The National Hockey League has made it clear that it’s interested in keeping its players fresh through the postseason.
That’s no secret, with the likes of Justin Williams and Brad Marchand having already proven their worth through the first round.
But the NHL is also looking at the long-term futures of players who haven’t had a chance to prove themselves.
And that means some guys who could potentially make it to the playoffs could be on the chopping block.
Here are the names we’re looking at in the coming days and weeks: Justin Williams, Florida Panthers forward, 27, Florida The Panthers have a pair of young forwards in Brad Marchis and Jussi Jokinen.
Jokinon has yet to play a game this season, while Marchis hasn’t been in the lineup since May.
But they both have a lot to prove.
The Panthers are on a playoff run, and while it could be a long road, they are the favorite to make the playoffs.
And it’s hard to imagine the Panthers going into the postseason without the likes, Marisa Hietanen and Marcell Ozuna, who have both been terrific in the postseason and are both still young enough to contribute.
In the playoffs, Williams has played in all but three games.
He’s averaging just 1:36 of ice time per game and has yet the puck.
Williams is a free agent in 2019, and if the Panthers decide to keep him, the salary cap may prevent them from keeping him.
He has one year remaining on his contract and could be available at a very cheap price in free agency.
Brad Marchas, Nashville Predators defenseman, 29, Pittsburgh The Predators have been through a rough stretch of late, losing five straight games and four straight in a row.
And yet, they still have the NHL’s fourth-best record, with six wins in a seven-game homestand.
Marchas was a healthy scratch for the first two games of the homestands, but has scored two goals in his last four games.
Marchis has three goals in four games, and has been a constant presence on Nashville’s top line.
He is averaging 1:03 of ice per game.
Both are restricted free agents in 2020.
The Predators are also looking to make a splash at the trade deadline, with Marietta, Ga., native Alexander Khokhlachev, a 23-year-old right-shot defenseman, being brought in for veteran defenseman P.K. Subban.
Khoklachev has five goals and 18 points in 24 games, but is just 25 years old.
He would likely take a pay cut to play in Nashville, where he’d earn $4.9 million next season.
Braden Holtby, Detroit Red Wings goaltender, 28, Washington The Capitals have been the team to beat in the Eastern Conference this season.
They’ve been outscored by nearly 16 goals per game over the past two weeks, and they’ve outscattered their opposition 5-1.
But Holtby has played just 19 games this season and has given up five goals in three games with Washington.
That doesn’t include a pair in the series against New York.
He could also be a candidate to be traded to another team.
It’s difficult to imagine Washington keeping Holtby long-haul, as it would likely require a blockbuster trade.
If he does leave, the Caps would need to be able to fill his spot.
The Penguins are also on a run, winning their first two and going into their home opener against the Boston Bruins with a 3-2-1 record.
Holtby is averaging 2:42 of ice in each of his past five games.
The Capitals don’t have a first-round pick this season (they have three in 2019), and are unlikely to be willing to give up the pick for Holtby.
Brad Neely, Edmonton Oilers defenseman, 25, Nashville The Oilers haven’t been the easiest team to watch this season for many reasons.
Edmonton is the only team in the NHL with fewer than 30 points.
And their goal differential is minus-22.
But it’s the penalty kill, which has been particularly problematic.
They’re tied for the NHL lead in power play goals (four) and they’re tied with Philadelphia for the fewest goals shorthanded (two).
And Nashville is just 3-4-0 when leading after five periods.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Oilers look for help at the bottom of the league with Brad Niehaus, a 27-year old center from Michigan.
Niehus has four goals and six points in seven games.
Niedhus is a restricted free agent after this season with an annual cap hit of $3.6 million, but could be offered a one-year deal worth $650,000.
Ryan McDonagh, Edmonton Flames forward, 25-year.old, Philadelphia The Flames have been one of the NHL leaders in goals and points over the first seven games of this season after