The NHL 2016-17 season is on the horizon and it is not surprising to hear all the trade rumors out there. Some teams are standing still and focusing on their restricted free agents, while other teams are in salary cap hell or dealing with injuries. The upcoming NHL expansion draft has many general managers sleeping restlessly at night.
Will the Pittsburgh Penguins lose Marc-Andre Fleury to the Las Vegas expansion team? Or will he be traded before the trade deadline this year? The Boston Bruins and the Detroit Red Wings are looking for a defenseman. The Chicago Blackhawks are trying to squeeze in everyone under the cap and are potentially interested in acquiring Nail Yakopuv. There are also plenty of goalies that can be made available, but this is not year for goalies—and if they do get moved it will not be for a steep price.
Other goalies outside of Fleury who could be on the move are Ben Bishop, Jaroslov Halak and Jimmy Howard. If the Arizona Coyotes find themselves in a playoff position, they may look to make an upgrade in goal.
The entire season is based on many moving pieces. Who knows? Maybe Even Evgeni Malkin could be traded. Below is a list of of the top 15 players who might be traded this season.
15 Nathan Beaulieu - Montreal Canadiens
The Montreal Canadiens and Marc Bergevin already traded one defenseman, how about another one? Nathan Beaulieu is a 23-year-old puck moving defensemen that could be of interest to some teams in the league. The Habs need too many pieces to fix their current roster, but with Carey Price back in goal, they could use some more goals scored up front. Nathan Beaulieu has played for the Habs for parts of the past four years NHL.
In 151 games played he has tallied 3 goals, 29 assists for a total of 32 points. He is a rating of plus-11 with a 108 penalty minutes. Those are not great numbers, but he did put up 19 points in 64 games last season. With another season behind his belt, Beaulieu is progressing nicely but needs to shoot more pucks to the net. If Marc Bergevin can swap Beaulieu for a young forward with offensive skills, it would definitely justify the trade, but who would else would they get to play on the blue-line?
14 Jimmy Howard - Detroit Red Wings
Jimmy Howard is no longer the number one puck stopper for the Detroit Red Wings. Petr Mrazek dethroned Howard as the number one goaltender with his great play last season. He had a breakout season but trailed off a bit. He appeared in 54 games and tallied 27 wins, 16 loses, 6 overtime loses and 6 shootout loses. He put up a .920 save percentage and a goals against average of 2.33.
Jimmy Howard’s .906 save percentage average in 37 appearances can’t justify a spot on the Wings roster. The Red Wings are trying to make sense of their current roster and form a new identity. They recently added Frans Nielson, Thomas Vanek and Steve Ott, but desperately need a to acquire a defenseman. Howard is currently under contract through 2018-19, with a cap hit of over $5 million. Howard could wave his no-trade clause to join a Stanley Cup contender, if his agent can convince him that he is no longer a starting goaltender.
13 Kari Lehtonen - Dallas Stars
The Dallas Stars were the number one offensive team in the entire league during the 2015-16 season. They are an offensive powerhouse and will continue to do so even this year. But, their biggest downfall is their goaltending. In order to acquire an upgrade in goal, the Stars will need to part ways with one of their current goaltenders. Kari Lehtonen appeared in 43 games last season tallying 25 wins, 10 loses, 2 overtime loses and 2 shootout loses. His save percentage was a low .906 with a high, goals against average of 2.76.
On one hand we have Antti Niemi who appeared in 48 games for Dallas and tallied 25 wins, 13 loses, 7 overtime loses and three shootout loses. His save percentage was also quite low at .905 and his goals against average was slightly lower than Lethonen at 2.67.
The Dallas Stars clearly have no number one goaltender. In order to fix the situation, their general manager Jim Nill would most likely trade his goaltender and hope to find a cheaper replacement if the output is going to be similar.
12 Martin Hanzal - Arizona Coyotes
Martin Hanzal is entering the final season of his five-year deal and set a career high of 41 points in 64 games last season. Hanzal’s camp has been talking to the general manager of the Coyotes, John Chayka. The biggest problem for Hanzal signing a long-term deal with the Coyotes is his health. He has never played a full season since 2009-10 where he played 81 games. In his nine-year career he has appeared in 557 games. In those games he has scored 101 goals, 186 assists for a total of 287 points.
As a 6’6 center, Hanzal usually logs in between 17 and 18 minutes of ice time and as you can see, he doesn’t put up big points. He has never reached the 20 goal mark and his highest total for goals scored in one season was 16, back in the 2010-11 season. Let’s be clear on the matter…it’s not a matter of if he is being traded, it is a matter of when he is being traded and to who. The Coyotes' new focus is on analytics.
11 Nail Yakopuv - Edmonton Oilers
The Edmonton Oilers made a terrible mistake trading Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson. We can all agree that they needed a defenseman, but they did not receive adequate value in return. Having said that, the only option is to move more pieces around. Stockpiling draft picks for years, at some point, needs to lead to a winning product on the ice. There has been trade speculation concerning Nail Yakupov for the past few seasons. Trading Yakopuv is the Oilers' best bet in order to add some veteran presence.
In 250 games played, he has tallied 50 goals, 61 assists with a dismal minus-88 rating. He also has 32 power play points with five game winning goals to his name. His time in Edmonton is over and they probably should have moved him already. However, the smart thing to do would be to allow Yakopuv to play alongside Connor McDavid to increase his value, then trade him immediately when his stock rises. Rumor has it that the Blackhawks are interested in his services.
10 Jacob Trouba - Winnipeg Jets
Trouba made his request public stating he wants to be traded. There are plenty of teams that would take his services. Trouba is 22 years of age and has been in the league for only three years. He is 6'1 and a solid 200 pounds. He has appeared in 211 games and tallied 23 goals, 49 assists and a 151 penalty minutes. There are a few suitors out there who can use his big frame, such as the Boston Bruins and the Detroit Red Wings.
Rumors are flying around that the Wings are currently inquiring about the asking price with regards to Trouba, but, that may not be a good fit for the Wings. The Wings are in desperate need to shed some bad contracts and really do not want to part way with any of their young forwards. The Boston Bruins on the other hand could move anyone out and accommodate the Jets, although it would definitely not be a one-for-one deal.
9 Tyson Barrie - Colorado Avalanche
The Patrick Roy situation was quite a distraction for the Colorado Avalanche. Their team needs defensive help but also some goaltending support. Having said that, don’t be surprised if Tyson Barrie ends up being traded. If you do not agree with me, just check out what happened with O’Reilly last June. The Avalanche could not sign him with one year left on his deal. They ended up trading him to the Buffalo Sabres. Currently, Tyson Barrie is a restricted free agent and Joe Sakic does not want to be left in a situation where Barrie is given an offer sheet… and he will get an offer sheet.
In five years with the Colorado Avalanche, he has appeared in 264 games tallying 40 goals, 113 assists and has a minus rating of 7. He has also collected 52 points on the power play and produced 11 game winning goals. There are plenty of teams out there in search of help on the blue line.
8 James Van Riemsdyk - Toronto Maple Leafs
James Van Riemsdyk is 27 years of age and is signed for the next two years at a cap hit of $4,250,000. The man still can put up 30 goals, but whether he does it for Toronto in a winning or a losing situation does not matter. It’s time for the Maple Leafs to part ways with him. It’s the Auston Matthews show now and the Leafs are still trying to build around him. They still require a top-four defenseman. James Van Riemsdyk is a 60-point guy without a real center, but playing with Auston Matthews may bump him up a few notches.
If the Leafs let these two players team up for the first half of the season, JVR’s stock could rise quite quickly. In his seven year NHL career, he has played 446 games tallying 136 goals, 141 assists for a total of 277 points. He is a good addition to any team if the Leafs retain some of his salary.
7 Cam Fowler - Anaheim Ducks
The 24-year old’s name has been circling the trade market rumor mill for quite some time. Cam Fowler is an exceptional talent. He has already been in the league for 6 years and has played 414 games. In that span, he has tallied 34 goals, 144 assists for 178 points with only 97 penalty minutes. Not too bad for a defenseman. His cap hit is roughly $4 million. The Anaheim Ducks are looking to acquire a forward up front and have plenty of talent on the back end. There are also plenty of suitors looking to acquire a defenseman.
Like Trouba, the Boston Bruins and the Detroit Red Wings could be interested in Fowler. They definitely have the pieces to send back in a trade and it’s not a matter of if, but just a matter of time until Fowler is traded.
6 Jaroslav Halak - New York Islanders
The New York Islanders could start the upcoming season with three goalies under contract. They have Jarosav Halak, Thomas Greiss and Jean-Francois Berube but it appears Berube will start the season in the press box. Jaroslav Halak put up an outstanding performance during the World Cup for Team Europe. Unfortunately for Halak, he had a lot of injury problems last season which opened the door for Greiss. He played so well that it seems likely both will have split duty for the upcoming 2016-17 season.
In 36 games played during the regular season, Halak tallied 18 wins, 13 loses, 4 overtime loses and 3 shootout loses. His save percentage was .919 with a goals against average of 2.30. Greiss played slightly more games with 41 appearances, tallying 23 wins, 11 loses, 4 overtime loses and 1 shootout loss. His save percentage was .925 with a goals against average of 2.36. The likelihood of Halak being traded depends on a few factors, namely the state of of every team's goaltending situation by trade deadline, his health and Greiss’ play this season.
5 David Krejci - Boston Bruins
David Krecji has played 10 years with the Boston Bruins. However, this year the Bruins are stacked with centers after the recent signings of Dominic Moore and David Backes. Zdeno Chara is getting old and the defensive core has not been the same after losing Johnny Boychuk. They Bruins will trade for a defens man. The Bruins also have the magic face-off man in Patrice Bergeron, Ryan Spooner and a few prospects. Spooner could shift to the wing if needed. He tallied 49-points last season.
Given the current development of Spooner and the rest of the young talent the Bruins have, Don Sweeney has some wiggle room here. Sweeney will most likely see how the season starts. Bergeron and Marchand are fresh off their World Cup victory with Canada, and looked outstanding. They will definitely carry the team while David Backes looks to adjust to life as a Bruin. What will happen with Krecji? Time will tell but the Bruins need to solve this problem sooner rather than later.
4 Marc-Andre Fleury - Pittsburgh Penguins
The NHL expansion draft is an interesting predicament. General manager Jim Rutherford will not allow Fleury to be taken and receive nothing in return. After Matt Murray dethroned Marc-Andre Fleury as the no.1 netminder in Pittsburgh, Rutherford does not need to worry about parting ways with Fleury. During the regular season Matt Murray played 13 games, tallying 9 wins, 2 losses, 1 overtime loss and 1 shutout. His save percentage was .930 and his goals against average was a solid 2.00. Murray has a cap hit under $ 1 million.
Fleury tallied 35 wins, 17 loses and 6 overtime loses during the 2015-16 regular season. He also added five shutouts and boasted a career best 2.29 GAA and .921 SV%. Chances are the Penguins will give Murray all the opportunity in the world to be the no.1 goalie, while holding onto Fleury until they receive a deal that makes sense to them.
3 Ben Bishop - Tampa Bay Lightning
The development of Andrei Vasilevskiy has given general manager Steve Yzerman the flexibility he needs in Tampa Bay. Ben Bishop, 29, is eligible to be an unrestricted free agent come July 2017 and it does not seem like Tampa Bay will have the cap space to sign the giant goalie. Bishop is widely considered as one of the league’s elite goalies. He stopped tons of rubber on route to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final and the 2016 Eastern Conference final. He is no fluke but the Ottawa Senators gave up on him too early. They are definitely kicking themselves.
Even if Bishop is willing to accept a trade during the 2016-17 season, there is no guarantee that the Tampa Bay Lightning will get a quality package in return. If anything, he could be considered a rental at the trade deadline. He appeared in 61 games last season tallying 35 wins, 21 loses, 4 overtime losses and 6 shutouts. His save percentage was an outstanding .926 and his goals against average was a low 2.06. Maybe the Dallas Stars are interested in his services?
2 Nikita Kucherov - Tampa Bay Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning still have not signed restricted free agent right winger Nikita Kucherov. He will continue to miss time until he has re-signed with the Lightning. It is expected that these two sides reach a deal soon, however it is conceivable that the Lightning sign and trade him to acquire more assets. This would be largely due to the cap situation in Tampa. We can assume that Kucherov’s next contract will be north of their current remaining cap space.
Kucherov is definitely a player that may get an offer sheet from another team. He has great career numbers. He has played in three seasons for the Tampa Bay Lightning, starting in 2013-14. In 211 games played, he has tallied 68 goals, 81 assists and has a plus-50 rating. He also has an outstanding 44 points coming on the power play.
1 Artemi Panarin - Chicago Blackhawks
This seems like a far fetched idea but hear me out. The Chicago Blackhawks would not be willing to move such a player without filling in a hole on their roster. The Hawks have shown in the past that they will part ways with younger stars if it fills a need on their team and keeps their core intact.
Stan Bowman and the Blackhawks have been in salary cap hell since signing Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to long term deals. Artemi Panarin is looking for a six-year deal with an average annual value well above $6 million. He played in 80 games last year and put up 77 points with 30 goals.
He also had 24 points on the power play and seven game winning goals. He is an exceptional talent but how much of that was playing with Patrick Kane and his dynamite season? That is something only Stan Bowman and his coaching staff really know. If the Blackhawks cannot squeeze him under the cap then look for them to get full value and more if he is traded.