries into the Blue Jackets zone at even-strength, averaging 2.8 denied entries per game. That ranks fifth among all defencemen with equal or more ice-time, trailing only Seth Jones, Neal Pionk, Jaccob Slavin, and Miro Heiskanen. When it comes to defending in-zone, Savard ranks third in blocked shots per game and also uses his stick well to break up passing plays.