The 10 NHL Players Most Likely to Become Trade Bait in 2014 Offseason

Lyle RichardsonFeatured ColumnistApril 2, 2014

The 10 NHL Players Most Likely to Become Trade Bait in 2014 Offseason

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    The NHL trade market, dormant since the March 5 trade deadline, will return to life following the completion of the Stanley Cup Final in mid-June. Over the coming weeks, trade speculation will grow regarding teams that failed to make the playoffs and those eliminated over the course of the two-month postseason.

    From mid-April to mid-June, pundits and fans will bandy about the names of potential trade candidates. Several notable players will, for various reasons, become targets for trade rumors.

    Some of these players could be those who, for one reason or another, weren't moved at the trade deadline. Rebuilding clubs could shop players who no longer fit into their future plans. Other teams could shed salary to free up cap space for other acquisitions.

    Here's a listing of 10 NHL players who are most likely to be dealt in the offseason and the reasons why, as well as potential asking prices and trade partners.

10. Paul Martin

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    Why he could be traded: The Penguins have more than $55 million invested in 14 players for next season. Assuming the salary cap hits $71 million, they'll have just over $15 million to re-sign or replace key players like Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik and Jussi Jokinen. Given the Penguins' depth in promising young defensemen, Martin could be the odd man out.

    Potential asking price: Martin has one season at $5 million remaining on his contract. As the Penguins need additional cap space, they won't want to take on much salary in return. They could accept draft picks or prospects.

    Possible destinations: Martin carries a modified no-trade clause, which could limit potential trade targets. Teams in need of skilled defensive depth (Edmonton, Colorado, Toronto) could make offers for him. 

9. Dmitry Kulikov

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    Why he could be traded: Earlier this season, Kulikov's struggle made him a fixture in the rumor mill. The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch claims the Panthers offered the 23-year-old defenseman a four-year, $20 million contract, but he prefers $22 million. If he's not re-signed before July, the Panthers could entertain trade offers.

    Potential asking price: The Panthers already have promising youngsters on their roster and in their system. They could seek a good, established player in return.

    Possible destinations: In December, The Denver Post's Adrian Dater cited reports claiming the Colorado Avalanche held talks with the Panthers about Kulikov. The Avalanche still need experienced blue-line depth and could come calling this summer. The Toronto Maple Leafs could be another suitor. Earlier this season, the Toronto Star's Damien Cox (h/t CBSSports.com) claimed the Leafs had eyed Kulikov for the past two years.

8. P.A. Parenteau

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    Why he could be traded: In late-January, Parenteau was a healthy scratch for a couple of games, sparking speculation about his future with Colorado. Given the performance of their young forwards this season, the Avalanche could make him a trade candidate this summer.

    Potential asking price: Considering the Avalanche have given up the fifth-most shots against per game this season, they could seek an experienced defensive blueliner.

    Possible destinations: In early February, the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch claimed the Montreal Canadiens made three offers for Parenteau. If the Habs fail to re-sign Thomas Vanek, they could look again into Parenteau's availability. Earlier this season, The Denver Post's Adrian Dater reported the Avalanche had interest in Florida Panthers blueliner Dmitry Kulikov. If they resume their pursuit this summer, they could offer up Parenteau.

7. Dustin Byfuglien

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    Why he could be traded: In January, the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch claimed the Jets were listening to offers for Byfuglien. The speculation subsequently died down after he was moved from defense to wing and Paul Maurice took over as coach. With the Jets about to miss the playoffs again, Byfuglien's name should resurface in the rumor mill.

    Potential asking price: Given the inconsistency of Ondrej Pavelec, goaltending has become an issue for the Jets this season. If they fail to re-sign Olli Jokinen, they'll also need depth at center.

    Possible destinations: Earlier this season, the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson believed the Oilers would take Byfuglien but only as a forward. Prior to the Philadelphia Flyers' trade-deadline acquisition of Andrew MacDonald, Sportsnet.ca's Mark Spector claimed they had interest in Byfuglien. If they fail to re-sign MacDonald, they could consider adding him to their defense corps.

6. Alexander Edler

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    Why he could be traded: In the first season of his six-year, $30 million contract, Edler had only 19 points in 58 games. With the Canucks facing a rebuild this summer, he could become a trade candidate.

    Potential asking price: Given the Canucks' offensive woes, they'll want a good young scoring forward as part of the return.

    Possible destinations: The Boston Globe's Fluto Shinzawa reports the Bruins nearly had a deal in place for Edler before the trade deadline. The Philadelphia Flyers could have interest if they fail to re-sign Andrew MacDonald. Last fall, the Vancouver Province's Jason Botchford claimed the Canucks and Detroit Red Wings discussed a deal before Edler's no-trade clause kicked in last summer.

5. Chris Stewart

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    Why he could be traded: Despite being acquired by the Sabres as part of the return from St. Louis for Ryan Miller, there was speculation he could be flipped to another club by the trade deadline. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Jeff Gordon believes Stewart is among several Sabres who could be dealt this summer.

    Potential asking price: The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reported the Sabres sought "high end prospects" from the Ottawa Senators for Stewart. That could also be the going rate for other clubs.

    Possible destinations: Prior to the Senators acquiring Ales Hemsky, Garrioch reported they were also looking at Stewart before and after he was dealt to Buffalo. If the Senators fail to re-sign Hemsky this summer, they could renew their interest in Stewart.

4. Cam Ward

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    Why he could be traded: Poised to miss the playoffs for the fifth straight year, offseason changes are expected for the Hurricanes. CBC.ca's Elliotte Friedman believes Ward could be among them. He carries an annual cap hit of $6.3 million for two more years. The Hurricanes could pick up part of that salary to bolster his trade value.

    Potential asking price: A promising player, draft picks or prospects.

    Possible destinations: Ward's no-trade clause gives him control over where he could go. Prior to the trade deadline, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Michael Russo reported the Wild contacted the Hurricanes about Ward but had concerns about his contract. Depending on the health of Josh Harding and the performance of rookie Darcy Kuemper, they could revisit those talks. The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson believes the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals could be interested. The Calgary Flames might also come calling.

3. Sam Gagner

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    Why he could be traded: Gagner is the only top-six forward that Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish seems willing to move. Prior to the Olympic trade freeze, the Los Angeles Times' Lisa Dillman reported the Oilers and Kings were involved in trade talks involving Gagner. Adding urgency to completing a trade is his no-movement clause, which goes into effect on July 1.

    Potential asking price: A skilled shutdown defenseman or a good two-way forward.

    Possible destinations: The Kings could revisit trade talks with the Oilers in June. SI.com's Allan Muir suggested the Nashville Predators could also have interest in Gagner. Earlier this season, the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch listed the Toronto Maple Leafs and New Jersey Devils as possible suitors.

2. James Reimer

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    Why he could be traded: Reimer has been relegated to backing up Jonathan Bernier. A restricted free agent this summer, he could have a future as an NHL starter somewhere else. TSN's Darren Dreger (h/t CBSSports.com) believes Reimer could “respectfully” request a trade this summer.

    Potential asking price: A skilled shutdown defenseman or a reliable second-line winger.

    Possible destinations: The New York Islanders, Washington Capitals and Calgary Flames must improve their goaltending. Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke knows Reimer from his days as Leafs general manager. If the Winnipeg Jets decide to replace starter Ondrej Pavelec, the Winnipeg Free Press' Gary Lawless lists Reimer among their options.

1. Ryan Kesler

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    Why he could be traded: Following the March trade deadline, The Vancouver Sun's Iain MacIntyre reported Canucks GM Mike Gillis entertained offers for the 29-year-old center. The Canucks appear headed toward a rebuild this summer. The Vancouver Province's Ben Kuzma believes Kesler is their best bargaining chip. 

    Potential asking price: A young center, an elite prospect and a first-round pick.

    Possible trade partners: CBC.ca's Elliotte Friedman reports Kesler was believed to be willing to waive his no-trade clause for the Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Rob Rossi and The Los Angeles Times' Lance Pugmire reported the Penguins and Ducks had serious interest in him. Both clubs could revisit their offers this summer.