The world of sports is fairly big, and although virtually every sport can be played here in North America, the sporting landscape is dominated by four main sports: football, basketball, baseball, and hockey. Each of those sports have their own professional leagues, each of which produces billions of dollars in revenue, while showcasing the very best players that that particular sport has to offer. Those are not the only similarities that these leagues share though, as each and every one of them allows their teams to perform transactions designed to swap one or more players, and nowhere are these transactions genuinely more impactful than in the National Hockey League.
Like in the other sports leagues, the whole point of trading players in the NHL is to try and improve your team, either for a playoff push/run, or to help build towards the future, which are both great reasons to trade players. Most of the time, those who get traded in the NHL are players who can offer more depth to other teams, but every single year, there always seems to be some pretty big names that find themselves getting shipped to other teams. Players get traded for a variety of different reasons over the course of the year, either because of expiring contracts or trade requests, or because of off-ice issues and cap problems, and this NHL season will be no different. Here are 15 players who will likely be wearing a different team's jersey by the end of the season.
15 Matt Duchene
In 2009, Matt Duchene was drafted by the Colorado Avalanche 3rd-overall, and has so far spent his entire NHL career with the franchise, but if the past year has been any indication, his time with the team will be coming to an end this season. This past offseason, the hockey world was waiting to see which team would land Duchene, a wait that has now carried over into the regular season as General Manager Joe Sakic's asking price is rather high. Sakic wants the equivalent of two 1st-round picks and some more assets, something that only a few teams can afford, and the Columbus Blue Jackets are one of those teams, as they have a ton of prospects, and are in need of another good Centerman like Duchene.
Possible Destination: Columbus Blue Jackets
14 John Carlson
For several years, the Washington Capitals have been viewed as Stanley Cup favorites, but this year the expectations are not as high as they once were, thanks to the key players they lost during the offseason. John Carlson is one of Washington's more reliable defensemen, and he has been with the team since 2009, but this year is the final year of his contract, and he plans on getting paid more than he is now. Washington knows that they may not be able to keep him, so they may try to deal him at the trade deadline to a team who needs extra depth on the blue line for the playoffs, which is where a team like the Edmonton Oilers come in, as they still need help in terms of D-men.
Possible Destination: Edmonton Oilers
13 Calvin de Hann
After a few promising seasons, it seems as though the New York Islanders have taken a step back, all because they lost several key pieces a few years ago, and when this season ends, they will likely be losing yet another piece. Calvin de Hann is a defenseman who has been with the team since they drafted him 12th overall in 2009, and had they not reached an agreement this offseason on a new one-year deal, the Islanders would have already dealt him. The Islanders in fact tried to trade him during the offseason, because they knew they would ultimately not be able to pay him when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer. The Vancouver Canucks were one of the teams interested in de Hann, so it makes sense for them to go after him again, seeing as they need new defensemen to help prolong their delusional dream of competitiveness.
Possible Destination: Vancouver Canucks
12 Anthony Duclair
The Arizona Coyotes have been a struggling team for years, marred with relocation rumors, ownership problems, terrible attendance numbers, and an overall bad on-ice product. Slowly but surely though, the team is improving, thanks to good young players, and in 2015, they traded for winger Anthony Duclair, who they believed would heavily compliment Max Domi, another good young player on their roster. Initially, the trade worked out, as Duclair and Domi both hit it off and produced, but now that Arizona has a new coach and more strength down the middle, he has the potential to be a trade piece this year. If he were to be traded, a place like Buffalo would make sense, as the team is still looking for a talented winger for either their second or third line.
Possible Destination: Buffalo Sabres
11 Jaroslav Halak
While playing for the Montreal Canadiens during the 2009-10 season, Jaroslav Halak put on such a great performance in goal, that many thought he was on his way to become a superstar goalie in the NHL. Ever since that amazing season though, Halak has failed to live up to expectations, and is currently a backup for the Islanders, but that does not mean that he cannot still offer a team some depth in goal. This happens to be the final year of Halak's current contract, which makes him a perfect trade deadline acquisition for a team looking to bolster their goalie depth for the playoffs in case someone gets hurt. If Calgary is in playoff contention this year, then it makes sense for them to go for someone like Halak who has playoff experience.
Possible Destination: Jaroslav Halak
10 Andreas Athanasiou
The Detroit Red Wings are currently in unfamiliar territory, as they are at best a middle-of-the-pack team that drastically needs to get younger and more skilled, and based on his performance last season, Andreas Athanasiou should have been part of their future. Athanasiou was drafted by the Wings 110th overall in 2012, and managed to really impress last season when he scored 18 goals and 29 points in his first real NHL season, and if it were not for him wanting a bit more money, he would be on the roster right now. Detroit has virtually no cap space, which is why Athanasiou remains unsigned, and if he stays that way, which seems likely, Detroit will be forced to trade him to get something in return. Toronto has a lot of young and fast players, and Athanasiou would fit right in with them, especially since former Wings head coach Mike Babcock knows what he can offer.
Possible Destination: Toronto Maple Leafs
9 James Van Riemsdyk
Within the next two years, the Toronto Maple Leafs will likely be a legitimate contender for the Stanley Cup, thanks to all the great young players they have, players that they will need to pay to keep. It is because of all the money that they will need to spend, that they will most likely get rid of a few players, with James van Riemsdyk being one of them, as he will probably be looking for a bit of a raise when his contract expires at the end of the year. Considering he is on the last year of his deal, van Riemsdyk is a perfect trade candidate, and considering that he is a winger who can indeed produce, it makes sense for a team like the Carolina Hurricanes to pursue him. Carolina is in need of an experienced forward, who can help their up-and-coming roster that might be battling for a playoff spot this season.
Possible Destination: Carolina Hurricanes
8 Thomas Vanek
Thomas Vanek played his first nine seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, and at one point during that time, he was arguably their most productive scorer, but his numbers have not been what they used to be ever since leaving the team in 2014. Vanek has played for six teams since leaving Buffalo, and although he is visibly not the player he once was, he is still capable of scoring at least 15 goals and 30 points a year. In September, Vanek signed a one-year deal with Vancouver, who believe they can still make the playoffs, but seeing as there is virtually no chance that Vancouver will be making the playoffs this year, Vanek will likely be traded at the deadline yet again. In all likelihood, Vanek will go to a team he has already played for, like Montreal, who will be more than happy to add some more offense to their lineup.
Possible Destination: Montreal Canadiens
7 Jacob Trouba
Two years ago, it was believed that the Winnipeg Jets were going to be a highly competitive team in the Western Conference, but based on their performance the past two seasons, that ship may have already sailed for now. The team has quite a few forwards who will be a great help in the long run, forwards who all have to get paid, but they also have to pay their defensemen, and Jacob Trouba will be looking for a big payday at the end of the year. Although he signed a two-year extension with the team in 2016, he did so after requesting a trade, a request that will likely come true this year as Winnipeg will most likely be sellers at the trade deadline. A lot of teams will be interested in Trouba, including the Red Wings, who will be in need of a new young blue liner should Mike Green leave and Niklas Kronwall retire this upcoming offseason.
Possible Destination: Detroit Red Wings
6 James Neal
This year marks the inaugural season of the Las Vegas Golden Knights, who managed to get a decent haul of players in the expansion draft, with the biggest name being winger James Neal. As a former 1st-overall pick, it should come as no surprise that Neal is more than capable of scoring, but when Vegas picked him in the draft, they did so while knowing full well that he is on the final year of his contract. Vegas may be new to the league, but the front office is not stupid, as they have a plan to build a winning team through the draft, and what better way to get draft picks than by trading a known point producer at the deadline. The Penguins are looking for another deep playoff run, and if they need more help on offense, it makes sense for them to bring Neal back, who played with the team for four seasons (2010-14).
Possible Destination: Pittsburgh Penguins
5 Evander Kane
Evander Kane started his NHL career in 2009 when he was drafted 4th-overall by the Atlanta Thrashers, but when the team was moved to Winnipeg, he developed some off-the-ice issues that ultimately caused him to be traded to Buffalo. Kane has seemingly enjoyed the last two years in Buffalo, and he undoubtedly knows that the franchise's future, with all their young players, is really bright. However, he will likely not be around to see the team attain real success. This is the last year of Kane's contract, and seeing as Buffalo's playoff chances are still quite low, it makes sense that they deal Kane to get something in return, as he might be asking for too much money in free agency. The best spot for Kane to land in, would be San Jose, because the Sharks are always competitive, and need to fill the hole left behind by Patrick Marleau.
Possible Destination: San Jose Sharks
4 Jaromir Jagr
At 45, Jaromir Jagr may be really old and slow by today's NHL standards, but he can still play a full year as long as he remains healthy, and believe it or not, he can still score at least 15 goals and 40 points. It took a while, but Jagr finally found a team to play for this season, when the Calgary Flames signed him to a one-year deal, with hopes that he will help to add a little more to the team's offense. The Flames made the playoffs last year, and although they have a good young team, that does not guarantee them a playoff spot with all the good teams in their conference, and if they do find themselves out of the playoff hunt, Jagr will likely be used as a trading chip. He may be a lot slower, but Jagr is a pure professional, who can still help a team like the St. Louis Blues, who are not that fast, and who were in conversations with Jagr during the offseason.
Possible Destination: St. Louis Blues
3 Kyle Turris
In 2007, the Coyotes drafted Kyle Turris 3rd overall, and at the time, the team really hoped that he would turn into the superstar player that the franchise desperately needed, and although he is a good player, he is no superstar. For the past six seasons, Turris has called Ottawa his home, and while playing with the Senators, he has proven that he is capable of scoring nearly 30 goals and 70 points. Ottawa would love to keep him, but contract negotiations are not going well, and it is expected that he will be dealt before the trade deadline. The New York Rangers would be a good fit for Turris, as the team would like to add extra scoring to a lineup that also needs a bit more speed, especially considering how fast the other teams in their division are.
Possible Destination: Kyle Turris
2 Joe Thornton
Jagr might be the oldest player on this list, but he is not the only "old man" in the league who can still play the game, as 38-year-old Joe Thornton continues to put up points despite having slowed down considerably. Thornton will end his career having scored more than 1,400 points, which pretty much guarantees him a spot in the Hall of Fame even if he never wins a Stanley Cup. He may be slow, but Thornton still has incredible play-making abilities, and if San Jose finds themselves out of the playoff picture, or if someone gives them a very good offer, they will jump at the chance of trading Thornton, who is on a one-year deal anyway. The Edmonton Oilers are very young and very good, but even they need a veteran presence on their team, and as far as productive veterans go, Thornton would be near the top of the list.
Possible Destination: Edmonton Oilers
1 John Tavares
In 2009, the Islanders drafted John Tavares 1st-overall, with the hope that he would become the team's franchise player, and although it took a few years, he has managed to become the most valuable player on their roster. Tavares' contract is up at the end of the year, and he will now likely be looking for more than $6 million a year, which he will likely get elsewhere considering he has not re-signed with the Islanders yet. If you were to ask anyone, they will say that Tavares is a very good player, and the fact that he is a centerman makes him an even bigger commodity that would get a lot of return at the trade deadline. If they are forced to trade him, than Toronto may be a big player, because not only would he improve an already great lineup, he would also give them the other top center they are looking for.
Possible Destination: Toronto Maple Leafs