With Monday's NHL trade deadline fast approaching, we gather our panel together to answer the biggest questions:
• Where will Artemi Panarin be playing as of Feb. 26?
• How many first-round picks will be dealt?
• As a consumer, what's your top source of deadline anxiety?
• Which team will "win" the trade deadline?
Artemi Panarin will be playing for the ______ as of Tuesday
Greg Wyshynski, senior NHL writer: My answer before the Matt Duchene trade would have been the New York Islanders. They have only one player with more than 20 goals and one player with more than 50 points, and Panarin (24 goals, 34 assists) would give them another in both categories. Simply put, the Islanders don't have the firepower to compete with the Washington Capitals or whoever emerges from the Atlantic Division. Defense wins championships, but not in the absence of offense. Panarin would make the Islanders an immeasurably more conspicuous threat in the East, and they have the assets to move for him.
Post-Matt Duchene trade: Look, I've been Team "Shoot Your Shot" when it comes to keeping Panarin in Columbus along with Sergei Bobrovsky while adding pieces for a playoff push in a manageable Metro Division. It appears, at least at the moment, that's what the Blue Jackets are doing.
Emily Kaplan, national NHL reporter: If he does move? The Dallas Stars -- or a sneaky team we don't expect. I like the Stars' chances, though. They were passive observers at last year's deadline, and I wonder if general manager Jim Nill regrets that now. After being a playoff team for most of 2017-18, Dallas crumbled down the stretch; the roster could have used reinforcements. Dallas has been quietly solid this season, but it needs to separate itself in the mucky Western Conference race. Nill went big-game hunting this summer for Erik Karlsson and John Tavares and went 0-for-2; considering the frustrations in Dallas early this season -- compounded by the fact it has been to the second round just once in the past decade -- Nill could feel he finally needs to make that splash to get some job security.
Chris Peters, NHL draft and prospects writer: The Columbus Blue Jackets. Adding Matt Duchene could potentially soften the blow if the team were to ditch Panarin, knowing he's unlikely to re-sign there as an unrestricted free agent, but I don't think they'd be able to get a package good enough to move him. It's my gut feel that no matter where Panarin gets dealt, the prospect of him automatically re-signing even with that team -- if it is in one of his preferred destinations -- seems unlikely. This is a guy who wants to test the market and get some control over his own future, which is totally natural. Still, adding Duchene to the mix helps a lot. I think he's a decent fit there, and the Blue Jackets can show their fans that they are going all-in for the Stanley Cup right now. It might end in heartbreak, but it is hard to win playoff series, and they're building a roster that could finally do that this season.
Dimitri Filipovic, hockey analytics writer: The Blue Jackets. The idea of losing a player of his caliber for nothing this summer is an admittedly scary one, but now that they've gone out and pushed their chips into the middle of the table with the Duchene trade, they're really pot committed this season. Considering how good they are and how wide open the Metro Division is, I think that's ultimately the right move. This is a franchise that has won a grand total of five playoff games and zero playoff series in its 17 seasons in the league. Panarin is the most dynamic talent the Blue Jackets have ever had, and this is surely the best chance they're going to have to finally get over the hump and make some real noise in the postseason. Their remarkably loyal fan base deserves the chance at that, considering all of the losing seasons the faithful have patiently endured. Trading Panarin at this point would be waving the white flag on the season -- and essentially punching each and every one of those fans in the gut.
Victoria Matiash, fantasy analyst: The Duchene deal alters matters in suggesting the Blue Jackets are going for it this spring and would rather keep Panarin as a key piece. But I can still see the Winnipeg Jets making a strong offer, especially if they fail to grab Mark Stone. GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has been consistently clear with his intent to go all-in this season. Jammed in with the Predators, Sharks and Flames atop the Western Conference, that calls for a big move ahead of Monday afternoon. Also, the Jets have the assets at their disposal to offer in return. They could volley Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen a bundle too rich to refuse.
How many first-round picks will be traded?
Greg Wyshynski, senior NHL writer: Matt Duchene cost a first. Artemi Panarin would cost a first. Mark Stone will cost a first. If Wayne Simmonds moves, he likely costs a first. So would Sergei Bobrovsky. And then some general manager is bound to "Tomas Tatar" it like the Golden Knights did last year for a player clearly below elite status that ends up netting a low first-rounder. I'll say four first-rounders move around the deadline, considering the assets available.
Emily Kaplan, national NHL reporter: Indeed, I think the question here is: Who is going to get Tatar'd? For the record, I like Tatar a lot, as a person and a player, and hate using his name as a punchline. But it was a gross overpay for a typically calculated George McPhee; I'm glad Tatar found a better hockey home in Montreal. That said, Duchene commanded a first and Stone and Panarin would each cost at least a first, as well. Throw in either Simmonds or Bobrovsky, plus the 2019 Tatar, and I could see as many as five.
Chris Peters, NHL draft and prospects writer: I think we'll see as many as three move, with Winnipeg and the Islanders looking like a couple of prime candidates. The Jets have good enough young talent in their system already and the Isles are building a nice little prospect pool that would make shedding a first-rounder more palatable if they see something out there that helps them. I think this is a year when teams are going to want to hold on to their picks, given the quality of the depth in the first round, but there are enough intriguing potential trade targets that I think GMs could do some aggressive shopping.
Dimitri Filipovic, hockey analytics writer: I'll say four, or three more after the Duchene deal. The Jets and Predators seem like locks to make a major move that would involve parting with premium future assets. On top of that, I wouldn't be remotely surprised to see teams like the Bruins or Golden Knights similarly follow suit, and there's a bunch of others sitting on the periphery who could conceivably get frisky if the right opportunity presents itself. The only mitigating factor is that a number of teams that would presumably be willing to part with their first right now have already done so. The Sharks, Blues and Leafs have made their big move, and the Lightning have conditionally signed theirs away to the Rangers in the event that they win it all this season. I've heard the idea that teams cherish first-round picks more these days than they used to once upon a time, but I'm not sure how true that really is in practice, because at the end of the day, you ultimately have to give something to get something. As a result, we still see at least a handful of them moved around this time of the season every year.
Victoria Matiash, fantasy analyst: I'm up to seven, including the one already headed to Ottawa for Duchene, and a considerable pack of maybes. After Thursday's 5-1 drubbing in Montreal -- making a dent in the team's own playoff aspirations -- the Flyers should feel more inclined to ship Simmonds for such return. The Flames could offer Detroit a first for Jimmy Howard. The Rangers should get one for Kevin Hayes. That's six. Now, consider the Panthers might well offload Mike Hoffman, and some other team will overpay for a mediocre asset -- say, Gustav Nyquist -- once the cupboard starts to clear, and we hit seven. Easy.
As a hockey consumer, what is your top source of anxiety ahead of the deadline?
Greg Wyshynski, senior NHL writer: That the Senators are going to pooch it, although the Duchene move landed them a decent haul. Unless they're on tour against the Harlem Globetrotters, no other team in sports has taken as many losses as the Ottawa Senators in the past two years -- on the ice, on the transaction wire, in public relations, in building a new arena ... you name it, they blew it. So, with three remaining assets on the trading block with varying degrees of value in Mark Stone, Ryan Dzingel and Cody Ceci, I just really want GM Pierre Dorion to make one deal that leaves fans and punditry going, "Wow, he really did well there, considering the circumstances" rather than the usual "Wow, did that guy just trade a potential first overall pick for a player who could leave as an unrestricted free agent a year and a half later?"
Emily Kaplan, national NHL reporter: I have second-hand anxiety for Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen. Does any GM face greater pressure than him? The Blue Jackets' fan base has been patient, and Kekalainen has built this team the right way. But the truth is, Columbus has never been past the first round of the playoffs, and 2019 should be the year the Blue Jackets do it. And yet, two of the most talented players in franchise history are now looking for outs. He can't let them walk for nothing -- though the alternative might be gambling and holding onto them as the team's own "rentals." Kekalainen has had all season to prepare and has a reputation as a silent assassin. But there's a lot riding on the next three days for the future of his franchise. I'm rooting for things to fall into place for Columbus. His bold move to add Duchene is a great start.
Chris Peters, NHL draft and prospects writer: A lack of action on the actual deadline day. I think player movement is one of the greatest sources of in-season drama that exists, and there is extra value when those deals happen on a day when everyone is already paying attention. These early deals are fine, and I'm not necessarily crying for the broadcasters who have to fill time and try to entertain us, but NHL trade deadline day has been very anticlimactic at times. A flurry of trades, some blockbusters here and there just to put a little more meat on the bone, would get people talking and keep them engaged at a time when the NHL should absolutely be commanding at least a part of the overall sports discussion.
Dimitri Filipovic, hockey analytics writer: Just missing out on something. There's so much news circulating out there constantly that it can sometimes feel overwhelming trying to keep up with all of it around this time of year. As much fun as all of the trade chatter and movement can be, I feel like the league is taking me hostage. Enjoying a good night's sleep or maintaining some semblance of a social life aren't really attainable goals when you're living in constant fear that something big is going to happen the second you put your phone away or close your browser. And yet as stressful as that can be, I can't even imagine how much worse it is for the top insiders who are obsessively vetting their sources for a scoop or the general managers who are feeling the pressure to get a deal done while they still can.
Victoria Matiash, fantasy analyst: I'm with Chris in feeling concerned about the day itself registering low on the exhilaration meter. Not because there aren't significant pieces in play -- there most certainly are -- but those more prominent moves could happen over the weekend; the potential domino fallout from the early Duchene deal doesn't help in this regard. Then we're spending all day Monday talking about Marcus Johansson and Ryan Dzingel. It's like opening all your gifts in the days leading up to Christmas. You still end up with the same stuff, but where's the magic?
Which team is going to 'win' this year's deadline?
Greg Wyshynski, senior NHL writer: Claiming that a buyer is going to win the trade deadline is a fool's errand, because they'll have paid an inflated price of a "final piece" of a puzzle we won't know has been successfully completed until June. (And even then, how many Stanley Cup champions are cemented at the trade deadline rather than during the summer?) So, we'll go with a seller, and that seller is the New York Rangers. They have Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Hayes and Adam McQuaid on the block, and they could potentially move another significant player in Chris Kreider. GM Jeff Gorton had a strong deadline last season in moving Ryan McDonagh, J.T. Miller and Rick Nash, so I'm confident he's going to keep this rebuild rolling with another solid bounty.
Emily Kaplan, national NHL reporter: The Winnipeg Jets. With so many contact decisions looming this summer, the Jets' best chance to win might be right now. Just as he stealthily moved in on Paul Stastny at last year's deadline, I think GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has something cooking to upgrade the second-line center spot (which has been a deficiency since Stastny left in free agency). A second-line center could push Bryan Little to his natural slotting, and a new face could help revive Patrik Laine. The Jets are likely in on Mark Stone, but even securing the Rangers' Kevin Hayes would be a win in my book.
Chris Peters, NHL draft and prospects writer: I've got my eyes on the Nashville Predators as a potential deadline winner. They were rumored to be in on the Matt Duchene trade race. Despite not getting Duchene, David Poile is one of the smartest trading GMs in the league. There are so few occasions when he comes out on the wrong end. There are some attractive options, and Poile has the flexibility to make a big addition. Now we'll see if he can find a deal that lands him that elusive Stanley Cup as well.
Dimitri Filipovic, hockey analytics writer: The Tampa Bay Lightning. They've already made their big moves, and now they get to sit back and watch the teams chasing them frantically scramble around to try to do something just to enter the same stratosphere as them. I'm generally a proponent of getting your work done early, so that you're not stuck having to pay exorbitant prices out of sheer desperation on deadline day. As much as I like certain other teams and the players they could get, I don't really see a realistic trade that could happen between now and Monday that would push Tampa Bay out of pole position heading into the postseason.
Victoria Matiash, fantasy analyst: From left field, I offer the Detroit Red Wings. Some way or another, GM Ken Holland will reap an inflated price for Jimmy Howard, Gustav Nyquist and perennial deadline nomad Thomas Vanek, provided those with no-movement clauses are willing to waive them. Veteran blueliner Niklas Kronwall also could attract a heftier return than is reasonable. Remember last year's deal sending Tomas Tatar to Vegas for a first-round plus? The Wings aren't winning much this season, but they could emerge on the victorious end of several lopsided transactions by Monday.