Like a new job can revitalize the spirit and productivity of a 9-5 worker, a change of scenery works the same way in professional sports, especially in the National Hockey League (NHL), where a new coach, linemates, and city can ultimately turn a player's career around. Michael Grabner, for instance, has 27 goals this season for the New York Rangers, but had just nine for the Toronto Maple Leafs last year, despite being handed a top-six forward spot on the rebuilding team. It works with Superstars as well; Tyler Seguin had developed a reputation for partying while in Boston, and, coupled with his on-ice struggles, he was shipped off to Dallas, where he's now a top-ten center in the league.
There are countless examples of players thriving in a new environment; it all depends on if the situation is the right fit for a player's personality. Of course, there are also cases where players thrive after joining a new team and being placed on a line with a world-class player (see, anybody who has ever played with Sidney Crosby, namely Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis). Regardless of the circumstances, it's clear a new team can improve a player's fortunes. Keep scrolling to see which 15 players we think would greatly benefit from a trade.
15 Riley Sheahan
If you're asking yourself, 'Who the hell is Riley Sheahan?' you're probably not alone. You might have heard of him in the past few seasons as an up-and-coming center with the Detroit Red Wings, but as Detroit has struggled this season, so has Sheahan - and that's an understatement.
The St. Catherines, Ontario native was the 21st overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft and, while he was never a big scorer in the minors, he potted a combined 27 goals in the past two seasons, while missing just four games. He had proved himself a valuable bottom-six center with the ability to chip in offensively. This year, however, Sheahan had yet to score a goal through 78 games. To put his woes in perspective, Sheahan is the first forward in league history to record 100-plus shots and fail to score a goal. The Wings will play in a new stadium next season, which might help his fortunes, but they might not want to keep him on board.
14 Jaromir Jagr
It's surprising that Jaromir Jagr continues to play into his mid-40s, but even more so surprising that he continues to be an effective, point-producing forward. He's found a great fit in Florida and not because once he retires he can move straight into a retirement community, but because the organization has embraced him and he stays in great shape. It seems like a perfect fit in Florida and all signs point to him returning next season.
However, given the Panthers struggles this season, the team clearly needs to revamp its lineup. Florida boasts a stable of good, young players in Aleksander Barkov, Aaron Ekblad, and Jonathan Huberdeau, among others, but while Jagr is there, he'll be the focus. The Panthers, more than Jagr, need to move on; yet, it seems likely they'll bring him back next season. If they do, there might be a situation in which they're forced to deal him by the trade deadline.
13 Bobby Ryan
When the Ottawa Senators acquired Bobby Ryan, he was expected to give the team a much-needed offensive lift; he had scored 30-plus goals in four consecutive seasons with the Anaheim Ducks and was just entering the prime of his career. Four seasons later and Ryan, now 30 years old, has failed to even reach 25 goals in a single season with the Senators.
This season has by far been his worst. The former second overall pick behind Sidney Crosby has just 12 goals and 12 assists in 61 games and has been passed on Ottawa's depth chart by players like Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, and even Ryan Dzingel, who nobody had heard of prior to this season. What's worst about Ryan's performance is that he's only in the second year of a seven-year, $50.75 million contract. He has a modified no-trade clause, but he would be wise to waive it unless he wants to find himself buried in the minors.
12 Jason Spezza
Former Ottawa Senator Jason Spezza performed quite well in his first two years with the Dallas Stars, but as the team has struggled this year, so has Spezza. The 33-year-old is still fairly productive, but is having the worst offensive season of his career in 2016-17 with a career-low 14 goals and 49 points.
Dallas has been a mess this season and needs some sort of overhaul both on the ice and behind the bench. Spezza isn't their biggest problem, but they could deal him for some young assets to build around Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. Spezza, meanwhile, a veteran of 909 NHL games, is still chasing a Stanley Cup and he isn't going to win one in Dallas, especially as long as things remain as they are.
11 Loui Eriksson
A two-time 30-goal scorer, Loui Eriksson has been a disaster in Vancouver this season, which is tough to hear if your a Canucks fan, considering the 31-year-old Swede just signed a six-year, $36 million contract in the 2016 offseason. The Canucks were in limbo back then, trying to remain competitive while developing young players. Obviously, it hasn't worked and now the team appears committed to a rebuild.
The problem is having Eriksson on the payroll is going to make a complete overhaul difficult. Given that he has just 24 points in 65 games this season, it's unlikely there's a big market for the winger. It's hard to envision a situation in which he moves on from the Canucks next season, but you have to believe it's in the best interest of both parties.
10 Henrik & Daniel Sedin
Sticking with the Canucks, both Henrik and Daniel Sedin would look odd in a different uniform, but it would be great to see both players chase a Stanley Cup. That isn't going to happen in Vancouver, where a newfound commitment to a rebuild is underway. The twins have combined for 85 points on the season, while Henrik is a team-worst -28.
They'll turn 37 years old in September and, at best, might have another two or three years of competitive hockey left in them. They're both signed through next year on no-movement contracts, but could obviously waive that if dealt to the right team. Few teams would be able to fit them both under the cap - they're a package deal for certain - but they might be able to at the trade deadline, when they would be on the hook for only a portion of their salaries. Both players seem to love Vancouver, but it'd be great to see them work their magic in the playoffs once again.
9 David Backes
David Backes is similar to Loui Eriksson in that he was signed just this past off-season, but hasn't quite worked out for his new team. The Boston Bruins signed Backes to a five-year, $30 million contract with a no-movement clause in the first three years, but the American power forward would be wise to accept a trade elsewhere given his opportunities might be limited going forward in Boston.
The 32-year-old has just 38 points this season and appears to have lost a step in terms of his skating. His ice time is down and he isn't being used as often on the power-play as he was in St. Louis. It simply hasn't worked out for Backes in Boston and it doesn't appear as though things will get any better in the future.
8 Zach Parise
Zach Parise is another player that probably won't get traded due to his contract, but one that really should accept a move elsewhere. Like Backes above, Parise has already found himself moved down in the Minnesota Wild's lineup, just five years into his mammoth 13-year, $98 million contract. He reached the 25-goal mark in each of his first four seasons with the team (he had 18 in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, but was on pace for over 25), but has just 19 in 67 games this season and is eighth on the team in scoring.
Mikael Granlund has finally broken out as an offensive star, as has Nino Niederreiter, and Eric Staal and Mikko Koivu have become the dependable veterans on the team. Parise, 32, has lost a step in his skating stride as well; he's a -4 rating, which doesn't always tell the whole story, but it stands out when no other full-time forward has a minus rating and Jason Zucker owns a +32 rating. A change of scenery where he has more responsibility could revitalize his career, but he might be happy playing fewer minutes and raking in millions for the next eight seasons.
7 James Neal
James Neal enters the final year of a six-year, $30 million contract next season and has a modified no-trade clause, but he's had a down year offensively in 2016-17 and could use a fresh start in 2017-18. After posting 58 points last year, Neal has just 40 points in 68 games this season and appears to be on a downward trajectory in Nashville, especially with the emergence of wingers Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson, and a slew of young prospects in the organization.
Neal is a former 40-goal scorer with the Pittsburgh Penguins and, while it's unlikely he ever reaches that mark again, there's still some untapped offensive potential in the 29-year-old. He would thrive on a team like the Philadelphia Flyers or New York Rangers, where he could ride shotgun on the team's top line.
6 Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Unlike most players on this list, Oliver Ekman-Larsson doesn't need a change of scenery to help advance his career; in fact, quite the opposite. Ekman-Larsson has been one of the league's top defenseman for years, but the problem is he plays in Arizona and receives next to no attention for his solid play. He needs just one more point in his final three games this season to reach 40-plus for the fourth consecutive season; last year, he posted a career-high 55 points and the year prior scored a career-high 23 goals.
The 25-year-old Swede is still in his prime and should have at least five or six more years of being a dominant player, perhaps more depending on health. At this time, it's hard to imagine the Coyotes being relevant at all. They would be wise to trade Ekman-Larsson for a king's ransom of prospects and you would think he would be thrilled to join a competitive, big-market team.
5 Matt Duchene
Matt Duchene is just 26-years-old and should be playing the best hockey of his career. He has been a darling of Hockey Canada for a number of years now and played great in the World Cup prior to the start of the season. However, this season has been a disaster for the Colorado Avalanche center. After seasons of 70, 55, and 59 points, Duchene is ready to finish the 2016-17 season with 40 points and a ridiculous -33 rating.
The Avalanche have been terrible all season and it's clear their struggles have weighed heavily on Duchene, as has the trade talk that surrounded him prior to the deadline in March. From February 21 to April 2, Duchene had just one point in a span of 21 games. Those are bad numbers for a fourth-line forward; Duchene was playing over 17 minutes per night during that time. He clearly needs out of Denver.
4 Nathan MacKinnon
Nathan MacKinnon is another young forward that would be better off moving on from Colorado and you can add Gabriel Landeskog into that group. MacKinnon, despite the team's struggles, has equaled his production in 2015-16, but it's clear there's still plenty of room for improvement. The 21-year-old recorded a career-high 63 points as a rookie in 2013-14 and has yet to take his game to the next level. Part of that is due to the atrocity going on in Colorado, but it's clear the former first overall pick's progress has stagnated.
The Avalanche are less likely to trade MacKinnon than Duchene, but if they did, they would certainly get an impressive package of prospects. Regardless, the team needs to make some changes this off-season and MacKinnon could be a casualty if the price is right.
3 Jordan Eberle
Edmonton Oilers fans have been clamoring for Jordan Eberle to be dealt for quite some time. The 26-year-old winger became a legend for his play during the World Junior Championships and has had some productive years for the Oilers, but he appears to be on the outside looking in as the team has finally become relevant again.
The Oilers' core group of forwards now consists of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Patrick Maroon, and Milan Lucic. Eberle put up a decent 46-point season this year, but he hasn't been without his struggles offensively, not to mention his defensive deficiencies. Eberle has had two goal-scoring droughts of eight games, one nine-game drought and a career-high 18-game drought. He's moved down the lineup in Edmonton and he doesn't have the skill set to be an effective checker.
2 Anze Kopitar
The Los Angeles Kings are in a similar position to the Colorado Avalanche in that they need a complete overhaul. Unfortunately, the Kings are tied to a number of awful long-term contracts, such as Dustin Brown and Marian Gaborik. No team is going to want those players or be able to afford them, leaving their rebuild options limited. One player who has struggled mightily this season, but still has tremendous trade value given his leadership and overall game is Anze Kopitar.
The 29-year-old Slovenian has just 49 points this season, which is the worst full-season total of his career. In fact, as of January 9th, through his first 35 games, Kopitar had just three goals. This season has been in stark contrast to last year, when he won the Selke and Lady Byng Trophy. He's won two Stanley Cups in Los Angeles, but he has to see that the writing is on the wall for the franchise as well as his chances of winning another if he stays with the team.
1 John Tavares
Toronto Maple Leaf fans immediately turned their attention to hometown star John Tavares when Steven Stamkos revealed that he was staying put in Tampa Bay last offseason. Given the rapid rise of the Leafs' trio of impressive rookies this season, the John Tavares talk has faded, but that doesn't mean he should stay on Long Island. The former first overall pick is due to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2017-18 season and while there's a possibility he re-signs in New York, it appears unlikely given the struggles of the team, not to mention a lack of promise for the future.
Tavares has consistently been one of the league's top forwards, but he doesn't get the credit he deserves as the Islanders have been mediocre at best throughout his eight years in the league. His best chance at chasing a Stanley Cup is with another team and the Islanders would be smart to trade him for assets before he walks and leaves them with nothing in return.