For the second time in three years, the Los Angeles Kings have won the Stanley Cup. While they are free to celebrate for as long as they want, their final win signifies the start of the 2014 NHL offseason.
Every team around the league—whether it finished in last place or was upset in the playoffs after a great season—will do its best to improve over the next few months before the start of next season. Obviously, every squad besides the one with the trophy needs some addition to help win a title.
While franchises can look toward free agency or the draft to add talent, there are plenty of veteran players that could be available in trades during the summer.
Here are the latest rumors surrounding potential deals that can happen across the NHL.
Bruins Making Big Moves?
The Boston Bruins led the NHL with 117 points during the regular season, but an early exit in the playoffs means that changes need to be made.
Joe Haggerty of CSN New England reports that a few big trades are possible:
Hockey sources have indicated to CSNNE.com that the Bruins are going to be very active in the trade market leading up to the July free agency period, despite public assertions by Peter Chiarelli and Cam Neely that the roster only needs some “tweaks.”
Players such as Brad Marchand ($4.5 million cap hit) and/or Johnny Boychuk ($3.66 million cap hit) could be moved, based on a combination of salary cap hardship for Boston, and considerably high value on the trade market.
The idea of Brad Marchand being dealt scared enough fans that general manager Peter Chiarelli had to publicly address it, via Amalie Benjamin of The Boston Globe:
Of course, it would not be the first time that an executive changed his mind after saying that a player is safe, especially if he received a quality offer from another team.
Meanwhile, Johnny Boychuk could still be dealt after totaling career highs in points, plus/minus and average time on ice. The Bruins are deep enough to handle a loss of the 30-year-old defenseman, and it could be worth a trade if he can provide some young talent in return.
Vincent Lecavalier on His Way out of Philadelphia?
After just one season with the Philadelphia Flyers, Vincent Lecavalier might be headed elsewhere next season.
The long-time Tampa Bay Lightning star had a solid year when he was able to get playing time, totaling 20 goals and 17 assists for Philadelphia. Unfortunately, he had a career-low 15 minutes and 11 seconds of average time on ice per game this year.
As TSN's Darren Dreger explained (via George Malik of Kukla's Korner), the Flyers would be better off sending the center to a team that could use him:
He's a fourth-line forward making $4.5 million and I can't believe that Ron Hextall is going to want to pay him that. So the word on the street is yes, Lecavalier most definitely is in play. But keep in mind that he has a no-move clause. I know that his agent Ken Hughes has already talked to Hextall about the possibility of moving his client. There are no specific teams yet, there's no list, but if they want to move him they are going to have to go to Vinny and identify a specific place.
It is hard to imagine Lecavalier working too hard to remain with Philadelphia after having such a small role, so a trade seems likely. The good news is there should be plenty of teams looking for a veteran presence who can provide an immediate upgrade to almost any line.
While the 34-year-old player does not have the same ability as he did in his prime, he can still provide offense, even if it is in short bursts.
Joe Thornton on the Move?
Like the Bruins, the San Jose Sharks have to deal with the disappointment of a playoff exit that came earlier than expected. In this case, though, losing a 3-0 series lead is a little more bitter.
Of course, trading captain Joe Thornton would be considered a relatively drastic move.
Still, this remains a possibility as the center is considering a move out of town based on the circumstances, according to David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News:
One thing might get the Sharks captain to reconsider his stated intent to remain in San Jose despite suggestions from management that it may be time to move on, according to his brother and agent, John Thornton.
"If he felt the fans didn't want him in San Jose, he might re-think things," John Thornton said when asked if his brother would want to play where it was apparent he was not wanted.
Although the Sharks might be willing to deal him, there are more than a few teams that would love to pay top dollar to bring him in. Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun provides a look at the market for the center:
While he turns 35 on July 2, there still is gas left in Thornton’s tank, as evidenced by his 65 assists during the 2013-14 regular season, just three behind NHL leader Sidney Crosby.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the Leafs are among at least six NHL teams who have kicked tires concerning Thornton’s availability.
Thornton can obviously bring a lot to any contender both on and off the ice. He is someone who makes his teammates better with his passing while also providing leadership in the locker room.
The center might want a fresh start after nine years in San Jose, but he will have plenty of options if he does.
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