After months upon months of speculation and a long, drawn-out saga, Matt Duchene is no longer a member of the Colorado Avalanche, and, with that, the NHL’s most notable and most widely reported trade chip has come off the board.
It was bound to happen at some point, mind you. It was reported that Duchene had a trade request in with the Avalanche dating back to last December, so it’s no surprise, especially after a summer filled with trade talk, that Duchene is the first player to be involved in a major, noteworthy swap this season. But with Duchene about to settle into his new digs with the Ottawa Senators — and with Kyle Turris heading to the Nashville Predators as part of the three-way deal — those following the rumor mill need a new name to turn their attention to.
So, who could be among the notable names moved next? Here are nine NHL players who could get a change of scenery this season:
Evander Kane, Buffalo Sabres
Kane was mentioned in trade rumors last season, especially as the deadline approached, but the Sabres made the decision to hang on to the winger through the summer. It looks like the smartest decision the Sabres could have made, too. While Buffalo GM Jason Botterill may want to do his own evaluation of Kane before deciding whether or not to send the 26-year-old packing, it’s worth mentioning that he has done nothing but drive his value up through the early part of this campaign.
In 14 games, Kane has seven goals and 13 points while skating top-line minutes alongside Jack Eichel. If Kane keeps this up, he’s on pace to have roughly 30 goals and 55 points by the time the trade deadline rolls around. On an expiring contract, that has to make Kane one of the most attractive rental options for teams looking for an offensive injection.
The big question is if a team wants to give up what the Sabres might be asking for a pure rental or if a contract extension is going to be part of any trade talk. Kane is making $5.25 million this season, and an extension could see him earn north of $6 million per season on a long-term deal.
Mike Green, Detroit Red Wings
Talk about turning back the clock. Green, who hasn’t scored more than 45 points in a campaign since 2009-10, is a near-point-per-game player for the Red Wings through the early part of the season with one goal and 13 points in 15 outings. It’s not just his scoring ability that makes him the perfect trade candidate, though, it’s that Green, 32, is in the final year of his three-year, $18-million deal while playing for an organization that is shifting to a rebuild mode. So, pair Green’s scoring with his contract status and you have the perfect storm for a tradable asset.
Detroit is all but guaranteed to get some calls about Green at some point this season, if they haven’t already. There are several teams who could use some additional depth on the blueline or a rearguard with some offensive ability to quarterback a power play, and Green more than fits the bill. Depending on how desperate the Wings’ trade partner is, Detroit can likely increase the asking price and get a decent haul for Green, too.
Alex Galchenyuk, Montreal Canadiens
Things are starting to look up for the Canadiens, who have won five of their past seven games after a brutal seven-game losing streak, but that doesn’t exactly mean trade rumors circling the organization have quieted down. And right in the middle of all talks concerning the bleu, blanc et rouge is Galchenyuk, who has had a tough time finding the scoresheet and is seeing decreased ice time under coach Claude Julien. A trade involving Galchenyuk has been discussed at length a number of times over the past couple of seasons, and one of the biggest issues surrounding the 23-year-old is where he’s skating in the lineup. Drafted as a center, Montreal has been reluctant to use him as such and it was said before the season that he’d remain on the wing this campaign, as well.
If Montreal continues to win, it’s unlikely Galchenyuk is moved out, but if any issues crop up over the course of the coming weeks or months, you can rest assured he’ll find himself back in the rumor mill. Montreal is going to have to be sure they’re getting good value back for Galchenyuk if they trade him, though, because if he rediscovers the 30-goal form he showed in 2015-16, trading him could come back to bite the Canadiens.
John Tavares, New York Islanders
There’s no intention here to raise the ire of Islanders fans, but the reality is Tavares is going to be talked about until there’s definite knowledge of his future. He’s said all the right things regarding his desire to remain in New York and there’s no reason to believe he’s being anything less than truthful. However, if the Islanders don’t take a step forward, Tavares has to seriously consider what he wants moving forward. The good news, though, is the Islanders are in a wild-card spot, are right in the thick of things in the Metropolitan Division and have put together a solid run over their past 10 games with a 7-3-0 run.
But, again, none of this is going to put the brakes on trade talk until Tavares actually inks a new deal. Rest assured, Tavares will have more than his fair share of suitors, too, and if the Islanders start to slide down the standings near the deadline, GM Garth Snow is going to be bombarded with calls about the center’s availability. Even then, there’s no guarantee Snow moves Tavares, but the Isles GM would then risk losing the 27-year-old for nothing.
Rick Nash, New York Rangers
The Rangers are in limbo. Struggling to start the season and with several holes in the lineup, New York has definite needs before they can be considering a true contender again. In fact, the Rangers could probably use a bit of help all over the ice. And while that might make the idea of moving Nash sound counterintuitive, if there’s a market for the 33-year-old and an offer that brings a couple players or a prospect and a pick back the other way, it’s worth exploring.
Ideally, the Rangers would be trading a prime-aged Nash or send him packing in the midst of another season like his 2014-15 campaign, a season that saw him score 42 goals and 69 points. The reality is much different, however, as Nash has managed three goals and six points in 15 games. It’s the worst production rate of his career. Getting a boatload back for Nash won’t happen, but moving him along whenever possible makes the most sense. He’s in the final year of an eight-year, $62.4-million contract, so interested parties may wait until the deadline to lessen the financial burden.
Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks
Any potential trade involving Thornton is contingent on two things. First, where are the Sharks in the playoff hunt? As of today, the answer is right in the middle of the divisional race. San Jose is holding the third spot in Pacific Division and are trending in the right direction with a 7-3-0 record over their past 10 outings. If San Jose remains in the thick of the post-season picture, trading Thornton is a non-starter. Beyond that, one has to wonder if Thornton wants to go anywhere. He has a no-movement clause, so he needs to give the OK to any deal.
That said, if the Sharks slide out of the playoff picture, they might be interested in sending the 38-year-old center packing in order to bring in an asset or two from a contending team that can help the Sharks prepare for life after Thornton. And accepting a trade to a contender would give Thornton the chance to hoist the Stanley Cup. It’s eluded him for his entire career and, though he’s likely a Hall of Famer without the Cup, winning the sport’s greatest prize would strengthen his resume.
James van Riemsdyk, Toronto Maple Leafs
Nothing good can come from panicking, but there are realistic concerns about Toronto’s defensive play. Despite having the second-ranked offense with 58 goals for, the Maple Leafs have a mere plus-two goal differential and, with that, some calls for an improvement on the back end. No one is going to suggest the Leafs move any of their young guns, but there’s reason for Toronto to consider shipping van Riemsdyk out if it can help improve their defensive play. The biggest? As a pending UFA, he’s due for a new deal and there’s only so much money to go around with William Nylander a restricted free agent next summer, and Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner ready for extensions ahead of the 2019-20 campaign.
There should be plenty of interest in van Riemsdyk, too. He’s only skating about 14 minutes per outing through the start of the season, but he’s potted five goals and 10 points and has cracked the 25-goal mark in three of his past four campaigns. He brings scoring to the lineup and a team with defensemen to spare might consider a swap to boost their offensive punch.
James Neal, Vegas Golden Knights
Neal has scored 20-plus goals every season and, though it’s still incredibly early, he’s on pace to score somewhere in the 30-plus range this season with the Golden Knights. Now, under normal circumstances, that might make Neal someone that Vegas tries hard to retain as he plays out the final year of his contract, but Golden Knights GM George McPhee has made it awfully clear he wants to build this team by drafting and developing. What better way to do that then by shipping out rental players for a handful of assets?
There’s no doubt Neal fits the rental tag, either. He’s in the final year of a six-year, $30-million contract, and the 30-year-old is in line to cash in if he hits the open market. He probably also has a strong desire to win, having come so close with the Predators last spring. Neal’s as good a trade asset as the Golden Knights have, and it would be surprising if he remains in Vegas beyond the deadline.
David Perron, Vegas Golden Knights
Like Neal, the 29-year-old Perron is on an expiring deal with a Golden Knights team that is, first and foremost, looking to add assets that can be used to beef up the prospect pool and strengthen the organization in the future. That makes him major trade bait, especially because he’s proving he can perform like a top-six winger if given the chance. In 13 games, Perron has put up four goals and 10 points and he’s right near the top in ice time among Golden Knights forwards.
The thing about Perron, however, is he’s not likely to fetch quite as much as Neal. Although the two are performing similarly, he hasn’t scored more than 18 goals in any of the past three seasons and has capped out at 46 points across the same stretch. Likewise, his playoff performances haven’t been worth high praise. He had one point in 11 games for the St. Louis Blues last season. However, not every team is going to be able to land the top rental players, and Perron should be near the top of the second tier of scoring forwards on expiring deals.
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