Here are our writers’ picks for the most likely assets to be dealt.
John Klingberg: Among the pending unrestricted free agents on the Ducks’ roster, the 30-year-old Klingberg is easily the most attractive and could be their best trade chip to dangle. There will be a desire to add another first-round pick to the potential high lottery choice they’ll have, but getting that will be a chore if the right-shooting defenseman doesn’t lift the level of his play after a terrible start in his first season with the club. He has been a bit better over his past 18 contests, scoring five goals and posting an even or plus rating eight times. Teams still value right-handed defenders that can move the puck and help out on a power play.
Jakob Chychrun: For purely practical reasons, a trade out of Arizona for Chychrun should be coming to a head by the deadline. Why? Because Chychrun’s current appeal is twofold: 1) He’s a 24-year-old defenseman capable of playing top-four minutes, and 2) He’s on an attractive contract (this year and two more at an average annual value of $4.6 million per season). Thus, any contender adding him now would get three playoffs out of him at minimum. If Chychrun lingers on the Coyotes’ roster beyond the deadline, then he becomes just a little less attractive on the financial side of the ledger. With 25 points in 33 games, his value is high. It’s time to find him a new home.
Jakub Lauko: The 22-year-old left-shot forward fits the profile of the type of asset the Bruins would give up for immediate help: young, has potential, not on the current roster. Lauko, a 2018 third-rounder, played well in a seven-game run on the fourth line at the start of the season, scoring a goal and two points. He’s been in the AHL since then because of the Bruins’ health. A team could see third-line upside because of his speed and fearlessness.
Erik Portillo: When push comes to shove, I’m not sure if Kevyn Adams will be ready to swing a big deal that requires giving up a first-round pick or high-end prospect at the deadline. It’s more likely a prospect like he’d trade goalie Erik Portillo, who has indicated he won’t sign in Buffalo once leaving college. The team could part with him to add depth on the blue line while allowing the young core to continue to grow together. A mid-round pick could be another way of achieving this.