Super 16: Player each team should acquire before Deadline

Voters recommend best fits to bolster rosters for playoff run


Florida Panthers (39-16-4)

The Panthers do not possess a first- or second-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft so they will need to get creative in their effort to bolster the offense by acquiring a depth scorer. So how about San Jose Sharks forward Anthony Duclair, who will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season? He can play either wing and the Panthers are familiar with his style and compete since he played three seasons with then from 2020-23 before being traded to San Jose last summer. Florida could use a player to perhaps complement Aleksander Barkov and Sam Reinhart. Duclair could use a change in scenery. Moving from the California coast to the Sunshine State would be an easy transition for Duclair.

New York Rangers (40-17-3)

Though I said in this space last week I would get a defenseman if I were the Rangers, the reality is they are likely going to add scoring depth, and to me there is only one answer: Frank Vatrano. The forward leads the Anaheim Ducks with 26 goals, and he proved he can play in New York, getting 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs when the Rangers came within two wins of reaching the Stanley Cup Final.

Vancouver Canucks (38-16-7)

Nick Bjugstad from the Arizona Coyotes. He's not a rental, which is exactly the point with the Canucks. They already acquired a top rental when they got center Elias Lindholm from the Calgary Flames on Jan. 31, trading their first-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft in the process. Bjugstad is signed through next season. He's big (6-foot-6, 209 pounds), physical, versatile, experienced and productive with 31 points (13 goals, 18 assists) in 58 games this season. He could fit seamlessly into the Canucks lineup right away and would give them cost certainty at a forward position for next season too.


Winnipeg Jets (37-15-5)

It is no secret that Winnipeg is looking for defensive help. Not in a desperate way, but in a would-be-nice way, which makes their wants somewhat easier to satisfy. If the Jets choose to go for depth, they could do so by trading for Erik Johnson from the Buffalo Sabres or Ilya Lyubushkin from the Ducks. But if they perceive their championship chances as the highest in years (which I think they should), it only makes sense to swing for the fences and try to get the best guy available: Noah Hanifin. The 27-year-old will eat up top pair minutes, has already set a career high in goals (11) and could instantly upgrade the Jets' special teams, both of which have struggled this season. To be sure, there are a lot of ifs: If he is even available. If Winnipeg is able to foot the bill. If Hanifin's modified no-trade clause impacts the Jets. But the potential payoff for the Jets could be huge.