I’m writing this from my home in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where we have our first major snowfall of the season. Poetically, there is a flurry of NHL rumours as it starts to become obvious which teams are going to be buyers and sellers. Therefore, this will be a trade-heavy NHL rumours article. Names such as Mark Giordano, Tyson Barrie and Reilly Smith are at play. Let’s dive in!
Rumour: Chris Johnston put together TSN’s first trade bait board of the season. Seattle Kraken’s captain, Mark Giordano, comes in at number four on the trade bait board.
Analysis: Many of these trade rumours or lists have the same names circling. However, Mark Giordano showing up on TSN’s list is a surprise. Logistically it’s not; he’s a 38-year-old pending unrestricted free agent who is a top-pair defenceman on a struggling team. However, he was just named captain. It’s a safe assumption that their first captain will be around for an entire season. Alas, that may not be the case, so where could he go?
The fairytale spot is back to the Calgary Flames, where Giordano has spent 15 seasons. The problem is the Flames are playing great defensively. They’ve allowed the third-fewest goals in the NHL. There is no arguing that Giordano can boost them; he’s been excellent this season. However, it doesn’t make sense for Calgary to add there. They are 24th in goals for, and it’s more efficient to add scoring help at this point.
If Seattle trades Mark Giordano, he will go to a contender. There is no other reason a team would trade assets for a 38-year-old pending unrestricted free agent if they’re not in it to win it right now. The Florida Panthers are the top landing spot. They are a serious Stanley Cup contender who would part with the assets to bring in Giordano. The Panthers are good defensively but not top-ten in goals for or shots against per game. They can use the boost.
Rumour: Allan Mitchell of the Athletic writes that Edmonton Oilers defenceman Tyson Barrie is a prime candidate to get traded.
Analysis: Mitchell’s argument is production-wise, Evan Bouchard is equal to Tyson Barrie, and for an Oilers team tight against the cap, relieving Barrie’s $4.5 million cap hit will be welcomed. They need to add goaltending depth and a third-line centre, so they can use the cap space. Where will Barrie go? First of all, I think Joonas Korpisalo, Marc-Andre Fleury and Marcus Johansson fit what the Oilers need. Barrie doesn’t fit with the Columbus Blue Jackets or Chicago Blackhawks, so I don’t see a natural trade happening there. There is a fit in Seattle. They can use another offensive-minded defenceman, especially if Giordano is moved.
Other spots I can see him land are with the New York Islanders and the Los Angeles Kings. Both teams could use an offensive puck-moving defenceman. Barrie has two more years left on his contract after this one. He’s not a rental; he’s a secure player for a team that needs some more offence from the back-end.
Vegas Golden Knights
Rumour: Frank Seravalli of Daily Face-off writes in his top 15 trade candidates that Reilly Smith is a candidate to be traded.
Analysis: Seravalli writes in the article that when Vegas Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon was asked how they will fit Jack Eichel under their cap, he said, “Sometimes you never return to full health … if and when that poses a challenge for us, we’ll address it at that time.” The Golden Knights are hoping that they don’t return to full health during the regular season, so they don’t have to move anybody to fit in Eichel, who is scheduled to return in early February at the earliest. If that’s not possible, Vegas will trade players to make the money work. Reilly Smith is at the top of the list because he has a $5 million cap hit and is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
I don’t see Vegas trading Smith to any of the western teams. The Golden Knights are in a battle to make the playoffs, and they don’t want to help improve any teams in the west. Seravalli sees a fit with the New York Rangers because it re-connects Smith with Gerard Gallant, who was his coach with the Florida Panthers. The Rangers can use a boost at the second-line right-wing, a spot currently occupied by Dryden Hunt. Smith can also go across the river to the New Jersey Devils. The Devils are pushing for a playoff spot, and Smith can provide a scoring punch to boost the line-up.
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