It has now been 25 seasons since a Canadian hockey team has won the Stanley Cup and that is extremely challenging to believe. Over the past two and half decades, there have been some absolutely phenomenal Canadian teams, but they simply could not succeed in winning it all. There now is definitely a lot of pressure on all of these franchises because of the fact that hockey is Canada’s sport and they are seeking greatness again. This offseason will have to be one that is full of spectacular moves for these franchises because, aside from the Jets and Maple Leafs, these teams have made some major setbacks this year. However, this summer could offer them some redemption if done effectively.
With all that stated, in this article we will be observing three potential moves that each Canadian should make this offseason. When it comes to these potential transactions, it is important to note that they can come in all different kind of forms. Whether it be signing a star free agent or buying out a player who has a bad contract, they are all moves that would, in theory, benefit these clubs. At the end of the day, it is fair to state that Canada is due for a Stanley Cup in its country, so who could it end up being? This offseason could very well determine that.
Nonetheless, let’s look at the three moves each Canadian team must make this summer!
21 Calgary Flames: Sign James van Riemsdyk
James van Riemsdyk is one of the top free agents of this offseason and easily the best winger available. Due to this apparent fact, JVR will likely land himself a massive contract for the upcoming season. His presence will definitely be missed in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ locker room, but when looking at the abundance of players who are expected to be given raises, the Maple Leafs have no choice but to let him go. Although his market value may be a bit higher than what a player of his caliber should be getting, he has proven to be a consistent thirty goal scorer.
The Calgary Flames showed this season that they still have a plethora of issues with their forward group and need to bring in at least one top notch winger to assist in fixing this, James van Riemsdyk would be an excellent addition to the Flames because he could either slot on their top line right wing position, or provide them with depth on their second line left side. JVR is a legitimate star in the NHL when it comes to his amazing ability as a net presence, so the Flames need to be the team that lands him this offseason. He is still young enough where he will not decline as well.
20 Edmonton Oilers: Buyout Milan Lucic
When the Edmonton Oilers signed Milan Lucic, they thought that they had landed the star winger that would have been Connor McDavid’s partner in crime. Lucic had just come off an amazing tenure with the Boston Bruins where he won a Stanley Cup and had a fantastic year with the Los Angeles Kings as a full season rental. There was a ton of interest in Lucic during the 2016 NHL offseason because he was once an elite power forward who had the ability to produce at a top line level. The Oilers thought they struck gold when they got him on a seven-year, $42 million contract.
For the Edmonton Oilers to have been able to afford Milan Lucic, they traded away Taylor Hall and that has ultimately backfired.
Hall is now an MVP caliber player, while Lucic has completely fallen off in skill in just two seasons with the Edmonton Oilers. There is no way that the Oilers will be able to part ways with Lucic’s contract through a trade, so they may have to go down the buyout route with him. The Oilers cannot afford to give an aging player $6 million per season for the next five seasons. With that being stated, the Oilers must buy him out and save some cash.
19 Montreal Canadiens: Draft Brady Tkachuk
The Montreal Canadiens had themselves an absolutely abysmal season and it has been noted that they plan on changing the entire dynamic of their core for the upcoming season. Players like Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk are likely going to be on the move this offseason, so there is no question that they will be a different looking club. The Canadiens also noted that they are trying to build a team that can win now because of the fact that Carey Price and Shea Weber are in their primes and time is running out for them. For that to happen, they have to draft well too.
The Canadiens had amazing luck in this year’s draft lottery because they managed to secure themselves the third overall selection for the NHL Entry Draft. This year’s draft has a lot of top-notch talent and they are likely getting a player who can start playing with the team next season. Brady Tkachuk looks like the perfect player for the Montreal Canadiens because he is not only an excellent goal scorer and playmaker, but he plays with a very tenacious side. Scouts have noted that they believe Tkachuk will end up becoming a star in the NHL and Montreal definitely needs that.
18 Ottawa Senators: Trade Mike Hoffman
The Ottawa Senators, like the Montreal Canadiens, failed to reach expectations this season and they are expected to start a rebuilding period. A lot of their veteran top notch players are likely going to be moved this offseason because it is utterly apparent that this roster simply does not work well together. The Senators went from being one goal away from making the Stanley Cup Finals in 2017 to being at the bottom portion of the NHL the following season, This atrocious change for the worst is going to cause for significant changes to their team.
One player that the Ottawa Senators are definitely going to end up trading this offseason is speedy winger Mike Hoffman. Hoffman has developed into a very reliable top-six forward over the past few seasons and it is truly shocking because that was not his expected potential whatsoever. At this year’s trade deadline, there were numerous reports that were questioning the availability of Hoffman and he was linked to a few teams. Although no deal ended up going to fruition, there is no question that he will be dealt this summer, as his contract is soon going to expire. Look for him to go to distant team like Arizona or a desperate team like Buffalo.
17 Toronto Maple Leafs: Sign Jay Beagle
The Toronto Maple Leafs showed the NHL that they will be legitimate contenders for quite some time because of the fact that their younger players have developed into elite stars. They definitely have some holes with their defensive core, which is what ultimately led them to lose in the first round to the Boston Bruins, but there still is an abundance of optimism throughout the locker room because it is fixable. This offseason needs to be a very aggressive one for the Maple Leafs, but also they must act practically. Financially, they need to be able to extend their top young players.
With all of this being stated, the Toronto Maple Leafs would be wise by adding a fourth line center to their roster for next season.
Jay Beagle of the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals would be an excellent decision because he has won on all three major professional hockey levels. The Maple Leafs definitely could use a cheap upgrade on their fourth line because Dominic Moore is likely going to be moving on from them this summer. Beagle would provide a new level of leadership to the club and give them a player with an abundance of experience.
16 Vancouver Canucks: Trade Chris Tanev
The Vancouver Canucks are going to go through some major changes for the upcoming season because of the disappointing fact that the Sedin brothers have decided to retire. This should ultimately lead the Canucks to focus solely on their rebuilding period and restrict themselves from making any unnecessary free agent signings like in years past. This is now a time for the Canucks to build within their prospect pool and give some of their top prospects the opportunity to play at the NHL level for next season. This could spark them to even trade away some of their veterans.
Over the past few seasons, there have been a variety of trade rumors that involved the Vancouver Canucks’ top defenseman, Chris Tanev. Tanev has developed into a very solid top-four defenseman in the NHL and has a large amount of value because of the fact that he is extremely sound defensively. The Canucks would be incredibly wise to trade Tanev this offseason because his trade value is at its highest and they need to before they run the risk of losing him for nothing to free agency. Expect to see him dealt to a team in need of an upgrade defensively.
15 Winnipeg Jets: Extend Jacob Trouba
When Jacob Trouba was reaching the conclusion of his entry-level deal, he made a shocking request to be traded away from the Winnipeg Jets. He decided to request this action because of the fact that he desired to play in the Jets’ top-four on the right side. However, due to the fact that the Jets were already so strong on the right side defensively, he was stuck on their bottom pairing, which led to a significant decrease in potential ice time. It took a few months for both sides to resolve their issues and work out an extension, but this definitely could have been a major disaster.
Although this time period was a very rough one between the Winnipeg Jets and Jacob Trouba, their issues have been resolved and there is mutual interest in an extension. Trouba has become a very important piece of the Winnipeg Jets and it appears that he will end up signing with them long-term. The Jets need to prioritize this action as their main goal of the offseason because they cannot run the risk of losing one of their top, young defensemen. The Jets have now found themselves as legitimate Stanley Cup contenders for the next few years, so they need to bring Trouba back.
14 Calgary Flames: Sign Carter Hutton
The Calgary Flames had a pretty decent season performance from last offseason’s top addition in Mike Smith, but they definitely could use some extra insurance with their goalies. This season’s crop of goaltenders is definitely on the weaker side than year’s past, but that does not mean that the Flames do not have any options. When looking at the top goalies available via free agency, the Flames would be extremely wise on giving Carter Hutton the opportunity to compete for the starting job with Smith. They could even do a 1A-1B type of goalie system to ensure higher performance.
Hutton had himself a fantastic season while sharing time with Jake Allen with the St. Louis Blues, so it is likely that he could repeat his success with the Calgary Flames. Although this signing would be a bit of gamble, at the end of the day, Hutton would at least be a solid backup option as the season progresses. The Flames need to be able to build a team that has far greater depth than what they had last season, and by signing Hutton, this would be a very effective start to that. On a one to two-year contract, this signing would absolutely be worth it for the Flames.
13 Edmonton Oilers: Trade Oscar Klefbom
Now, before I truly state my reasoning for this, I must note that I am not saying that Oscar Klefbom is not a very talented hockey player. In fact, he has been one of the best, if not the best defenseman on the Edmonton Oilers, but there have been some trade rumors that would actually make a lot of sense for the team. There have been numerous reports that the Edmonton Oilers and Boston Bruins could potentially make a one for one swap between Klefbom and offensively gifted defenseman, Torey Krug. When looking at this on paper, it would make a lot of sense for Edmonton.
The Edmonton Oilers are absolutely a team that consistently work on winning by having an offensive first system, so trading for Krug would be a marvelous idea. With the Boston Bruins this season, Krug was one of the most productive offensive defensemen in the league and even hit a plethora of career highs once the season was completed. Although Klefbom has been fantastic with the Oilers, he is expendable if it means bringing in a left-handed, borderline elite, offensive defenseman. With all of that being stated, trading Klefbom would be wise in this situation.
12 Montreal Canadiens: Sign David Perron
David Perron had himself a year of redemption with the biggest surprise team of the year, the Vegas Golden Knights. Perron played at a top-six forward level throughout the entirety of the season and has definitely helped raise his value for the upcoming free agency period. It is very likely that the Golden Knights will at least consider bringing back Perron, but with the need to re-sign a plethora of other players, Perron may end up becoming expendable and could be moved on from. If this happens to be the case, Perron will be a top-notch free agent available and will have a lot of interest.
The Montreal Canadiens are definitely looking to change up their forward group, so it would be very wise of them to sign David Perron.
For a contract to make sense with the Canadiens, one would have to assume that it would be a two to three-year deal because of the fact that Perron is a bit older than most. Yet, this could end up being a match made in heaven because of the fact that not only is Perron a quality scorer at the NHL level, but he is French Canadian and would fit the part perfectly. This could be the perfect middle tier signing to help the Habs get back on the right track,
11 Ottawa Senators: Draft Filip Zadina
The Ottawa Senators have a very tough decision when it comes to the fourth overall pick because there are so many different options for them. After Rasmus Dahlin, the top prospect in the draft, there are a lot of questions as to who these teams will end up selecting because the three top wingers are all expected to be spectacular players at the NHL level. The Senators are going to end up securing a very talented player regardless of what occurs, but they definitely need to be extremely careful as to how they develop their choice. He is the start of the future for them.
At the end of the day, all signs point to the fact that the Ottawa Senators will end up drafting Filip Zadina with their fourth overall selection. Although he is ranked as the third best skater of this year’s draft class, there have been numerous reports that the Montreal Canadiens would prefer to have Matthew Tkachuk, if he ends up being available with the pick before. Zadina would probably be the best fit for the Senators regardless because he would be an instant top-six forward on a struggling rebuilding team. Picking Zadina is a no-brainer for the Senators and expect to see it.
10 Toronto Maple Leafs: Sign John Carlson
John Carlson had himself an absolutely fantastic season this year and because of this known fact, he is on the verge of landing a massive contract when he hits the open market. Although the Washington Capitals are going to work thoroughly to ensure they can bring back Carlson, the likelihood of this occurring is astronomically low because of their salary cap restriction. With this being the case, it is likely that Carlson will have a plethora of other options this summer and will probably be rocking a new jersey logo for the upcoming season. However, every fan knows where he would best fit.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have one of the best forward corps in the entire NHL, but it is quite apparent that defensively they are atrocious. This season they could have done far better in the postseason if they had a better defensive corps, or at least, an NHL worthy top-six. The Maple Leafs have made it very clear that they plan on making some significant changes to their defensive core this offseason and signing John Carlson would be their best bet. With James Van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak’s contracts off the books, they will now have a lot of money to work with and can afford to sign Carlson.
9 Vancouver Canucks: Draft Evan Bouchard
The Vancouver Canucks have a lot riding on them when it comes to drafting their next prospect because of the known fact that they are in the midst of an incredibly important rebuilding period. Although they managed to fall off from their initial draft spot and now are drafting seventh overall, they still have the chance to draft a very talented player for the future. The Canucks can go with either a top-notch forward or defenseman because realistically, they need assistance in both areas immensely. However, when observing this year’s draft class at that point in the draft, they should elect for a defender.
The Vancouver Canucks would be wise to bring in Canadian superstar junior defenseman Evan Bouchard with their seventh overall selection. Bouchard absolutely lit up the OHL with the London Knights this season and showed qualities that he will end up becoming a future leader at the NHL level. Bouchard managed to register a whopping 87 points in just 67 games at the defenseman position. This shows that he has a spectacular offensive upside. Yet, it also is important to note that his defensive skills are extremely sound too. He will be the future star two-way defender for the Canucks.
8 Winnipeg Jets: Sign Mark Letestu
The Winnipeg Jets are all set when it comes to their top lines and defensive core. Although they need to replace Tobias Enstrom on the point, as they have notified him that they do not plan on resigning him, there is not much left to be done. Yet, it is important to note that they will now have a decent amount of extra money that they can use to extend some of their young forwards. With that being stated, the Jets should resist the urge to sign any big name free agents because they have ultimately set up their core perfectly for the long run.
However, it would not be the worst idea for the Winnipeg Jets to decide to bring in some bottom-six forward depth for the upcoming season. One player that would a plethora of sense for the Jets would be to sign veteran centerman, Mark Letestu. Over the past few seasons, Letestu has truly grown into a very reliable player at the NHL level due to the fact that he plays very well defensively. The Jets definitely need another veteran in the locker room to help the charge, so this signing would make sense. At a cheap price as well, Letestu would be a low-risk, high-reward player.
7 Calgary Flames: Trade Dougie Hamilton
The Calgary Flames, as previously stated in this article, are going to need to bring in some offensive star power this offseason. They simply will never be able to contend in the extremely deep Western Conference with a lack of offensive depth. The NHL is definitely growing into a league that is offensively driven, so they cannot expect to succeed with this forward core. One important factor to note about the Flames is the clear benefit that they have a spectacular top-six defensive core at this present time. Now could be the perfect opportunity to trade away one of their top defensemen to end up securing themselves a first line right winger to play with their best forwards.
Over the past few seasons, there have been dozens of trade rumours that indicated the Calgary Flames were considering moving on from Dougie Hamilton.
These always seemed to be a bit puzzling because of the fact that Hamilton is still extremely young and is a top-notch defenseman at the NHL level. Yet, when looking at the Flames’ situation now, this would actually make a lot of sense to do. If they were to land a real star in return for Hamilton, not a single person would complain.
6 Edmonton Oilers: Trade For P.K. Subban
The Edmonton Oilers definitely have a lot of talent up front with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, but this season showed that they are never going to succeed in the NHL without depth to support them. The Oilers are likely going to be very aggressive when it comes to revamping their roster because of the evident fact that they were absolutely abysmal this past season. The Oilers have gone back to their losing ways just one season after being one of the best teams in the Western Conference. There is still potential for the Oilers to be a very good club, but realistically, they need to make a blockbuster.
The Nashville Predators have been reportedly shopping P.K. Subban, so a potential deal to the Edmonton Oilers could be absolutely legendary. Although the Oilers would likely have to give up a lot of assets to the Predators because they are in the same conference, this would be extremely beneficial for them. It is clear that the Oilers need a top two defenseman on this roster and Subban is potentially the best player available to fill in this extremely important role. Subban and McDavid would be absolutely lethal together and it could result in the Oilers being the best again.
5 Montreal Canadiens: Trade Max Pacioretty
The Montreal Canadiens have a very difficult decision when it comes to the future of their captain, Max Pacioretty. The Canadiens made it perfectly clear that they were shopping Pacioretty to other hockey clubs this trade deadline, but no trade ever ended up coming to fruition for them. Following the fact that Pacioretty ended up not getting moved out of Montreal, he expressed a lot of relief and stated that he wants to play the entirety of his NHL career with the Habs. Yet, when looking at the future of the Habs, this may not end up occurring because of what has happened.
When looking into this potential trade, it is definitely time for the Canadiens to make the move. Although Pacioretty has stated his love for Montreal, this season was inexcusable and it would be nice to let him move on to have a fresh start. The Habs’ media has been absolutely relentless with Pacioretty, even though he has been their best player for a number of years. The Canadiens should trade him and get some assets to also avoid the chance of losing him for nothing next offseason. All signs to a Pacioretty deal happening, so keep your eyes open.
4 Ottawa Senators: Trade Erik Karlsson
The Ottawa Senators came inches away from trading Erik Karlsson to the Vegas Golden Knights this past trade deadline, but the Golden Knights backed out of the trade when the Senators asked for Cody Glass as the main piece going back. The reason why the Senators were so aggressive this season with the prospect of trading away Karlsson was due to the fact that they simply played atrociously and their team chemistry faded away because of it.
With Karlsson openly expressing his desires for a large long-term deal, the Senators looked to move him since they are a low budget team.
The Ottawa Senators are absolutely going to find a way to trade Erik Karlsson, especially with all of the information about the potential past trade that now is open to the public. The Senators will end up hurting themselves with this trade, but realistically, they have no choice because they now have a disgruntled superstar who will leave once he has the chance to. The Senators could end up securing themselves a plethora of assets in a Karlsson trade, but there is no actual way to replace greatness. This will set the Senators back for quite some time, but it is the less of two evils.
3 Toronto Maple Leafs: Extend Auston Matthews
Once the Toronto Maple Leafs drafted Auston Matthews with the first overall selection in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, they instantly turned their franchise around and became a top-notch team in the Eastern Conference. There is no question that Matthews’ presence and offensive contributions is a significantly huge reason behind this sudden change and he will be rewarded with his next contract. The Maple Leafs are likely going to give him the big bucks and a deal that allows him to be locked up with the team for a maximum eight years. However, they should act fast.
Although Auston Matthews has one year left on his current entry-level contract, the Maple Leafs should be aggressive and show their interest in making Matthews their long-term star now. It is inevitable that the Maple Leafs will lock up Matthews on a long-term contract, but it would be better for them to complete it now. This would give them a far better understanding on how to budget their team moving forward and potentially move out players who have contracts that simply are too much to handle at this time. The Leafs have a star in Matthews and they need to keep it that way.
2 Vancouver Canucks: Trade for Noah Hanifin
There has been some interesting news coming from the Carolina Hurricanes that they are actually shopping young top defenseman, Noah Hanifin. This is actually an extremely questionable decision on their end because of the fact that Hanifin is still extremely young and has the potential to continue to grow into a star. With the Hurricanes noting that they are about to start a rebuilding period and they are looking to trade some veterans away, I do not think that anyone envisioned the possibility of this occurring. However, Hanifin appears to be on the trading block.
The biggest rumor out of the Noah Hanifin sweepstakes is that the Vancouver Canucks are extremely interested and have been sending out offers. This is a potential trade that would make so much sense for the Canucks because Hanifin is the perfect player for a rebuilding team. He is already a top-four talent in the NHL and easily could be a top-two defenseman if handled correctly. If the Canucks decided that they were willing to part ways with this year’s first-round pick, Hanifin is one of the only players that they should pick up for it. However, getting Hanifin without trading the 7th overall pick would be ideal.
1 Winnipeg Jets: Extend Patrik Laine
It was a little bit disappointing that the Winnipeg Jets did not make the Stanley Cup Finals after defeating the Nashville Predators in the second round. That series made it seem like the Jets had the potential to end up winning the Stanley Cup because they decimated the team with the best overall record in the entire NHL. Yet, the Vegas Golden Knights proved to be far too challenging for the Jets and they found themselves out of the playoffs.
However, the future is extremely bright for this young team and they could very well end up winning it as soon as next season.
The essential player on this team moving forward for the Winnipeg Jets is the scoring phenom, Patrik Laine. Laine has already turned into one of the best scorers in the entire NHL and he has only played through two seasons in the NHL. There is so much optimism when looking at this sniper and he has been involved in many comparisons to Alexander Ovechkin. With all of this being stated, like the Maple Leafs with Auston Matthews, the Jets need to extend Laine this offseason to the maximum term deal. Laine is the present and future of this team, so they need to act quickly.