The 2013 NHL draft is less than a week away, and the rumor mill is already buzzing with teams that could be looking to move up or down in the first round.
Given the depth and top-tier talent in this impressive draft class, the value of first-round picks is quite strong. Any team with a top-10 pick has a great opportunity to draft a player with the potential to be an NHL star for many years.
Let's look at some of the latest trade rumors surrounding this year's entry draft.
The Colorado Avalanche hold the top pick in what promises to be one of the best drafts in recent memory, which is why it's going to take a substantial offer to acquire this selection.
Per Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada, one team has already tried to obtain the No. 1 pick and failed despite putting together an impressive package of assets.
Word is that Calgary offered all three of their first-round draft picks, 6, 22, and 28 to the Colorado Avalanche for the No. 1 overall selection. Colorado said no thanks that's not going to be enough. So if you want to move up there, you got to understand that three first round draft picks is not going to be enough this year.
The Avalanche have no reason to move down in the draft because they will get a franchise cornerstone player at No. 1 by taking Portland Winterhawks defenseman Seth Jones (who also grew up in Colorado) or Halifax Mooseheads center Nathan MacKinnon.
Adrian Dater of The Denver Post (via Sulia) recently reported on the possibility that the Florida Panthers, who hold the No. 2 pick, could move up one spot.
Speculation heating up that Florida really wants MacKinnon. But Avs own the first pick. So they'd need to give up something off roster to make Avs do a swap to No. 2. The Avs I'm hearing want Erik Gudbranson, a young D. That probably is asking too much, but I hear that's the price for now.
MacKinnon is going to be a solid NHL player, but giving up a talented young player who has the potential to be a No. 1 defenseman such as Gudbranson would not be a smart move by the Panthers. They finished 30th in goals against and 30th in penalty killing during this shortened season, which further proves why parting with young defensive talent would be a poor decision.
The Edmonton Oilers had drafted first overall for three straight years and hold the No. 7 pick in this year's draft. This team already has a ton of young talent, especially at forward with Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Nail Yakupov, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sam Gagner.
The biggest need on this team's roster is a top-four, shutdown defenseman. One valuable trade chip that the team has to offer is its first-round pick.
Back in late April, the Oilers tweeted a comment from general manager Craig MacTavish on trading the team's first-round pick, which read:
"We'd be very receptive." - GM MacTavish, asked if he'd be willing to trade the #Oilers first-round draft pick if it's not #1
Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada has reported that Edmonton "talked" to Carolina about the No. 5 overall pick, and even though that would be a jump of only two spots for the Oilers, getting into the top five would give them an opportunity to select an elite talent such as Alexander Barkov, Elias Lindholm or Jonathan Drouin if he falls down the board. These three players aren't likely to be available at No. 7.
The Carolina Hurricanes' disappointing season that ended with the team missing the playoffs for the fourth straight year has earned them the No. 5 pick in the draft. However, it wouldn't be surprising if a different club picks at No. 5 when it comes time to make that selection.
Elliotte Friedman recently reported the following on Hockey Night in Canada:
The team that people are focusing on is Carolina at No. 5, there is a belief that the Hurricanes will move that pick. I think Edmonton has talked to them, if the offer is good enough.
Chip Alexander of Raleigh News and Observer also reported on Carolina's draft strategy:
[GM Jim] Rutherford will not rule out moving down in the draft, if right deal comes along. Does not anticipate moving up.
Carolina has a lot of veteran talent with star players such as forwards Eric Staal, Jordan Staal, Alexander Semin, Tuomo Ruutu and star goaltender Cam Ward. This team is built to win right now, especially after ownership has spent more than $90 million to sign Jordan Staal and Semin to long-term contracts since the end of the 2011-12 season.
Trading the fifth pick and acquiring a top-four defenseman to improve a blue line that lacks elite talent and experience would be a smart move for the Hurricanes.
This team is not far from contending for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but earning a postseason berth from a new division that includes the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers will be a more difficult challenge than winning the old Southeast Division.
Jets head coach Claude Noel (left) and GM Kevin Cheveldayoff
The Winnipeg Jets finished ninth in the Eastern Conference during the shortened season, four points out of a playoff spot. This team will have a lot of tough decisions to make this summer because in addition to the draft, Winnipeg has a total of 15 free agents to consider re-signing.
According to Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun, it's quite possible that the Jets could make a deal before or on draft day:
Holding the 13th pick, GM Kevin Cheveldayoff says there's plenty of action on the phone lines as teams jostle for position in advance of the annual talent derby, June 30 in New Jersey.
"I'm trying to move up," Cheveldayoff said, Monday. "As high as is potentially possible. The reality is a lot of teams are making those calls right now....potentially finding your guy with a later pick and moving down are different options as well."
The Jets struggled on special teams last season, finishing 30th in power-play success and 24th in penalty killing. Drafting a defenseman who has the playmaking skills to quarterback the power play and is reliable enough in his own end to kill penalties would be the best move for Winnipeg.
At pick No. 13, there should be a few quality defenseman available for the Jets to select from, including Nikita Zadorov, Mirco Mueller and Samuel Morin.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have three first-round picks in this year's draft at No. 14, No. 19 and No. 27 overall. The last two selections were acquired from the Rick Nash trade with the New York Rangers and Jeff Carter deal with the Los Angeles Kings, respectively.
With a roster that just barely missed the playoffs this season due to a tiebreaker, the Blue Jackets are not far away from contending in the Eastern Conference.
To strengthen its roster, Columbus could trade a first-round pick for an established NHLer, preferably a top-six forward who can improve the power play or a veteran defenseman capable of logging 20-plus minutes against opponents' top scorers.
General manager Jarmo Kekalainen recently spoke about the possibility that his team trades one of its first-round picks, per Rob Mixer of BlueJackets.com:
Kekalainen said #CBJ has held talks with clubs about acquiring players in tight-cap situations. Would be willing to move a first rounder.
Columbus currently has $15,216,191 of salary cap space for next season, according to Capgeek, so it wouldn't be surprising if the team acquired a star player with a large cap hit in a deal involving one of its first-round picks. The team certainly has the cap flexibility to make this sort of move.
The Blue Jackets already have an impressive amount of top-tier prospects, headlined by last year's No. 2 overall pick Ryan Murray. Capitalizing on its three first-round picks to make a trade for a player who will help the team compete right now would be a wise move for Columbus, a team that is moving into a tough division next year as part of the league's new realignment plan.