<
>
EXCLUSIVE CONTENT
Get ESPN+

Impending free agents who should be re-signed, not traded

Bruins winger Loui Eriksson and Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien have been mentioned in trade rumors this season. Getty Images

We are officially in trade season in the NHL, as the Feb. 29 trade deadline approaches. Competing teams will spend the next several weeks assessing their needs, while bottom-feeders prepare to sell.

The clubs who are either on the bubble or at the bottom of the standings must decide whether to deal away their unrestricted free agents or try to re-sign them. But that decision isn't so easy for all the franchises in wait-and-see mode. Eight teams are currently sitting within five points of a playoff spot. The top wild-card teams, Boston and Colorado, hold only a two-point lead over the top out-of-the-playoffs team.

While a good stretch run could turn a struggling team into a buyer and a bump in the road could force a GM into dealing players, there are a number of players whose teams should re-sign them for 2016-17 and beyond, regardless of whether the team is hot or cold for the rest of the season.