NHL Trade Rumors: Latest Draft-Related Chatter
As the 2015 NHL draft draws near, the trade rumor mill has ramped up. While it's not unusual for trades and speculation to increase at this time of year, there seems to be more chatter involving notable stars in comparison to recent years.
A marginal increase in next season's salary cap, a high number of NHL teams carrying large payrolls and lack of depth in the free-agent market are responsible for the recent rumors. Notable players, such as Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp and New York Islanders winger Kyle Okposo, could be on the move during the draft.
Here's a look at the latest trade rumors heading into the NHL draft. Player talent, contract, salary-cap space and roster need are factored into this ranking.
10. Senators Still Peddling a Goaltender
Trade Rumor: The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reported Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray hopes to move on one of his goaltenders—Robin Lehner or Craig Anderson—before the NHL draft begins on June 26.
Analysis: Garrioch claimed the Edmonton Oilers and Buffalo Sabres are interested in the 23-year-old Lehner, while the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues are looking at the 34-year-old Anderson. The Senators reportedly want a forward in return, but Garrioch noted they could also accept a defenseman.
Conclusion: Everything probably hinges on what the New York Rangers do with backup Cam Talbot, as he's attracting more interest than Ottawa's goalies right now. If Talbot gets dealt or taken off the market, clubs could look toward Lehner or Anderson.
9. Bryan Bickell to the Coyotes?
Trade Rumor: During an appearance on Edmonton's TSN 1260 (cited by Chris Nichols of Today's Slapshot), Darren Dreger reported hearing that the Arizona Coyotes could be interested in Chicago Blackhawks winger Bryan Bickell.
Analysis: The cap-strapped Blackhawks hope to shed Bickell's contract, which has two years remaining at an annual cap hit of $4 million. Dreger claimed they want a draft pick or picks in return. The Coyotes have considerable cap space to absorb Bickell's contract, as well as depth in picks and prospects.
Conclusion: The Coyotes could use experienced depth at forward to complement the youngsters on their roster. It's a deal that would make sense, providing Bickell is willing to waive his modified no-trade clause.
8. Matt Beleskey on the Trade Block?
Trade Rumor: Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray told Sportsnet's Hockey Central At Noon (cited by Luke Fox) that if contract talks fell through with winger Matt Beleskey, he'd consider shopping the 27-year-old's negotiating rights.
Analysis: Sportsnet's Chris Johnston reports Beleskey rejected Murray's last offer and is heading to free agency. The Ducks GM can try to trade his rights to another club prior to July 1. If Beleskey signs with that team, the Ducks receive a predetermined pick in next year's draft.
Conclusion: Don't be surprised if Beleskey's rights are moved before July 1. Murray expressed his disappointment to Johnston over how quickly the winger's camp rejected his offer. There seems to be little chance of a last-minute reconciliation.
7. Multiple Suitors for Cam Talbot
Trade Rumor: TSN's Darren Dreger reported the Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers and San Jose Sharks are all interested in New York Rangers backup Cam Talbot. He claimed the Oilers, Sabres and Sharks are “pretty eager.”
Analysis: Talbot, who turns 28 on July 5, posted solid numbers filling in for sidelined Rangers starter Henrik Lundqvist in 2014-15. He has potential as a starting goalie, making him enticing to teams that are seeking goaltending depth next season.
Conclusion: Talbot seems almost certain to be traded at the draft, if not sooner. He's carrying an affordable one-year, $1.45 million deal, and there's considerable interest in him. The Rangers could wait until the draft opens on Friday in the hopes of upping the return, maybe for a 2015 first-round selection.
6. Dion Phaneuf to the San Jose Sharks?
Trade Rumor: The Toronto Sun's Lance Hornby reported the San Jose Sharks have been mentioned as having interest in Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf.
Analysis: The Sharks have sufficient cap room to absorb Phaneuf's $7 million annual cap hit. Still, it's an expensive contract to take on. They possess some promising young players, such as Tomas Hertl, Melker Karlsson and Mirco Mueller, who could interest the rebuilding Leafs.
Conclusion: Phaneuf could be a good second-pairing blueliner for the Sharks. At this point, however, they're probably just window shopping. For this deal to take place, Phaneuf must waive his modified no-trade clause. The Sharks could also insist the Leafs pick up part of his salary.
5. New York Islanders Shopping Kyle Okposo?
Trade Rumor: Newsday's Arthur Staple cited sources claiming New York Islanders right wing Kyle Okposo could become a trade candidate heading into the draft weekend.
Analysis: Despite Okposo's solid numbers over the past two seasons, Staple suggests Islanders general manager Garth Snow might be unwilling to re-sign the winger to a long-term contract next summer. The Islanders lack picks in the first two rounds of this year's draft. Trading Okposo could fetch a first- or second-rounder as part of the return.
Conclusion: Staple claimed nothing seems imminent. Snow could be merely testing Okposo's market value. While the 27-year-old winger could prove enticing, interested teams might be leery of parting with a first- or second-round pick for a player one year away from unrestricted free agency.
4. T.J. Oshie to the Panthers?
Trade Rumor: Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch speculated the St. Louis Blues could move one of their veteran forwards this summer to shake up their roster. He suggested winger T.J. Oshie could be a good fit with the Florida Panthers or Pittsburgh Penguins.
Analysis: Oshie has reached or exceeded 54 points in three of the past four seasons. The Miami Herald's David J. Neal reported Panthers general manager Dale Tallon is willing to trade his first-round pick (11th overall) for a proven goal scorer. While Oshie could boost the Panthers' anemic offense, he's more of a playmaker than goal scorer.
Conclusion: The Blues want to bolster their roster now. Unless they flip that Panthers pick for immediate scoring help, it's doubtful Oshie goes to Florida.
3. Jiri Hudler for Brandon Sutter?
Trade Rumor: Sportsnet's Mark Spector suggested Calgary Flames ship forward Jiri Hudler and perhaps a second-round pick to the Pittsburgh Penguins for center Brandon Sutter.
Analysis: Spector noted the Penguins need scoring wingers while the Flames want to get bigger at forward. Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford could be willing to part with Sutter for a scoring winger. Hudler, however, had tremendous chemistry with young linemates Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan during the recently concluded season.
Conclusion: It could prove detrimental for Flames management to ship out a key part of their top line for someone who is essentially a checking-line center. As good as Sutter is, he can't replace Hudler's offense. If the Flames shop Hudler at the draft, they'll likely want a young scoring forward in return.
2. Avalanche Could Trade Ryan O'Reilly
Trade Rumor: The Denver Post's Terry Frei reported Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic hopes to re-sign center Ryan O'Reilly. Failing that, Frei thinks the 24-year-old will be traded. O'Reilly is eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer, and Frei doesn't think Colorado will want to lose him for nothing.
Analysis: O'Reilly is entering the second year of his contract earning an annual salary-cap hit of $6 million. He could command over $7 million annually on the open market next summer. The Avs could be unwilling to pay O'Reilly more than center Matt Duchene, who's also earning an average of $6 million annually.
Conclusion: Despite O'Reilly expensive salary, there are teams with cap space capable of absorbing it. The Avalanche lack skilled, experienced defensemen. If they trade O'Reilly at the draft, they'll likely seek a blueliner as part of the return.
1. Washington Capitals Interested in Patrick Sharp?
Trade Rumor: ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun reported that the Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks have held very preliminary talks regarding Hawks winger Patrick Sharp.
Analysis: On Feb. 27, the Chicago Tribune's Chris Kuc reported that the Capitals and Blackhawks discussed a possible Sharp deal before the trade deadline. LeBrun noted the issue is whether the Capitals can afford Sharp's $5.9 million annual cap hit. The Fourth Period's B.D. Gallof claimed the asking price for Sharp is a first-round pick, a top prospect and a top-six forward on an entry-level deal.
Conclusion: Unless the Blackhawks lower that asking price, they can forget about moving Sharp to the Capitals or anyone else at the draft. That's too expensive for an aging winger who could be poised for an offensive decline.