There are huge moves made every off-season in the NHL. July 1st in the biggest day in every hockey fans offseason followed closely behind by the NHL Draft. Teams make countless changes in this time period. Some for the best and some blow up in a teams face (looking at you Montreal/Shea Weber) This article is going to look at 5 Trades, 5 Signings And 5 Buyouts That Need To Happen this offseason.
There are some teams that desperately need that big free agent acquisition. Some teams that need to look to the trade market to give their team's Stanley Cup chances a boost. Some teams need to move on from off-seasons past by buying out some of their biggest mistakes and underperforming stars. This is shaping up to be an off-season like no other with huge names available as free agents like John Tavares and James Van Riemsdyk as well as big names on the trade market such as Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Erik Karlsson.
So here we go as we count down the biggest moves that are most likely for this upcoming off-season. As always be sure to leave your comments below and let me know who you want your team to go after!
15 Trade: Max Pacioretty To Vegas
The Montreal Canadiens have quickly turned into a dumpster fire of an organization. They need to rebuild but are hesitant to follow the Rangers blueprint and blow things up. Max Pacioretty has been someone rumored to be on the move for quite a while now. I think a move to the Vegas Golden Knights makes a lot of sense for both franchises. Montreal would want him far away so he can't hurt the club and Vegas has the cap space and the need for more top talent.
Vegas has plenty of picks and younger talent they could entice Montreal to part with their Captain.
Besides Vegas, the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks are two teams looking for that one piece to take them over the top and have the assets to make the deal happen.
14 Signing: Ilya Kovalchuk To Washington
Kovalchuk has gone on the record stating he will be back in the NHL next season. He wants a Stanley Cup more than anything after all his success in the KHL over the last few years, as well as his newly won Olympic gold medal. He is close with Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin so it makes sense he would join forces with him in his chase to finally win a cup. The Capitals have been a dominant regular season team for most of the last decade. They have never been able to get past the Pittsburgh Penguins. With the Pens getting older, maybe an influx of a new top goal scorer will finally help push the Capitals over their nemesis. While the Caps are strapped for cap space, perhaps Kovalchuk would be willing to take a one-year deal with a contender, before looking for a big money deal.
13 Buyout: Jason Spezza
Jason Spezza was a huge star in the NHL as a member of the Ottawa Senators but he has struggled as a member of the Dallas Stars this season. Spezza has one year remaining on his huge deal that costs the Dallas Stars $7.5 million a season. The Stars have a strong core of players in their prime and the money wasted on Spezza would be much better utilized on keeping that core together and adding some complimentary pieces.
The buyout of Jason Spezza would cost the Dallas Stars $2.5 million for the next 2 seasons. It would give them $5 million in space this year to go after a solid replacement for Spezza in their top 6. After a disappointing collapse late this season, the Stars will need to shake things up.
12 Trade: Oliver Ekman-Larsson To Edmonton
The Edmonton Oilers need a true point man for their struggling power play. Oscar Klefbom sadly just doesn't cut it at the moment. The Arizona Coyotes have been wasting the talents of Oliver Ekman-Larsson for years now. He doesn't get the respect around the league he deserves playing for such a poor team. The Edmonton Oilers have a ton of young trade chips they could use to entice Arizona to free Ekman-Larsson from NHL purgatory. This all depends on how the draft lottery shakes out. If either team gets the 1st overall pick it dramatically affects the likelihood of any deal. I could see Edmonton offering up Jesse Puljujarvi and a defenseman like Klefbom to get this deal they so desperately need done. After a 2017 offseason that was full of questionable moves, Peter Chiarelli desperately needs a redemption move this offseason.
11 Signing: John Tavares To Montreal
This one makes too much sense for even Mark Bergevin to mess up. The Habs have needed a number one center since Saku Koivu left town. Many would argue Koivu never even was a true no.1 centre for a Stanley Cup contender. The Habs have tried numerous players in at center that just didn't fit (Jonathon Drouin anyone?) Players of Tavares' caliber never hit free agency and yes, it's possible he'll just re-sign with the New York Islanders.
If he doesn't, Bergevin needs to write a blank cheque and get Tavares in Montreal at any cost. Tavares has been one of the premier players at his position since he joined the NHL. Stuck in hockey purgatory of Long Island/Brooklyn, the Canadian could handle the pressure of being a star in Canada. Tavares might not want to be a part of another rebuild, but he could be the savior of the Habs.
10 Buyout: Jay Bouwmeester
Jay Bouwmeester brings a veteran presence to the St. Louis Blues, but not much else. Bouwmeester has struggled with injuries over the last few seasons and has only played in 35 games this season. St. Louis is a surprise team pushing towards the playoffs but spending $5.4 million on an underperforming defenseman will make it hard to have continued success. A buyout of Jay Bouwmeester would cost the St. Louis Blues $1.8 million a year on the cap for the next 2 seasons. With the cap going up, this is the perfect time to pull the trigger on a buyout. The Blues seem to be intent on setting themselves up for continued success, rather than putting in all the chips to win now, so a buyout makes sense if a trade partner can't be found.
9 Trade: Erik Karlsson To Vegas
It is clear that this is one marriage that is quickly heading towards a divorce. Erik Karlsson is one of the best defensemen in the NHL and is sure to demand a kings ransom from whoever ponies up the assets to acquire him. If Ottawa is smart they would be looking to move him to the West where he can't hurt them as much. A rumored deal with the Vegas Golden Knights was apparently close to happening at the trade deadline and we could expect those talks to heat up this offseason.
Teams like Edmonton, Calgary, and Dallas among others would definitely be in the mix as well for Karlsson's elite services and all have the young assets needed to pry him from Ottawa. The wildcard is if Ottawa insists on any team taking Bobby Ryan's albatross of a contract along in any deal. That will negatively impact the return significantly. It's also why Vegas is the most likely trade partner, as they'd be able to take the hit on Ryan's contract.
8 Signing: James Van Riemsdyk To Edmonton
The Edmonton Oilers need to address the wingers they have for Connor McDavid before it's too late. Peter Chiarelli tried building a modern-day version of his successful Bruins teams built on power and size. It's safe to say it hasn't worked out. McDavid needs speedy wingers that can at least try to keep up with him and that's where JVR comes in. He has had a breakout season with the Leafs and shown he can play with generational talent.
JVR would come at a cost but with the salary cap going up and most of the young talent on good deals, The Edmonton Oilers should be able to make it work. Chiarelli needs to replenish the talent up front, having traded Taylor Hal and Jordan Eberle in successive offseasons.
7 Buyout: Steve Mason
The signing of Steve Mason has been a colossal failure for the Winnipeg Jets. Due to injuries and poor play, Mason has only played in 12 games this season. Mason has a record of 4-6-1 with a GAA of 3.18. That was not what Winnipeg was expecting when they signed him to his 2-year deal worth $4.1 million a season. Connor Hellebuyck broke out this season in a big way.
Paying $4.1 million for a backup is not an ideal situation for the Jets. The buyout would only cost the team $1,366,667 a season for the next two seasons. With the cap going up this is a digestible hit to get rid of the Mason experiment. The Jets can then turn their focus to other areas, as this is an offseason where they'll be looking to build off a playoff appearance (and hopefully a long playoff run).
6 Trade: Alex Galchenyuk To Chicago
This is another one that is hard to pick a destination but it is clear that Montreal needs to move on from Alex Galchenyuk. That is not to say that Galchenyuk isn't talented, he just doesn't seem to get the opportunity to shine as a member of the Habs. Galchenyuk hasn't lived up to his draft position but there are many teams that would give him the chance to shine that he needs. Chicago needs to shake up their top 6 after a very disappointing season - and the answer is not re-acquiring past names from their Stanley Cup runs.
It is not outside the realm of possibility to see someone like Saad be dangled to Montreal to bring in Galchenyuk and some other pieces. Galchenyuk is under contract at a reasonable price, which is exactly what the cap strapped Hawks need with an aging team on expensive contracts.
5 Signing: Evander Kane To Vancouver
Evander Kane is a Vancouver native and hasn't made it a secret that he wants to play for his hometown club. The Vancouver Canucks seem to be insistent on not fully committing to a rebuild for some unknown reason. They have some good young talent in Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser but are years away from being competitive in the NHL. Evander Kane has had some off-ice issues due to his perceived lack of maturity. Being given a veteran role on a young club could be just what the embattled star needs to finally grow up. Kane has had an up and down season but could be in line for a playoff run with the suddenly streaking San Jose Sharks. This seems to be the most likely Free Agent signing on the list.
4 Buyout: Zach Bogosian
The Buffalo Sabres are mired in this never-ending rebuild that seems to have no end in sight. They don't have an urgency to complete a buyout but at some point, this team has to stop tanking and make some positive moves. Zach Bogosian has two years remaining on his deal that pays him $6 million a season. The buyout would cost the Buffalo Sabres $2 million a season for the next four years. The Sabres could use their savings to actually bring in a solid defenseman to help shore up one of the most porous defenses in the NHL. After a heavily disappointing season in Buffalo, the Sabres can't afford to just rely on young prospects and players maturing. They have to be proactive.
3 Trade: Jeff Skinner To San Jose
The Carolina Hurricanes are a team in flux. They got rid of their GM (team icon Ron Francis) because his philosophy clashed with the owner. The Hurricanes are a team that has struggled for years but one bright spot has been the play of Jeff Skinner. Skinner has had some concussion problems in the past but he seems to have put that behind him. Skinner is a talented goal scorer and could be secondary scoring for any team pushing to win the Stanley Cup. The Sharks will be looking to get some younger pieces to add, as Thornton is likely playing his final year in San Jose, and Skinner would slot in very nicely on the Sharks' top six, especially if they don't re-sign Evander Kane.
2 Signing: Joe Thornton To Boston
This will be the feel-good story of the NHL next season. Joe Thornton was the Captain of the Boston Bruins when he was traded to the San Jose Sharks. Thornton would go on to be one of the best playmakers in the NHL over the last decade. Thornton has slowed considerably and has had some injury problems but he is still a great playmaker. He is solid at both ends of the ice and would provide the Bruins with veteran leadership and solid secondary production.
Thornton will start chasing the cup soon as his career winds down and Boston has the potential to go on a run. Thornton signed a 1-year deal worth $8 million with the Sharks last summer, but it is unlikely he will command nearly as much next season.
1 Buyout: Andrew MacDonald
Andrew MacDonald has struggled as a member of the Flyers since he signed his big contract. He has quickly been surpassed by Shayne Gostisbehere, Ivan Provorov, and even Travis Sanheim. MacDonald doesn't bring much to the table to justify being the highest paid defenseman on the roster. Andrew MacDonald has two years remaining on his deal.The buyout would cost the Philadelphia Flyers $1,875,000 for the next four years. The savings could lead to them shoring up their bottom 6 forwards and still be able to replace MacDonald's production on the back end. The Flyers have most of their core pieces under contract through next season, so the cap space will be really useful in re-tooling. They really have a chance to build off of what's already been a successful bounce back season.