It's always funny when the NHL trade deadline rolls around and you read some of the top trade bait names. While you should be used to big names not moving around the deadline as has been the case in recent years, some of the top players being sought after might actually make you laugh. A 43-year-old? A d-man with one of the worst +/-'s in the league? A defensive centre with low possession numbers? These players aren't terrible players, but they get a lot of attention around this time of year due to the scarcity of players available to improve Stanley Cup contenders via trade.
With that said, here are/were five surprisingly coveted trade targets.
Mike Santorelli (ALREADY TRADED)
It appeared as though nobody was interested in the former 20-goal scorer after he bounced around for 3 years with stints in Florida, Winnipeg and Vancouver before landing in Toronto on a one-year deal at $1.5 million. Expected to compete for 3rd line minutes down the middle in Toronto, Santorelli contributed offensively during his Leafs stint with 11 goals and 29 points in 57 games - good enough for 6th in team scoring and some looks around the league. The Leafs weren't keeping him around with no playoffs in sight so it wasn't a big shock to see Nashville re-acquire the former Preds draft pick along with Cody Franson in exchange for Olli Jokinen, prospect Brendan Leipsic, and Nashville's first round pick this year. The first place Predators get even more depth down the middle with Santorelli and are looking like the team to beat out of the West going into the playoffs.
Daniel Winnik (ALREADY TRADED)
Despite having a career year in 2013-14 and being a top penalty killer, Winnik couldn't find any suitors until late July when the Maple Leafs came forward with a one-year deal worth $1.3 million. Expected to to compete for bottom six minutes, Winnik ended up playing just under 17 minutes/game and currently leads all NHL forwards in total shorthanded time on ice. It was no surprise that Winnik was one of the top trade baits for the last month given the Leafs situation and now the fan favourite will find himself in the same lineup as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Going back to Toronto is a 2nd rounder in 2016, a 4th round pick in 2015, and Zack Sill. Getting a 2nd round pick for a middle-six forward is fantastic, and even more so when you consider the Leafs basically paid $1.3 million for it.
After being sent to Buffalo along with Jaroslav Halak, William Carrier, and a 2015 1st round pick from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Ryan Miller and Steve Ott, Stewart has found himself as one of the NHL's top trade baits. Despite his league worst -31 rating and brutal possession numbers, Stewart is still regarded as a solid power forward who has some goals left in him. Although Stewart does not have a wealth of playoff experience to bring to a prospective club, perhaps a change of scenery could do him well after spending the past year in Buffalo and be a motivating factor for getting a new contract in the offseason. Surely the Sabres October price tag for Stewart of two young players or a young player and a draft pick has dropped and someone will pick up the pending UFA as Buffalo won't let him walk at season's end for nothing.
After signing a one-year, $1 million deal with Carolina in July, McClement finds himself among one of the top trade baits this trade deadline. Low cap hit, strong in the faceoff circle, and a great penalty killer make him very attractive for playoff bound teams looking for centre depth on a tight budget. McClement is on pace for his highest point total since 2009-10 and is a great addition on any team's penalty kill with his faceoff abilities and shorthanded skills. The asking price for McClement should be a low draft pick and there be no shortage of potential teams looking to land his services from Ron Francis and his tanking Hurricanes.