The NHL offseason has seen no shortage of trade rumors. A lot of names have been tossed around, but some still remain that could be dealt during the season.
This summer, the Blackhawks managed to pull the trigger by bringing back Brandon Saad in exchange for 2016 Calder Trophy winner Artemi Panarin. They also dealt one of the most underrated defensemen in the NHL in Nicklas Hjalmarsson. The Islanders and Oilers made a nice player swap in Jordan Eberle and Ryan Strome.
In addition to these moves, we’ve seen players like Marcus Kruger, Alexei Emelin, Marc Methot, Jason Pominville, Marco Scandella, Marcus Foligno and Tyler Ennis find new homes. The expansion draft also forced many teams to make deals with Vegas GM George McPhee.
The 2018 class of free agents highlights a lot of aging players, but a lot of them could be impact players on a contending team. Unlike other sports that have a “soft cap” or no salary cap, the NHL is different, which makes moving high-end players a very daunting task for general managers. However, we have seen blockbuster moves in the past and there are several others who could be on the move this year. Here are 15 who could potentially be gone.
15. Matt Read
Read’s point totals have seen a drop in recent years. Since coming to the Flyers, Read has put up consistent numbers, ranging in the 20-goal and 40-point range. Over the past three seasons, he has failed to hit the 15-goal mark and has missed 24 games.
That being said, Read has a reasonable cap hit ($3.6 million) and could very well be dealt at the trade deadline. The Philadelphia Flyers are trying to get their youth into the mix, and Read simply isn’t a fit anymore. He has great possession metrics (54.5 Corsi For % and 55 Fenwick For % last season), can kill penalties and would be a solid rental on a contending team.
14. Tyler Bozak
Bozak proved to be a valuable third line center last season. Playing behind Auston Matthews and Nazem Kadri, Bozak had a career year, tallying 55 points and marking himself as a key faceoff man (56.7%) for the Leafs. The Leafs already have a plethora of young talent in their system, but they will need to make room in order to bring in fresh talent.
Bozak is coming off his best season and has one year remaining on his deal. If the Leafs are in a bad spot come the deadline, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the 30-year-old on the move to play a depth role. He will be entering his ninth season with the Leafs and the team may want to add to their blueline, and Bozak is their most expendable, yet valuable, trade chip.
13. Tomas Plekanec
It’s safe to say Plekanec is on the decline and the Montreal Canadiens are confused when it comes to their center spot. While giving up Plekanec could be a mistake, getting rid of his $6 million cap hit to acquire a draft pick wouldn’t be. In the last three years, the 34-year-old Czech dropped from 60 points to 54, to 28. He is still a solid defensive forward and could fill a depth role, but his best days are behind him and parting ways with Montreal would be a good idea.
Plekanec can take key draws, play on the penalty kill and contribute a little offensively. The Canadiens lost key players this summer and are playing in a division that is only getting better (Tampa Bay, Florida, Toronto, Buffalo). They are still in a “win now” mode with Carey Price entering his prime and trading for Shea Weber last year, but is Plekanec still part of that group?
12. Paul Stastny
Since signing a 4-year deal worth $28 million with the St. Louis Blues back in 2014-15, Stastny hasn’t lived up to his $7 million average annual value. The center had a career 0.85 points per game (458 points in 538 games) on Colorado, only to see it regress to 0.66 (135 points in 204 games) in three seasons with the Blues.
Stastny can without a doubt be a contributor, but the only way he gets traded is if the Blues struggle this season and if they retain part of his $7 million salary. He is still an effective second line center and is great on faceoffs. He definitely could help another team, but it’s clear his time in St. Louis is coming to an end.
11. James Neal
After the Nashville Predators’ deep playoff run, Neal found himself on the other side of the ball when he was acquired by Vegas in the expansion draft. With one year left on his deal at $5 million, Neal isn’t in Vegas’ long term plans and would be an ideal middle-6 rental on a contending team.
He proved he could score goals during his entire career, never failing to hit 20 goals despite injuries. Last season, he was third on the Predators with 23 goals behind only Viktor Arvidsson (31) and Filip Forsberg (31). The pure sniper has good value and would fit perfectly alongside a number one center. Neal could be packaged with a defenseman.
10. The Sedin Twins
With the salaries of Roberto Luongo and Jannik Hansen already being retained, it will be very difficult to move both Sedin’s with their $7 million cap hit. For more than a decade, the Sedin’s have been one of the most prolific scoring duos in the entire NHL. Their careers are winding down and the Canucks are far from being a contender, so this could be the last chance for them to win a Stanley Cup. The Sedin’s came close in 2011 when they lost in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Boston Bruins.
At 36 years of age, it’s obvious that they are slowing down, but can still be an effective pair on the power play and can contribute if they are matched up with a speedy sniper. It won’t be easy to make this happen, but it’s not outrageous to see the twins wearing a different jersey come playoff time next year. They will be entering their 17th season with Vancouver and will contribute any way they can. The Canucks have assembled a decent pipeline of young talent and would benefit from acquiring a few drafts picks for the Sedin’s.
9. Tyson Barrie
It’s no surprise seeing Avalanche players on this list, and truthfully it’s a little puzzling as to why the Avs didn’t try in any way to shake up their roster this summer. One of the names that’s kept floating around in trade rumors is defenceman Tyson Barrie. Barrie has a cap hit of $5.5 million and registered 31 points for the Avs last season. Barrie has three years remaining on his deal at 25 years old, so it’s a little unclear as to what the Avs could ask for in return. Perhaps it would be for a slightly younger defenceman on a cheaper contract, or a young forward that can help fill out their roster if in fact they plan on moving the forwards you’ll read about below.
8. Anthony Duclair
The 2013 third round pick struggled mightily this season, scoring only 15 points in 58 games and spending 16 games in the AHL. Duclair was coming off a 44 point rookie campaign and seemed to be an ideal fit to lead the Coyotes. Now, his spot could be in jeopardy.
Since the 2013 draft, the Coyotes have assembled an elite bank of prospects up front, highlighted by names like Clayton Keller, Dylan Strome, Brendan Perlini, Nick Merkley, Christian Dvorak and Ryan McInnis. Most of these players are expected to reach the Coyotes lineup one day, potentially wedging Duclair out of his lineup. If he slumps again this season, he could be on the move. He was already being shopped around this summer, so it’s only a matter of time before there’s a taker.
7. Valtteri Filppula
The Flyers have too many centers and a lot of youth battling for a roster spot. Filppula will stick around for the majority of the season but could be on the move if the Flyers struggle. With the addition of Nolan Patrick and the other center spots occupied by Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and one of Scott Laughton or Mike Vecchione, Filppula may have to play on the wing.
Filppula is a solid playmaking center. He was brought in last season to help relieve Couturier and add depth to the lineup. However, the Flyers were blessed at the draft lottery and acquired Patrick, leaving little room for Filppula. He still has one year left at $5 million and would be a good rental.
6. James van Riemsdyk
‘JVR’ is coming off a career high 62 points and tallied 29 goals. He’s big with soft hands and will be looking for a raise next season. The Leafs will not want to dish out too much for van Riemsdyk when they will need to re-sign their prized youngsters Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander.
Van Riemsdyk is a great player and he is mobile for his size. The Leafs need help on the blue line and have a lot of prospects on the rise. ‘JVR’ is no stranger to trade talks and the Leafs would benefit from it by acquiring a defenseman, as long as it isn’t Luke Schenn. In any event plenty of teams would love to have JVR and a blueliner could be had for a price like JVR.
5. Evander Kane
Kane has a hard time staying healthy (and staying out of trouble), but he still dressed for 70 games last season and tallied 28 goals (25 at even strength). His apparent attitude problems seem to repulse other teams, but it didn’t change the fact that he was dealt to Buffalo in order to become one of their leaders. Now, in the final year of his contract, it wouldn’t be surprised to see him dealt to a contending team who is looking to add a scoring winger.
The Sabres have some good, young players on the rise, the main one being Alex Nylander, and would probably benefit from letting them play in the NHL if their season goes downhill. There were reports of Kane being shopped around this summer, but given all his off-ice problems, there were no takers.
4. Gabriel Landeskog
At last year’s trade deadline, the Avalanche captain was at the center of trade talks, most of them involving the Boston Bruins. Landeskog, 24, had a tough season (like the rest of his team) and could bounce back. His leadership qualities are wanted by a lot of general managers around the league and there would be a lot of interest. The 2011 second overall pick should be a consistent 50-point player but saw a significant drop last year with only 33 points.
Could we see Landeskog to Boston rumors again this season? The Avalanche are in need of defense, but might not want to give up Landeskog so quickly. After all, he was a Calder Trophy winner and the youngest captain in NHL history before Connor McDavid.
3. Mike Green
Green’s 70-point seasons in Washington seem very distant, but he is still capable of running a first power play unit. Health is always a concern with Green, but he still managed respectable numbers for Detroit last year (36 points). He is far from the player he used to be in Washington, and a lot of it has to do with the fall of the Red Wings as a whole.
Green could be a very useful rental if traded at the deadline. He can play bottom pair minutes and a first power play role similar to Kevin Shattenkirk in Washington last year. In the last five years, Green has notched 76 power play points (17th among defensemen in the NHL). The Red Wings are also in a very tough spot and would benefit from adding a draft pick or a prospect.
2. Rick Nash
This move would be primarily based on the season the Rangers have. If they do well, Nash will remain in his usual spot. If the season goes under, a contending team will gladly pay for the services of Nash. A big, mobile power forward with a scoring touch is something every team envies, but it won’t come cheap.
Since joining the Rangers, Nash has appeared in 73 playoff games and struggled. He only has 38 points, including 14 goals (third on the Rangers) which might influence his value. He is still a key player for any contending team, but it will depend on how the Rangers do. Nash actually closed the season strong last year, so you wonder if the Rangers will have second thoughts in the second half of the season if Nash starts to catch fire.
1. Matt Duchene
Probably the most obvious candidate to be traded this season, Duchene has been in almost too many trade talks. Sakic seems to have the price set a little too high for the 26-year-old center/winger, but for good reason. The Avalanche as a whole were bad last year and Duchene is no exception. That being said, he remains an elite center with the potential to hit 60 to 70 points in a full season.
When surrounded with talent, it’s easy to see the kind of difference-maker Duchene can be. At the 2016 World Cup, he had four points in six games for Team Canada. At last year’s World Championships, he had 10 points in 10 games. Ideally, the Carolina Hurricanes should trade for Duchene to fill their number one center void, but Sakic needs to drop his price and Ron Francis must be willing to part ways with one of his defense prospects.
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