For many NHL fans, July 1 is one of the most exciting days on the NHL calendar. Sure, the Stanley Cup Final has long since wrapped up, and the preseason schedule doesn’t begin for at least two months. However, the beginning of the free agency period offers renewed interest in signings and trades.
Speaking of trades, fans cannot forget about the litany of trade rumors swirling around countless players throughout the season, building in intensity as the trade deadline approaches. The trades themselves spark a wide range of reactions, discussions and analyses. The trade rumors are no different. In many cases, fans love hearing about the deals that collapsed at the last second just as much as the ones that went through. The trades that almost came to fruition, but were nixed at the last minute, those are the ones that draw immense interest.
Those near-trades remind fans of what could have been, and offer a window into a general manager’s mindset during an initial trade attempt. For example, fans all know P.K. Subban went South to Nashville in 2016. However, most fans probably don’t know that he could’ve landed in Edmonton instead. How did that deal collapse?
This list takes a deeper look at some recent NHL trades that almost went through.
15 Jaroslav Halak to the Flames
Jaroslav Halak gained immense notoriety for his heroics with the Canadiens during the 2010 playoffs. Yet, the Habs traded Halak to St. Louis that summer, where he spent four seasons before a brief tenure with the Washington Capitals.
Halak re-emerged in 2014 as the starter for the New York Islanders. He won 56 games over the next two seasons before struggling out of the gate in 2016-17. The Islanders sent him to the AHL, and floated his name out in trade rumors ahead of the 2017 trade deadline.
NHL insiders from Darren Dreger to John Shannon to Frank Seravalli reported on heavy interest in Halak. Dreger said there was "good reason" to expect a trade, while Shannon mentioned "two trade offers" for the veteran goalie ahead of the deadline. NHL.com’s Lou Korac reported the Blues even "explored" the idea of reuniting with Halak.
In the end, however, Halak stayed with the Islanders. It will be interesting to see if the Islanders try and trade Halak this season, as he plays out the final year of his contract.
14 Dan Hamhuis to the Stars (2016 Deadline)
Dan Hamhuis signed a two-year contract with the Dallas Stars in July 2016. However, the long-time Canucks defenseman could have ended up in Dallas sooner than that. Canucks general manager Jim Benning tried to trade Hamhuis before the 2016 trade deadline.
Hamhuis waived his no-trade clause for three teams: The Blackhawks, the Kings, and the Stars.
Benning reportedly asked too much from the Blackhawks and Kings, who promptly pulled out of talks. Benning began speaking with Stars GM Jim Nill. The Stars refused to give up a top-five prospect or first-round pick for Hamhuis. Benning stood pat on that offer. The Stars then traded for D-man Kris Russel.
Nill called Benning back and offered a mid-round pick for Hamhius, according to TSN Radio Vancouver. Benning never called back and Hamhuis remained with the Canucks for the rest of the season. He ended up signing with the Stars as a free agent, making Benning's inability to get something for him in a trade all the more painful.
13 Sami Vatanen - Several Teams
Cam Fowler may put up better number offensively for the Anaheim Ducks, but Sami Vatanen provides a steady presence on defense, bolstered by a high hockey IQ and puck-moving ability. Vatanen’s unique skill set made him an attractive trade piece ahead of the 2017 expansion draft.
According to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, several teams were “lining up their interest” for Vatanen in early June. Some of these teams included the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning, and New Jersey Devils. LeBrun speculated that trading the 26-year-old defenseman would allow the Ducks to protect their more valuable players from selection in the expansion draft. The Ducks left Vatanen unprotected if the Vegas Golden Knights wished to select him.
The Golden Knights ultimately chose Ducks D-man Clayton Stoner over Vatanen. Perhaps Vatanen’s shoulder injury, which will reportedly cause him to miss the start of next season, played a factor. While a trade certainly seemed likely, it seems Vatanen will remain in Anaheim for the time being.
12 Valtteri Filppula to the Maple Leafs
Valtteri Filppula joined the Philadelphia Flyers for the final stretch of the 2016-17 season after a trade deadline deal from the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Finnish center called Tampa Bay for four years, scoring 52 goals in 292 games. Filppula almost didn't end up in Philadelphia. The Lightning originally intended to trade the veteran forward to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Filppula rejected the proposal. According to Chris Johnston at Sportsnet, the Leafs weren't on Filppula's list of 16 teams that he would accept a trade to.
Even Leafs coach Mike Babcock, who coached Filppula for several years in Detroit, could not convince Filppula to join the hockey hotbed of Toronto. “I had made a list earlier and just decided to stick with the list,” Filppula said at the time.
11 Evander Kane to the Canucks
Evander Kane is no stranger to trade rumors. The Buffalo Sabres’ power forward seems to be involved in speculative deals every year. One such rumor arose in November of 2016 when Canucks assistant GM John Weisbrod showed up on the scouting list of a Sabres home game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Elliotte Friedman reported that the two sides had conversations, but in the end, Vancouver “was not willing to pay the price that Buffalo was asking.”Oddly enough, Kane’s name came up in the rumor mill yet again this past June. Friedman mentioned mutual interest between the Sabres and the Los Angeles Kings on a possible off-season trade. It will be interesting to see whether the Sabres finally pull the trigger on dealing Kane, or if he’ll spend another season in Buffalo, providing solid production despite being dogged by incessant trade speculation.
10 Roberto Luongo to the Maple Leafs
The relationship between Dave Nonis and Roberto Luongo dates back over a decade. In 2006, Nonis, then serving as Vancouver's general manager, acquired Luongo a one-sided trade with the Florida Panthers. Luongo was linked with Nonis once again before the 2013 NHL draft.
Nonis was with the Maple Leafs by then, and made a trade offer for the Canucks goalie before the draft, according to Sportsnet. When the deal for Luongo fell through, the Canucks sent Cory Schneider to the Devils instead. Luongo admitted that he “was pretty shocked and surprised" when the trade was nixed. The Leafs ended up with Jonathan Bernier instead.
The Leafs had previously been linked to Luongo trade talks in 2012 and early 2013. Doug MacLean of Hockey Central reported of Luongo's refusal to waive his no-trade clause in that early 2013 deal.
9 Tomas Vanek for Tyler Seguin
It's no secret that the Dallas Stars got the best out of the Tyler Seguin trade with the Boston Bruins back in 2013. However, Seguin almost landed in Buffalo instead of Dallas.
At the 2013 draft, Buffalo Sabres GM Darcy Regier spoke with Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli about a potential trade involving Seguin and Tomas Vanek.
The discussions were first reported by John Vogl at The Buffalo News. Unfortunately for Sabres fans, Regier was unable to pull the trigger on a deal. What exactly the offer was, or what caused it to fall through, still isn't known.
What is known is that Seguin was eventually dealt to the Stars for a package which featured Loui Ericsson and Reilly Smith. The Sabers still managed to fetch a decent return for Vanek though. In October, they dealt Vanek to the New York Islanders for Matt Moulson and two draft picks.
Despite Moulson's initial success in Buffalo, his production obviously did not equal that of Seguin's in Dallas. This trade left a sour taste in the mouths of Sabres fans, who wondered what might have been.
8 Vincent Lecavalier to the Predators
Vincent Lecavalier spent the best years of his career on the Tampa Bay Lightning, scoring 383 goals during a 14-year tenure with the team. He also captained the Lightning to their only Stanley Cup championship in 2004. However, by 2013, the Lightning made the drastic decision to buy out Lecavalier's contract. The 33-year-old forward signed with the Flyers weeks later.
By the 2014-15 season, Lecavalier's offensive production waned and he was often a healthy scratch. As it turns out, the Flyers attempted to trade the disgruntled forward twice before that season began. Both the Predators and Panthers were in on trade talks during the summer of 2014. Kent Hughes, Lecavalier's agent, divulged that the Nashville deal was "awfully close" although he couldn't "comment on specifics."
The Flyers eventually dealt Lecavalier to the Kings on January 6, 2016 along with Luke Schenn in exchange for Jordan Weal and a third round pick. Lecavalier retired at season's end.
7 P.K. Subban to the Flyers
P.K. Subban's 2016 trade from Montreal to Nashville was probably more shocking to fans than it was to Subban himself. After all, the star defenseman had been subject to a few trade rumors in the months and years before that July 2016 blockbuster. We'll get to one of them from 2016 a bit further down this list. For now, let's start with one from 2014.
That summer, Subban was in the midst of contentious contract negotiations with the Canadiens. He filed for arbitration, and Habs GM Marc Bergevin wanted to see if he could land a nice return for Subban in a trade.
The Flyers initially expressed interest, offering a hefty package including top prospect Samuel Morin, a 2015 first-round pick, and a "significant" roster player, according to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman. The Flyers previously inquired about Subban in 2012 after the Preds matched the Flyer's offer sheet to Shea Weber in 2012.
The Flyers backed away from the deal, and Subban ended up signing an eight-year contract extension with Montreal in August.
6 Matt Duchene to the Islanders
Trade rumors have dogged Matt Duchene for the past few seasons as the Avalanche have struggled to win consistently. The most recent rumors have linked him to the New York Islanders as New York tries to entice star center John Tavares to stay in town.
In June 2017, Bleacher Report’s Adrian Dater, reported that Colorado GM Joe Sakic rejected a blockbuster trade package from the Islanders in hopes of landing Duchene. According to Dater, Islanders GM Garth Snow offered Travis Hamonic and a 2018 first-round pick in a trade package for Duchene.
Duchene's agent, Pat Brisson, was reportedly "seriously unhappy" with Sakic over his rejection. As it turns out, Brisson is also John Tavares' agent. Perhaps he hoped the trade went though so that both his clients could play together. As of mid-July, Duchene remains in a Colorado uniform. Of course things could change before the offseason wraps up. However, if Sakic's demands are any indication, it will take much more than what the Islanders offered for him to part with his star forward.
5 Gabriel Landeskog to the Bruins
Matt Duchene wasn't the only Avalanche player on the trade block last season. Team captain Gabriel Landeskog popped up in a few rumors, notably involving the Boston Bruins. In January 2017, Bleacher Report's Adrian Dater gave some insight into a possible deal. He said the young Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo was "back in play" for a trade. General Manager Joe Sakic reportedly demanded prized young D-man in exchange for Landeskog.
In February, Sakic traveled to Boston and scouted the Bruins game against the Montreal Canadiens. He also scouted some Bruins prospects at the Beanpot Tournament. By late February, trade talks "essentially stopped" according to Dater. Boston was not willing to part ways with Carlo. The 20-year-old defenseman ended up playing in every game last season and seems to be in line to remain in Boston for the foreseeable future.
4 Taylor Hall to the Blues
On June 29, 2016, the Edmonton Oilers acquired New Jersey Devils defenseman Adam Larsson in exchange for former number-one pick Taylor Hall. Before that trade went through, however, the Oilers nearly dealt Hall for another defenseman, one that had been at center of trade talks for some time. The Oilers wanted St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk as the centerpiece in a trade package for Hall, according to The St. Louis Post Dispatch.
Shattenkirk reportedly declined the trade because it involved a sign-and-trade. The Blues traded Shattenkirk to the Washington Capitals at the 2017 deadline. He subsequently signed a four-year, $26.65 million contract with the New York Rangers on July 1.
3 Kevin Shattenkirk to Tampa Bay
Another recent Shattenkirk rumor involved the St. Louis Blues and Tampa Bay Lightning in early 2017. The parameters of this deal were remarkably similar to those of the Edmonton deal a few months prior. According to TSN's Bob McKenzie and The St. Louis Dispatch, Shattenkirk would sign a seven-year, $42 contract extension along with the trade.
Shattenkirk denied the sign-and-trade with Tampa, much like he had with Edmonton. Although the Lightning didn't admit to speaking with Shattenkirk at the time, the Post Dispatch offered speculation that Tampa Bay was indeed the team to make the offer. The contract was a lot more than what Shattenkirk ended up getting this summer (4 years, $24 million with New York) so it's clear Shattenkirk simply wanted to play in New York, even at a discount.
2 Jarome Iginla to the Bruins at the 2013 trade deadline
Jarome Iginla spent 17 years with the Flames, including ten seasons as team captain. He led Calgary to the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals, and scored over 500 goals and 1,000 points during his time there. By the 2012-13 season, Calgary was flaming out in the standings and Iginla was in the final year of his contract. Trade rumors swirled around the veteran forward, with the Boston Bruins emerging as a likely trade partner. By late March, the deal came so close that Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli thought he had Iginla locked up.
"We believed we had a deal," Chiarelli said at the time. According to Bob McKenzie, the Bruins were prepared to send Alexander Khokhlachev, Matt Bartkowski and a conditional first-round pick to the Flames in the trade.
Instead, Calgary GM Jay Feaster called Chiarelli to inform him that Iginla had chosen to go to the Pittsburgh Penguins instead. “I got a call from Jay saying that it was the player's choice and he opted to go to Pittsburgh and we were out," Chiarelli added. On March 28, the Penguins acquired Iginla for Kenneth Agostino, Ben Hanowski, and a first-round pick.
1 P.K. Subban to the Oilers
In 2016, the Canadians shocked the hockey world when they traded Norris Trophy-winning defenseman PK Subban to the Nashville Predators for Shea Weber. If that trade wasn't shocking enough, consider the fact that they almost dealt Subban to the Edmonton Oilers for a much steeper price.
How steep? Sportsnet’s Elliotte Freidman reported that the Habs’ initial demands for Subban included star forward Leon Draisaitl, the fourth overall pick in the 2016 draft, a young defenseman (Oscar Klefbom or Darnell Nurse) and another unnamed asset.
Edmonton not only balked at the asking price, but also expressed concern over Subban's exorbitant salary. GM Peter Chiarelli was reportedly hesitant to take on Subban's $9 million cap hit. Chiarelli realized he needed to give Connor McDavid a hefty raise the following offseason, which he eventually did, to the tune of $12.5 million per year.
The Oilers ended up trading Taylor Hall for New Jersey defenseman Adam Larsson. That deal saved them $1.8 million on the salary cap as compared to the proposed Subban deal.