If the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline is deep at any one type of player, it is power forward. As the February 25th deadline grows closer and teams begin to make tough decisions about who goes and who stays, it is becoming clear that many big, physical scoring forwards are about to be up for grabs before they hit free agency. Just this past week, it was reported that the Philadelphia Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds was likely to be moved and inferred that the Carolina Hurricanes and Micheal Ferland were unlikely to come to terms ahead of the deadline. And that’s just the beginning.
Outside of the 6’2″ Simmonds and 220-lb. Ferland, there are plenty of other names out there that fit the power forward mold. Since this summer, the New York Rangers’ Kevin Hayes has been earmarked for a deadline trade. If they cannot agree to an extension, the Ottawa Senators may be forced to move star Mark Stone. Should the New York Islanders or Colorado Avalanche fall out of the playoff race, Brock Nelson and Colin Wilson – neither of whom look like long-term fits on their respective teams – should be on the block. To some surprise, Patrick Maroon’s time with his hometown St. Louis Blues appears to be already running out. Even role player power forwards like New Jersey’s Brian Boyle and Florida’s Troy Brouwer should draw interest.
Many of these players feature on the trade bait lists from both The Athletic and TSN, as well as some non-UFA power forwards like the Blues’ Brayden Schenn, the Rangers’ Chris Kreider, the Wild’s Nino Niederreiter, and even young Jesse Puljujarvi of the Edmonton Oilers. While it may seem like too many names for too few teams – and it is a buyer’s market this year for sure – The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun mentioned a number of suitors for a power forward who could make a move for one or more of these trade candidates in the coming weeks. At the top, LeBrun sees some of the biggest contenders as likely landing spots, naming the Tampa Bay Lightning, Nashville Predators, Winnipeg Jets, and Calgary Flames as good fits for Simmonds, Ferland, and the like. He also adds the Boston Bruins and Vegas Golden Knights into that group. Of course, the Bruins and Jets also have needs down the middle and could be more ideal fits for Hayes or Nelson, while the wingers would appeal more to Tampa Bay and Nashville. While LeBrun casts doubt on the Toronto Maple Leafs being interested, if an arms race begins the team could feel pressured to add to their forward corps as well. The Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars, both in need of secondary scoring, could also jump in on the action, while the Patric Hornqvist injury could prompt the Pittsburgh Penguins to make another move.
With so many power forwards potentially available and prices expected to be low, it could be that the majority of playoff-bound teams decide to add a hired gun up front this season. You can never have too much size and grit in the postseason, not to mention scoring touch, and the 2019 deadline could be defined by many players possessing those exact traits heading to new teams. With plenty of talent available, one of the aforementioned players might just end up being the x-factor for the eventual Stanley Cup champions this year.