Names to Watch as the NHL Trade Deadline Approaches

With the annual NHL trade deadline looming at 3:00 p.m. ET on February 24, many teams with playoff aspirations will look to bolster their lines with last-minute acquisitions. Here are three players who playoff contenders should have on their radars as the deadline nears.

Ilya Kovalchuk, F, Montreal Canadiens

Kovalchuk’s return to the NHL has been impressive so far. The 36-year-old forward has compiled nine goals and 12 assists in 36 games this season and proven to supporters and critics that there is still gas left in the tank. While the Canadiens obviously have no long term plans with Kovalchuk, his skill and veteran leadership could be valuable to many of the younger playoff teams in the league.

Kovalchuk’s veteran minimum salary makes him a manageable addition for any front office. While Montreal may be hesitant to move him within the division, look for young squads like Edmonton or Arizona to make a run at the Russian veteran as the deadline approaches.

Andreas Athanasiou, RW, Detroit Red Wings

This season has been an absolute disaster for the Red Wings, and many skaters have posted down numbers compared to years prior. Athanasiou is no exception, as the 25-year-old winger, who posted 54 points in 76 games a season ago, has just eight goals and 14 assists in 44 games this season. Throw in a plus/minus rating of -44 and Detroit’s woes this season become fully evident.

That said, Athanasiou is a promising young player who has proven he can play at a high level. The Wings will surely enter a full-blown rebuild following this season, meaning that Athanasiou, an upcoming restricted free agent, could be on the move within the next week. A change of scenery could be exactly what Athanasiou needs to refocus his young career. And for playoff contenders, he can bolster any roster with skill and depth for years to come.