With free agency nearly upon us, teams continue to discuss possible trades as a means of improving their rosters in an alternative manner or perhaps clearing cap space so they can be bigger players on the free-agent market. There are plenty of players on the block, so a lot could happen in the coming days.
Several trades have gone down since the NHL draft, and while many of those deals have involved role players, there are a lot of big names to be had for the right price. Teams haven't exactly been secretive about their desire to move certain players, so players, agents and general managers alike are bracing for a flurry of trades.
Here is the latest chatter surrounding some of the top stars on the trade market as the free-agent frenzy promises to cause plenty of chaos in the coming days.
Vancouver Canucks blueliner Alexander Edler has been among the best all-around defensemen in the game over the past few seasons, but he may trade in blue and green for a new color scheme if the Vancouver front office has its way. According to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun, the Canucks have been shopping Edler since draft day, and a lot of people were surprised when Vancouver didn't deal Edler to the Carolina Hurricanes for the No. 5 overall selection.
According to Garrioch, however, the Canucks refrained from making that move because they already had a deal in place to trade goaltender Cory Schneider to the New Jersey Devils for the No. 9 pick. Even so, Garrioch is reporting that the Canucks are still shopping Edler, and teams such as the Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Ottawa Senators, Buffalo Sabres and Edmonton Oilers are interested. According to TSN's Darren Dreger, though, Edler may no longer be on the market.
It certainly seems possible that the Canucks decided to buy out Keith Ballard rather than trading Edler, but perhaps he can still be had for the right price. From an offensive perspective, Edler has been fantastic in recent years, scoring a career-high 49 points two seasons ago, while he was on pace for more than 40 in this past lockout-shortened season. The fact that Edler has had an even plus-minus rating in three of the past five seasons may be a bit disconcerting for the Canucks, and that may be why he was ever on the trading block at all.
Like Edler, Dan Boyle of the San Jose Sharks has been one of the NHL's best offensively-minded defensemen in recent years. He's generally not a guy who is going to wow you with his defensive acumen, but he's a savvy veteran who earns his money by activating from the back end and making things happen in transition. Boyle has been a very useful player for the Sharks over the past five seasons, but with his contract set to expire after the upcoming season, the Sharks could look to move him, according to Garrioch.
The 36-year-old currently counts for more than $6.6 million against San Jose's cap, and there is no guarantee that the Sharks will be able to sign him to an extension. According to Garrioch, Boyle was asked to submit a list of eight teams that he could not be dealt to back in February, as he has a limited no-trade clause. One team that could possibly have interest in Boyle is the Senators.
That would certainly make sense, as Ottawa traded the rights to defenseman Sergei Gonchar to the Dallas Stars last month. Gonchar was a great supporting puck mover behind Erik Karlsson, but the Sens no longer have a guy who can fill that role. Boyle would be able to, though, and he would probably be even more effective than Gonchar. Boyle has six seasons of 50 or more points to his credit, and prior to this past season, he put up at least 48 points in four straight seasons. Ottawa is a team on the rise and Boyle would certainly help the Senators reach that next level.
Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek
One of the most interesting teams to watch on the trade front is the Buffalo Sabres. Buffalo had high hopes entering last season, but the Sabres disappointed and failed to reach the playoffs. Because of that, it seems as though Buffalo is planning to rebuild. The Sabres got off to a good start, as they had five picks in the first two rounds of the NHL draft, but their work is far from done. Franchise players Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek could be a big help to several teams out there, but Buffalo doesn't have much use for either at this point.
According to TheFourthPeriod.com, Sabres general manager Darcy Regier has been shopping both Miller and Vanek around. No deals materialized on draft day, but that doesn't mean that the market has dried up. Miller's numbers were suspect this past season, as he posted a 2.81 goals against average and .915 save percentage, but he is a former Vezina Trophy winner and the face of American hockey, so his reputation alone is likely to garner some interest around the league.
Vanek was much more impactful during the lockout-shortened campaign, as he netted 20 goals and had 41 points in 38 games. Prior to injuries slowing down his progress, Vanek was the league's leading scorer early in the season. Injuries and inconsistent play have hampered Vanek throughout his career, but he has twice scored 40 or more goals in a season and has 250 in his career. Top-flight forwards like Vanek aren't easy to come by, so look for the return to be substantial if a trade is ultimately made.
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter