It is extremely rare for an NHL player to play his entire career with one team, especially with the addition of the salary cap. In a lot of these situations, players do not necessarily want to leave their team, but have to. Moments like these often make NHL fans feel empathetic toward these players and want them to succeed with their new teams.
However, with this list, we will be looking at players who simply need a change to better their careers. A lot of these players have been the subject of trade rumors, whether that be for a short time or for years. In other cases, these players may need to a new home because their prime focus is winning a Stanley Cup and their current team is nowhere near achieving that. At the end of the day, this list will determine which team each player would benefit playing on and why.
With that, here is a list of fifteen players who absolutely in need of a fresh start with a new team.
15 Matt Duchene: Pittsburgh Penguins
Matt Duchene is an incredibly talented hockey player who is sadly stuck on a horrendous team. For about a year, Duchene has been the subject of many trade rumors and has yet to dealt to a new team. With that, it is absolutely clear to see that Duchene needs to move on with his career and put on a new jersey. A trade would provide a strong motivation to his game because it would allow to play on a team that would actually win.
Duchene would be an outstanding third line center for the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins are desperate to find a replacement for Nick Bonino and Duchene would not only do that, but provide them with an upgrade. The Penguins do have the prospects to make this occur and it truly would benefit their club. It is well known that the Penguins are interested in Duchene and this could become a reality by the end of the offseason.
14 Alex Galchenyuk: Chicago Blackhawks
Although Alex Galcheyuk just signed a three year contract to return the Canadiens, it is quite clear that his future there is limited. Throughout the whole summer, he has been the subject of numerous trade rumors. Montreal seems to not trust him as their number one center and very well could continue to look to shop him if a great opportunity presents itself for them.
Galchenyuk would be an amazing piece for the Blackhawks as they continue to retool their roster. There have been rumors that the Canadiens are very interested in two way center, Artem Anisimov, and that could be a good trade for both sides. However, the risk in a move like that is giant because Galchenyuk has a ton of upside and would thrive playing with a winger like Patrick Kane. For Galchenyuk, a move to Chicago could bolster his career and help him reach superstar levels.
13 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: New Jersey Devils
Although the Edmonton Oilers are on the rise, it is time for them to trade Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. RNH has become a very solid player for the Oilers, but he just does not seem to fit on their roster anymore. He is a player who would play much better in Top-6 role and he simply does not have that opportunity with Connor McDavid and Leon Drasital as his competition. His six million dollar cap hit is also going to become way too much of a burden when their players want new contracts.
RNH would be a great addition for a team who needs a second line center and has a large amount of cap space. The New Jersey Devils would be a great destination for him. In New Jersey, he would have the chance to play the minutes he deserves, as well as reunite with former teammate, Taylor Hall. New Jersey is desperate for offensive help and Nugent Hopkins could provide that for them.
12 Shane Doan: Edmonton Oilers
After playing over twenty years for the Coyotes organization, Shane Doan has finally been told that he no longer is wanted there. This is a blessing in disguise for Doan because it gives him the opportunity to play for a winning team. Doan is a player which deserves a Stanley Cup because he has always played the game with a great deal of respect, as well as been a marvelous leader.
There is a good chance that Doan ends up retiring this offseason, but if he chooses to play, he should join the Edmonton Oilers. With Connor McDavid leading the charge, the Oilers are now a threat to win a championship. Doan would be a great pickup for the Oilers as well because he would be able to provide his wisdom and help these players become winners.
11 Ryan Spooner: Vegas Golden Knights
Ryan Spooner's time in Boston is coming to an end and for him, that is a good thing. Spooner has seemed to never gain the confidence of the Bruins' management and has been openly criticized by both former coach, Claude Julien, and current coach, Bruce Cassidy. With that said, Spooner's confidence as a player has seemed to decrease as this season went on. The final nail in the coffin for his Boston days came when he was a healthy scratch for both Games 5 and 6 of the Stanley Cup finals against the Senators.
Spooner is a player who deserves playing time and is easily good enough to be a solid third center on any team. Spooner would do wonders if he were to be traded to the Vegas Golden Knights. The Golden Knights seem to lack a legitimate playmaker with their center group, so Spooner would thrive playing for them. There, Spooner would have the chance to display his offensive skills, as well as have full respect by both his coaches and management.
10 Jarome Iginla: Chicago Blackhawks
Jarome Iginla's career could very well be over, but if he wants to play one more season, he should join the Chicago Blackhawks. For the past three seasons, Iginla was stuck on an Avalanche team that underachieved immensely and lowered his chances of ever winning the Stanley Cup. Playing on a losing team and old age has also made his production decrease. However, Iginla should have one last shot to win a Stanley Cup because he has been a huge figure for the game.
Iginla would fit beautifully with Chicago because they are a team who are still strong, but are in need of replacing a few key players. On the Blackhawks, Iginla could play Bottom 6 minutes and provide a physical edge to the team. At this point in his career, Iginla should be focusing on trying to win a cup and the Blackhawks might be his best option. They are a modern day dynasty and are consistently a threat to hoist the cup.
9 Jaromir Jagr: Nashville Predators
As amazing as it would be to see Jaromir Jagr return to the Penguins for one more season, it just seems unlikely with their immense talent on the wings. With this, Jagr should still try to sign with a team that has a strong chance of winning the cup, so why should he not join the runner up of 2016? The Predators have a strong forward core, but do need to find a replacement for Colin Wilson.
Jagr still has a good amount left in the tank, even at his ridiculous age, so Nashville should seriously consider bringing him in. Although he is a player who serves better in a Top-6 role, Jagr could be used as a primary option for their powerplay. The Predators seem to be a team who are one superstar from reaching the top, so a veteran and champion like Jagr could assist them greatly.
8 Marian Gaborik: Arizona Coyotes
Marian Gaborik's time as an elite NHL forward is long gone, but on a new team, he could very well become a valuable asset. Gaborik has seen his stats drop dramatically the past two seasons and this is a very terrible fact the Kings have to deal with. He still has four more years left on his contract and is in a clear decline. Yet, the Kings may be able to swing a deal with the right team.
The Coyotes would be a good destination for Gaborik because they are an upcoming team that could use his leadership to help develop their younger players. The Coyotes also have a lot of room in the salary cap so a trade for Gaborik could make sense for them, especially if the Kings took some money back. Although trading Gaborik will be very challenging, it is clear he needs a change of scenery and a chance to revive his career.
7 Evander Kane: Vancouver Canucks
Evander Kane has been on and off the trading block since joining the Buffalo Sabres. It is clear that his future in Buffalo is hanging on a string and change is definitely needed for his sake. With Kane, there is no doubt that you are getting an above average player, but one that also has been documented as having a bad attitude. The biggest obstacle in Kane's game is himself and that very well could be the primary reason why Buffalo wants to rid of him.
Kane would be a new excellent fit for his hometown, Vancouver Canucks. Joining Vancouver would give him the opportunity to play on a rebuilding team and have the chance to reach his full potential. The Canucks are desperately looking for offensive help, especially with Sedin twins getting up there in age. A player like Kane could also attract other players to join him in Vancouver and could start a strong change in their rebuild.
6 James van Riemsdyk: Carolina Hurricanes
The Toronto Maple Leafs are in a great position in terms of their development as team, but James van Riemsdyk time there is surely coming to an end. The Maple Leafs have an abundance of young wingers who are ready to play at the NHL level, but are not given Top-6 minutes due to the fact that van Riemsdyk is still on the team. His contract is set to expire after this season as well, so expect to JVR on a new team soon.
JVR would be an awesome fit for the Carolina Hurricanes because they are looking to add more veterans to their roster. This season alone, the Hurricanes have added four players who have won the Stanley Cup including his brother, Trevor van Riemsdyk. JVR playing with his brother could help him statistically because they would have strong chemistry together. The Hurricanes are clearly trying to become a playoff contender again and picking up JVR would help their chances even more.
5 Tyler Bozak: Buffalo Sabres
Like JVR, Tyler Bozak's time in Toronto appears to be coming to a close. It is hard to believe that with the talent that is coming up from their system, Bozak will have a permanent spot in their lineup. With that said, Bozak's career would benefit immensely in a new setting. Even with their depth, it will be challenging for the Maple Leafs to find a player with the same two-way ability as Bozak.
Bozak would be a very good player for the Buffalo Sabres to pick up via trade or when he becomes a free agent. Behind O'Reilly and Eichel, there is not much down the middle for them and Bozak would make a wonderful third line center. His leadership would also be a positive because Buffalo is very much still a young team. Bozak would instantly make Buffalo a better team and playing there would give him the opportunity to have more stability as he continues his career.
4 Rick Nash: Minnesota Wild
As a Ranger, Rick Nash has shown that he is a still a very talented player, but he has also has been incredibly inconsistent at times. Due to this, Nash has never seemed to gain full trust from his coach and management. Nash's contract is also extremely high so anything but thirty goal seasons is considered a bust. Luckily for him, he only has one season left on his deal and due to the negativity he has faced, it is fair to say that it is time for him to move on.
Rick Nash would be a great fit in Minnesota in theory, but he could only play there if he took a paycut next offseason. The Wild have a strong offensive group, but definitely could use a scoring winger to help the cause. Their left side definitely would benefit with Nash on the team and he could fit anywhere from the first and third lines. Playing in Minnesota could definitely benefit his career and even give him the chance to win a Stanley Cup.
3 Jonas Brodin: Boston Bruins
Although the Expansion Draft is over, Jonas Brodin's future in Minnesota is still into question. Although a trade is not necessarily imminent in his case, him playing for a new team could benefit him. He has been the subject of trade rumors for a few seasons now and that very well could impact his confidence as a player. Brodin is a very talented two-way defender who could fit into any team's Top-4.
The Boston Bruins are in dire need of acquiring a strong left-handed defenseman. Zdeno Chara is very close to retiring and the rest of their left side is fairly weak. Brodin would instantly make their core better defensively and much faster overall. This would benefit Brodin as well because it would help solidify his position with a team and take him out of the consistent trade rumors he faces.
2 Claude Giroux: Montreal Canadiens
Claude Giroux is one of the best centers in the NHL today, but it may be time for him to make a switch. The Philadelphia Flyers have been a bubble team for a handful of seasons now and desperately need to either become a contender or rebuilder. Throughout his tenure in Philadelphia, Giroux has been criticized for his leadership skills and has even faced trade rumors. With this, it is fair to see that Giroux could get a huge spark playing on a different team.
The Montreal Canadiens would be an excellent fit for Giroux. It is well known that the Canadiens absolutely need a true number one center and they easily would get that with Giroux. He is one of the most skilled offensive players in the league today and he fits their system of speed. Although a trade to Montreal may seem like a long shot, it would make a lot of sense for both the team and Giroux. It would give him the chance to compete for the Stanley Cup again.
1 John Tavares: Toronto Maple Leafs
If the New York Islanders do not change the direction that they are heading, John Tavares will not be playing for them once the 2018-19 season hits. John Tavares has been nothing short of a superstar since joining the league and as time continues to pass, it becomes more clear that a change is needed for his career. It appears that the Islanders are nowhere close to contention and are stuck as a tweener team. This is something that Tavares should look to get away from.
If Tavares does not agree to a contract with the Islanders by next season's trade deadline, he is as a good as gone. In this situation, a trade to Toronto seems to be the best bet for Tavares. Tavares is from Toronto and it is apparent that he would love to play for his hometown, if permitted. The Maple Leafs do have the players and money to make this happen, but they would first need to make sure that Tavares would sign an extension. Tavares as a member of the Maple Leafs would instantly make them a contender for years to come.