On the Fly, theScore's NHL roundtable series, continues. This week, editors Justin Cuthbert, Ian McLaren, Craig Hagerman, and Mark Millard play fantasy match maker, orchestrating trades they would like to see before the Feb. 29 deadline.
Flames trade Kris Russell, Jiri Hudler to Stars for Valeri Nichushkin
Cuthbert: Dallas makes its intentions known with a power move in the West, acquiring two rental assets from the Flames to hulk up for the stretch run.
A prolific shot blocker with skills in all three zones, Russell buoys a glaring area of weakness by stepping into a top-four role on the blue line, and in turn slotting the entire rotation into correct assignments. With Hudler, Dallas has a reliable, veteran point producer who meshes well with elite talents, and has the versatility to contribute in many top-six functions.
Meanwhile, the Flames receive premier value in return for two expiring deals, landing a 20-year-old former top-10 pick whose entry-level performance was undercut by injuries. Nichushkin is a manageable, affordable asset who could see his development take off with Calgary's collection of skilled young guns.
Lightning trade Jonathan Drouin to Senators for Cody Ceci, Colin White
McLaren: With Dion Phaneuf in the mix for the next five seasons (for better or worse), Ceci becomes somewhat expendable, especially with Patrick Wiercioch toiling in the press box and Thomas Chabot waiting in the wings.
White gives Tampa a forward prospect to replace Drouin, while presenting the Senators with an NHL-ready player who could make an immediate impact in the top-six.
It's a high price to pay for the Senators, but the opportunity to add a player of Drouin's potential doesn't come around every day.
Oilers trade Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Justin Schultz to Islanders for Travis Hamonic, Frans Nielsen, second-round pick.
Hagerman: The deal largely comes down to Nugent-Hopkins for Hamonic. The Islanders would likely want a blue line replacement, of which Schultz could serve. The Oilers could use a boost at center after losing Nugent-Hopkins, which is where Nielsen could provide value. Given Nielsen is a UFA at season's end, a second-round pick makes for a fair deal, and gives some potential long-term stability to both teams.
Hamonic provides a defensive upgrade for the Oilers, and the team fits the bill as being located in Western Canada, the likes of which Hamonic demanded when he requested a trade in the season's infancy.
Schultz, at the very least, acts as a defensive placeholder for the Islanders playing in a lesser role.
Jets trade Andrew Ladd to Predators for Vladislav Kamenev, second-round pick.
Millard: When the Predators traded from a position of strength to acquire Ryan Johansen, they made it perfectly clear they were ready to take the next step offensively. Despite the impressive addition, Nashville remains offensively challenged, Filip Forsberg and James Neal aside.
If the Predators want to avoid wasting a solid defensive core in front of an aging Pekka Rinne, they must continue to address their problems up front. Jets captain Ladd represents that solution. A big body who's averaged 26 goals over a full 82-game schedule since 2010-11, he's a perfect veteran complement up front.
This deal allows them to be patient with top prospect Kevin Fiala, who isn't quite ready to be a difference-maker in the NHL, and the Jets gladly take Kamenev, who though a second-round pick, is most certainly a first-round talent.