Most of the focus is currently on free agents as we are in the thick of the signing period, but plenty of NHL teams are still looking to wheel and deal. Not every franchise is capable of making a big splash on the free-agent market; however, that doesn't mean they can't find a way to get better.
The trade market seemed to open up quite a bit Thursday with the Boston Bruins and Dallas Stars swapping Tyler Seguin and Loui Eriksson, among other players, so perhaps even more big names will be on the move in the near future. If nothing else, teams are willing to shop some top stars, so they can be had for the right price.
Here is the latest on potential trades involving the likes of Pittsburgh Penguins forward James Neal, Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler and more.
While Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin receive much of the notoriety for the Penguins, much of Pittsburgh's success over the past few seasons is owed to Neal. The 6'2" winger has been a big-time forward for the Penguins since coming over in a deal that sent defenseman Alex Goligoski to the Stars. Neal was approaching 30-goal status in Dallas, but he truly blossomed in Pittsburgh as he netted 40 goals during the 2011-12 season.
Neal was on pace for another 40-goal season this past year as he scored 21 times in 40 games during the lockout-shortened campaign. Finding a forward with size and scoring ability isn't very easy to do, so teams that have those types of players don't often give them up.
Also, Neal is just 25 years of age, so it's possible that his best years are yet to come. Despite that, Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun is reporting that the Penguins are considering moving Neal, largely for salary cap purposes.
The nature of the beast during the salary cap era is that teams are extremely difficult to keep together. Crosby and Malkin already have matching $8.7 million cap hits and defenseman Kris Letang's $7.25 million cap number will kick in after next season. That's a lot of money tied up in three players, so the Pens could ultimately decide to move Neal and his $5 million cap hit through 2017-18. According to Garrioch, the Ottawa Senators would be involved, but there would surely be a large group of teams in on Neal.
There has been plenty of trade talk surrounding Edler in recent days, and it apparently has yet to subside despite the moves made by the Canucks.
Vancouver bought out defenseman Keith Ballard to clear some cap space, which seemingly made Edler an unlikely trade commodity. But according to TheFourthPeriod.com, teams continue to inquire about the Swedish blueliner's availability, including the Detroit Red Wings, Tampa Bay Lightning, Montreal Canadiens and Carolina Hurricanes.
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Even though the Canucks need Edler now more than ever with Ballard out of the fold, they need cap space just as badly. Edler's $5 million cap hit isn't bad for a player of his caliber, but it lasts through the 2018-19 season, so the Canucks are locked in for a long time to come.
Vancouver needs to clear salary somehow if it is going to be active in free agency, and trading Edler is one of the few options it has now that it has decided to keep goaltender Roberto Luongo.
If the Canucks truly want to trade Edler, they won't have any issue doing so. Edler has developed into one of the best offensive defensemen in the game and he has solid defensive acumen as well. Edler has twice accrued more than 40 points in a season and reached his high-water mark in 2011-12 when he scored 11 goals and ended the year with 49 points. Teams are starved for that type of production from the back end, so don't expect Edler's name to exit trade negotiations any time soon.
St. Louis Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak may very well be among the best netminders in the league, but the Blues would probably love to trade him nonetheless. Halak is set to become a free agent following the upcoming season, and since the Blues already have Brian Elliott and All-Rookie Team goalie Jake Allen in the fold, Halak likely won't be re-signed.
One team that is in on the Halak sweepstakes is the Philadelphia Flyers, according to Tim Panaccio of CSN Philly.
Flyers say they REMAIN in the mix for Halak via trade route ...— Tim Panaccio (@tpanotchCSN) July 4, 2013
Dealing for Halak would make sense from Philadelphia's perspective, as Steve Mason has been inconsistent at best ever since his Calder Trophy-winning campaign back in 2009, and the recently signed Ray Emery, though he put up spectacular numbers last season, nevertheless still served in a backup capacity behind Corey Crawford.
The Flyers bought out the disappointing Ilya Bryzgalov, so they are very much in the market for a top goaltender at this point. Halak could very well represent the vital element that the Flyers have been missing for years. He has proven to be an excellent goalie during the regular season and in the playoffs, so he seems like an ideal fit in Philly.
Halak missed much of the past season due to injury, but he was spectacular when he did play, to the tune of a 2.14 goals-against average. Halak was even better one year earlier, though, as he went 26-12 with a 1.97 goals-against average, .926 save percentage and six shutouts.
Halak is firmly in his prime at 28 years of age, so as long as the price isn't too steep, the Flyers shouldn't hesitate to bring the Slovakian netminder to Philly.
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