10 NHL Players Most Likely to Be Traded This Summer
With the playoffs finally over, NHL general managers turn their focus toward offseason adjustments for their respective rosters. They will select young prospects in the upcoming NHL draft in Philadelphia, followed by pursuing the best available free agents throughout the summer.
This offseason could also see increased trade activity. One reason is that an increasing salary cap for next season will provide many teams with additional cap space to bolster their lineups. Several teams have hired new general managers this year who could attempt to make an immediate impact upon their new rosters.
The biggest factor is the unusually high number of talented players available in this summer's trade market. The 10 players on this list have either requested a trade, could become salary cap casualties or moved in a roster shakeup. The rankings are based on availability, talent, trade requests, salary and trade value.
All salary information from CapGeek.com.
10. Dustin Byfuglien
Why he could be dealt: Sportsnet.ca's Mark Spector reports the Jets could swing a blockbuster move this summer to push themselves into playoff contention next season. Byfuglien is among those Spector believes could be shopped. The 29-year-old defenseman/winger has two years left at $5.2 million annually on his contract with a modified no-trade clause.
Possible asking price: The Jets could seek a more defensively responsible top-two blueliner or a top-six forward as part of the return. Given Byfuglien's salary, the Jets might have to pick up part of it to facilitate a trade.
Potential destinations: Clubs seeking a big, puck-moving defenseman. MLive.com's Ansar Khan speculates the Detroit Red Wings could inquire about Byfuglien. Other options could include the Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers, New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers.
9. Johnny Boychuk
Why he could be dealt: The Bruins have limited cap space ($9.1 million) to re-sign key players (Jarome Iginla, Reilly Smith, Torey Krug) and to re-sign or replace backup Chad Johnson. CSNNE.com's Joe Haggerty reports Boychuk is eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer and could seek a significant raise over his current $3.36 million annual salary. He also possesses a limited no-trade clause.
Possible asking price: The Bruins could seek an affordable young player plus a draft pick and/or prospect.
Potential destinations: The Edmonton Journal's David Staples lists Boychuk, who's also an Edmonton native, among the players the Oilers should pursue this summer. Other clubs seeking skilled defensive depth (Colorado, Detroit, Florida, New York Islanders and Toronto) could also come calling.
8. James Neal
Why he could be dealt: Following yet another early playoff exit by the Pittsburgh Penguins, speculation arose over a possible shakeup of the club's core players. Neal is among the few Penguins stars lacking a movement clause this summer.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Rob Rossi cites sources claiming several teams contacted Neal's agent expressing interest in working out a trade with the Penguins new general manager. ESPN's Pierre LeBrun also believes they could move Neal to clear some cap space.
Possible asking price: The Penguins need to shed salary and bolster their overall defensive depth. New GM Jim Rutherford could address both issues in one move by offering Neal for a return with a skilled two-way forward or a younger defensive blueliner as part of the deal. It remains to be seen, however, if Rutherford wants to move the 26-year-old winger.
Potential destinations: Teams in need of a physical scoring winger. The Edmonton Oilers, Nashville Predators, Phoenix Coyotes and Vancouver Canucks are possibilities.
7. Vincent Lecavalier
Why he could be dealt: The Philadelphia Flyers lack sufficient cap space to re-sign key players like Brayden Schenn, add a top-two defenseman and perhaps add a first-line left wing. TSN's Darren Dreger claims that “word on the street” is the 34-year-old center is “definitely in play”, though Lecavalier, who holds a no-movement clause, hasn't been asked yet to submit a list of preferred destinations.
CSNPhilly.com's John Boruk suggests the Flyers could attract interest in the veteran by retaining half his remaining salary. Lecavalier will earn $4.5 million annually over the next four seasons. Boruk's colleague Tim Panaccio reports Lecavalier's agent claims his client isn't yet seeking a trade.
Possible asking price: Trading Lecavalier is a cost-cutting move. The Flyers could seek a couple of draft picks and/or prospects.
Potential destinations: Boruk suggested the Calgary Flames, Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators and Ottawa Senators as possible landing spots. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Jeff Gordon believes the Blues could consider Lecavalier as a fall-back option if they fail to land Ottawa's Jason Spezza or Vancouver's Ryan Kesler.
6. And 5. Patrick Marleau or Joe Thornton
Why either one could be dealt: CSNBayArea.com's Kevin Kurz reports there's speculation the Sharks could try to trade one or both, though they have no-movement clauses. San Jose Mercury News' Tim Kawakami reports Sharks GM Doug Wilson wants players that want to play in San Jose, not just live there.
Kawakami believes that message was aimed at Thornton, Marleau and other established Sharks players “who might be edging out of Wilson's future plans.” Kawakami's colleague David Pollak reports Thornton's agent claims his client prefers living and playing in San Jose, but he might rethink things if he felt Sharks fans didn't want him there. No word so far on Marleau's intentions.
Possible asking price: Both are respected scoring forwards, but they're in their mid-thirties and starting three-year contracts worth over $6.6 million annually. If the Sharks move either player they could seek a promising young player as part of the return.
Potential destinations: Toronto Sun's Mike Zeisberger reports the Maple Leafs have interest in Thornton, adding there's talk of the Chicago Blackhawks offering winger Patrick Sharp for the Sharks' captain. CBC.ca's Elliotte Friedman believes if Thornton agrees to be dealt it will only be to a contender. The Boston Globe's Amalie Benjamin reports that Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli dismissed a recent rumor that had him shipping Brad Marchand to the Sharks for Marleau.
4. Dion Phaneuf
Why he could be dealt: Phaneuf became the subject of trade speculation after the Leafs missed the playoffs for the eighth time in nine seasons. Sportsnet.ca's Nick Kypreos claimed in early May that the Leafs were shopping their captain to Western Conference teams.
Earlier this season Phaneuf inked a seven-year, $49 million contract with a no-trade clause. CBC.ca's Elliotte Friedman believes one of the reasons the Leafs extended the blueliner's contract was to increase his trade value. It could be easier to move a player with term on his contract than it would a pending free agent.
Possible asking price: Assuming the intent is to shed salary, the return could be any combination of an affordable young player, draft picks and prospects.
Potential destinations: Team possessing available cap space who are seeking experienced blue-line help are the obvious destinations. The Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers and New York Islanders could be among them. The Toronto Sun's Mike Zeisberger reports a rumor claiming the Leafs could offer up Phaneuf as part of a package offer to the Panthers for the first-overall pick in the 2014 NHL draft plus defenseman Ed Jovanovski. That's assuming Phaneuf approves such a deal.
3. R.J. Umberger
Why he could be dealt: The Columbus Dispatch's Aaron Portzline reported last month that Umberger requested a trade. Team president of hockey operations John Davidson confirmed the club would trade him if it would strengthen their roster. Portzline also reports Umberger has submitted a 10-team no-trade list as per his contract.
Possible asking price: Portzline believes the Jackets want a player or pick in return, though they might have to absorb part of Umberger's salary. The 32-year-old winger, whose performance has declined in recent years, has three years remaining on his contract worth an annual cap hit of $4.6 million.
Potential destinations: Earlier this month Portzline reported a trade rumor involving Edmonton Oilers' center Sam Gagner. It remains to be seen however, if the Oilers are on Umberger's no-trade list. A team needing to add an experienced winger as well as reach next season's cap floor (like the Buffalo Sabres) could be an option.
2. Ryan Kesler
Why he could be dealt: TSN's Darren Dreger reports that Kesler has not changed his mind over his trade request from earlier in the season.
Possible asking price: The Globe and Mail's Eric Duhatschek believes the Canucks could seek a young player, a first-round pick in this year's draft and a prospect. That player could be a center to fill the void at center left by Kesler's departure.
Potential destinations: CBC.ca's Elliotte Friedman reported the Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning are the clubs on Kesler's six-team list of preferred trade destinations. TSN's Bob McKenzie believes the Ducks could pursue Kesler. They have the depth in young players to perhaps make the best offer, but Canucks GM Jim Benning might be unwilling to trade Kesler to a division rival.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Jeff Gordon reports the Blues could have interest in Kesler as a second-line center. The Chicago Sun-Times' Mark Lazerus noted Kesler's availability but believes he's too expensive for the Blackhawks to acquire. Mark Heika of the Dallas Morning News speculates the Stars could be interested in the 29-year-old center.
1. Jason Spezza
Why he could be dealt: The Ottawa Citizen's Ken Warren recently reported Senators GM Bryan Murray admitted Spezza has requested a trade. Murray said he will do what he can to accommodate Spezza, who has submitted a 10-team no-trade list. It's expected the Senators captain could be traded by the NHL draft weekend.
Possible asking price: Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reports the Senators rumored asking price is a top-six forward, a high-ranked prospect and a first-round pick in this year's draft.
Potential destinations: Spezza will attract considerable interest. Murray's preference is to ship him to a Western Conference club. Yahoo! Sports Greg Wyshynski (citing TSN's Darren Dreger) lists all of the Canadian teams, plus the Nashville Predators, Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers and New York Islanders on Spezza's no-trade list.
Garrioch speculates the Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues appear the front runners. They're both in the Western Conference, are considered Cup contenders and have the depth in young talent and prospects to interest the Senators. The Dallas Morning News' Mike Heika believes Spezza would make a good fit with the Stars.