Like every professional sport, the NHL Trade Deadline brings an abundance of wheeling and dealing. This past off-season was particularly hectic, as we saw in the span of one day Taylor Hall swapped for Adam Larsson, and P.K. Subban swapped for Shea Weber. Neither deal was predictable in the slightest, so we all were surprised when they went down. Subban for Weber specifically sounded more like something one would see in a fantasy hockey league than in the NHL, but it happened and we were all treated to the chaos that ensued. However on that same day, Steven Stamkos elected to remain a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning rather than signing with any of the other teams that were chasing him, such as the San Jose Sharks or Toronto Maple Leafs. Sometimes it's the moves that are considered minor at the time that make the largest impacts, such as the New York Rangers signing Michael Grabner on the first day of free agency. Grabner was signed to a small deal to be a fourth liner, but has since put up 22 goals and appears on pace for the second best season of his NHL career.
With the Expansion Draft coming up we can expect to see plenty of faces on the move, some due to teams wanting to move them and some out of necessity for not losing players for nothing. Let's take a look at 15 NHL faces that will be in different places next season.
15 Marc-Andre Fleury
There is only one way the Pittsburgh Penguins have Marc-Andre Fleury on their roster next season, and that is if they reach an agreement with the Las Vegas Golden Knights for the Knights not to draft their netminder in exchange for draft picks or other compensation. This appears unlikely, as Fleury would prefer to play in a starting role than in a timeshare or even backing up Penguins phenom goalie Matt Murray. The time is up for the long-time Penguins goaltender, and as upsetting as that may be considering his long and illustrious career as the Pittsburgh backstopper, all good things must come to an end eventually. Look for Fleury to end up in Calgary, Dallas, or with a mystery team next season.
14 Kevin Shattenkirk
Kevin Shattenkirk will likely be traded by the end of the month, as the St. Louis Blues have shown they are not a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, having just fired their Head Coach. Shattenkirk is not an Expansion Draft concern, but rather a new contract concern and the fact that the Blues have such a terrific defense they feel they would be better off spreading their money around elsewhere. The question is not if Shattenkirk will leave St. Louis by next season, the question is when. We believe Shattenkirk will be moved to a contender at the Trade Deadline, but whether that contender is the New York Rangers or not, he will sign with the Rangers come the off-season. Book this one as Shattenirk in New York.
13 Sami Vatanen
Sami Vatanen was a healthy scratch for the Anaheim Ducks recently, and that may have been the first sign in the end of the relationship between the Ducks and their Finnish defenseman. Everyone originally assumed Cam Fowler would be the defenseman to depart the Ducks roster this past offseason, but the offseason came and went and Fowler remained a Duck. He went on to be their finest defenseman this season, earning an All-Star nod along the way. Vatanen will be the odd man out in the Ducks' need to trade defensemen so they do not lose them for nothing in the upcoming Expansion Draft. Look for Vatanen to end up with the Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, or New York Rangers by next season.
12 Dan Girardi
Sometimes players end up on different teams because their teams simply do not want to have them on the roster anymore. In Dan Girardi's case, the belief here is that will be the inevitable happening in the offseason. Sure, the New York Rangers would have to part ways with their veteran defenseman due to the Expansion Draft anyway rather than protecting him, but Girardi's play has long been pointing towards a buyout, and we believe this will be the off-season the Rangers finally pull the trigger. It's an interesting case of the Expansion Draft serving as the final nudge for a team that already needed to make such a move. Girardi's career will likely continue on a young defense, or in a place like Vancouver.
11 Ben Bishop
Like Marc-Andre Fleury, Ben Bishop is currently dealing with a time-share in net, knowing that he will eventually be moved in favor of a younger, more talented goaltender. Like Kevin Shattenkirk, Bishop is operating under a contract that is set to expire, meaning he is even more likely to end up in a different organization come next season. With Ben Bishop the only question is whether he gets traded, signs with a new team, is selected by the Las Vegas Golden Knights in the Expansion Draft, or some combination of the options. Bishop will get a starting role somewhere, however, and he will run with it. Our guess is that Bishop will be the first goaltender for the Las Vegas Golden Knights. History.
10 Derick Brassard
Derick Brassard and Carl Hagelin were best friends when they played together on the New York Rangers, and in a bold prediction here at The Sportster, we are predicting Brassard follows in Hagelin's footsteps even further. Both Hagelin and Brassard were traded by the Rangers in the offseason (Hagelin in 2015 and Brassard in 2016) despite being fan favorites. Hagelin was moved to the Anaheim Ducks, but struggled to fit in with his new team. He was then moved to the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he took off and became a mainstay. Brassard is struggling with his new team, the Ottawa Senators. We expect him to be moved yet again like Carl Hagelin was, giving him a new opportunity with a more offensive minded team. Maybe Philadelphia?
9 Jacob Trouba
Jacob Trouba has long been a part of trade rumors for the Winnipeg Jets, and the expectation is that he eventually gets moved anyway. Trouba signed a bridge deal with the Jets to make both parties happy enough, but the entire problem Trouba had with the Jets was their owning too many right handed defensemen for his liking. That has not changed and does not appear likely to change in the near to distant future, so Trouba will still want out of Winnipeg. Sure he is their top defenseman, but in the offseason with all of the wheeling and dealing, Trouba is more likely to be traded for fair compensation. We believe he will be dealt, and our best guess is Trouba will end up on the Tampa Bay Lightning.
8 Jonathan Drouin
How about this for a bold prediction? Trouba ending up on the Tampa Bay Lightning will be due in part to Tampa Bay's own on-going saga. Jonathan Drouin requested a trade last season, then rescinded his request in time. Now Drouin's relationship with Jon Cooper is suffering once again, and we are left wondering whether or not Drouin will last in Tampa Bay. The Winnipeg Jets want a left-handed defenseman for Trouba, but we believe they will cave and accept a talented young forward instead. A Jonathan Drouin for Jacob Trouba swap would solve problems for two different teams, while also serving as a blockbuster moving of young talent. Where do we sign up for such a deal? Drouin will be a face in a new place next year.
7 Gabriel Landeskog
The Colorado Avalanche are having far too poor of a season to not make a major move, meaning that at least one of Matt Duchene or Gabriel Landeskog is likely to be traded. Colorado does not seem particularly enamored with Landeskog, and considering he is captain of the team that is a major problem for a variety of reasons. Thus, we believe Landeskog will land elsewhere either at this Trade Deadline or in the offseason. Sure, Landeskog is having the worst offensive season of his career, but he is still a two-way force that could use a change of scenery to get his game back on track. There are plenty of teams that could use such a player. We're predicting the Ottawa Senators bring him aboard.
6 Brayden Schenn
When push comes to shove, Philadelphia is a tremendously proud hockey town that demands the most out of their team. The Flyers have made the playoffs somewhat consistently, but they have not advanced deep into the postseason since 2010. Ron Hextall is doing all that he can to right the ship, but we expect him to make more moves after the Flyers fail to advance deep in the upcoming postseason. One of those moves will be trading away young forward Bradyen Schenn, who has never fit in perfectly in Philadelphia. Schenn provides plenty of offense, but the Flyers already have a strong amount of offense. They could use the depth that trading Schenn can bring. Perhaps Schenn can end up back where he began with the Los Angeles Kings.
5 Brent Seabrook
The Chicago Blackhawks face the same problem every off-season, having far too much money on the books, and far too many players to pay. With the mega contracts of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, it seems as if the Blackhawks are forced to part with one of the pillars of their organization each and every off-season. The prediction here is that will continue to be the case in the coming off-season, as the Blackhawks will surprise the NHL world and send Brent Seabrook elsewhere. Seabrook's game has slipped a bit of late, and the Blackhawks have plenty of young defensemen coming up in the system. Moving Seabrook can save money, but we believed they will do right by him. Dallas could bring him aboard to join Patrick Sharp.
4 Gustav Nyquist
Despite making the playoffs every season for over two decades, it appears as if the Detroit Red Wings are in need for a complete rebuild. That means forwards and defensemen of all ages will be available to be acquired, and some surprise moves will happen. Our surprise move prediction is Gustav Nyquist headed elsewhere, as the Red Wings understand he is going to be in his prime before they succeed in the NHL again. The Red Wings can ask for a hefty package in return for the Swedish winger, and they do not currently possess the pieces to play around him to win anyway. Moving Nyquist would be difficult, but would also be wise for Detroit. He could fit in anywhere, but Anaheim is a nice fit.
3 Travis Hamonic
The New York Islanders are working hard to get back into the playoff race, but the prediction here is that they will fail to earn a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Doug Weight appears the man for the head coaching job, but there is still plenty left to change for the Islanders. A splash must be made by the organization, and that splash must involved a long time member of the organization. Matt Moulson and Kyle Okposo left in recent years, and this time it will be Travis Hamonic departing the organization in a trade. It would hurt John Tavares, but we believe Hamonic will go for the winger Tavares has long coveted. Find out in the next spot who Hamonic will be moved for.
2 Jordan Eberle
When Travis Hamonic was demanding a trade back in the 2015-16 campaign, the popular prediction was a swap with the Edmonton Oilers to bring Jordan Eberle to the New York Islanders. We believe this trade will happen this off-season, as despite finally making it back to the postseason, Edmonton will fail to win a round due to their horrendous defense. Edmonton can survive offensively thanks to having Connor McDavid on hand, but the defense is in need of a major turnaround. The Oilers were interested in Travis Hamonic in the past, and there is no reason to believe that interest has subsided since. The two teams will finally match-up on the long expected Jordan Eberle for Travis Hamonic swap this upcoming offseason.
1 Andrew Shaw
Andrew Shaw has provided grit and grease for the Montreal Canadiens, like the Canadiens wanted. However he has also been often injured and often suspended, angering the Canadiens organization. The Canadiens are a proud organization that for better or worse takes themselves incredibly seriously, and Shaw has at times this year made a mockery of the organization. Despite only recently acquiring the enigmatic forward, the Montreal Canadiens will part ways with Andrew Shaw after growing far too tired of his shenanigans. Shaw could be a fit for the Las Vegas Golden Knights, or he could bring his act to a new team that believes there is value in agitating opposing teams, or also injuring opposing teams players out of the inability to play clean hockey. Both things Andrew Shaw succeeds at.