We are on the cusp of the Stanley Cup Final, and with the draft closing in, general managers are starting to zero in what's best for now and the future. They have to objectively decide if their window is closing and if a few deft moves can give them another chance to salvage the careers of their fading stars. Yet others have to decide if it's time to take a risk or trade a top prospect to take that next step. And still, some must decide if it's time to clean house, accept the window has closed, and revamp their entire club.
The best trades are made from a team's strengths to improve areas of weakness, and the best general managers recognize it's not about getting something for nothing, but they have t give to get, do their homework, and discover players that have been misused and have more talent than they've showed. When it comes to trades, there are short term fixes, long term plans, and a time to strike. In the NHL today, there is a changing of the guard. Edmonton and Toronto seem to be ahead of the curb. The Rangers, Montreal, and the Kings are behind it, but almost everyone else can be a contender.
The reality is every team can help each other if they don't let emotions get in the way. But emotional detachment is almost impossible because every GM has made masterful and horrendous moves, gotten lucky and gotten burned, and they must have faith, even if the fans don't, that they're right. So with so much riding on a GM and their team's fate, what are they supposed to do? It's easy, take my advice.
16 Brandon Sutter for Ryan Nugent Hopkins
With Edmonton's seven game loss to the Ducks, we saw two areas of weakness for the Oil that were exposed. They need an experienced defenseman who can play in all situations and is responsible in all three zones. They also need a forward who can offensively and defensively match up against bullish, yet skilled forwards like Getzlaf and Perry. The Oil have toughness in the form of body checking and fighting, but not the types who can produce at both ends of the ice.
Sutter can play even strength, the power play, and especially shorthanded where Maroon and Lucic are useless. For the Canucks and Linden, it's time to start over, and though RNH has been an underachiever, he can start anew and without pressure. Their rebuilding, so a big, young center averaging about 50-60 points a season is good addition to a young team.
15 Ryan Miller to Los Angeles for 3rd round pick
Los Angeles will completely overhaul their team and give John Stevens a chance to put a stamp on his team. They have dealt Bishop already and will need a good backup for Quick, with his recent injury history.
The 36 year old vet Miller still posted a .914 save percentage last season. Miller has been a great soldier for every team he's played for and he'll bring his competitiveness and professionalism every night as the Kings start to rebuild. Some players hang on and fade away, but Miller has been productive on a series of terrible teams searching for a last minute solution. The draft pick is perfect for the Canucks, as they aren't going anywhere and need to fill in pieces through the draft. Horvat has some serious skill, Granlund is still an unknown quantity, but this is how teams start the painful process.
13 Jacob Trouba for Marc-Andre Fleury
It wasn't long ago that Fleury rode the pine and it seemed like no club would consider him. But the Pens played it right or got lucky, and Fleury has increased his value. Although he still can let in that soft goal, he's proven he can still be a number 1 goalie that can steal a playoff series. Winnipeg's goalies with the most all time wins are Pavelec, Lehtonen, and Hedberg (boy does that hurt), so an argument can be made that Fleury would be the best goalie they ever had. Plus, Winnipeg is on the cusp, and this deal could be enough to push them from the 9th seed to the 8th.
As for Trouba, who seems to be on the the bubble in Winnipeg, he would be a great addition to the Pens. He's no Letang, but he plays in all situations and isn't afraid to get involved. Pittsburgh could re=sign Schultz, secure Trouba, and start rebuilding their defense in front of their favorite #1 goalie, Matt Murray.
12 Nick Bjugstad and Roberto Luongo for Philipp Grubauer
No matter how far Washington goes this year, next year's team will look different as they have a lot of free agents they won't be able to sign. They'll have forward positions to fill, and they have a young back up that could be a starter or at least deserves a shot to be one. Holtby is going anywhere, so they need to find a team with some young, inexpensive players and a possible back up. So what's wrong with this deal for either team? A back up veteran like Luongo, who will be playing less regular season games fits perfectly. Florida gets one of the top young goalies in the league, who at 25, has a lot to prove and a full career ahead. Florida also has a ton of young forwards who are approaching a crossroads where their careers have shown promise and also flatlined. With the Caps' core in place, it might be enough to a guy like Bjugstad to flourish.
11 Anthony DuClair, Mike Smith, and a 2nd round pick to Minnesota for Zach Parise and Devan Dubnyk
Minnesota has huffed and puffed but blown nothing down, and what really makes anyone think this is going to change. Sure, the Hockey Gods could direct a few pucks in off butts, but just like in Montreal and New York, something is missing. Smith is certainly a better goalie in-front of Minnesota's defense than most so the Wild get a good short term netminder, a promising forward, skilled, young forward, a 2nd round pick. Even if Smith doesn't work out, there are a plethora of UFA goalies and they'd have some money to go shopping.
For the Yotes, the hockey world must be getting sick of them doing almost nothing to better themselves. Dubnyk will certainly help their young defense, Parise can play on the top 3 lines, and they might as well give some of their high draft picks a chance to swim or sink. They might as well realize they are in the NHL, and turning into an embarrassment.
10 Jay Bouwmeester to Dallas for Jason Spezza
The first priority for Ken Hitchcock has been fulfilled with the addition of Ben Bishop, but then he'll go for a veteran horse on defense to be a liason between him, his leadership group, and the rest of the roster. Dallas knows exactly where they stand, as an aging team with offense to spare and holes in goal and on the blueline. They take care of both of these problems this offseason by going for it and giving Hitch what he needs.
Spezza is a complete liability on defense, and the Blues are still incredibly deep on the back end. This also allows the oft injured and soft Stastny to walk, and Spezza provides some serious play making on a team that couldn't get a "a breeze" past Pekka Rinne. This also sets the stage for some other moves for St. Louis, who can't let a superstar like Tarasenko waste away. If the Blues falter, Spezza would also be a nice trade chip come deadline time.
9 Rights To Alexander Radulov To Vegas For 2nd Round Pick, Future Considerations
Alexander Radulov made a successful return to the NHL this year after moving back to Russia for a few seasons. Unfortunately for the Canadiens, they only signed Radulov to a one-year deal and he has reportedly asked them for a max eight year contract. As good as Radulov is and as thin as the Habs are for finding goals, they simply can't give that much to Radulov so they'll have to find a taker. With ample cap space and no players signed yet, Vegas will be happy to bring in the Russian Bear and could overpay him, seeing as they have to reach the cap floor. Pairing Radulov with acquired center Vadim Shipachyov would give the Golden Knights an exciting top line and there's no doubt Radulov would love Vegas.
For the Habs, they could acquire a high draft pick and could have their pick of players that Vegas takes in the expansion draft.
8 Mike Green and a 3rd Round pick for Ilya Kovalchuk and a 2nd
It's not crazy at all. New Jersey struck gold in the 2017 draft and whichever center they chose will improve and deepen their offense. All of a sudden, their offense is deeper and better than ever and it's their defense that is lousy. Though Green isn't scoring 70 points a year, he has averaged 72 games, 10 goals, and 29 assists for a Detroit team that can't score. He's also 31, and the Devils will have money to improve it. For Detroit, they get, by all accounts, a scorer who hasn't lost his shot to open up their new building and be a finisher for a lot of young, offensive talent. They will get a better draft pick, and they'll also have some money to shop for defensive help.
7 Tavares, Halak and a conditional 1st round pick for Sam Reinhart and Robin Lehner
Buffalo is in a little bit of trouble. Most importantly, Eichel's ego seems to spreading through the organization and if he's not happy, heads will roll. Buffalo has young centers and needs wingers and a goalie. If Buffalo doesn't support Eichel, look a few years down the road and you'll see him waving goodbye. Tavares is obviously a risk because his UFA status is a year away, but the Sabres have taken this chance before.
Plus, Tavares will be relatively close to home, might be able to keep Eichel in line, and if not, and Tavares leaves, the conditional #1 becomes relevant. So if Tavares leaves, Buffalo has their best goalie since Miller, a top pick, and the Isles have one of the Sabres many young forwards and a big, nasty goalie that Snow will love. It's worth the risk, as long as Jack agrees.
6 Kasperi Kapanen for Erik Johnson
Sometimes having too many good, young players can cause problems. Just look at Tampa, where Drouin, Johsnon, Palat, and Killorn where will all become RFAs and then UFAs at the same time. In a salary cap era, that's not good. But this works for both teams, as Toronto adds a top flight defenseman which they desperately need, and Colorado gets a young forward that may turn out to be a star.
Johnson's career will go nowhere in Colorado, and though a deal with Tampa for Drouin could also work, Tampa wouldn't get a pick back. This is a deal where Toronto gets a #2 defenseman that can play at equal strength, on the power play, and shorthanded, while Colorado starts to add pieces to a team without having to tank and possibly get burned in the lottery.
5 Niklas Kronwall to Columbus for a 2nd r0und pick
Two factors were painfully obvious in the Jackets getting slaughtered by the Pens in the first round. Bobrovsky was awful and reminded people of what they saw in Philly before he was dealt. Second, the defense was outplayed in terms of speed and physicality, and this deal helps them come playoff time when defense has to be steady, physical, and smart. Columbus is young, and adding the veteran defensive horse will help steady the younger kids and his poise is an asset. Though he's on the older side, this buys Columbus time to draft and develop future defenseman. Detroit, who has years of suffering in the future, could use that early 2nd round pick to take a defenseman or the best available player that may have a future with them.
4 Jonathan Drouin for Jake Muzzin and a 2nd rounder
Desperate teams also do dumb things, and Yzerman does another (the Stamkos signing was the worst), just to send Drouin as far away as possible. It's no doubt that Philly, Boston, Montreal, and a host of other Eastern Conference teams want him, but Yzerman would send him to Siberia if he could. However, the deal does help both teams. Tampa avoids what will be a contract war to sign Palat and Johnson (who should be traded instead), and also brings Tampa some much needed help on defense and a pick.
For the Kings, they get a player who seems to be on the fast track to being a dominant scorer and they get younger. These teams just made the Bishop trade, and this could be the proverbial "next shoe to drop."
3 Sam Bennett for Jimmy Howard and a 2nd
As they say, where there's smoke there's fire, and there's some tension in Calgary with Sam Bennett. He's been scratched, talked too, and teams have called. The Flames are super young and talented and have picks that are NHL ready, but still need a goalie and will need cap space. The Wings have two NHL goalies and could really offer either Howard or Mzarek to make this happens. If it does, it gives Calgary hope in net, for even though Howard is 33 years old, he had a 2.10 goals against and .927 save percentage. Furthermore, Detroit gets a young, fiery, talented player to strengthen their offense. Calgary also gets a nice 2nd round pick in the draft, and if it doesn't work, free agent, top goalies will become available for the next few offseasons.
2 Claude Giroux for Jeff Skinner
The Flyers have long been interested in Skinner, and winning one of the top two picks in the 2017 draft allows them to make this move. They'll most certainly select one of the top ranked centers who is NHL ready, and even if he can't make the leap, the Flyers need help on the wing. Also, the Canes don't have a number #1 center but many exciting, promising young wingers. The Flyers have made a habit of trading their captain with Lindros and Richards, and they have a new captain waiting, Wayne Simmonds. Though both teams are giving up the current face of their franchise, both franchises need a new face. It just hasn't worked for either team and both need a big change.
1 Patrick Kane for Alexander Ovechkin
Chicago has already made it known they are ticked off about being swept by Nashville in round one, they've lost their back up goalie to Carolina, and they must address their goaltending as well. Kane has also proven over the past few summers to do more harm to his career than good. We know the Blackhawks can't be happy with this.
Conversely, the Caps can't be happy with yet ANOTHER second round exit and a subpar performance from their captain. Of course it's not fair to blame it all on Ovechkin, for it took Yzerman years and years to win the cup, but "The Great Eight" had his minutes cut drastically and fell to the 3rd line. They're both number one picks, Ovie is only three years older, and the Hawks also have youngsters like Panik and Hartman who need more playing time. Furthermore, Kane will bring a more well rounded offensive game to Washington.