The National Hockey League offseason will be more active than ever this year, with plenty of players changing scenery. The introduction of the Las Vegas Golden Knights to the NHL scene is bringing plenty of rumors to the surface, making it possible for some big names to be moved, in addition to the usual smaller moves. See, teams have to decide who to protect from expansion, and many teams will see themselves unable to protect everyone they would like to. With that in mind, some players will be traded not because their respective organizations want to trade them, but instead because trading them is a lot better than losing them in the expansion draft for nothing.
Additionally, free agency will see a flurry of activity that lands players with new teams. The Washington Capitals, for example, cannot afford to bring back many of their pending free agents. With a bounty of strong free agents in the upcoming market and the trade market set to be the most active it's been in a long, long time, we will see an abundance of familiar faces playing in new places in the upcoming campaign. Let's take a look at 15 players who will change teams this offseason and where they will go next.
18 John Tavares - San Jose Sharks
Why not start our post with our boldest prediction of the bunch? Everyone and their grandmothers know that John Tavares is set to be a free agent following the 2017-18 season, something that is not lost on the New York Islanders as well. Rumor has it that the Islanders will consider trading the face of their franchise if they are unable to come to terms on a contract extension. With that in mind, in come the San Jose Sharks. Tavares likely will not want to sign an extension with an organization going nowhere, and the Islanders will want to get the most out of their superstar as possible. The Sharks represent a reasonable relocation for everyone involved, and Tavares will head to the Pacific.
17 Kevin Shattenkirk - New York Rangers
Kevin Shattenkirk is currently trying to help the Washington Capitals jump over the hump and win the Stanley Cup Final. Regardless of if that works or not, Shattenkirk will leave as an unrestricted free agent in the upcoming offseason. While the Capitals would likely love to re-sign their defenseman, they simply do not have the cash to bring back Shattenkirk on top of re-signing their restricted free agents. Shattenkirk has long been rumored to be a target of the New York Rangers, and if the Rangers buy out Dan Girardi for expansion draft purposes, it makes sense for him to finally end up where he's wanted to play all along. He will likely sign a deal to play for the Rangers for a long time.
16 Rick Nash - Anaheim Ducks
The Anaheim Ducks always seem to be looking for the "missing piece" as they continuously make it deep into the postseason, but cannot make it to the Stanley Cup or win the Stanley Cup (since 2007, at least). The Ducks have an abundance of young defensemen, but could use an extra scorer with experience that can help the youngsters grow and play alongside the veterans. Enter Rick Nash, a player the New York Rangers likely do not want to trade, but may have to because of the expansion draft. Rather than protecting Nash and his one year contract, the Rangers will ship him away for a young defenseman and protect one of their younger, longer term fits on the roster. Nash will be a Duck.
15 T.J. Oshie - Calgary Flames
T.J. Oshie will return to the West Coast and sign with the Calgary Flames, a team on the cusp of being a Stanley Cup contender. The Flames' real problem is their defense, but teams with defensive issues often misunderstand their problems and attempt to overload on offense instead. Calgary is led by Brian Burke, someone who has struggled in that regard before. Once Oshie leaves Washington, the question will become how much of a product he was of the Capitals' system and who he played with, or if Oshie was actually the one who led the way for himself to have a breakout year. We will find out when he leaves Washington due to the Capitals' salary cap crunch forcing him out of town.
14 Jaromir Jagr - Tampa Bay Lightning
Everyone wants to know where Jaromir Jagr is and what Jaromir Jagr is doing at all times because let's face it, Jaromir Jagr is the GOAT (greatest of all time....well, besides Wayne Gretzky, that is.) So we must address where the impending free agent will play his hockey in the upcoming season. Jagr is a tough one to predict because it seems like he truly loves playing hockey down in Florida, but the Panthers organization is a complete and total mess at the moment, and it's tough to see Jagr wanting to be on board for that. However, another team plays in Florida, one with a wise front office that isn't afraid to make some interesting signings. Jaromir Jagr and the Tampa Bay Lightning match.
12 Marc-Andre Fleury - Winnipeg Jets
The Winnipeg Jets have a young prospect that is trying to work his way into a regular starting goaltender job in the National Hockey League, but it just does not seem to be working. With that in mind, the Jets will likely be in the market for a starting goalie this offseason. Ben Bishop and Marc-Andre Fleury are the two biggest goaltending names available this offseason, and the Jets will look to the Pittsburgh Penguins to take Fleury off of their hands before they would need to protect him in the expansion draft. Think of a small package the Jets can send the Penguins' way as a way of preventing the Penguins from losing Matt Murray in the draft -- this should be fair for both sides.
11 Tyson Barrie - Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs may go further than anyone could have predicted in the 2016-17 National Hockey League postseason, or they could flame out and lose in the first round, while still having put up a fight. Regardless, the Maple Leafs have already shown that they will be a force to be reckoned with in the coming years. Still, the Maple Leafs attempted to acquire Kevin Shattenkirk at the trade deadline because they wanted additional help on defense. Since we believe Shattenkirk will sign with the New York Rangers, we are predicting that Tyson Barrie will be the first in a large fire sale done by the Colorado Avalanche. The fit is perfect, and the Maple Leafs' present and future will look brighter.
10 Ben Bishop - Dallas Stars
Another goalie most likely switching places, Ben Bishop will leave the Los Angeles Kings after one of the shortest and strangest tenures in recent National Hockey League history and join the team he's been meant to play for for a long time in the Dallas Stars. The fit is perfect, as the Stars would like to acquire a goalie without having to surrender any of their prospects. By signing Bishop, the Stars effectively end their problems between the pipes, and do not have to trade assets. Instead, they will simply need to buy out either Kari Lehtonen or Antti Niemi, with Lehtonen serving as the more likely of the two to be bought out. Once this all happens, Dallas will be a contender again.
9 Mikko Koivu - Carolina Hurricanes
This is one of our more surprising predictions, as we have the Minnesota Wild trading their captain in a surprise move this offseason. Here is our logic- assuming the Wild fail to advance anywhere in the postseason as it appears likely will happen, the team will want to make a move that shakes up the locker-room and reminds the players that anyone can be dealt at any time. Meanwhile, the Carolina Hurricanes are out looking for both veteran leadership and offense, two areas Mikko Koivu is known for. It's a good fit between two teams that will be eager to trade, and it will help the Wild protect some of their valuable young forwards in the Expansion Draft as well, making it worth it.
7 Matt Duchene - Montreal Canadiens
While the Montreal Canadiens put up a strong fight against the New York Rangers, their weaknesses are also glaring. The Canadiens lack a dynamic top line center, unless Claude Julien allows Alex Galchenyuk to develop into one like he should. Regardless of that, the Canadiens have a desperate need for additional scoring help up front, and also have the pieces to acquire one. The Colorado Avalanche are right to ask for the world in return for Matt Duchene, but they also must understand that what is best for the organization is to enter a full and total rebuild. Keeping Matt Duchene on board does not work with that rebuild, so they will finally give up and move him to the Montreal Canadiens.
6 Brent Seabrook - Dallas Stars
Do you know how the Dallas Stars seemingly take on every Chicago Blackhawks player that the Blackhawks can no longer afford to pay the big bucks? First they acquired Patrick Sharp for seemingly nothing, then they signed Johnny Oduya for pocket change then traded him back to the Chicago Blackhawks when they fell out of contention. This offseason following an early exit from the 2016-17 NHL Playoffs, the Chicago Blackhawks will decide it's time to move on from long-time top pair defenseman Brent Seabrook and his mega contract. They will find a willing partner in the Dallas Stars, a team with a clear need on defense and the money to spend on Seabrook's deal. The two division rivals will match up again.
5 Gabriel Landeskog - Ottawa Senators
When the Colorado Avalanche finally do determine that they are ready to go with that full rebuild, another player that will have to go is their captain. Named captain before he even turned 20 years old, Gabriel Landeskog has been one of the pillars of the Colorado Avalanche organization. However, his time in the Mile High state is nearing its end, with the Avalanche looking to trade anyone who could possibly have value. Landeskog has value, and the Ottawa Senators are always in the market for players with value and a whole lot of grit. The Senators will make a deal for Landeskog work, bringing in the Avalanche captain to join the team for the 2017-18 campaign and adding a fellow Swede for Erik Karlsson.
4 Sam Reinhart - Carolina Hurricanes
We said before that the Carolina Hurricanes will be looking for some veteran scoring presence to add to their depth, but the Hurricanes have so many valuable young defensemen and assets built up over the years, and such a large need for forward help, that they will make a second move in addition to the first one for a forward. This time the Hurricanes will trade for the polarizing Sam Reinhart, a player who has excelled throughout his first few seasons in the National Hockey League, but for whatever reason his own organization, the Buffalo Sabres, seemingly refuse to accept that he has played well. In a classic defenseman for forward swap, the Hurricanes will finally get their young forward in Sam Reinhart that they have coveted.
3 Jonathan Drouin - Arizona Coyotes
The Arizona Coyotes have interest in seemingly every player that hits the National Hockey League trade market. The Coyotes were once in on Jacob Trouba, once in on Kevin Shattenkirk, and any other player that you could name that was in the rumor mill, the Coyotes were likely rumored to be interested in that player. Jonathan Drouin has had a rocky relationship with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and we are predicting that relationship comes to an end this summer, with the Lightning finally moving on from Drouin in an attempt to protect other players in the upcoming National Hockey League expansion draft. The Lightning will move the dynamic youngster Drouin to the all-too-eager trade partner Arizona Coyotes, giving him a true chance to shine.
1 Mike Green - Edmonton Oilers
The Detroit Red Wings are entering territory unknown, looking to enter a rebuild for the first time in seemingly forever. Part of that rebuild will include moving veterans away from the team in favor of young talent. One veteran still under contract that has some value to a contending team is Mike Green. Green has been a solid playoff performer for years, and produces heavily on the power-play. The Oilers will look for defensive help this offseason, attempting to add to their already bolstered blue line. The two teams will come to a trade agreement, truly signalling the changing of the guard. Just a couple of years ago it would have been the rebuilding Oilers trading to the contending Red Wings.