Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres: Trade Value Rankings Part 5

Toronto Maple Leafs and the Columbus Blue Jackets stand during the Canadien National Anthem. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images)
Toronto Maple Leafs and the Columbus Blue Jackets stand during the Canadien National Anthem. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images) /
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Dallas Stars
Joe Pavelski #16 of the Dallas Stars is congratulated by Jamie Oleksiak #2 and Miro Heiskanen #4. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Rising star on the blue line and in the Big Apple

(20) Mika Zibanejad – NYR (Age: 27/Cap Hit: $5.35M/2 Years Left)

Zibanejad has blossomed into the kind of player the Ottawa Senators dreamed of when they drafted him sixth overall in 2011. Unfortunately for the Sens, he is doing so in a New York Rangers jersey.

The Rangers acquired (or should I say robbed the Senators at gunpoint) Zibanejad in a 2016 trade that saw Derrick Brassard go the other way.  After a couple of solid seasons in New York, the centreman blossomed in the past two years.  In 2018-18, Zibanejad tallied career highs in goals (30), assists (44) and points (74).

In the shortened 2019-20 campaign, the Swede tallied 41 goals and 75 points in just 57 games.  Best of all, he is just entering his prime at age 27 and has a team-friendly $5.35 million cap hit for the next two years.

(19) Miro Heiskanen – DAL (Age: 21/Cap Hit: $894K/1 Year Left)

My goodness, what this kid is doing in the 2020 playoffs is unbelievable.  After being selected third overall by the Dallas Stars in the 2017 NHL Draft, Heiskanen debuted in 2018-19, playing all 82 games and recording 33 points.

This past season, the defenseman followed that up with 35 points in just 68 games.  He logged nearly 19 minutes of ice time and is an advanced statistics darling.

The 2020 postseason is where the Finn has made his mark, logging over 21 minutes of ice time per game and being one of the main reasons the Stars are in the Stanley Cup final.  In 21 playoff games, Heiskanen has 22 points.  May I remind you he is a 21-year-old defenseman.

The Stars will have one more season with Heiskanen on his entry-level contract before becoming a restricted free agent.  They would be wise to give him whatever he wants to be in Dallas over the long run.

(18) Sidney Crosby – PIT (Age: 33/Cap Hit: $8.7M/5 Years Left)

From one young phenom to a former can’t miss prospect who still has something left in the tank.  Sidney Crosby came into the NHL with an unfair amount of hype as the first overall selection of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2005.

Somehow Sid the Kid has managed to live up his billing and then some.  Consider that the Cole Harbour native has registered 1263 points in 984 career regular-season games and is a lifetime plus-175.

In the postseason, the centre has been just as reliable, contributing 189 points in 168 career playoff games to three Stanley Cups.  He is the captain and lifeblood of the Pens.

Injuries limited Crosby to just 41 games this past season, but he still managed to record 47 points.  He is definitely on the back nine of his career, but an $8.7 million cap hit over the next five seasons is more than reasonable for the Penguins.