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Behind The Numbers

Analyzing top NHL Trade Deadline candidates

Brian Boyle of Lightning, Shane Doan of Coyotes could be on move before March 1

by Rob Vollman / NHL.com Correspondent

The NHL Trade Deadline is 3 p.m. ET on March 1, and some prominent names have been circulating in the rumor mill, including forwards Brian Boyle of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Shane Doan of the Arizona Coyotes and goaltender Jaroslav Halak of the New York Islanders.

Over the past month, we dove into the underlying numbers to gain more insight into a dozen other players rumored to be available before the trade deadline. This week, we use similar statistics to get a better understanding of this next batch of players who potentially could be changing jerseys soon.

 

Brian Boyle, C, Tampa Bay Lightning

With Tampa Bay's hopes to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs in question, and with the need to make salary-cap space to re-sign a long list of restricted free agents this summer, there's a greater chance some useful players could become available. Given the physical hardships of the postseason, Boyle should be one of the Lightning players who garners the most attention.

 

Top 20 NHL Trade Deadline targets

 

Boyle is not known for his scoring or for his shot-based metrics, but not every player's name is meant to appear in the scoresheet. His 43.32 zone start percentage in his three seasons with the Lightning, the lowest on Tampa Bay's active roster, demonstrates his comfort in a checking line role. Since 2014-15, he has won 51.3 percent of his faceoffs, has thrown 334 hits, and has averaged 1:50 minutes per game killing penalties.

Not only do these numbers suggest the 6-foot-6 Boyle would be an ideal addition to virtually any checking line, but he's also one of 42 active players with at least 100 games of playoff experience. With a reasonable NHL salary-cap charge of $2 million, according to CapFriendly.com, Boyle could be one of the pending UFAs in the greatest demand before the deadline.

Video: TBL@WPG: Boyle deflects Hedman's one-timer into twine

 

Shane Doan, RW, Arizona Coyotes

It's hard to picture Doan wearing any other jersey than Arizona's, except for perhaps Winnipeg's, where the Coyotes franchise was located in his rookie season in 1995-96.

However, it is not unprecedented for even the most dedicated players to leave town near the end of their NHL careers in pursuit of the Stanley Cup, much like long-time Boston Bruins defenseman Ray Bourque when he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche on March 6, 2000.

Among active NHL players, Doan is third with 1,524 games, seventh with 401 goals, 10th with 564 assists and 10th with 965 points.

Though Doan's achievements in the League are beyond question, what does he offer today? He would bring a lot of leadership, character and grit, but very little that can be measured statistically.

The Coyotes captain led Arizona with 28 goals last season, his 13th with 20 or more goals, but he has five goals this season. As one of three active players in his 40s, Doan is no longer able to serve on Arizona's top six, and his $4.84 million annual salary is too much cap space for a contender to commit to a secondary player.

Video: ARI@SJS: Doan goes five-hole for power-play goal

 

Jaroslav Halak, G, New York Islanders

Even though he cleared waivers on Dec. 31, 2016, and carries an annual cap charge of $4.5 million through the 2018-19 season, there are several reasons why Halak could be of interest to a contender looking for some goaltending help before the deadline.

Halak's play with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League has been exceptional. He's 13-1-1 with a 1.96 goals-against average and .931 save percentage.

Halak has also been outstanding in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, where his .924 save percentage in 30 games ranks eighth among active goalies who have played at least 10 games.

In the regular season, Halak has a .924 save percentage at even strength, .916 overall, and a quality start percentage of 56.7 percent, according to HockeyReference.com. To place those numbers in context, they're almost identical to those of Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, who also is 31 and was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy in 2011-12 and 2015-16. Even with Halak's price tag, who wouldn't be interested in a goalie like that?

Video: WSH@NYI: Halak denies Oshie with blocker save

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