Silly season in the NHL typically comes quicker than most sports, as the offseason is so rapid for the sport. On Friday night, the 2014 NHL draft will officially get underway, which means plenty of trades will occur.
Several notable names are on the list of possibilities but none more highly coveted than Ryan Kesler. The Vancouver Canucks alternate captain led the team in goals in 77 games last season.
As for Paul Stastny, the Colorado Avalanche center might be looking to test the market as a free agent. After notching 60 points for the Avs last season, the 28-year-old should have a considerable market thanks to his production on the ice.
With the NHL draft just a day away, here's a look at the latest rumors on some trade targets and free-agent possibilities this offseason.
Kesler On the Move, Blackhawks May Offer Packaged Deal
One of the hottest commodities this offseason will of course be Kesler, but it appears to be a two-team race.
With several franchises hoping to secure the scoring threat, Pierre LeBrun of ESPN reports it's down to just the Chicago Blackhawks and the Anaheim Ducks, citing Kesler's "desire to win a Stanley Cup" as the reason for his preference to move to one of those clubs.
With a no-trade clause giving him the ability to turn down any deal the Canucks accept, Kesler holds some power here. The Ducks and Blackhawks appear to be great choices for the stout center as both are in contention for the Stanley Cup Final nearly every season. But Kesler will come at a cost as new Canucks general manager Jim Benning is keeping the price for the star high.
With the Blackhawks reportedly willing to deal Patrick Sharp for the center, Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times delves into the possibilities to go along with him:
A source told the Sun-Times that the Canucks want either Brandon Saad or Teuvo Teravainen included in any package, which likely would be a nonstarter for the Hawks. Saad has emerged as a star in the making, a two-way forward in the Marian Hossa mold who’s only 21. And Teravainen is the most prized prospect in the Hawks’ system, the gifted playmaker the team hopes will eventually fill that second-line center role for years to come.
Though the price seems a bit steep, Kesler is certainly worth the deal. At 29, he still has several good years ahead of him and could be the one missing piece to a second Stanley Cup in three years for the Blackhawks.
Stastny Testing the Market
Every player wants to know exactly what they're worth, regardless of their intentions on where they want to land. That appears to be the case with Stastny and the Avalanche.
Earlier this week, Michael Russo of the Star-Tribune noted that the Minnesota Wild might be looking to acquire the 28-year-old:
However, I also hear the Wild has significant interest in Paul Stastny if he gets to free agency (like many teams) and Matt Niskanen.
Stastny and Niskanen will command lucrative, long-term deals, so there's no way the Wild would be able to land both.
After spending eight years with the Avalanche and making the playoffs just three times, it's understandable that he might want to look elsewhere.
On Thursday, Adrian Dater of The Denver Post shared the latest on Stastny and comments from Avs executive Joe Sakic:
Stastny wants to “see what’s out there”, Sakic reports. So, we are officially entering into the period where teams are free to call Stastny and Keator and put on the full-court press.
... But, Sakic said the talks with Keator were “good.” So, hey, sounds like absolutely anything can happen still and it’s going to be an interesting few days.
Coming off a season in which he tallied 25 goals and 60 total points for Colorado, along with an additional five goals in the lone seven-game series, Stastny might be one of the biggest free agents on the market. That is, if he is actually planning on leaving Colorado this offseason.
A good two-way player that can score at will, look for Stastny's name to be a popular one this summer.
Maple Leafs, Rangers Making a Move on Dan Boyle
At 37 years old, Dan Boyle is entering the twilight of his career in the NHL. With just a few years likely remaining in his career, Boyle will likely spend next year with a new franchise after spending six seasons with the San Jose Sharks.
After the New York Islanders acquired his rights with the hopes of signing him, he could be on the move yet again, as Kevin Warren of the Ottawa Citizen reports:
Boyle still has the ability to run a power play and there’s speculation Toronto could now acquire Boyle from the Islanders in advance of free agency, hoping to sell him on the city.
Whether he signs in New York, Toronto or elsewhere, Boyle will be looking at a contract for at least two seasons.
So, the Toronto Maple Leafs are clearly one option. But after missing out on the playoffs last year, selling Boyle on the city of Toronto might not be enough to convince him.
On the other hand, Boyle might just have a suitor that made the postseason and nearly won it all last season. LeBrun shares the latest rumor on where the journeyman might land:
Now, that makes more sense. The New York Rangers were on the cusp of hoisting the Stanley Cup just weeks ago and needed just a few extra pieces to complete the job.
Pairing back up with former teammate Martin St. Louis—with whom he won the Stanley Cup during the 2003-04 season with the Tampa Bay Lightning—might just bring back that spark. After coming up short last season, Boyle might just be the missing ingredient for New York next year.
Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.