As the NHL heads towards the off-season, trade speculation hits a fever pitch, and it’s very possible that we could see a flurry of trade activity in mid to late June, especially as the NHL Entry Draft has become the new trade deadline. This article will examine which players could be on the NHL trading block and why, in the right deal, it makes sense for the following clubs to move them.
Anaheim Ducks – Hampus Lindholm & Sami Vatanen
The Anaheim Ducks head into this off-season after a disappointing 2015-16 season. A first round playoff loss and another Game 7 home loss were not supposed to be in the cards for the Ducks, and now Anaheim has to tackle the difficult contract talks with defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen. With already having locked up Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler to expensive long-term deals, keeping Lindholm and Vatanen long-term may not be an option in today’s NHL salary cap world. Just about everyone is looking for defenseman and the Ducks could get a big return for either young stud defensemen, and Anaheim also needs to change things up back on the blueline.
Boston Bruins – Brad Marchand
At this time last year the Boston Bruins were in a tough position regarding Milan Lucic. Now they face the same dilemma with Brad Marchand, who is coming off a career year with 37 goals and 60 points. With the 28-year-old winger a year away from unrestricted free agency the Bruins could be facing a decision of locking the Halifax native to a big long-term deal or trading him. At this point, it might be best to cut their ties and get something in return, rather than risk watching him walk away with nothing to show for it.
Chicago Blackhawks – Andrew Shaw
This could be a tough time for the Chicago Blackhawks, coming in the form of dealing with one of their talented youngsters, Andrew Shaw, who is a restricted free agent, and the cap-crunched team might just have to make an unfavorable decision. With $21 million committed to the cap on an annual basis to Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, this is the boat General Manager Stan Bowman currently finds himself in. Bowman was in this exact situation last year with Brandon Saad and that resulted in Saad being traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Will the same thing happen again with Shaw this off-season?
Colorado Avalanche – Matt Duchene & Tyson Barrie
The Colorado Avalanche need to get better across the board, a simple statement that many would agree with. The fact that Matt Duchene ruffled Head Coach Patrick Roy’s feathers with the celebration of his 30th goal of the season could very well be the catalyst, or one of them, to send him packing this summer. Colorado could receive a big package in return for the undoubtedly talented Duchene, which makes moving him an even more enticing option. With Tyson Barrie being a restricted free agent this summer, one could think that it makes total sense for the Avalanche to bring back the talented 24-year-old. The only thing keeping this from possibly happening is Colorado letting Barrie walk or a big offer coming in for the young blueliner, and only time will tell what they are currently thinking.
Dallas Stars – Kari Lehtonen & Antti Niemi
Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill has a tough problem to solve this off-season, one made even more difficult with the way his team lost in Game 7 vs the Blues. Dallas needs to improve the play between the pipes, but Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi, both 32 years old, signed for two more years on expensive deals. Both goalies have had decent years, bar the playoffs, but is either a number one netminder for a contending team? Can Nill move one of these goalie’s and acquire an upgrade in the process? The outlook right now is bleak.
Detroit Red Wings – Jimmy Howard
Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland might have a more difficult situation than Nill. Can Holland find a taker for 32-year-old goaltender Jimmy Howard? Howard is signed for three more years, with a cap hit of nearly $5.3 million per year. Having Howard as a co-number one goalie at that cap number is not a good situation for Detroit. Petr Mrazek is a RFA this summer.
Edmonton Oilers – Jordan Eberle
It’s no secret what the Edmonton Oilers are looking for, and that’s help on the blueline. GM Peter Chiarelli has a lot of options in terms of trading talented young forwards, with only a few names being both moveable and valuable enough to get a decent return. The 26-year-old Jordan Eberle is coming off a 25-goal season and is signed for another three years with annual cap number of $6 million. Despite having a cap hit being that high, there could be a plethora of organizations interested, and rightly so, as Eberle had 47 points in just 69 games this season.
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Florida Panthers – Dimitri Kulikov
Dmitri Kulikov is one year away from unrestricted free agency and he will be just 26 years of age, and will most likely cash in on a major contract. With the Florida Panthers incredible depth on the blueline, along with having to lock up Aaron Ekblad and Erik Gudbranson, it appears that Kulikov may not fit in the long term plans in South Beach. Few will feel bad for them though, as they’ll surely be getting a decent return from such a young and promising player such as Kulikov.
L.A. Kings – Marian Gaborik & Dustin Brown
GM Dean Lombardi is in salary cap hell currently and is trying to sign pending unrestricted free agent Milan Lucic, along with the fact that he has to worry about Tyler Toffoli as well in the near future. If Lombardi can find a taker for either Marian Gaborik or Dustin Brown that will help immensely in what looks to be a very tough situation on the horizon. That will be a tall task however, as Gaborik has a cap hit of $4.875 million for the next five years and Brown is at $5.875 million the next six seasons. The Kings better hope that someone like Winnipeg, Arizona, Buffalo, or Carolina come calling.
Montreal Canadiens – Max Pacioretty
The thought of the Canadiens trading Pacioretty sounds crazy, but it’s definitely not something that is entirely out of the realm of thought. Pacioretty is a 30-40 goal scorer who is in the prime of his career at 27 years of age and is also signed for the next three seasons with a economical cap hit of $4.5 million, making him a very attractive bargaining chip. It would clearly take a very Canadiens-friendly package to pry the Connecticut native away from his current club. But keep in mind after the first 20 games of last season Montreal was one of the worst teams in the NHL, and it can’t all be blamed on Carey Price’s injury. There is a lot of holes on the Canadiens roster and moving one of their top players for a big package might be the right answer.
New York Islanders – Jaroslav Halak
The Islanders have three goalies in Jaroslav Halak, Thomas Greiss, and J.F Berube and one is very likely to be dealt this summer. Halak seems to be the prime candidate to get traded out of the three. Despite missing the last six weeks of the season with a groin injury, Halak had another strong year with a 2.30 goals against average and a .919 save percentage, both very respectable numbers for a possible starter in the league. Moving Halak would free up cap space for the Isles and therefore put them in a much better position to land a signature forward to help John Tavares out next year.
New York Rangers – Chris Kreider
The 25-year-old Chris Kreider is coming off back-to-back 21-goal seasons, but the only thing consistent about his game is his inconsistency. Despite being an inconsistent performer from game to game, he has definitely turned himself into an interesting piece of trade bait for anyone shopping around this off-season. The New York Rangers have a lot of cap and roster problems, and moving Kreider in the right deal could solve both issues.
Pittsburgh Penguins – Marc-Andre Fleury
With the emergence of Matt Murray, the Pittsburgh Penguins could be moving Marc-Andre Fleury this summer, something that seemed inconceivable just a short time ago. With the possibility of an expansion draft only a year away, Fleury might be very amendable player to let go of, and it would also free up some much-needed cap space for the Pens.
These are just some of the players who could be on the block this off-season, look for lots of action to be happening before the first puck drop of 2016-17. Make sure to bookmark Last Word On Sports for all your off-season free agency, entry draft, and trade updates!
Main Photo: GLENDALE, AZ – DECEMBER 16: Jordan Eberle #14 of the Edmonton Oilers in action during the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on December 16, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Oilers 2-1 in overtime. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)