The 2014 NHL draft is scheduled for Friday, June 27, but the excitement surrounding the league is through the roof as rumors about impending trades continue to circulate.
With huge names like Ottawa’s Jason Spezza, San Jose’s Patrick Marleau and Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler all reportedly on the trade block, hockey fans are eagerly anticipating a wild offseason.
Here is the latest chatter surrounding the top stars in the league ahead of the 2014 NHL draft.
Ottawa Drawing Serious Interest for Jason Spezza?
As the captain of the Ottawa Senators and one of the most dynamic two-way forwards on the team, Jason Spezza is one of the most feared centers in the NHL. As he enters the final year of his contract, though, the franchise may be ready to trade the veteran away.
According to Bob McKenzie of TSN, Ottawa is drawing interest from multiple teams:
Jason Spezza trade talk heating up. OTT in conversation with 4 teams, three in the West and one in the East.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 25, 2014
Spezza is undoubtedly one of the best players to ever grace a Senators sweater, but all good things come to an end. While he only has one year left on his deal, the 31-year-old still has plenty of talent in the offensive zone and the faceoff circle.
After racking up 23 goals and 43 assists in 75 games last season, there are several teams in need of depth at center who could afford to make a deal for Spezza.
One of those franchises could be the Chicago Blackhawks.
Chicago was exposed at center during the postseason, and adding Spezza would alleviate some of the pressure on Jonathan Toews while still adding the depth and skill the Blackhawks desperately need.
Where Spezza lands will be a major talking point this offseason.
San Jose Shopping Patrick Marleau in the East?
The San Jose Sharks have several high-priced veterans on the roster, and the franchise must alleviate some cap space to build for the future.
Trading away a talented player like Patrick Marleau may be the only feasible option.
In a report from William DePaoli of InsidePittsburghSports.com, San Jose has even come calling to the Pittsburgh Penguins about a possible deal:
Sharks had approached a few contenders in East, including Penguins about Patrick Marleau for a young impact player in return. No bites yet.— William DePaoli (@TIOPS_DePaoli) June 24, 2014
While Marleau holds a no-movement clause in his contract, the franchise could ask the veteran to waive it if San Jose can find a buyer in a position to win now. A veteran like Marleau would value winning, and a move to a team like Pittsburgh would have to be a consideration.
The 34-year-old no longer has the speed he once boasted, but Marleau is a top athlete and showed last season (33 goals and 37 assists) that he still has plenty of gas left in the tank.
Even with an annual salary of $6.66 million over the next three seasons, his offensive production and postseason experience should be enough to draw a top contender into a possible trade.
Vancouver Struggling to Move Ryan Kesler?
One of the best players reportedly on the trade block is Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler, but the franchise is asking too much in return for the star.
According to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times, Vancouver is looking for more than the Chicago Blackhawks would like to offer:
Regarding Kesler, I hear the Canucks want Saad or Teravainen in any package. I can't imagine any possibility the #Blackhawks offer either.— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) June 24, 2014
Despite the Canucks struggling throughout last season, Kesler still managed to play in 75 games and rack up an impressive 25 goals and 18 assists. Add in his ability to forecheck with the best in the league, and the center would be a welcome addition to any team.
Kesler only has two years left on his deal with an average salary-cap hit of $5 million per season, so a team not sure if it is looking to make a long-term investment in the player should consider the deal.
The ability to receive help now and cut bait if it doesn’t work out is an intriguing proposition for teams interested in a possible deal for Kesler.