There was a time when the idea of Alexander Ovechkin wearing any NHL uniform other than that of the Washington Capitals was unfathomable.
That was before the lockout kicked in and the celestial Capitals captain wasted no time signing with the KHL’s Moscow Dynamo in his native Russia.
Depending especially on the length of the lockout, there is no telling where Ovechkin’s heart will be when the Caps are ready to resume play. Furthermore, while one would like to think that his last two seasons of finishing in the 30-goal range were a mere fluke, he could grow exponentially less endearing if he does not return to old form.
Any combination of factors or even a single factor could result in the Capitals cutting their captain loose or Ovechkin more or less moving himself to the KHL. It may never happen, but it still could at virtually any time.
Now, there are more than enough NHL players who were once universally assumed to be in a til-retirement-do-we-part alliance with their current teams to compose a pair of opposing starting lineups.
Do note that, while the likelihood of a trade or free agency departure varies in each case, the possibility plainly exists.
In addition to Ovechkin, the top 12 candidates to drain their last ounce of untouchable potion and start representing a new NHL franchise are as follows.
If his team does not progress in the immediate run, the career-long Ottawa Senator is a candidate to pull a Ray Bourque and seek his first Stanley Cup title with a more certified contender.
Alfredsson will be 40 by this December and an overwhelming urge to seek a championship elsewhere could break the surface at any time.
With the new prized personnel and the resultantly slim amount of spare cap space, Minnesota will likely need to let an established piece go. It is not a stretch to envision them exporting a high-grossing player before the trade deadline if and when they need a tweak to shore up their playoff hopes.
Granted, Bouchard has been with Minnesota for his entire decade-long NHL career, but the team has had altogether negligible success in his tenure and appears to be steering toward a new identity with Parise, Suter, Heatley, etc.
A pending free agent with a $4.08 million cap hit, Bouchard could be the ideal player to dangle while the Wild can still get a return package for him. If the makeup of their roster after the major signings is any indication, Minnesota may use him to shed some surplus offense in exchange for more dependable defense.
Still, when that new contract is nearing its conclusion and Doan is nearing the age of 40 and it is hardly irrational to imagine him seeking thicker ice if the Coyotes have not won a Cup and are not in contention.
Given the number of teams who showed reported interest in Doan over the summer, there is every reason to think many will renew their push for a deal if things do not appear to be working out in Phoenix.
Another long-tenured captain with his only NHL employer, Iginla is an even stronger candidate to pursue a more reliable winning cause than Alfredsson or Doan. As pivotal as his leadership may be to the Calgary Flames’ efforts to return to the postseason, he may prefer to be dealt to an established contender.
Earlier this offseason, a Chicago Sun-Times story detailed the young Blackhawk’s off-ice habits and the discomfort it has instilled to his employers.
Part of one sentence in the May 29 article by Sun-Times writer Adam L. Jahns is particularly noteworthy: “…former Flyers forwards Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, reputed partiers in Philadelphia, have helped take the Kings to the Stanley Cup finals after being traded away.”
The Carter/Richards storyline could set a precedent and entice potential buyers for Kane if he does not alter his lifestyle to the Blackhawks’ liking within the next few years.
This is one of those moves that, if it happens, would happen a little later rather than sooner, but is nonetheless tucked cozily within the realm of possibility.
While it sometimes appears that Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli would just as soon label all of his active players “untouchable,” that would apply much more credibly to, say, Patrice Bergeron or Tyler Seguin than it would to Krejci.
Bergeron is easily Boston’s most reliable center and one of the best in the NHL. Seguin was a pivot before coming to the team and can still be re-converted from the wing at some point.
It is easy to envision Bergeron and Seguin ultimately becoming Boston’s top-six centers, and even if Seguin remains a winger, prospect Alexander Khokhlachev could still have a spot on the not-too-distant horizon.
Accordingly, his prolific 2010-11 season and postseason aside, a lack of room on the depth chart and a lack of consistency could push Krejci out of the organization within the next few years.
The fact that he is under contract until 2021-22 and carries a no-trade clause may have held immovable sway when the contract in question took effect two years ago. Back before he was facing the topmost test of the demanding Vancouver market in the deep end of the playoffs and trying to help justify President’s Trophy-winning campaigns.
Since then, though, Luongo has turned in egregious postseason performances that contributed to the Vancouver Canucks’ elimination from both the 2011 and 2012 tournament. That, in tandem with the comparatively refreshing output of heir apparent Cory Schneider, has worked to trump the original logic.
Since the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, the outlook on Luongo’s alliance with the Canucks has turned a full 180 degrees. The idea of sending him elsewhere was once unthinkable, but now that very same adjective applies to the idea of keeping him.
It appears that after all of the summer trade buzz, Ryan will remain an Anaheim Duck, for the time being.
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2005 NHL draft has broken the 30-goal plateau in each of four seasons spent entirely or predominantly with Anaheim. But with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are their clear-cut one-two punch and the likes of Emerson Etem on the rise, the Ducks can still easily seek and find a buyer for Ryan in the not-too-distant future.
The Ryan trade talk could easily reboot when the NHL returns and ultimately come to fruition. It is especially worth noting that his name has often been mentioned in the same stories about many of the same teams in the Nash derby.
Naturally, only one of those teams landed Nash, meaning others should still be looking for a tweak or an upgrade.
Between rumblings about offer sheets and the fact that Subban is still a restricted free agent even when other players signed hefty contracts leading up to the lockout, a prolonged stay in Montreal for the young blueliner is still shy of guaranteed.
The outlook could change with one quick flick and a new pact with the Habs, but that will not become clear until after normalcy is restored in the NHL.
A year ago, Thomas’ second Vezina Trophy, along with his 2011 Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy, were still burning with fresh radiance.
That radiance has long since been extinguished as the Bruins’ blue-collar backstop has elected to eschew the rinks for the 2012-13 season.
Regardless of whether the lockout ends in time to save the season and whether Thomas has a change of heart, Boston should be ready to declare Tuukka Rask its No. 1 netminder from here on out.
In turn, Thomas and his $5 million cap hit can expect to be swapped elsewhere. Or, if nothing else, he will have to sign elsewhere via free agency once that contract expires along with his self-assigned respite.
If Randy Johnson could throw a pitch over the head of an opposing batter in both the 1993 and 1997 MLB All-Star Games, then Thornton can certainly defy the “untouchable captain” label and be traded twice in his career. In fact, in both instances, it could happen in the first few months of NHL action following a work stoppage.
It happened once when Boston exported him to San Jose on Nov. 30, 2005. Now there is ample reason to imagine it could happen once more, specifically in the form of a deal between the Sharks and the New York Rangers.
Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe, one of the writers who saw nearly the first full decade of Thornton’s career, was one of the first to opine on this. He cited the history of Thornton working with new Rangers forward Rick Nash overseas and in international competition.
Now, the Nash/Thornton tandem is teaming up in Switzerland for the second time in as many lockouts. That’s not exactly going to tone down much speculation or avert any future rumors as to their possible alliance in the NHL.
If Phoenix tumbles, the club could go into selling mode and offer Yandle’s services to an enticed Cup contender. They can afford it, too, with the likes of Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Brandon Gormley on the rise and capable of filling the same sort of role as Yandle.