One thing that is often lost with sports fans is the fact that professional sports leagues are a business. Players are often seen as nothing more than assets in place to help their teams win and achieve success. Some fans have a hard time wrapping their heads around this, but it’s true. And when it comes to the NHL, things are no different.

In fact, one of the biggest days of the hockey season is the trade deadline, which has turned into a daylong affair full of deals, reports and rumors. Trading is a huge part of the game of hockey for a variety of reasons. Players can be traded for a number of reasons ranging from financial to player performance to player personality.

This year’s trade deadline saw a lot of deals take place, with teams trying to bolster their roster ahead of the playoffs or shed some unwanted talent, but what happens to all those potential deals and players that couldn’t be made in time for the deadline? That will be the focus of this list.

This list will look at the Top 15 NHL players who might be traded this summer. Of course, not everyone on this list is a sure thing to be traded, but after some researching and investigating, these 15 player’s names came up time and time again when looking at players that could potentially be traded this off-season. Some of these players are past their prime, some aren’t a right fit for their teams and some just cost too much money.

So read on and enjoy this list of the Top 15 NHL players who might be traded this summer.

15. Cam Ward

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Cam Ward started off his career with an absolute bang as he won the Stanley Cup in 2006 as a rookie. He was also the first rookie goalie to win the Conn Smythe since Ron Hextall in 1987. He continued to have success in his career, until his play began to decline in 2012. From then on, he has been very inconsistent and doesn’t look like the player he used to be. Iit’s time for the Hurricanes to move on from Ward, who only has one more year left on his contract. It might be difficult to move him, as his cap hit is $6.3 million for next year, but perhaps a team in dire need of goaltending might be inclined.

14. Kevin Shattenkirk

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

This one doesn’t seem overly realistic, but we’re here to discuss potential moves, not ones that are absolutely certain. If there is any truth to these rumors, there will be a long line-up of teams looking to trade for this promising young D-Man. Shattenkirk had his best year in 2014/15, scoring 44 points in 56 games and it’s possible he would’ve been a Norris Finalist had he not got injured. The trade rumors are based on the fact that he’ll be looking for a huge raise in a couple of years, while the Blues have already heavily invested in Jay Bouwemeester and Alex Pietrangelo.

13. Jordan Eberle

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Eberle was the first round pick for the Oilers in 2008 after numerous successful seasons with the Regina Pats. He has been a solid, but not elite player during his five-year career with the Oilers. However, the reason Eberle is included in this list is simply because somebody has to go. The Oilers have had numerous high profile offensive selections in past NHL Drafts and will likely need to move a few of those players to get the proper pieces to contend. With a generational star in Connor McDavid coming to town, they’ll need to properly insulate him with a team capable of winning. They likely won’t fetch much for Nail Yakupov, so moving Eberle for pieces makes more sense.

12. Nikita Nikitin

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Remember when the Oilers made weird signings that made no sense? Of course you do, because it still happened last summer. Last summer, they had a huge need on defence, so they decided to pay Nikita Nikitin $9 million over two years, while not offering a good deal to Jeff Petry and trading him for a second rounder and a conditional fifth. Guess what the Flyers for got Kimmo Timonen, who was barely usable in the playoffs? A second and a fourth. Enough bashing last year, let’s look to this year. There’s rumors of a buyout, but that seems unlikely, as he’s owed $4.5 million for one more year. Nikitin isn’t a terrible defender and, if the Oilers want to move him, there would likely be teams inquiring.

11. Colin Greening

Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

The Senators have been trying to move Greening for a while now, but could not find a suitor at the trade deadline that was willing to take him. They will likely continue the search throughout the off-season. He’s a tough sell, as he has two years remaining on his contract, at over two and a half million dollars per year. He only appeared in 26 games with the Senators this year and registered one measly point. If the Sens can find a buyer, which will likely only happen if they offer to pay a portion of a his salary, Greening will be on his way out.

10. Patrik Berglund

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Originally, when Berglund was drafted, he showed a lot of promise and looked to be an important and central part of the team going forward. Though he’s been successful with the team, the fans have wanted more out of him than simply playing a supporting role. Also, with the Blues having to give a new, and likely expensive, contract to superstar Vladimir Tarasenko, they will have to look to shed some contracts, and Berglund could be the one to go. His contract is definitely movable, as he has two years left on his contract at $3.7 million per year.

9. Joffrey Lupul

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

This is the first of many Maple Leafs players to appear on this list, as they look to be entering a true rebuilding phase. Lupul has played with the Leafs for the last five years and over that period of time, his play has been inconsistent. The reason we feel that Joffrey Lupul will be traded this offseason is simply because of his contract. He has three years remaining on his contract at over 5 million dollars, which makes it quite obvious that he will need to go if the Maple Leafs want to be serious about their rebuild. The Leafs will likely need to retain some of his contract, but a team looking to reach their cap floor might be interested in the 31 year old winger.

8. Vincent Lecavalier

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

If this was five years ago, it would be a much more interesting entry, but regardless, Lecavalier was a star in the league at one point and he’s on the market. The Flyers desperately need to shed salary and Vinny’s on the books for another three years at $4.5 million per year. The good news for Flyers GM Ron Hextall is that he makes less money than his actual cap hit, so a team struggling to make the cap floor might be interested for a low price.

7. Kris Versteeg

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The last time the Blackhawks underwent a huge overhaul following a cup win, Kris Versteeg was moved out of town and this year might not be different for the 29 year forward. In 2010, following their Stanley Cup victory, Versteeg was moved to the Leafs. This time, he might be moved to another Canadian team. Rumors have circulated that Montreal is interested in him, as his $2.2 million cap hit isn’t excessive. Even if the Habs don’t pull the trigger, the Hawks need to move bodies and Versteeg may be one of them.

6. Tyler Bozak

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

After originally entering the NHL as an undrafted free agent, Bozak has had a nice career so far with the Maple Leafs. In fact, in 2013, Bozak signed a five year extension with the Leafs for $4.2 million per year. He is likely to be an attractive option for many teams who are looking for a reliable second line center at a decent price. The reason he appears on this list is because we believe he’s not an integral part of the rebuild that the Maple Leafs are likely to go through.

5. Bryan Bickell

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Another Blackhawks player makes our list, as the Hawks are desperate to move bodies and clear space so they can bring Johnny Oduya back. As we saw last year when Michal Rozsival went down, Oduya is incredibly valuable and can log huge minutes when required. Here’s the problem for Chicago, there aren’t many team interested in a 29 year old forward who’s never scored more than 17 goals in a season. On top of that, he carries a hefty salary at $4 million per year. Good luck Stan Bowman.

4. Jordan Staal

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Despite being with the Hurricanes for the last three years, the best years of Jordan Staal’s career actually came as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The reason he appears on this list is because there were ramblings around the NHL at the trade deadline that stated that the Penguins were interested in bringing Staal back. Of course, nothing came of it at the trade deadline, but we wouldn’t be shocked to see the Penguins, or another team, swoop in and try to get him. He’s under contract for a long time at $6 million per year, which make the Penguins interest seem strange, but there’s no doubt that Staal is a solid player.

3. Eric Staal

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Next up on the list is actually another Staal brother who plays for Carolina, Eric Staal. Eric Staal has been a member of the Hurricanes for the entirety of his career and is the current captain of the team. He has been the subject of numerous trade rumors over the last few years, as have many other players on the Hurricanes. There have been various teams interested in the services of Eric Staal, such as the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Arizona Coyotes, and if the price is right, we wouldn’t be shocked to see Eric Stall dealt this summer.

2. Michael Grabner

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Grabner has fallen a long way since his 34 goal season in 2010/11, as he’s only hit 20 goals once and that was the season after. The Islanders are stacked up front, so it’s entirely possible they try to move the 27 year old speedster this summer. He has a manageable cap hit of $3 million this year and then he’ll become a UFA. If a team is looking for some cheap scoring help, Grabner definitely fits the bill.

1. Dion Phaneuf

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Coming in at the number one spot on this list is none other than Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman and captain, Dion Phaneuf. Phaneuf has been a solid contributor to the Leafs, but at around $7 million a year, he and that huge contract likely aren’t a part of the rebuild. In fact, Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis recently announced that a deal was in place for Phaneuf at the deadline, but the trigger wasn’t pulled. Phaneuf is likely better suited as a second of third option somewhere, and with Nonis obviously not against moving him, we believe he will be dealt this summer, though like other players on this list, the Leafs will likely need to retain some of his contract.

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