The 10 NHL Players Most Likely to Be Traded in 2013-14 Season
The recent NHL trade action—Buffalo Sabres shipping Thomas Vanek to the New York Islanders for Matt Moulson and draft picks; the Colorado Avalanche shipping Steve Downie to the Philadelphia Flyers for Max Talbot—has fans buzzing over the possibility of more big deals to come.
The salary cap has made significant early season trades like Vanek-for-Moulson and Downie-for-Talbot rarities. Under the new CBA, however, teams can retain up to 50 percent of a player's salary in a trade to a maximum of three contracts per season. That could improve early-season trade activity.
Several notable NHL players are expected to be shopped leading up to the March 5 trade deadline. Here's a look at the 10 most likely to be traded this season.
Jordin Tootoo, Detroit Red Wings
Since joining the Red Wings as a free agent in 2012, the pesky Tootoo has struggled to adjust to their puck possession game. TSN's Darren Dreger recently reported that the Wings were shopping Tootoo in hopes of making room for promising winger Gustav Nyquist.
Tootoo still has value as an energetic agitator, but his $1.9 million cap hit for this season, and next, are tough to move right now. Expect more interest in him near the trade deadline when most of this season's salary has been paid.
Sean Couturier, Philadelphia Flyers
The subject of trade rumors last season, Couturier was once considered among the Flyers' untouchable players. That's no longer the case; as The Ottawa Sun recently reported, GM Paul Holmgren is willing to discuss anyone on his roster.
Couturier hasn't blossomed into the skilled two-way center he was projected to become, and the Flyers' ongoing offensive woes only highlight his struggles. Given the well-known impatience of the Flyers' front office, don't be surprised if Couturier is shopped in a package deal for an established scorer or top-two defenseman.
Kris Versteeg, Florida Panthers
A four-time 20-plus goal scorer, Versteeg missed most of last season to a knee injury and is struggling this season with only five points in 13 games. He was quick to voice his displeasure over being a recent healthy scratch.
The Ottawa Sun claimed the Panthers' new ownership want to move some of the veteran contracts they inherited. Versteeg and his $4.5 million-per-season salary could be among those shopped, though the Panthers might have to absorb part of his salary to improve his trade value.
Mike Cammalleri, Calgary Flames
An unrestricted free agent at season's end, Cammalleri claims he's open to re-signing, but with the Flames rebuilding with youth, this could be his final season in Calgary. Eric Francis of The Calgary Sun believes Cammalleri will move by the March 5 trade deadline.
Despite a long injury history, the 31-year-old remains a skilled scoring winger and a clutch playoff performer. His $7 million salary ($6 million cap-hit) won't attract any takers now, but playoff contenders seeking a skilled sniper will be very interested in his services by the trade deadline.
Michael Del Zotto, New York Rangers
Though he possesses impressive offensive skills, Del Zotto has struggled with his consistency throughout his tenure with the Rangers. He'll be a restricted free agent next summer, and given Del Zotto's difficult contract negotiation history with GM Glen Sather, he might not have a future on Broadway.
With the Rangers in desperate need of offensive help, Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos recently speculated Del Zotto could be offered up to the Edmonton Oilers for winger Nail Yakupov.
Nail Yakupov, Edmonton Oilers
With only four wins in their first 16 games, the Oilers must make a move soon, or they risk falling out of playoff contention by December. Yakupov's entry-level contract and skill potential makes him the Oilers' best bargaining chip to attract a goaltending or defensive upgrade.
Though it's believed management is reluctant to part with Yakupov, the New York Post recently claimed the Rangers were gauging interest in the sophomore winger. The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson believes the Rangers would offer up winger Chris Kreider in a deal for Yakupov.
James Reimer, Toronto Maple Leafs
Since acquiring Jonathan Bernier last June, Reimer's been the subject of trade speculation. Teams in dire need of help between the pipes (Edmonton Oilers, Carolina Hurricanes and Nashville Predators) would be very interested in him. However, the Leafs aren't in any rush, preferring to let Reimer and Jonathan Bernier split the goalie duties for the time being.
As teams with goaltending issues become more desperate, interest in Reimer will surely grow. TSN's Darren Dreger recently claimed the Leafs are in the market for a scoring forward, preferably a center. Shopping Reimer in a package deal could address that need.
Matt Moulson, Buffalo Sabres
The Sabres recently acquired Moulson from the New York Islanders in the Thomas Vanek trade. He might not be a Sabre for long, as there's speculation the Sabres will shop him near the March trade deadline for draft picks and/or prospects.
Critics believes his previous 30-goal seasons were the result of playing on John Tavares' line with the Islanders. An unrestricted free agent next summer, Moulson could increase both his trade value this season and his free-agent value next July by scoring 20-or-more goals with the rebuilding Sabres.
Ales Hemsky, Edmonton Oilers
GM Craig MacTavish tried to shop Hemsky last summer, but his lengthy injury and $5 million salary made him impossible to move. Despite only six points in his first 15 games this season, Hemsky's playing a better all-round game.
The New York Post recently reported the Oilers were fielding offers and the Rangers could be interested. The longer Hemsky stays healthy and the more his salary is paid out by the Oilers, the greater his trade value.
Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres
In the aftermath of the Sabres shipping Thomas Vanek to the New York Islanders, there was anticipation Miller would be next. Sabres GM Darcy Regier, however, claimed he'd had no trade discussions regarding the netminder.
Trade rumors have dogged the former Vezina Trophy winner for months, but his $6.25 million salary, limited no-trade clause and the Sabres' high asking-price will keep him in Buffalo until the March trade deadline. By then, the Sabres will have paid out the bulk of his salary; their asking price should become more reasonable; and Miller could also be more flexible about waiving his no-trade clause.