The 2014 NHL draft and free agency are approaching fast (June 27 and July 1 respectively), and the rumors surrounding possible trades involving some of the biggest names in the sport have hockey fans excited about the offseason.
With veterans like Vincent Lecavalier, Joe Thornton and Jason Spezza all rumored to be on the move this summer, the buzz around how the NHL landscape could shift will continue to build anticipation for next season.
Here are the latest trade rumors circulating around the league.
Flyers Looking to Move Vincent Lecavalier?
The Philadelphia Flyers signed veteran forward Vincent Lecavalier last offseason to add some offensive depth and replace the production of a player like Daniel Briere, who left via free agency.
While Lecavalier added depth and leadership qualities, the $6 million he is due in 2014-15 makes him one of the most expensive fourth-line players in the league. After racking up only 37 points in 69 games, the franchise can find a better use for that cap space.
According to Darren Dreger of TSN, the team is seriously considering a trade that would move the former Tampa Bay Lightning captain this offseason: "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."
The return for Lecavalier will not be overwhelming, but there are enough young teams across the league who would love to have a veteran with the kind of big-game experience that the former Stanley Cup champion possesses.
With the ability and willingness to play on any line and in every facet of the game—Lecavalier is still dangerous on the power play and is a force on the fore check—a new start for the veteran could be the best case for all parties involved.
Joe Thornton Drawing Serious Trade Interest?
There are few players in the NHL with the skill of San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton, but the franchise will be faced with a serious decision this offseason concerning the future of the veteran with the team.
According to Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun, San Jose is drawing trade interest for Thornton from at least six teams, including the Toronto Maple Leafs:
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.
And why wouldn't they? With centre being a position of need for the Leafs ever since Mats Sundin left, why not make an inquiry if someone of Thornton’s ilk might possibly come on the market?
Thornton is due to make $6.75 million during each of the next three seasons. While his offensive skill and leadership ability make him worth the price, the center will be 35 years old on July 2. If the team is concerned that his production may dip, it may be the time to trade him.
The no-movement clause in his contract will limit how much the franchise can do, but the inability for the long-time star to win the Stanley Cup could help him open up to a possible deal to a legitimate contender.
After racking up 76 points in 82 games, Thornton could yield a serious return.
Several Teams Interested in Jason Spezza?
One of the biggest names hitting the rumor mill is Ottawa Senators center Jason Spezza. The talented player is entering the final season of his contract and is due $7 million against the cap, making the possibility of a trade very realistic.
If Ottawa doesn’t believe Spezza is returning after next season, trading him away could be the only way to get a return for their long-term investment in the player.
In a recent report from Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen, there are several marquee teams that are seriously interested in a trade for Spezza: "If you're handicapping the Spezza horse race, the St. Louis Blues and Anaheim Ducks are now the clear favourites. There’s a secondary group, believed to include the Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars, which can be considered dark horses."
Spezza spent his entire 11-year career thus far in Ottawa, but his time in the NHL has been plagued with injuries. The center has only competed in all 82 games once (2008-09), but still managed to rack up 66 points in 75 games last season.
The biggest holdup in a deal is the modified no-trade clause attached to his contract. With the ability to list 10 teams he would not accept a trade to, the Senators will have to work around his requests in order to make a deal happen.