General managers, count your draft picks. In this trade market, they’re valuable currency.
In the days leading to Monday’s NHL trade deadline, draft picks have been moving at a swift pace. It’s a seller’s market and much more selling could be coming.
Already the Toronto Maple Leafs, Carolina Hurricanes and Arizona Coyotes have gotten first-round picks for Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli, Andrej Sekera and Antonie Vermette, and older players like Kimmo Timonen and Jaromir Jagr have fetched second-rounders and more.
On Sunday, the New York Rangers acquired All-Star defenseman Keith Yandle from the Coyotes for defenseman John Moore, a top prospect and two draft picks.
Arizona also sent defenseman Chris Summers and a fourth-round draft pick to the Rangers, who gave up prospect Anthony Duclair, a conditional first-round draft pick in 2016 and a second-rounder this year.
The Rangers made two more deals ahead of the trade deadline, acquiring forward Carl Klingberg from the Winnipeg Jets for forward Lee Stempniak, and picking up forward James Sheppard from the San Joe Sharks for a fourth-round pick in 2016.
The 28-year-old Yandle is Arizona’s leading scorer this season with 41 points and is a four-time All-Star. He has been a core member of the Coyotes since they drafted him in the fourth round of the 2005 draft. Yandle has one year remaining on a five-year, $26 million contract signed in 2011.
The Detroit Red Wings acquired forward Erik Cole from Dallas. The Stars got center Mattias Janmark, defenseman Mattias Backman and a second-round pick this year for Cole and a conditional third-round pick.
The 36-year-old Cole had 18 goals and 17 assists in 57 games for the Stars this season. He has 262 goals and 264 assists in 881 games with Carolina, Edmonton, Montreal and Dallas.
Also, Washington got forward Curtis Glencross from Calgary for second- and third-round picks this year.
On Friday, Philadelphia Flyers general manager Ron Hextall acquired second- and fourth-round picks from Chicago for the 39-year-old Timonen, who hasn’t played this season because of blood clots.
Teams that want rentals could look at Buffalo Sabres winger Chris Stewart or goalie Michal Neuvirth, Dallas Stars forward Shawn Horcoff or even New York Rangers winger Mats Zuccarello.
Jeff Petry of the Edmonton Oilers and Zbynek Michalek of the Coyotes are the top pending unrestricted free-agent defensemen available, and the Leafs might even be able to get something for Korbinian Holzer.
If Washington general manager Brian McLellan wanted to deal pending free agent Mike Green, he might land a nice return. But with the Capitals contending, they’re likely to hold onto him in hopes of a run. The acquisition of Glencross from Calgary helps that cause.
The Capitals are far from the only team that believes it can go deep in the playoffs, and a wide-open East could set the table for all sorts of deadline moves. The banged-up Boston Bruins would love to add someone, with center David Krejci out with a knee injury. The Canadiens could use depth on a team that has been carried largely to first place in the Atlantic Division by goaltender Carey Price.
In the West, the Blackhawks gave up a handful of picks to get Vermette from Arizona and Timonen from Philadelphia, using the salary-cap space created by the potentially devastating injury to star winger Patrick Kane. Adding them to the mix of buyers made the market even more competitive in the past week.
Teams like the Coyotes and Maple Leafs have more hope of landing Connor McDavid in the draft than a playoff spot. Toronto general manager Dave Nonis said he wasn’t just going to “fire-sale people out,” but he’s listening.
“We need to get value,” Nonis said. “I know from talking to other teams that they covet some of the players we have. If there are trades that make sense for us, we’re going to do it.”