Every season, we see a plethora of NHL players change locations due to free agency and big off-season trades. This off-season could create so many different moves because the rumour mill is way more active than it has been for quite some time. Some of the biggest names in hockey are expected to be joining new clubs next year. If this happens, it will create a whole new dynamic for the league. As fans, this is truly an exciting time because some teams will improve dramatically and finally become contenders. Others might be starting a rebuild, which can still be exciting in the long run.
With all that stated, in this article we will be looking at ten forwards who will be on new teams next year as well as ten defensemen. The names on this list are all very familiar, yet, are also all expected to be on new teams next year. This season has been a whirlwind because many contenders have failed miserably, while teams that were expected to be bad ended up dominating the league. There will be an abundance of changes in the NHL to help these underachieving teams either improve or start from scratch. 2018 will be a massive year for the NHL because the transactions will be outstanding. We've already seen a few happen, and there are many more to come!
Let’s take a look at where these big-named NHL players will end up next season!
20 Forward: Evander Kane (Vancouver Canucks)
Evander Kane is currently one of the top rental options available for the contenders of this season. However it is also important to note that he will be due for a major contract when he hits the free agency market this off-season. Kane is an elite scorer when he is on his game and showed that during the beginning of the year.
It is pretty safe to assume that Evander Kane will end up with the Vancouver Canucks after this season. There have been many rumours about this already and that is mainly due to the fact that he is from there. Kane would have the chance to lead the club to a lot of success and be a core player.
19 Defenseman: Alexei Emelin (Florida Panthers)
Alexei Emelin is one of the toughest and most physical defenseman in the NHL, but he is also a major pest in the process. Emelin made a name for himself when he played for the Montreal Canadiens and was one of their favourite players. Yet, he has since moved on to the Nashville Predators and is doing just fine.
Alexei Emelin will be a fairly popular free agent this off-season and could get a solid deal from a team that is desperate enough for his services. The Florida Panthers seem like a solid option because they are a rebuilding squad and need some veteran presence on their roster. Emelin fits that criteria perfectly.
18 Forward: Max Pacioretty (Dallas Stars)
Max Pacioretty is going to be traded very soon and that is great news for him honestly. The Montreal Canadiens simply cannot appreciate the hard effort that he puts in for the club and that makes them treat him extremely poorly. Pacioretty has been their best scorer year after year and will benefit going elsewhere.
The Dallas Stars need some offensive help because after Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, there isn’t much support. Max Pacioretty would be a great addition for them because it would give them another superstar on their roster. The Stars do have the assets to make a potential deal for Patches and just should.
17 Defenseman: Jack Johnson (New Jersey Devils)
Jack Johnson is a veteran NHL defenseman that can fit anywhere in the lineup. Johnson has been a top tier defenseman for quite some time and will receive a fairly solid contract this off-season. He is having a bit of down year so far, but that is mainly because of his sudden dip in playing time.
Jack Johnson will benefit immensely with a change of scenery and show the NHL that he still has a lot left in the tank. The New Jersey Devils should take a crack at him because they are currently on the rise and could use a veteran defenseman to help them. Johnson could end up being a true ace in the hole for the squad.
16 Forward: Alex Galchenyuk (Chicago Blackhawks)
It is extremely shocking that Alex Galchenyuk is still a member of the Montreal Canadiens because he has been in the trading rumours for a few years now. Galchenyuk’s play has dipped a bit since these rumours started and it is apparent that he has lost the hopes of Claude Julien. A change of scenery is needed.
The Chicago Blackhawks are also having a bad year because they need a second line centre. Alex Galchenyuk is tee perfect player to help this team because he could find his scoring touch in a top-six role. Galchenyuk is still young enough to show the NHL that he can be a star, like he was when he scored 30 goals in a season.
15 Defenseman: Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Boston Bruins)
Oliver Ekman-Larsson is an elite defenseman in the NHL who is spending his golden years with an Atrocious team. The Arizona Coyotes have yet to trade him, but that time may rapidly approaching. Ekman-Larsson deserves the chance to finally win and that cannot happen in Arizona.
The Boston Bruins need to find a replacement for Zdeno Chara because at age 40, his time will end soon. Ekman-Larsson could be an excellent addition for the Bruins, both in the short and long term. Overall, every party in this deal would end up benefitting immensely and it could even lead to a Cup for the Bruins.
14 Forward: Rick Nash (Nashville Predators)
Rick Nash started this season very poorly, but is starting to heat it up immensely with the New York Rangers. Yet, it is important to note that he will end up traded by the deadline and be a top notch free agent this off-season. Nash will want to join a team who is close to winning the Stanley Cup because he is getting older.
The Nashville Predators appears to be the ideal fit for Rick Nash because they are currently top notch contenders and they need some offensive help. There is no doubt that the Predators could win the Stanley Cup because of their crop of players, but adding Nash would enhance their chances even more.
13 Defenseman: Tyson Barrie (Toronto Maple Leafs)
Tyson Barrie trade rumours will just not go away entirely, so it is easy to believe that he will end up traded eventually. The Colorado Avalanche may be having a very solid year this season, but they are still in a rebuilding phase and need to change up the roster to bring in some more young talent. Barrie needs to go.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are in desperate need of a solid defenseman and Tyson Barrie will be the perfect player for them to acquire. Barrie is a puck moving defenseman who plays at an elite level every time he steps on the ice. The Maple Leafs are so close to becoming legitimate contenders and adding Barrie would make it complete.
12 Forward: Mike Hoffman (St. Louis Blues)
Mike Hoffman is one of the best players on the Ottawa Senators, but due to their abysmal season, he is on the trading block. Hoffman has a handful of seasons left on his deal so he may not end up traded by the deadline, but definitely during the off-season. The Senators need to bring in a new crop of players now.
Mike Hoffman has been in the rumour mill and the St. Louis Blues appear to be the frontrunners to acquire his services. The Blues want a star forward who has term on his deal and Hoffman is the best player in this situation. He may not be a superstar, but he is a top-six forward who is lethal offensively.
11 Defenseman: Ryan McDonagh (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Ryan McDonagh is currently in a strange situation because, although he is playing great hockey, he is in the rumour mill because of the New York Rangers’ terrible play. The Rangers have noted that they will be having a massive fire sale with their top players and it is easy to believe that McDonagh is available.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have been very interested in Ryan McDonagh and appear to be the front runners to acquire him. This makes a lot of sense because they are legitimate contenders and could use another superstar to separate them from the pack. McDonagh would make the Lightning even better and scarier.
10 Forward: James Neal (Los Angeles Kings)
James Neal is having a career year this season with the Vegas Golden Knights and will end up with a pretty large contract this off-season. It is easy to believe that he may want to stay with the Golden Knights, but if they are not willing to give him an extension for the price he desires, he will jump ship quickly.
James Neal will be one of the top free agents available so contenders will be knocking on his door. The Los Angeles Kings would make a lot of sense because they need another scorer in their lineup and have won Stanley Cups recently. Neal wants to end up winning before his career his out and Los Angeles may be his best chance.
9 Defenseman: Mike Green (San Jose Sharks)
Mike Green has found his game and is looking like a top tier offensive defenseman yet again. Green has been lights out for the Detroit Red Wings this year and is easily the best player on their roster. He will definitely be one of the top rental options this year and will get a huge contract as a free agent.
The San Jose Sharks have made it clear that they want to win with Joe Thornton. Yet, for this to actually happen, they need to sign more players to help the cause. Mike Green would be a great addition for them because he is hungry for a Stanley Cup and could finally help solidify their weak defensive core.
8 Forward: James van Riemsdyk (Minnesota Wild)
James van Riemsdyk is one of the best net presences in the entire NHL and that is the main reason why he puts up great statistics every season. JVR will be missed in Toronto, but there simply is no way for them to keep him with the amount of young talent that are due for big deals. JVR will be moving on.
James van Riemsdyk will end up playing for the Minnesota Wild after this season because they need help with their top-six to be legitimate contenders again. The Wild have some tools that already make them very challenging to beat, but their offensive depth has fallen off a bit. JVR would be an excellent player to fix that.
7 Defenseman: Kris Letang (Vegas Golden Knights)
Kris Letang has shockingly found himself on the trading block, but it is important to note that stranger things have happened in the past. Letang is still an elite defenseman in the NHL, but he is extremely injury prone and that is the main reason why the Penguins may decide to move on from him.
This may be a bit of stretch, but the Vegas Golden Knights could end up being a great destination for Letang. Marc Andre Fleury, his former teammate, is currently making them become contenders and Letang joining them would make them outstanding. It may be a hard pill to swallow for some, but it could work out.
6 Forward: Max Domi (Carolina Hurricanes)
Max Domi has been in the rumour mill and it makes a lot of sense because is definitely is struggling. There is no doubt that Domi has the potential to become a superstar in the NHL, but for that to happen, he may need to be traded out of Arizona. The Coyotes simply do not offer him much to grow as a player.
Max Domi will most likely be traded by the off-season and the Carolina Hurricanes would be smart to go after him. The Hurricanes are a young team, but they have a great cast of players that could benefit Domi immensely. Domi would be an excellent fit in their top-six because of his playmaking ability.
5 Defenseman: John Carlson (Pittsburgh Penguins)
John Carlson will be the most popular free agent defenseman on the market this off-season and due to this, will be given a huge contract. Carlson has been a very effective player for the Washington Capitals since the start of his career and is still just hitting his prime years.
The Pittsburgh Penguins would be wise to pick up John Carlson because he could end up being a huge part of their roster. Carlson is a very talented player who has the ability to carry a team with his offensive ability. If Carlson is given the correct amount of playing time there, he could end up being a core guy.
4 Forward: Patrick Maroon (Anaheim Ducks)
Like Evander Kane, Patrick Maroon will be a very popular player this trade deadline and will be with a new team soon. With his contract expiring as well, he is expected to land a great contract for his stellar play over the past few years with the Edmonton Oilers. Maroon is a very effective power forward with a scoring touch.
Patrick Maroon would be wise to go back to where it all began with the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks could use him in their lineup because they have gotten a bit flat this season and are not playing up to where they should be. Maroon would make them an intimidating team yet again and would be a core player.
3 Defenseman: Erik Gudbranson (Philadelphia Flyers)
Erik Gudbranson is one of the most effective defensive defensemen in the game and he is often overlooked by many fans. Gudbranson has seen his playing time fall off a little with the Vancouver Canucks, but luckily for him, he is set to be a free agent this off-season. He will be coveted heavily for his young age.
Erik Gudbranson would be a perfect fit with the Philadelphia Flyers because they need a solid defensive defenseman who is extremely physical. Gudbranson fits the culture of the Flyers and could end up being a huge part of their inevitable success. This could end up being a surprise signing and a great one at that.
2 Forward: John Tavares (Montreal Canadiens)
If John Tavares was going to resign with the New York Islanders, it most likely would have already happened by now. Tavares has had numerous opportunities to commit to the Islanders, but he has yet to do so, so it is likely that he will opt to leave them as a free agent this summer.
The Montreal Canadiens need a franchise centre down the middle and that very well could end up being John Tavares. The Canadiens do have the money to make this happen and most importantly, the desire. If the Canadiens ever want to win with the core they have, they need to bring Tavares to their roster.
1 Defenseman: Erik Karlsson (Edmonton Oilers)
It is hard to believe that Erik Karlsson may end up traded, but now it appears inevitable. Karlsson has made it clear that he expects to be paid with a huge salary when he hits the free agency period and the Senators may not be able to make that happen. They simply are a low budget team who cannot spend to the cap.
With their play and cap issues, the Senators will trade Karlsson. The Edmonton Oilers seem like the most logical destination because they have a lot of prospects and need a franchise defenseman under Connor McDavid. The Oilers want to solidify themselves as contenders and by getting Karlsson, they would be doing so much more.