NHL teams must submit their expansion draft protection lists to the league by 5 p.m. ET on Satuday, June 17. As that date draws near, teams at risk of losing a quality defenseman for nothing to the Vegas Golden Knights could instead attempt to trade them.
The Anaheim Ducks are considered most likely to go this route, with Sami Vananen considered the likely trade candidate. Despite recently undergoing shoulder surgery that could sideline him for over five months, interest remains high in the 25-year-old blueliner.
On Wednesday, TSN's Pierre LeBrun reported teams were calling about Vatanen. Among the suitors are the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning and New Jersey Devils.
Despite being sidelined by injuries over the last three seasons, Vatanen remains a skilled puck-moving defenseman. Since 2012-13, he's exceeded 20 points four times, include a 37-point performance in 2014-15 and a 38-point effort the following season. He's also a right-handed shot, making him a valuable commodity.
LeBrun gave no indication as to the Ducks' asking price for Vatanen. It could be a scoring winger, especially if Patrick Eaves departs via free agency.
The Minnesota Wild are in the same boat, giving rise to speculation they could be talking trade with the Boston Bruins.
CSNNE.com's Joe Haggerty reports the Bruins hope to add a top-four defenseman with a left-handed shot to skate alongside promising Charlie McAvoy. He notes the Bruins and Wild had ongoing trade discussions since before the March trade deadline, speculating Jonas Brodin could be on Boston's radar.
Brodin, 23, is a skilled mobile defenseman carrying a $4.1-million annual average salary through 2020-21. With the Wild having over $61 million tied up in 15 players for 2017-18 and restricted free agent forwards Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter due for significant raises, moving Brodin would free up some much-needed cap room.
Haggerty said there's indications the Wild, who dealt away their 2017 first-round pick to Arizona in the Martin Hanzal trade, could consider acquiring a first rounder. He notes Bruins GM Don Sweeney has expressed a willingness to move his first-round selection (18th overall) for the right price.
Still, there's no certainty Brodin could be the one to move. StarTribune.com's Michael Russo believes Matt Dumba is the mostly likely of the Wild's defenseman to be dealt.
The 22-year-old Dumba has struggled to blossom into a top-pairing defenseman, but he still has upside and plenty of time to develop. He has a year remaining on his contract at an affordable $2.5 million. Like Vatanen, he's a right-handed shot.
Throughout 2015-16, New York Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic was the subject of frequent trade chatter. His request to be dealt closer to Manitoba for personal reasons made him a fixture in the rumor mill, but he withdrew that request last summer.
With the Islanders at risk of losing a quality defender in the expansion draft, Hamonic's name has resurfaced. TSN's Darren Dreger reports the Isles are among the clubs interested in acquiring Edmonton Oilers right winger Jordan Eberle. He suggests the 26-year-old Hamonic as a potential return.
The Oilers at some point must shed salary to make room for the expensive raises due young superstar forwards Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Swapping Eberle's $6-million annual salary through 2018-19 for Hamonic's $3.8 million through 2019-20 could resolve that issue, plus the Oilers would add an invaluable right-handed shot to their blueline.
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