NHL Trade Rumors: Analyzing Latest Reports Before Start of 2014 NHL Draft

Timothy RappFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 16, 2017

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 26: Aaron Ekblad attends the 2014 NHL Draft - Top Prospects Clinic on June 26, 2014 at Scanlon Ice Rink in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Thursday night's NBA draft was supposed to be rife with trades but never quite lived up to the hype. Will we see more action when the NHL draft gets underway on Friday evening?

Here's hoping. 

The one consensus in this year's draft seems to be that there isn't a consensus atop the draft. That's certainly the buzz Adam Kimelman of NHL.com is hearing:

'I think there's more guys that are similar to each other than a lot of years," Tampa Bay Lightning director of amateur scouting Al Murray told NHL.com. "It's a little bit difficult. It tends to come down to team preferences."

Unlike previous years, where Sidney Crosby (2005), Steven Stamkos (2008), John Tavares (2009) and Taylor Hall (2010) were clear-cut top choices, this year's No. 1 selection won't be known until Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon steps to the podium at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia—assuming he hasn't traded the pick.

The choice likely will be one of four players who have moved to the head of the class—Kingston Frontenacs center Samuel Bennett, Barrie Colts defenseman Aaron Ekblad, Kootenay Ice center Sam Reinhart and Prince Albert Raiders center Leon Draisaitl.

Will that influence trades? Will the teams at the top of the draft be more likely to move out of the early picks given the lack of an undeniable top talent? 

Perhaps. And if they do, one team to keep an eye on might be the Philadelphia Flyers, the hosts of this year's draft.

"Braydon Coburn's name has regularly come up in potential trade talk," Scott Burnside of ESPN.com wrote. "Could there possibly be a deal in the works to move up and nab the No. 1 pick and tab Ekblad as the man to finally fill the void left by Chris Pronger's untimely departure due to injury? Stay tuned."

Chris Szagola/Associated Press

Stayed tuned, indeed. That would be an interesting potential deal for the Flyers. It would also be another move to make them younger—perhaps not exactly what the organization is looking to do after reaching the playoffs this year and taking the New York Rangers to seven games in the first round. 

Of course, there is plenty of buzz all over the NHL.

One man that has become a popular name in trade talks is Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks, even if David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period doesn't understand why:

Thornton seems unlikely to go, if only because he has a no-trade clause in his contract. But don't be surprised if you continue to hear his name brought up. 

Jason Spezza seems far more likely to go, however. Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun has more on that front:

Adds Andy Strickland of CBS Sports Radio:

While Spezza wasn't able to replicate his magical 2011-12 season when he notched 84 points—or some of his better seasons from earlier in his career, for that matter—his 23 goals and 43 assists last year should still be quite attractive on the market. This feels like a move that could happen. 

Another player that seems likely to be moved is the Pittsburgh Penguins' James Neal. Here's what Darren Dreger of TSN is hearing:

Of course, all of these potential deals involve players. More than likely, we'll see both picks and assets exchanged either before or during the draft. And, of course, after.

Expect a busy weekend in the NHL.


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