Risk, reward of top trade targets

Why Callahan, Miller and others may not be the season saviors some believe

Updated: February 27, 2014, 12:52 PM ET
By Neil Greenberg | ESPN Insider

Ryan CallahanMartin Rose/Getty ImagesRyan Callahan played very well in Sochi, potentially increasing his value on the trade market.

Now that the Olympics are over, we can turn our attention to another hockey spectacle: the NHL trade deadline.

We typically see decision-making center around two objectives: get the final piece(s) for a playoff push or retool for a postseason run in the future. This season, there will probably be more teams in the former category and fewer in the latter. For example, six Eastern Conference teams are within three points of the final wild-card spot, leaving just the Florida Panthers, Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders as definite sellers. In the West, the playoff picture is a little clearer: Just four teams are within four points of the final playoff spot.

One of the most intriguing names rumored to be on the trading block is New York Rangers captain Ryan Callahan. Callahan is reportedly seeking a seven-year deal from the Rangers worth between $6 million and $7 million annually, about two years longer than the organization seems willing to extend.

A team trading for Callahan will get a skater who is tenacious on the forecheck and who helps drive possession. Ignoring special-teams and lead-protecting situations, Callahan has been on the ice for 213 shots for and just 178 against this season. Plus, the Blueshirts' captain is willing to sacrifice his body for the team; his 127 hits rank first among the team's forwards, and he has also been credited with 43 blocked shots and 23 takeaways. Perhaps even more important, he has been whistled for just nine minor penalties.

However, there isn't much offensive upside here: Callahan is on pace for a meager 37 points for the 2013-14 campaign. For a 28-year-old player who will require NHL assets plus future draft picks plus a contract worth north of $40 million, the risk may be more than the reward.

And therein lies the issue with many of the top targets available at the deadline. Teams (and fan bases) are typically looking for a savior at the deadline to help them make a playoff push, but they could also be tilting at windmills. But we won't let that stop us: Here are six other players who come with their own risk/reward propositions.

Neil Greenberg is ESPN Insider's NHL analytics expert. His columns have appeared on the Washington Post website, and he is a regular guest on Sirius XM NHL Radio.