10 NHL Teams Which Should Try to Trade Up in the 2014 NHL Draft

Lyle Richardson@@SpectorsHockeyFeatured ColumnistMay 28, 2014

10 NHL Teams Which Should Try to Trade Up in the 2014 NHL Draft

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    The opening round of the 2014 NHL draft takes place on Friday, June 27 in Philadelphia. It is usually a time when speculation grows over not only which players each team will select in that round, but if those holding picks in the top five attempt to trade them. Nothing generates more buzz during the opening round than commissioner Gary Bettman stepping to the podium and saying, "We have a trade to announce." 

    Teams with high first-round draft picks usually retain them. The 2003 NHL Entry Draft was the last time a first overall pick was traded, when the Florida Panthers dealt it to the Pittsburgh Penguins, who held the third overall pick. The Penguins selected Marc-Andre Fleury first overall, while the Panthers picked Nathan Horton with the third overall selection.

    This year, however, could be a different story. The Florida Panthers hold the first overall pick for the first time since 2003. TheScore.com's Kyle Smith reports Panthers GM Dale Tallon told Sportsnet 590 The Fan he plans on actively shopping that pick. Tallon isn't the only general manager holding a high pick willing to move it. The New York Post's Brett Cyrgalis reports New York Islanders GM Garth Snow will consider moving his pick, which is fifth overall. 

    The following is a listing of 10 NHL teams which should be trying to move up in this year's NHL draft. Factors like placement in the first round, each team's respective needs and management experience were taken into account in compiling this list. 


    Profiles of North American and European prospects via NHL.com. Salary info via CapGeek.com.

10. Buffalo Sabres

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    Why they should move up: The Sabres hold the second overall pick. They're also in full rebuild mode and need depth at every position. GM Tim Murray can ensure he gets the prospect he wants by trading up for first overall.

    What they can offer: The Buffalo News' John Vogl reports the Sabres' improving defense prospects could push out defenseman Christian Ehrhoff. If Ehrhoff's willing to waive his no-trade clause, Murray could package the blueliner with the second overall pick in a larger deal. The Sabres also have the New York Islanders' 2015 first-round pick, which could be a high selection in what's expected to be a deeper draft. Murray could use that as trade bait.

    Teams to target: The Florida Panthers are the only club ahead of the Sabres in the first round. They're seeking established talent. If Ehrhoff's unwilling to agree to a trade to Florida, Murray could offer up wingers Chris Stewart or Drew Stafford along with the second overall pick for the Panthers' pick plus another player.

9. Edmonton Oilers

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    Why they should move up: The Oilers hold the third overall pick. They need skilled defensemen and a power forward. Oilers GM Craig MacTavish could pursue blueliner Aaron Ekblad or forward Leon Draisaitl. Moving up to first or second overall will ensure MacTavish gets the player he covets.

    What they can offer: MacTavish could shop center Sam Gagner, whose no-movement clause goes into effect on July 1. They could dangle sophomore right wing Nail Yakupov, though they'll likely want a promising player as part of that return. The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson suggests winger David Perron is another possibility. MacTavish could also kick in his pick as part of a larger deal.

    Teams to target: MacTavish could be in touch with Panthers GM Dale Tallon to discuss a pick flip or a bigger trade. The Buffalo Sabres, who sit second overall, might be willing to flip picks with the Oilers.

8. New York Islanders

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    Why they should move up: The New York Post's Brett Cyrgalis reports Islanders GM Garth Snow is willing to move his first-round pick, which is fifth overall. “We're open to any deal that might make the team better,” said Snow. “If that's trading the pick for a player, standing pat and picking a quality player at No. 5, or trading it to move up or down, we're open to it.” The Isles need depth on defense, and could try to move up to land Aaron Ekblad.

    What they can offer: In addition to their pick, the Islanders also possess some promising youngsters in forwards Ryan Strome, Brock Nelson and Anders Lee to use as trade bait. However, Snow could want a good young player in return for one of those three.

    Teams to target: The four ahead of them in the draft order: Florida, Buffalo, Edmonton and Calgary. Depending on the offer, one of them could be willing to trade down. Failing that, Snow could also trade down if he gets a good player in return.

7. Vancouver Canucks

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    Why they should move up: The Vancouver Province's Jason Botchford reports the Canucks' draft record over the past seven years is a spotty one. Over that period they've drafted only one NHL regular (Cody Hodgson), who now plays for the Buffalo Sabres. With their core talent growing older, they must restock with good young players. Though the Canucks hold the sixth overall pick, new GM Jim Benning could try moving up to land a more-talented prospect.

    What they can offer: Benning could use his first-round pick as trade bait. He could also offer up veteran defenseman Alex Edler or center Ryan Kesler (provided either one waives their respective no-trade clauses) in a larger deal involving a higher pick. 

    Teams to target: The Florida Panthers and Buffalo Sabres are the best options. The Panthers are willing to shop their pick and seek established talent to help them now. If Kesler or Edler can be convinced to waive their clauses to join the Panthers, a deal could be made.

6. Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Why they should move up: The Leafs currently hold the eighth overall pick. They need depth on defense and at center. After missing the playoffs for the eighth time in nine seasons, GM Dave Nonis could make a bold move to shake up his roster.

    What they can offer: The Edmonton Journal's David Staples recently wondered if the Leafs might package their first-round pick with either Dion Phaneuf or Jake Gardiner to the Florida Panthers for the first overall pick. Staples suggests they could use that pick to select center Sam Bennett or center Sam Reinhart. They could also draft Aaron Ekblad, the only defenseman ranked among the top-five North American prospects. Other Leafs trade candidates could include blueliner Cody Franson or center Nazem Kadri.

    Teams to target: Along with the Panthers, the Leafs could also target the Edmonton Oilers (third overall). It's unlikely they'll swing a significant deal with a division rival like the Sabres (second overall). The Calgary Flames, who hold the fourth overall pick, could also be an option. Former Leafs GM Brian Burke is now the Flames president of hockey operations. 

5. Carolina Hurricanes

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    Why they should move up: The Hurricanes last made the playoffs in 2009. They hold the seventh overall pick. New general manager Ron Francis could make a significant move by moving up in the first round. The Hurricanes were 22nd this season in goals per game and need scoring depth. Sam Bennett, Sam Reinhart or Leon Draisaitl could be their draft options. Finland's Kasperi Kapanen could also be on their list. His father, Sami, was Francis' teammate with the Hurricanes from 1998 to 2003.

    What they can offer: Francis might have to toss in something else to obtain a selection in the top three. He could shop veteran goalie Cam Ward, who has two years remaining on his contract and a no-trade clause. Francis could also try moving Alex Semin, though his $7 million per season salary dampens his trade value.

    Teams to target: The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson reports the Florida Panthers are keen on Swedish prospect center William Nylander. He speculates the Hurricanes could be among the teams entering the picture if the Panthers believe Nylander will still be available between fifth and seventh overall. Francis could also try moving up to fourth, fifth or sixth to ensure he lands whatever prospect he covets.

4. Anaheim Ducks

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    Why they should move up: The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson believes Ducks GM Bob Murray could pursue Vancouver's Ryan Kesler. If Murray holds a top-five pick he could use it as bait to acquire Kesler. If Murray can land the center without that pick, he could then use it to replace one of the young players he'll have to give up as part of the Kesler deal. Wingers Leon Draisaitl, Michael Dal Colle, Jake Virtanen or Nicholas Ritchie could then become his draft targets. 

    What they can offer: Murray has the depth to move up if he chooses. The Ducks are deep in prospects and promising young players. They also also have the 10th and 24th overall picks, plus two picks in the second round. 

    Teams to target: Murray should aim for the Sabres (second overall), Oilers (third) and Flames (fourth). The Panthers' need for established talent could put the Ducks out of the bidding for the first overall pick.

3. Nashville Predators

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    Why they should move up: The Predators lack skilled offensive depth. They currently hold the 11th overall pick. Most of the top prospect forwards (Sam Bennett, Sam Reinhart, Leon Draisaitl, Jake Virtanen, William Nylander, Kasperi Kapanen, Michael Dal Colle and Jakub Vrana) could be gone by the time the Predators get to pick. The higher they move up, the better their chances of landing a quality young forward.

    What they can offer: In addition to their first-round pick, the Predators have depth on defense. GM David Poile could try to package Michael Del Zotto or Ryan Ellis with their pick to move up.

    Teams to target: It will be difficult landing a top-four pick. The clubs sitting between fifth and eight (New York Islanders, Vancouver, Carolina and Vancouver) could be better targets.

2. Phoenix Coyotes

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    Why they should move up: They currently sit 12th overall in this year's draft. They finished 20th this season in goals per game. GM Don Maloney must improve his club's scoring depth, especially if right wing Radim Vrbata departs via free agency. Possible right wingers include William Nylander, son of former NHL star Michael Nylander, or Kasperi Kapanen, son of former NHLer Sami Kapanen. 

    What they can offer: In addition to their own first-round pick, Maloney could draw upon his blue-line depth to aim higher. The Arizona Republic's Sarah McLellan recently reported trade speculation continues to swirl about Keith Yandle, whose contract lacks a no-trade clause.

    Teams to target: If Maloney shops his first-round selection, he could move up to between sixth and eight overall, where Vancouver, Carolina and Toronto sit. If he shops Yandle, the obvious target is Florida.

1. Philadelphia Flyers

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    Why they should move up: It's an opportunity for new general manager Ron Hextall to put his early stamp on the club. The Courier-Post's Dave Isaac reports Hextall hopes to build through the draft. They could use a replacement for Erik Gustafsson, who has departed to the KHL. Their depth will be further weakened if Kimmo Timonen retires. The Flyers need a young defenseman with the potential to become a top-two blueliner.  Aaron Ekblad (6'3”, 213 lbs.) could be just what they're seeking.

    What they can offer: The Flyers currently hold the 17th overall pick. Hextall might have to include a significant player to jump up among the top three, as Ekblad is considered among this year's top prospects. It could take center Sean Couturier or winger Wayne Simmonds to leapfrog into first or second overall. 

    Teams to target: Ekblad is the top defenseman in this year's draft and ranked the second-best North American prospect. To get him, Hextall must either deal with Florida for the first overall pick or Buffalo for second overall.