Ranking the top NHL trade-deadline candidates
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The 2019-20 trade deadline may ultimately lack the sizzle of its 2018-19 counterpart, but that doesn't mean this one will arrive without intrigue.

It doesn't appear as though big-ticket pending unrestricted free agents like Alex Pietrangelo, Braden Holtby, and Jacob Markstrom will be moved, but they could eventually be shipped out should they fail to sign extensions with their respective clubs. More impact players could also become available depending on which teams fall out of postseason contention before Feb. 24.

While those stars are far less likely to be sent packing, here are the biggest names that could be dealt prior to the deadline:

1. Chris Kreider, Rangers

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Position Age Contract Cap Hit
LW 28 Pending UFA $4.625M

Barring the sudden availability of a superior player, Kreider is the best name on the trade block and appears most likely to be traded.

Eight teams have reportedly informed the Rangers that Kreider's at the top of their respective wish list. The skilled winger's combination of speed and size, along with his age and relatively digestible cap hit, justify his status as the most coveted target.

2. Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Senators

Position Age Contract Cap Hit
C 27 Pending UFA $3.1M

Pageau is having a career year for the lowly Senators, and it wouldn't be at all surprising to see the forward dealt given the club's history of unloading players. His inflated shooting percentage is bound to regress whether or not he stays in Ottawa, but he could still provide a contender with some scoring punch and strong two-way play from the center position.

3. Sami Vatanen, Devils

Position Age Contract Cap Hit
D 28 Pending UFA $4.9M

Much like the Kings, the Devils are still languishing near the bottom of the standings after trading Taylor Hall and firing their head coach. So it would make sense for the teardown to continue with the trade of Vatanen, a versatile, productive blue-liner on an expiring contract. The Devils placed him on injured reserve Thursday, but the move's retroactive to Feb. 1, so he can be activated at any time.

4. Andreas Athanasiou, Red Wings

Position Age Contract Cap Hit
LW 25 Pending RFA $3M

The Red Wings have several pending restricted free agents, and while neither Anthony Mantha nor Tyler Bertuzzi are going anywhere, Athanasiou could be moved. Although he's been inconsistent this season, the speedy winger poured in 30 goals in 2018-19 and might have a shot at finding his old form on a better team.

5. Matt Dumba, Wild

Position Age Contract Cap Hit
D 25 Signed through 2022-23 $6M

Dumba isn't a pending free agent and won't be for a while, but that could actually make the right-shot rearguard more attractive to teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs, who might be looking for a defenseman with term. He's picked up his play lately after a disappointing first half, and the struggling Wild could look to take advantage of that if they're out of the race by the deadline.

6. Shayne Gostisbehere, Flyers

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty
Position Age Contract Cap Hit
D 26 Signed through 2022-23 $4.5M

The Flyers remain in the playoff mix, but Gostisbehere might still be moved for several reasons. He's struggled under head coach Alain Vigneault, and trading him would give the club some added cap flexibility with franchise goalie Carter Hart needing an extension next season. Gostisbehere missed about a month with an injury recently, but he's since returned and could benefit from a change of scenery.

7. Mikael Granlund, Predators

Position Age Contract Cap Hit
RW 27 Pending UFA $5.75M

After a slow start to the season, Granlund has started to produce and could be bolstering his trade value as a result. The question will be whether the Predators are still in the playoff hunt by deadline time. If not, Granlund would be a prime candidate to move with his expiring deal.

8. Alexandar Georgiev, Rangers

Position Age Contract Cap Hit
G 23 Pending RFA $792K

Unless Holtby or Markstrom suddenly hit the trade block, Georgiev is the best available goalie. Several teams, including the Leafs, have reportedly checked in with the Rangers to discuss the cost of acquiring him. Igor Shesterkin's arrival has made Georgiev expendable in New York, and the latter could make for a solid addition to a contender in need of a backup.

9. Kasperi Kapanen, Maple Leafs

Position Age Contract Cap Hit
RW 23 Signed through 2021-22 $3.2M

Kapanen is frequently cited as a potential trade chip. He's still young, locked in for a couple more seasons at an affordable rate, and expendable given Toronto's forward depth and all the money committed to its big four. Head coach Sheldon Keefe recently downplayed disciplining Kapanen for a "pattern" of tardiness, but if that trend were to continue, it could be yet another justification for trading the winger.

10. Josh Manson, Ducks

Position Age Contract Cap Hit
D 28 Signed through 2021-22 $4.1M

Anaheim loves Manson, a gritty stay-at-home blue-liner who's spent his whole six-year career with the Ducks. However, this rebuliding team is one of the league's most obvious candidates to sell, and he's yet another example of a reliable rearguard with term.

11. Corey Crawford, Blackhawks

Position Age Contract Cap Hit
G 35 Pending UFA $6M

Robin Lehner could've been on this list as well, as both Blackhawks goaltenders are playing out expiring contracts. However, Crawford's about six-and-a-half years older than his counterpart, and he's been outplayed by Lehner. Lehner appears more likely to be in Chicago's future plans, making Crawford an interesting trade candidate.

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Ranking the top NHL trade-deadline candidates
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