As the trade rumors continue to swirl around the NHL, the hockey community is focused on huge names like Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang, Tampa Bay’s Ryan Malone and others.
All of the following players and teams are reportedly looking to make a deal, and if the right trade offer comes along, each of the transactions could realistically come to fruition.
Kris Letang to Toronto Maple Leafs?
While the Pittsburgh Penguins would be foolish to let star defender Kris Letang leave the franchise, the team’s issues with the salary cap will limit how much they can pay the top-tier player.
If the Penguins and Letang can’t agree on a deal before he becomes a free agent after next season, the franchise would consider moving the defender via trade, according to Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune,
Letang does not have a full-or limited-movement clause in his contract, and he has not requested a trade. He reiterated Wednesday that his focus is on working out a new contract with the Penguins. However, Toronto has emerged as a potential destination if there is a breaking point with the Penguins, the sources said. To trade Letang, the Penguins would seek the return of an NHL-ready player under contract, at least one top prospect and a potential first-round draft pick, the sources said.
Letang is one of the best offensive defensemen in the NHL today—33 or more points in four of the last five seasons—and while he was decimated against the Boston Bruins this postseason, his value to a team is undeniable.
If this is a deal that has any chance to happen, Toronto must give up whatever it takes to acquire a player of Letang’s magnitude.
Tampa Bay Lightning Looking to Trade Ryan Malone?
The Tampa Lightning have already made a huge offseason splash by buying out captain Vincent Lecavalier, according to Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com, but the franchise is far from done making high-profile moves.
Veteran forward Ryan Malone may be next, per CBC Sports NHL insider Elliotte Friedman,
I'm hearing Yzerman is trying to trade Ryan Malone. Tampa Bay would prefer to avoid a buyout payout and the Lightning are offering a draft pick as an enticement. Malone has a no-move clause in his contract until July 1, which gives him some control of the situation. It is a limited no-trade after then.
The Lightning are obviously freeing up as much cap space as possible with the team’s moves thus far, but whether it’s to alleviate some financial pressure on the small-market franchise or if it's posturing to make a big splash this offseason is a valid question.
Tampa Bay has a great nucleus of players, and if they can add a few big-name free agents or trade pieces to the young core, the Lightning could be a serious contender in the Eastern Conference for years to come.
Carolina Hurricanes Fielding Calls for No. 5 Pick?
According to both TSN’s Darren Dreger and Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer, the Carolina Hurricanes are reportedly fielding calls for the No. 5 overall pick and would consider trading back:
Interested to see if Carolina trades the 5th pick. Need a top 4 D. Could be part of a package. Told Rutherford is getting lots of calls.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 25, 2013
Further to the Carolina tweet. There are financial restrictions the Hurricanes face. Need a top 4 D, but can't pay Letang-like dollars.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 25, 2013
Rutherford will not rule out moving down in the draft, if right deal comes along. Does not anticipate moving up.— Chip Alexander (@ice_chip) June 25, 2013
If the Hurricanes aren’t sold on any player when they select in the first round, trading back to a team desperate to acquire talented players is the smart long-term plan for the franchise.
With a team like the Calgary Flames having three first-round picks and trying to trade up already, per Chris Peters of CBS Sports, Carolina trading back to stockpile picks and prospects would help build the team into a perennial contender.