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With just over four weeks to go until the March 3 NHL trade deadline, we’ve got you covered at Daily face-to-face every day with at least one trade-focused story before the deadline day.
Today we’re going to focus on St. Louis Blues defenseman Niko Mikkola, who was ranked 17th on our last Trade Targets chart.
2023 trading deadline countdown: 29 days
Left defense, St. Louis Blues
Age: 26 years old
Height: 6’4″ | Weight: 185 lbs.
Cap reached: $1.9 million
Duration: Pending UFA
Commercial terms: no restrictions
Statistics: 50 GP, 0 goals, 3 assists, 3 points, 16:39 avg YOU
Career: 4th season (all with Saint-Louis), 139 GP, 4 goals, 20 points, 16:14 avg YOU
Archetype and ideal role
Depth defender. Third pair, second outnumbered unit.
Mikkola checks most of the boxes teams would want to find in a deep defender. He has size. He plays simple games and doesn’t try to do too much. He can move well. He competes hard and is willing to sacrifice himself to make a game for his team.
By far, Mikkola’s best attribute is his ability to pressure forwards in defense. He can effectively move from point to point on the Blues side and force the opposition to speed up their processing, disrupting the attacking flow.
Mikkola found himself in a deep role because he has limitations in a number of different areas. He sometimes lacks defensive sense and fails to deal with pressure properly. Through the neutral zone, while moving well, he struggles to maintain solid gaps and continues to fall back into the zone. In his zone, one of his biggest problems is that he has trouble sensing danger, especially when the play goes to the other side of the ice. He uses his mobility to attack and is aggressive, but he often arrives late.
Mikkola’s puck game also leaves a lot to be desired. He can make a short, simple five-foot or 10-foot pass, but he’s prone to turnovers under pressure. He’s also extremely limited on the offensive end, as evidenced by his four career goals and 20 points.
Overall, Mikkola falls into the category of restricted free agents who were likely overpaid due to a faulty refereeing system. Given his experience, he’ll be a low-cost addition to a team looking for a piece of insurance and defensive depth heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
- Tampa Bay Lightning: The Bolts are still looking for inexpensive depth and could use a cheaper acquisition defender in stride if not for anything other than providing some rest and load management for their horses.
- Edmonton Oilers: Mikkola could be a good fit for Edmonton given that they would like to leave Jesse Puljujarvi and Mikkola would add a mobile depth defender to their squad.
- Vegas Golden Knights: The Golden Knights have been beaten at the back this season and some of their fullbacks are getting a bit long in the tooth, so Mikkola is another option as they look to strengthen their blue line.
Comparable Trade Returns
March 21, 2022
In Boston: Josh Brown, 2022 7th round pick (Jackson Edward)
In Ottawa: Zach Senyshyn, 2022 5th round pick (Kevin Reidler)
March 20, 2022
In LA: Troy Stecher
In Detroit: 2022 7th round pick (Brennan Ali)
Brown and Stecher were two depth defenders moved last year at the deadline, one for a Group VI UFA recovery draft pending at Senyshyn and the other for a late-round draft pick .
Mikkola provides depth for what should be a low cost to acquire given his contract status and all of his work. The saying goes you can never have too many defensemen for a Stanley Cup playoff run and Mikkola, who has some playoff experience, would allow a general manager to sleep a little sounder at night if he had to do his homework.
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