Due to the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft (Vegas Golden Knights), and with a number of Stanley Cup Playoff contending teams scrambling to restructure the appearance of their rosters, the 2017 NHL offseason should be one of the more memorable summers than in recent past.
While there's plenty of speculation that there could be a handful of blockbuster trades at the 2017 NHL Trade Deadline this month, there is a strong possibility that a number of clubs will postpone potential trades and wait until after the season is officially over. Clubs such as the Tampa Bay Lightning or Dallas Stars may hesitate to make transactions this month, as each team would want to carefully evaluate if a trade would end up hurting their chances at hoisting the Stanley Cup this spring.
Then, there are the other clubs such as the Arizona Coyotes and New Jersey Devils who have plenty of salary-cap space to improve their clubs drastically this offseason, and would be more than happy to take valuable players, plus their contracts, off of other team's hands.
Looking at today's NHL, blockbuster trades tend to happen in the summer, as teams then have a chance to get under the cap prior to the season. Deadline deals in today's NHL are usually reserved for rental players and or acquiring fourth liners.
The Sportster projects 15 NHL trades that could happen this summer.
15 Valtteri Filppula To Dallas
The Tampa Bay Lightning have little room to keep their core group from the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals intact, and while goaltender Ben Bishop will likely not be on the roster next season, so will at least one or two other Lightning forwards. Bolts forward Valtteri Filppula could be the first skater traded during the 2017 offseason for Tampa Bay.
Filppula is set to become an unrestricted-free-agent after next season, and the chances of the Finnish native returning to Tampa, due to salary cap reasons, are doubtful. So, the Lightning could consider the idea of moving the former Detroit Red Wings skater while they can still receive maximum value in return. The Lightning need to clear cap space more than anything going forward, and the Bolts would look to receive prospects or mid-to-high draft-picks in return. Filppula could be headed to Dallas and with the Stars this summer.
14 Dustin Brown To Buffalo
It’s apparent that the Los Angeles Kings and general manager Dean Lombardi are ready to move on from two-time Stanley Cup champion and former team captain, Dustin Brown. And, while the forward’s contract is not ideal to tackle on at the moment, a club such as the Arizona Coyotes (who have salary cap room) could look into taking Brown off of the Kings’ hands; which would also serve as a nice replacement for a veteran presence which will be missed next season in captain, Shane Doan.
A change of scenery could even rejuvenate Brown’s play on the ice, and it could pan out to be a positive for both he and Los Angeles. A team that makes more sense for Brown than Arizona is the Buffalo Sabres would take great interest in Brown, too. As the “Eichel Era” progresses, the Sabres could use an experience veteran like Brown for a near and future playoff push in years to come.
13 Bobby Ryan To New Jersey
Bobby Ryan is set to make over $7-million a season and over the next five years with the Ottawa Senators. While the Senators are currently in the Stanley Cup Playoffs picture for this upcoming spring, Ottawa could still look to trade Ryan and to a handful of teams.
The dynamic forward could be traded to the Winnipeg Jets, who will seek players of Ryan’s talent this offseason in order to help support rookie sensation, Patrik Laine. Winnipeg also has the cap-room to take on Ryan’s contract, and the skater could help transform the Jets into a Cup contender in due time. A club such as the New Jersey Devils could take interest in Ryan, too. While Devils’ forward Adam Henrique is a fan favorite, perhaps New Jersey’s front office would be open to shopping him, for Ryan plus an additional skater.
The Devils made a big splash last offseason, so why not another?
12 Matt Duchene To Carolina
It’s been a tough season for all of the Colorado Avalanche’s skaters, but one player that stands out in comparison to the rest of the club is forward Matt Duchene. The former first-round draft-pick (2009) of the Avs has only recorded 29 points to date, yet his trade value would still be high once the offseason begins this summer.
Duchene is under contract until the end of the 2019 season, and perhaps a team such as the Carolina Hurricanes would display the most interest in acquiring the talented center. Carolina would be ready to take that next step forward in transforming back to a Stanley Cup Playoff contender again, and the Canes could use an experienced center such as Duchene. It’s time to completely rebuild in Colorado and trade its most valuable talent – while those players still have the highest possible trade value.
11 Paul Stastny To New York
It’s been a bit of a disappointing campaign for forward Paul Stastny in St. Louis and with the Blues. If the Blues lose early in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, again, or even fail to qualify for the Cup Finals, than St. Louis could look to trade away Stastny this summer.
While Stastny’s contract is a heavy load for a team to acquire, a team such as the New York Rangers could look to make a blockbuster deal for the former second-round draft-pick and in exchange for a player such as Rick Nash; which could also turn out to be a multi-player transaction. Both Stastny and Nash would only be on the books for one season each with their new respective clubs, too. It’s possible both clubs will be looking to experiment this offseason, especially if they are eliminated early in the postseason.
10 Marian Gaborik To Florida
The Los Angeles Kings’ window to compete for another Stanley Cup may be diminishing, and team general manager Dean Lombardi will have some intriguing (from the fan’s perspective) and difficult decisions to make sooner than later. Lombardi could look to trade a couple of notable players in order to free salary-cap space for the future, and one of those skaters could potentially be Marian Gaborik.
Gaborik has proven to be a clutch performer in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since joining the Kings back in 2014, and most general managers around the league would be comfortable taking on his contract. And, instead of potentially losing the six-foot-one forward in the upcoming Expansion Draft, and for nothing in return, why not trade Gabby in exchange for draft picks? With the Panthers likely to lose Jaromir Jagr in free agency, replacing him with Gaborik makes sense.
9 Gabriel Landeskog To Boston
Oh, what a spiraling mess the Colorado Avalanche have been over the past eight seasons or so. The Avs are in desperate need to just ‘start over again’ and Colorado could start doing so by trading away one of its former second-overall-picks (2011), Gabriel Landeskog.
Yes, Landeskog is the club’s team captain and has produced on a consistent basis since his rookie campaign in 2011, but Landeskog’s play has dipped dramatically this season and it may be better for both sides to go their separate ways. Landeskog’s trade value would be enticing to either a team in the middle of a rebuild, or even a Stanley Cup contender. The potential trade would boil down to how high Colorado’s asking price would be, and which team would be able to afford Landeskog’s current contract (worth $5,571,428 annually until 2021). Reports have surfaced that the Boston Bruins are interested, but it would make more sense to explore a deal in the summer.
8 James van Riemsdyk To New Jersey
Since former New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello joined the Toronto Maple Leafs front office last summer, Leafs’ forward James van Riemsdyk has been rumored to be an ideal candidate for Toronto to trade away.
At the age of 27, van Riemsdyk, is in the prime of his NHL career and with the Leafs still in the beginning stages of a rebuild mode, Toronto could seek a trade to receive the necessary compensation (whether it would be prospects, draft picks or a cheaper priced veteran) in exchange for JVR – before it’s too late. JVR, is set to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2018 season, and his contract is both affordable plus intriguing for other NHL clubs to take on. Don’t be surprised to see a team like the New Jersey Devils come swarming in, as they need some scoring help for Taylor Hall.
7 Ryan Getzlaf To Philadelphia
Forward Ryan Getzlaf has played for the Anaheim Ducks since the 2005-06 regular season, which even dates back to when the club was named the “Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.” The former first-round draft-pick of the team (2003) has been one of the main, if not the, face of the franchise since the Ducks hoisted their first ever Stanley Cup in 2007.
However, Anaheim has failed to reach the Cup Finals since that time. The Ducks could look to trade Getzlaf this offseason, in order to shake things up moving forward as an organization. This wouldn’t be the first time a superstar caliber player, and one such as Getzlaf, would be dealt in order to transform a club’s lineup and for the better. The Philadelphia Flyers seem like a good fit here, as Getzlaf won't be under pressure to score, given that Claude Giroux centers the top line in Philly.
6 Marc-Andre Fleury To Dallas
While the Pittsburgh Penguins very well could deal goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury before the offseason, that trade possibility may sound easier said than done -- and the Pens could have to wait until this summer to trade Fleury away.
Additionally, Pittsburgh general manager Jim Rutherford will not just send the club’s former first-overall-pick (2003) and two time Stanley Cup winner to a destination which entails not making the postseason in 2018. In fact, perhaps if Jake Allen of the St. Louis Blues continues to struggle down the stretch and in the Stanley Cup Playoffs – the Penguins will look to make a deal with them...or, a team who is desperate for a Stanley Cup champion caliber netminder -- such as the Dallas Stars who could jump in the sweepstakes, but not until this summer.
Dallas makes the most sense here, as they've had trouble finding consistency in goal. The money the Pens would save on Fleury would also allow them to take one of Dallas's netminders in return to be their backup to Matt Murray.
5 Henrik Zetterberg To Toronto
Yes, it’s finally time to rebuild in Hockeytown after 25 straight seasons of the Detroit Red Wings clinching a Stanley Cup Playoff berth. So, one prime candidate who holds a ton of trade value would be veteran and team captain, Henrik Zetterberg. The Red Wings more than likely wouldn’t trade Zetterberg at the deadline, but could look to deal away the club’s superstar to help speed up the rebuild process in good ol’ Hockeytown this summer.
Perhaps an old foe, in the Colorado Avalanche would take interest in the Swedish native, as the club will clearly be looking to make a few drastic moves this summer. I’m sure an old friend, and coach, in Mike Babcock would push for the Toronto Maple Leafs’ front office to make a run at acquiring his former all-star winger and in exchange for future draft picks the club can dispense – with the Auston Matthews era now moving along.
Toronto makes the most sense as they have a ton of cap space, and they'll need some veteran leadership for their young core of forwards.
4 Ben Bishop To Calgary
Yes, NHL fans alike are still waiting for the Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman to trade goaltender Ben Bishop, and let Andrei Vasilevskiy take over the reigns in the Bolts’ crease. However, it may be wise for Tampa Bay to hold onto Bishop for as long as it possibly can; especially if the Lightning get back into playoff contention.
The idea to hold onto Bishop, or move him, would be considered a sacrifice either way – a double edged sword. If Yzerman keeps Bishop, he may miss out on receiving the highest possible value in return; but if he deals Bishop, is Yzerman trading away his best and most experienced netminder in the heat of a Stanley Cup Playoff race? So, wait until the offseason and trade Bishop’s rights to a club like the Flames in exchange for draft-picks and possibly a veteran backup (Chad Johnson) to come in next season and push Vasilevskiy. This is a perfect fit.
3 Rick Nash To St. Louis
It’s been a love-hate relationship between New York Rangers forward Rick Nash and the Garden faithful. Nash, 32, has been a Ranger since the beginning of the 2012-13 campaign and his contract with the club is set to expire after next season. With Nash set to make just under $8 million next season, before becoming an unrestricted-free-agent in 2018, New York could look to trade the former first-overall-pick (2001) this summer.
It’s more than likely that the Rangers won’t be able to afford Nash after 2018, nor be interested in re-signing the three time 40 goal scorer. So, the Rangers’ front office could look to explore Nash’s trade value this summer, and try to receive the necessary compensation for hockey’s future in the Big Apple. The St. Louis Blues, Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks would be among possible destinations for him. When looking at those teams' needs, the Blues make the most sense, as they're really getting desperate for offense.
2 Cory Schneider To St. Louis
Last summer, New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero executed the first blockbuster deal of the NHL offseason when the former Penguins Stanley Cup winner (general manager) traded New Jersey defenseman Adam Larsson, in exchange for Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall. New Jersey still needs help on the offensive side of the puck.
The Devils fan-base should brace itself once the 2017 offseason officially arrives in late June. And, New Jersey could have a new starting goaltender other than Cory Schneider to start the 2017-18 season. With the Devils struggling this season and on the verge to miss the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the fifth consecutive season, it may be in Shero’s best interest to deal the franchise netminder, Cory Schneider. The six-foot-three netminder has proven to be a top five, or three NHL goalie, and a plethora of teams would line up to acquire Schneider. Destinations for the great Martin Brodeur’s replacement could be the St. Louis Blues, who have plenty of trade pieces New Jersey would like and need an answer in goal, because it certainly isn't Jake Allen.
1 John Tavares To Anaheim
There’s no arguing or denying that forward John Tavares has been both the captain and superstar player that the New York Islanders have been longing for since, well, the Stanley Cup years (1980-1983). The former first-overall draft-pick (2009) has had numerous MVP-like seasons in New York, but it appears that the team may have to consider trading its’ beloved captain and sooner than later.
Tavares is set to become an unrestricted free agent during the 2018 offseason, and while number 91 for the Orange and Blue has never hinted about leaving the Islanders, fans alike are aware that it is very possible for New York to lose Tavares to free-agency. So, with the Islanders struggling and potentially in the beginning stages of an inevitable rebuild…why not trade Tavares this summer and receive the maximum amount of value back in return?
Assuming the Ducks don't win the Stanley Cup this year, they could shake up their core by trading Getzlaf and landing themselves a younger top center in Tavares. Seeing Tavares match up against the Western Conference's top centers would be a treat to see next season.