The 2020 NHL Trade Deadline is Feb. 24, and teams hoping to make a deep run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs may look to add to their rosters. We asked NHL.com writers which player on our list of those to watch before the deadline is the most intriguing, and why.
Here are their answers:
Shawn P. Roarke, Senior Director of Editorial
Brenden Dillon, D, San Jose Sharks: Call me old-fashioned. I still believe that defense is the key to a championship and that a deep defenseman group can always be deeper in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That's where Dillon comes in. He is a prototypical playoff defenseman, bringing a physical presence and a defensive conscience. He's been to the playoffs four times with the Sharks, reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2016 and the Western Conference Final in 2019. He hits, he kills penalties, he clears the front of the net, each a valued quality in the postseason. Picture the 29-year-old pending unrestricted free agent as the new No. 4 or No. 5 on your team's blue line. Looks good, doesn't it?
Tracey Myers, staff writer
Alec Martinez, D, Los Angeles Kings: I'm with Shawn on the defense-first mentality, and for that reason I'm intrigued with Martinez. Yes, I know his numbers (eight points; one goal, seven assists) aren't what they used to be. But he's still averaging solid ice time at 21:29 per game, second on the Kings to defenseman Drew Doughty (26:01). And in the playoffs, you want someone who knows how to handle the pressure. Martinez has been there, done that, with Stanley Cup wins with the Kings in 2012 and 2014. The 32-year-old, who is in the fifth season of a six-year contract, would be good for a playoff-bound team looking to add depth at defenseman.
Video: LAK@VGK: Martinez capitalizes on turnover
Dan Rosen, senior writer
Jean-Gabriel Pageau, F, Ottawa Senators: I appreciate Shawn and Tracey going with a defenseman because you can't go wrong with added depth in that department, especially if it comes with playoff experience. But with Pageau, you get the whole package, including some playoff experience; he has 16 points (12 goals, four assists), including two hat tricks, in 35 postseason games. You get a player who can score; he has 33 points (20 goals, 13 assists) in 51 games this season. You get a player who can play on your first or second power-play unit, who can play center or wing, who is used to starting shifts in the defensive zone, winning the face-off and finishing his shift in the offensive zone, and who can play on either penalty-kill unit. Pageau is arguably the most well-rounded player who could be traded before the deadline. The totality of his game, and the fact that he's 27 years old, are the reasons the Senators should sign the pending UFA to a long-term contract.
Rob Reese, fantasy editor
Chris Kreider, F, New York Rangers: Dan broke the trend of going with a defenseman and picked a valuable forward in Pageau. I'm going to follow suit and suggest that Kreider could be among the biggest difference-makers for contending teams. Kreider is a fixture on the Rangers' top power-play unit, which is seventh in the NHL at 23.3 percent. With Kreider, you're getting a great skater who can drive possession at even strength and finish on the power play (seven power-play goals this season). The 28-year-old would be a solid addition to a team that needs a special-teams spark, but you could also make the case that Kreider, who can become a UFA on July 1, would look good in Rangers blue for years to come.
Video: TOR@NYR: Kreider quickly pots pretty backhand
Tom Gulitti, staff writer
Sami Vatanen, D, New Jersey Devils: Like Shawn and Tracey, I understand the value of defensemen at this point of the season and heading into the playoffs. Vatanen is the kind that can put a contender over the top. Right-hand shot defensemen that can play in the top four aren't easy to find, so there should be a lot of interest. The 28-year-old, who can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, is in his prime and has been one of the bright spots for the Devils this season, leading New Jersey defensemen with 23 points (five goals, 18 assists). And he's got 44 games of postseason experience, mostly from his days with the Anaheim Ducks, including a run to the Western Conference Final in 2015.
Nick Cotsonika, columnist
Robin Lehner, G, Chicago Blackhawks: Hard to argue with any of these picks. You can never have enough defensemen. You can never have enough scoring depth. But no one can make a bigger difference than a goalie, and if you're a team in need of one, look at Lehner if Chicago decides to sell. He was a Vezina Trophy finalist last season with the New York Islanders and had an 2.00 goals-against average and .936 save percentage in eight playoff games. The 28-year-old is 15-8-5 with a 2.83 GAA and .923 save percentage this season and, as a pending UFA, has plenty of motivation in need of a new contract.