Defensemen are in high demand with the NHL Trade Deadline of March 2 approaching, which makes them a hot-button topic according to Steve Mears and E.J. Hradek of NHL Live.
Hradek named Zbynek Michalek of the Arizona Coyotes as the defenseman most likely to get traded by March 2, citing the Coyotes' desire to move players and retool. Michalek, eighth among NHL defensemen with 130 blocked shots, can become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and carries a $4 million NHL salary-cap charge.
"Expiring contract, right-shot defenseman, blocks a lot of shots, he's big," Hradek said. "He's not the most physical guy but he's big. He doesn't shy away. A guy like that I think has lot of value and I just think the Coyotes are definitely looking to move people out. The Coyotes are not going to be in the [Stanley Cup Playoffs]. They need to move assets out to get some youthful prospects and picks in there."
Another Coyotes defenseman, Keith Yandle, could be on the radar. Despite a minus-27 rating, Yandle is tied for seventh among NHL defensemen with 40 points.
"I'm not moving Keith Yandle until I get something significant in return," Hradek said. "You see that big minus number there, throw that out. Keith Yandle is an offensive-minded defenseman. He's jumping into the play, he's trying to make things happen offensively. This team has struggled this year all the way around. Players like that are going to have a minus number when things aren't going well.
"Teams need puck-movers. I think Keith Yandle has a lot of juice in his game. He's a terrific offensive defenseman, and I get the sense at some point in time he will go somewhere else, like a place like Philadelphia, where they are crying out for an offensive defenseman. That seems like it would be a match for a trade at some point. There is a possibility the Coyotes will move Keith Yandle because they want to change the dynamic of their team a little bit. [Coyotes general manager] Don Maloney is not going to give this guy away because he's too good of a player."
The Carolina Hurricanes could keep Andrej Sekera but they're likely not making the playoffs and are an organization in transition. Sekara is a pending free agent with a salary-cap charge of $2.75 million. Hradek said he believes the Montreal Canadiens would be a good fit, especially with Alexei Emelin sidelined for at least the next week because of an upper-body injury.
"I think Montreal is close," Hradek said, "and when they add a player like that I think that can put them, maybe, over the top in the Eastern Conference, give them a little more depth on defense. But there's a lot of teams that can use a guy like Andrej Sekara. He'd fit anywhere. He's real professional, low-maintenance, perfect guy for your team to come in this time of year."
Jeff Petry pf the Edmonton Oilers is another defenseman popular in reported trade conversations. Petry sustained a rib injury Wednesday against the Boston Bruins, which has his status on hold. If the injury isn't significant, the Detroit Red Wings have been looking for a right-shot defenseman. Petry is a native of Ann Arbor, Mich., whose father, Dan Petry, pitched for the Detroit Tigers.
"He is an interesting guy because he has that size at 6-3," Hradek said. "He's got experience. Teams are going to have to project when they look at this kid. They're going to have to say, 'How would be in our group, in our system, with structure around him,' as opposed to a team like Edmonton where there hasn't been a lot of structure.
"There's a lot of teams that are looking at him and are interested in him. The question is, how much will they give up to get him? And also the question on the other end, listening to the Edmonton Oilers broadcast [Wednesday], they like him there. They'd like to keep him. They may want to re-sign him themselves."