NHL Trade Speculation: 10 Players Who Could Use a Change of Scenery
Sometimes, things just don't work out.
This applies to NHL players and teams just as much as it does in everyday life, and sometimes, a trade can be just the thing to help a player regain his old form, or even break out into a star.
For example, in only four full seasons before this one, Joffrey Lupul totalled 165 points in 316 games (about 0.52 points per game). However, after a deadline deal last year sent him to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Lupul has tallied 80 points in 88 games (approximately 0.90 points-per-game). It's a remarkable difference.
Keeping that in mind, here are 10 NHL players who could benefit most from a change of scenery.
Johnny Oduya, Defenseman, Winnipeg Jets
During his sophomore season with the New Jersey Devils in 2007-2008, Johnny Oduya established himself as an NHL-ready shutdown defenceman with offensive capabilities who could easily fill the role of a top-four defender.
In fact, in his four seasons in New Jersey, it seemed that was where Oduya fit on the depth chart. He was a combined plus-51 in 273 games with the Devils franchise, and also added 70 points during that time.
However, on February 4, 2010, Oduya was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers as part of the deal that brought Ilya Kovalchuk to New Jersey, and his career went South from there.
Oduya has since been plagued with injuries, and in 170 games with the Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets franchise, he is a combined minus-18 with just 39 points.
Given his previous success with the Devils, it wouldn't be a stretch to say Oduya could be a difference-maker on a contending team, and given his impending unrestricted free-agent status, a move out of Winnipeg could be good for his career.
Steve Mason, Goaltender, Columbus Blue Jackets
After his rookie season in Columbus, Steve Mason was widely regarded as a franchise goaltender.
In 2008-2009, Mason led the NHL with 10 shutouts, winning the Calder Memorial Trophy and being named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, backstopping the Columbus Blue Jackets to the team's only playoff berth in franchise history.
Since his rookie campaign, Mason has struggled to duplicate his production. In his last three seasons, Mason has posted a miserable 3.14 GAA. He just doesn't seem to be a starting goaltender anymore, much less a franchise goalie.
If Mason were to be dealt, it would mean a fresh start, and the best chance to resurrect his career.
Andrei Kostitsyn, Left Wing, Montreal Canadiens
Given the fact that Andrei Kostitsyn is a perennial 20-goal scorer for the Montreal Canadiens when healthy, it almost seems silly to suggest that he would be in need of a change of scenery.
However, Kostitsyn hasn't seemed to fit in on the Habs under new head coach Randy Cunneyworth, even being a healthy scratch multiple times this season. Kostitsyn's ice time has taken a considerable drop and considering his contract expires at the end of the year, his days in a Canadiens jersey could be numbered.
Kostitsyn could provide some added scoring depth to a contending team, and a trade could help him in the long run, just like it did for his brother Sergei when he was dealt to the Nashville Predators.
Marek Zidlicky, Defenseman, Minnesota Wild
Albeit his injury woes, Marek Zidlicky is a capable offensive defenceman who can quarterback a power play. But as of right now, he isn't being afforded that opportunity as a member of the Minnesota Wild under the regimen of rookie head coach Mike Yeo.
Zidlicky's time on ice this season is just over 20 minutes, but that has taken a significant dip as of late, and it appears he is no longer a fit in Minnesota. A trade to another team could provide Zidlicky with the chance to once again become a high-end offensive defender. He has scored 40 points or more five times, including the 2003-2004 season when he had 53.
Zidlicky has already claimed that he would waive his no trade clause on a deal that would send him to the New Jersey Devils.
Mason Raymond, Left Wing, Vancouver Canucks
At the relatively young age of 26, it appears as though Mason Raymond is stuck in a rut in Vancouver.
Just two seasons ago Raymond experienced his finest campaign to date tallying a career high 25 goals, but he has since found himself fighting an uphill battle with the likes of Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Alex Burrows, Ryan Kesler and Chris Higgins on the Canucks' forward depth chart.
If Raymond is going to become a breakthrough NHL winger, it may not come as a Vancouver Canuck. He could score 30 goals annually given the ice time, which just isn't going to come consistently in Vancouver as a result of the 'Nucks depth up front.
Mike Komisarek, Defenseman, Toronto Maple Leafs
When Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke signed Mike Komisarek to a five-year, $22.5M contract during the 2009 offseason, he certainly expected more of the shutdown king Komisarek was in Montreal, not the turnover king he has become in Toronto.
During his five seasons in Montreal, Komisarek was a combined plus-20, which makes his minus-19 in three seasons with the Leafs particularly inexcusable. He has found himself slipping behind youngsters Jake Gardiner, Carl Gunnarson and Luke Schenn on the depth chart.
If Komisarek were to swap teams, there is a distinct possibility he would return to form. Plus his $4.5M salary is one Toronto would love to dump, and could be attractive to a team looking to reach the salary cap floor next season.
Cory Schneider, Goaltender, Vancouver Canucks
Vancouver's Cory Schneider is much more than a backup goaltender.
However, behind Roberto Luongo, Schneider's starts may not come as often as he would like. Luongo was nominated for the Vezina Trophy last season and appears to be the team's netminder for the time being. Obviously, the Canucks would love to retain the services of both goalies, but they have other organizational needs.
If moved, Cory Schneider could be a starting goaltender on a handful of teams in the league, giving him his best shot to prove himself.
Twenty-five starts a season just doesn't cut it for a goaltender of Schneider's caliber.
LW Dustin Penner, Los Angeles Kings
Before coming to Los Angeles, Dustin Penner scored 126 goals in 403 games, so the fact that he's only scored seven times in 63 games as a King is a bit shocking.
Just before the 2011 trade deadline, the Edmonton Oilers shipped Dustin Penner to the Kings in exchange for prospective defender Colten Teubert and a pair of draft picks. The deal gave L.A. the scoring winger they so desperately needed and also gave Penner his first shot at the playoffs since he won the Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007.
It hasn't turned out to be a fit for either party.
With Penner set to hit unrestricted free agency on July 1, it'd be surprising if he were donning a Kings jersey next season, so moving on as soon as possible could be a priority for both Penner and the Kings organization.
Ales Hemsky, Right Wing, Edmonton Oilers
Ales Hemsky is generally considered to be one of the most fragile players in today's NHL, and as a result, his recent history with the Edmonton Oilers hasn't been an uplifting experience.
As a matter of fact, it's been quite the opposite.
Considering he's a veteran of nine NHL seasons, it's a little eye-catching that Hemsky played 70 or more games in only four of those seasons.
There's no questioning his offensive abilities, however. Hemsky has reached the 70-point mark twice, a remarkable feat given his injury history.
Nonetheless, Hemsky's time in Edmonton is surrounded with such negative feeling as a result of his injuries that a fresh start could be best for the 28-year-old. It could happen sooner rather than later given his impending unrestricted free-agent status.
Alexander Semin, Left Wing, Washington Capitals
Alexander Semin's tenure with the Washington Capitals has turned sour rather quickly.
Just two seasons ago, Semin scored 40 goals to help the Caps to a President's Trophy win. This season, he has just 16 goals and 37 points. It appears former Capital Matt Bradley's comments about Semin simply "not caring" are now extending beyond the playoffs.
Semin is an unrestricted free agent at season's end, and the fact that he is still without a contract could signal that he isn't getting one. Last season, Semin's one-year contract extension came in January, so it seems general manager George McPhee prefers to get things done early on the Alex Semin front.
With the Washington Capitals sitting 10th in the Eastern Conference standings, McPhee should be good and ready to shake things up. If so, Semin's frustrating play could place him on the trading block in the coming days.
With any luck, Semin finds a team willing to take a chance on him. A new coach and set of teammates could have a positive impact on his work ethic and hopefully mold him into a more disciplined player.
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