The National Hockey League offseason almost always comes with a fair share of exciting trades. Trades are some of the most alluring aspects of the offseason, as it is exciting to see players change jerseys and enter new markets. For example, on the same day last offseason, the Montreal Canadiens and Nashville Predators agreed on a swap of P.K. Subban for Shea Weber, arguably one of the most thrilling trades in recent history, and the Edmonton Oilers and New Jersey Devils agreed on a deal moving longtime Oiler Taylor Hall to the Devils for defensive defenseman Adam Larsson. Those trades came seemingly out of nowhere, wowing hockey fanatics and giving them plenty of material to talk about for the remainder of the offseason.
This offseason will see even more trades of the sort, thanks to the introduction of the Las Vegas Golden Knights to the league. Teams will make trades with the Expansion Draft in mind, making previously untouchable players available to be acquired. This should be one of the most thrilling offseasons in recent history, so let’s take a look at what will happen in the trade market. Here are 15 unexpected trades that could shake up the NHL this offseason.
15. John Tavares To The San Jose Sharks
This is the boldest prediction of the bold predictions, but we have plenty of logic behind it. The New York Islanders chose to retain Garth Snow, and John Tavares has repeatedly said he will only stay in New York if he feels he can win there. Garth Snow cannot win there. Tavares will refuse an extension, putting the Islanders in a place where they feel they have to trade their captain to get the best return possible. The San Jose Sharks went hard after Steven Stamkos last offseason, and they work as an opportunity for the Islanders to ship Tavares as far away from their own location as possible. Tavares will go to the Sharks for a series of roster players and prospects, surprising the league.
14. Matt Duchene To The New York Islanders
Right after trading John Tavares, the New York Islanders will make another perplexing move in the Garth Snow tenure. Rather than entering a rebuild phase, the Islanders will acquire a John Tavares-lite in Matt Duchene. Duchene will fill the hole left by John Tavares, while the Islanders will be able to hold onto the prospects acquired for Tavares at the same time. Following the acquisition of Duchene, New York will be able to scour the free agent market to find a way to build a team without their prior captain. For the Colorado Avalanche, moving Duchene makes too much sense for them not to do it. The organization is a mess, and starting over with prospects and new faces is the way to go.
13. Rick Nash To The Carolina Hurricanes
The Carolina Hurricanes will want to get over the hump already and reach the Stanley Cup playoffs, while the New York Rangers will want to trade a forward for a defenseman so they can protect more valuable players in the upcoming expansion draft. While it will be difficult for the Hurricanes to convince Nash to waive his no-trade clause, Carolina will eventually do so, bringing Nash into the fold for the Hurricanes. New York will get a young defenseman in return, but will also have to watch their former star playing in their same division. The move will certainly be a blockbuster despite Nash’s status as a lesser version of himself in recent seasons. At least offensively you can make that case for certain.
12. Jonathan Quick To The Dallas Stars
Alright, we may have lied when we said that the biggest surprise trade of the 2017 National Hockey League offseason will be a John Tavares trade. Instead, it will be the Los Angeles Kings trading their multi-championship winning netminder to a team in their own conference. The Dallas Stars are just desperate enough for goaltending for them to want to acquire a goalie with an absurd number of years and dollars owed remaining on his contract. The Kings are looking for a restart following the firing of their coach and General Manager, so for them it makes sense to trade the goaltender that has been there through thick and thin. This trade will require a lot of moving parts, but it will be a big one.
11. Brent Seabrook To The New Jersey Devils
The Chicago Blackhawks will have their fair share of players they wish to protect in the Expansion Draft, and they will also be in our predictions coming off of a disappointing playoff performance. Their general manger has not shown shyness when it comes to making unexpected major splashes before, and the prediction here is that he will make yet another major splash in this upcoming offseason. The Blackhawks will trade longtime defenseman Brent Seabrook to the offense-hungry New Jersey Devils for a series of prospects, knowing they have players coming into the fold, and knowing they will need the money to pay some of their stars as well. For the Devils, Seabrook will represent their second big splash in as many years, a good sign for the team.
10. Tyler Johnson To The Nashville Predators
The Nashville Predators need offense, and the Tampa Bay Lightning need defense. The Lightning will almost certainly have to ship away a forward before the Expansion Draft to avoid losing them for nothing. The Nashville Predators will almost certainly have to ship away a defenseman before the Expansion Draft for the same reason. Do you see the connection here? The Predators have never avoided making the big moves, and nothing will change this offseason. The Predators will move one of their many defenseman in a deal to acquire Tyler Johnson, giving them even more forward depth. It will be one of those one-for-one deals that makes the fans excited about seeing the two teams meet up again in the following regular season.
9. Jordan Eberle For Travis Hamonic
Once again, the New York Islanders and the Edmonton Oilers will be involved in a major move in the upcoming offseason. A swap of Jordan Eberle for Travis Hamonic has been rumored for a couple of seasons now, but the Islanders have passed each time. The oddity of that is that Eberle is a better player than Hamonic, and the Islanders would be receiving a stronger package in the deal. Travis Hamonic recently worked his way out of the lineup when the Islanders needed him the most by breaking his hand in a fight, and New York has plenty of other defensemen. There’s no time like the present for a trade like this one, and this offseason will finally see the two swapped.
8. Gabriel Landeskog To The Montreal Canadiens
As we said before, the Colorado Avalanche should be selling off every piece on their roster that they can manage to move. The captain of the worst team in hockey, Gabriel Landeskog, should find himself on the way out. Landeskog was rumored to be an interesting player to the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators this past National Hockey League Trade Deadline, but our prediction has Landeskog landing with the Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens love themselves some grit and leadership, two things Landeskog has always brought to the table. Additionally, Landeskog represents scoring depth that’s much needed for this Canadiens team. It’s a strong fit, and Landeskog is bound to be dealt somewhere one way or another anyway, so it makes plenty of sense for the deal to happen.
7. Sami Vatanen To The New York Rangers
The New York Rangers need nothing more than they need help on defense. Dan Girardi will almost certainly be bought out by General Manager Jeff Gorton, due in part to Girardi’s poor play and partly because of his mega contract. However, should Girardi be bought out and the Rangers fail to re-sign Brendan Smith before the Expansion Draft, New York will have an expansion slot left open for a defenseman. Considering the need on defense and that open slot, it makes a lot of sense for the Rangers to go out and acquire a long term fit at defense. Sami Vatanen has long been rumored as a target for the Blueshirts, so considering the Ducks’ expansion needs, the move may finally happen between the two teams.
6. Evander Kane To The Florida Panthers
The Buffalo Sabres have been the most disappointing team in hockey seemingly every year since Jack Eichel arrived on the scene. Eichel and Ryan O’Reilly have spoken openly about how disappointed they feel in their team and the locker room. That means the players cannot work under the status quo, so players will have to be moved. Meanwhile, down in Florida, the Panthers underwent more front office changes and will be looking to make a splash. Evander Kane has been the scapegoat leading to a trade to a team that wanted to make a splash before, so why not the exact same scenario again. Sure it would be an in-division deal, but we can still certainly see the two sides working out a deal.
5. Bobby Ryan To The New Jersey Devils
The New Jersey Devils want to add offense, offense, and offense this offseason. The Ottawa Senators are not exactly loaded with offense, but they do have an owner that demands they advance far every season, so if they fail to make a run in this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs, changes should be in store. Bobby Ryan has not exactly seen eye-to-eye with new head coach Guy Boucher, making him an expendable piece for the Senators. Considering the Devils’ needs up front and the Senators’ willingness to move Ryan, bringing Ryan back to the state he grew up in makes a lot of sense. The Devils would like someone younger, but they can settle for a former 30-goal scorer in the National Hockey League.
4. Dmitry Orlov To The Toronto Maple Leafs
The Washington Capitals just eliminated the Toronto Maple Leafs from the Stanley Cup playoffs, but their futures may intertwine again this offseason. The Toronto Maple Leafs have been in the market for a young, offensive defenseman for some time now. The Washington Capitals do not have the money on the books this offseason to pay Dmitry Orlov what he will ask for in restricted free agency. The Maple Leafs are got a front-row look at everything Orlov brings to the table right now, and odds are they will be quite impressed. This will lead to discussions between the two organizations once the Stanley Cup Final ends, and Orlov getting shipped off to Toronto to work under Coach Mike Babcock.
3. Brayden Schenn To The Calgary Flames
The Calgary Flames should be looking for additional scoring depth this offseason, as seen by how far they advanced in this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs. The Flames are on the precipice of being a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, but they still need a few more parts to reach that status. One part they could use is a forward with a nice shot to add scoring depth. One forward that fits their need and that should be available for trading this offseason will be Brayden Schenn. Schenn had a fine season with the Philadelphia Flyers this past season, but the Flyers will be looking to make some changes, and a player like Schenn seems like a strong candidate to be a big enough move, but not too big to set them back.
2. Pekka Rinne To The Winnipeg Jets
Pekka Rinne is currently trying to lead the Nashville Predators past the powerhouse St. Louis Blue in the second round of the National Hockey League postseason. However, should Rinne suffer any setbacks at all, the Predators appear prepared to switch to backup Juuse Saros in the net. Saros outplayed Rinne throughout the regular season, costs far less, and has far more potential. Combining these factors leads us to believe that the Predators will look to move Rinne and breakup their goaltending tandem that could cause more problems than solutions, as they would like to properly develop Saros. Rinne will head to Winnipeg, where the Jets are desperate for a goalie to push them over the hump and back into the playoffs for next season.
1. Jaroslav Halak To The Philadelphia Flyers
Jaroslav Halak will get one wish granted and create a new scenario that he does not like this offseason. The New York Islanders’ goalie wants out of the organization, something the Islanders will arrange this offseason. However, the reason Halak wants out is because he does not want to be part of a goaltending tandem. The Islanders will ignore this and trade Halak to the Philadelphia Flyers, where he will enter a new goaltending tandem. Ron Hextall has openly spoken about wanting to acquire a goalie to split time with Michal Neuvirth or Anthony Stolarz, and Jaroslav Halak is a nice, not-too-expensive option to fill this void. The Flyers are familiar with Halak, having played plenty of games against him.
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