The NHL off-season is going to bring upon a variety of changes to the league and we are now less than a month away from it starting. There have been an abundance of rumours starting since the end of the Stanley Cup Finals, so we appear to be in quite the treat. Although this season’s free agency class is a bit weaker than most, the trading block is full of top notch players so it makes up for that. That being stated, we likely are going to see a significant switch in the NHL standings next year. With so many teams looking to shake up their cores entirely, it is going to be a crazy summer.
With all that has been stated thus far, in this article we will be looking at five players from each position who will be switching teams this off-season. It is important to note that we also are going to be predicting where exactly these players may end up going to. It is clear that each team needs to make some changes with their core of players, so that is something us NHL fans need to watch out. This year brought on many teams who failed to reach expectations. I mean, the two finalists of the Stanley Cup Finals displayed this evidently. Many teams are now going to change and these players are going to be the cause of that.
Nonetheless, let’s look at the five players at each position who will be switching teams this summer!
25 Center: Riley Nash (Anaheim Ducks)
Riley Nash was the surprise of the season for the Boston Bruins this year, but sadly, he is now going to be a free agent. The Bruins would love to have him back, but it likely cannot happen because of their salary cap issues.
The Anaheim Ducks are likely going to have Ryan Kesler out for the season next year, so they should sign Nash. Although it is likely that he may not replicate his stats from this year, he would be a reliable third liner nonetheless.
24 Left Wing: Max Pacioretty (Dallas Stars)
Max Pacioretty is going to finally be traded this off-season and it may not be the best decision for Montreal. Yet, with his contract expiring at the end of next season, this indicates that they do not see him in their future.
The Dallas Stars need to jump on this opportunity because they need another top-six winger on this roster.
The Stars have been far too weak when it comes to depth and Patches would help with that issue immensely.
23 Right Wing: Michael Grabner (Vegas Golden Knights)
The Vegas Golden Knights are likely going to have to fill in some holes this off-season because many of their veteran players are free agents. Although they would like to keep their top players together, they will accept more money elsewhere.
The Golden Knights should sign Michael Grabner because he could thrive in Vegas at a cheaper price. Grabner is known to be a bit streaky, so signing him to a one to two year deal would be ideal for the team.
22 Defense: Mike Green (Colorado Avalanche)
Mike Green found his old game this past season with the Detroit Red Wings and luckily for him, he is set to become a free agent. The Red Wings will likely regret not moving him earlier because he likely is going to walk away.
The Colorado Avalanche could be a wonderful location for Mike Green because they are on the rise and could use another top-four puck moving defenseman. Although it would be pricey, Green would thrive under their offensive system.
21 Goalie: Scott Darling (Chicago Blackhawks)
Scott Darling struggled immensely in his first season with the Carolina Hurricanes. This has not left a positive feeling for the Hurricanes because he is locked up to a fairly expensive deal. However, there is hope they can move him.
The Chicago Blackhawks are reportedly interested in bringing back Darling if they get a great price to acquire him.
This kind of makes sense because Darling played very well for the Blackhawks, but this could also backfire as he wasn't very impressive as of late.
20 Center: Paul Stastny (St. Louis Blues)
Paul Stastny was shockingly traded from the Blues at the deadline to the Winnipeg Jets and played spectacularly there. Stastny has found his game that made him a top notch center in the NHL and will get a very solid deal.
There have been reports that Stastny is very interested in returning to St. Louis, so this is an easy one to predict. The Blues are looking to make it back to the playoffs this year, so they will be aggressive.
19 Left Wing: Mike Hoffman (Arizona Coyotes)
After all the drama surrounding Mike Hoffman’s girlfriend and the Karlsson’s, a trade is now inevitable. Yet, due to the toxic drama coming out to the public, this has drastically lowered Hoffman’s value moving forward.
The Arizona Coyotes are a team that could take a gamble on Hoffman because they honestly have nothing to lose. They are at the bottom of the NHL and need a top-six forward to help. Trading for Hoffman would be good for them.
18 Right Wing: James Neal (Calgary Flames)
James Neal played a spectacular leadership role with the Golden Knights this season and it is a shame that he could not lead them to the Cup. Yet, Neal has a lot to offer still and will get a contract that shows that.
The Calgary Flames need a top line winger to help with the Monahan and Gaudreau line, so a Neal signing makes a plethora of sense. Neal could thrive with an offensive line and put up a good amount of points.
17 Defense: Justin Faulk (Toronto Maple Leafs)
The Carolina Hurricanes are going to start a rebuilding period and that means Justin Faulk will be moved. With his contract not packing much of a salary and it expiring fairly soon, he will be a huge hit.
The Toronto Maple Leafs should avoid going for the big signing and trade for Faulk.
Financially it makes the most sense and would give them a top-two defenseman that they desperately need. This would be an epic move for them to improve their back end.
16 Goalie: Jimmy Howard (New York Islanders)
The Detroit Red Wings are in a strange spot right now because they are rebuilding, but have veterans under atrocious contracts. If they want to improve, the only player that packs value and is movable is Jimmy Howard.
The New York Islanders need to get a goalie to compete in the NHL and trading for Howard may be their best bet. Howard is a seasoned veteran who has a lot of playoff experience and would instantly be a huge upgrade.
15 Center: Ryan O’Reilly (Philadelphia Flyers)
Ryan O’Reilly is going to be traded this off-season from the Buffalo Sabres. This is due to the fact that he has openly stated that the Sabres have a losing culture and he has lost love for the game playing there.
The Philadelphia Flyers need to trade for O’Reilly because they have the cap space and assets to make a deal go through. They desperately need an upgrade down the middle if they ever want to compete in the Metro. O’Reilly gives them that.
14 Left Wing: Ilya Kovalchuk (Boston Bruins)
It is still shocking that Ilya Kovalchuk is actually coming back. It is hard to determine how strong of a player he is now because he is older, but one can assume he is a top-six forward. With that said, he will have tons of interest.
The Boston Bruins are one of the top contenders of Kovalchuk and make the most sense. They need a top line winger and he fits that perfectly. Also, with the B’s being contenders, Kovalchuk would help their chances immensely.
13 Right Wing: Phil Kessel (Nashville Predators)
It is absolutely shocking that Phil Kessel likely will be traded this off-season. After having a fantastic season where he set career highs, he is on the move.
This is because of his strained relationship with coach Mike Sullivan.
The Nashville Predators need to jump on this opportunity because this season displayed the clear fact that they need just a little bit more offensive depth. Kessel would provide them with a top-six forward and a veteran with fantastic playoff success that could put them over the hump.
12 Defense: Erik Karlsson (Edmonton Oilers)
Erik Karlsson likely wants a fresh new start out of Ottawa. After openly almost being traded and now the drama off the ice, it would be best for him to go elsewhere. He also deserves the chance to play for a winning team.
The Edmonton Oilers were bad this season, but trading for Karlsson would make them unbelievable. Having McDavid and Karlsson on the same team would lead to so much success. Edmonton should trade for him, as they need serious help on the backend.
11 Goalie: Philipp Grubauer (Carolina Hurricanes)
Philipp Grubauer is arguably the best goalie on the trading block right now. Due to this clear fact, Grubauer has an abundance of interest around the league. It is only a matter of time before the Caps trade him this off-season.
The Carolina Hurricanes appear to be the best bet for Grubauer because it would allow him to be their star. The Hurricanes need an upgrade with their goaltending. Although the gamble with Darling did not work, it will with Grubauer.
10 Center: John Tavares (Montreal Canadiens)
John Tavares is the top free agent available this off-season. Although there is some hope that he may stay with the Islanders, it seems like it will not happen. Tavares has failed to sign an extension and is less than a month away from free agency.
The Montreal Canadiens will likely use their cap space and need for a top line center to lure Tavares in.
Tavares would instantly help this team grow into a contender again and of course, would be paid a plethora of money.
9 Left Wing: James van Riemsdyk (New Jersey Devils)
James van Riemsdyk is a huge risk in the free agency market, but also a consistent 30 goal scorer. Due to this clear fact, it is likely that JVR will end up securing himself a deal that is seven years long and worth at least $6.5 million per season.
The New Jersey Devils have the money and need for a top line winger to give JVR a huge contract. Also, with JVR being from the New Jersey area, this signing seems to be inevitable and could be a huge one.
8 Right Wing: Mats Zuccarello (Anaheim Ducks)
Mats Zuccarello is one of the top wingers on the trading block. He is a versatile player who has the ability to play on both sides. His playmaking abilities made him a hit with the Rangers, but that is now going to change.
The Anaheim Ducks need to make some changes offensively and trading for Zuc would be a smart one. Zuccarello would fit on the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and could even see a massive spike in his statistics because of it.
7 Defense: John Carlson (New York Rangers)
John Carlson showed this season that he is an elite defenseman at the NHL level. His playoff run with Washington and leading all d-men in points are both huge accomplishments. This has heightened his value and price tag.
The New York Rangers are rebuilding, but when a player of Carlson’s skill level is available, it is a rarity. The Rangers have the money to make the expected 8 year, $8 million per season contract happen. This will be a big move in the Big Apple.
6 Goalie: Carter Hutton (Ottawa Senators)
Carter Hutton had himself a very solid season with the St. Louis Blues and even had hints of being their starter. This has worked out beautifully for the long-time backup and will result in him getting a solid contract this summer.
The Ottawa Senators could take a gamble on Hutton because they need a starting goalie. Hutton would be good competition for the aging Craig Anderson and give this rebuilding team a little bit of additional depth in an area they desperately need.
5 Center: Tyler Bozak (Vancouver Canucks)
Tyler Bozak will be moving on from Toronto this off-season and it will be a huge change in their locker room. Bozak was their best center for many years during their rebuilding stages and became a fan favourite because of it.
Bozak will likely be signing with the Vancouver Canucks because they have shown immense interest in him.
He would be an excellent leader in their locker room during their rebuilding period and could be the perfect third liner as well as mentor to younger talents on their roster.
4 Left Wing: Jeff Skinner (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Jeff Skinner is another player on the Hurricanes who will be traded this summer. With one year left on his deal, the Hurricanes need to move him before losing him for nothing. They will get a huge return for the top-six scorer.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are going to change up their forward group this summer. Picking up Jeff Skinner would be a fantastic decision because he would score a lot of goals with either Malkin or Crosby leading the charge.
3 Right Wing: Rick Nash (New York Rangers)
Rick Nash is definitely a player on the decline and likely will be retiring in the near future. He does have a bit of game left, but he definitely is no longer the dominant power forward who could score goals like a sniper.
Nash should have no trouble finding a home this summer and it is likely he may go back to New York. He has stated that he would love to return and looking at the quick rebuilding plan on the Rangers, it could actually make a lot of sense.
2 Defense: Dougie Hamilton (Los Angeles Kings)
Dougie Hamilton is on the trading block yet again and this is actually kind of surprising. Hamilton has developed into a star defenseman for the Flames, but it is clear that they have the defensive depth to trade him for a top notch forward.
The Los Angeles Kings could take an interest in Hamilton, as they need some help defensively.
Hamilton would instantly fit into their top pairing and could end up taking over the reigns entirely if Drew Doughty decides to leave LA next off-season.
1 Goalie: Robin Lehner (Detroit Red Wings)
Robin Lehner has shown signs of becoming an elite goalie, but this past season was pretty bad for him. Lehner struggled with the Sabres as the season progressed. He now is on the trading block and will be traded this summer.
The Detroit Red Wings are rebuilding and need to take a gamble on Lehner. He is still a young enough goalie where can get better and his price tag right now is fairly slim. This is the type of deal that could help Detroit immensely as the years pass.