NHL Teams with the Most Potential Trade Bait in 2017-18
Various factors could determine which teams make moves this season. Some, such as the Islanders, Colorado Avalanche and Winnipeg Jets, could need a roster shakeup if they once again struggle to reach the playoffs.
Promising clubs, such as the Toronto Maple Leafs, could be forced to retool if they take a step back. Rebuilding teams, such as the Detroit Red Wings and Vancouver Canucks, could attempt to deal away some veterans in favor of younger talent.
Here's a look at the NHL teams carrying the most trade bait in 2017-18. You can weigh in with your thoughts on this subject in the comments section below.
Since finishing atop the Central Division in 2013-14, the Colorado Avalanche have been in free fall. They finished 2016-17 last in the overall standings. Another poor performance could force management to overhaul their roster.
Of the trio, Duchene garnered the most attention. On Aug. 17, Mike Chambers of the Denver Post reported general manager Joe Sakic will continue listening to offers for the 26-year-old forward.
Forward Joe Colborne and backup goaltender Jonathan Bernier are unrestricted free agents next July. Both could end up on the trade block if they don't fit into the Avs' long-term plans.
Center Carl Soderberg followed up a career-best 51-point performance in 2015-16 with only 18 points in 80 games last season. Though he carries a modified no-trade clause and a $4.75 million annual salary-cap hit, he could also become expendable.
Detroit Red Wings
After missing the playoffs last season for the first time since 1990, the retooling Detroit Red Wings could be outside the postseason picture again before the 2018 trade deadline. Management could attempt to ship out some veterans for younger talent.
With 10 players carrying no-movement or no-trade clauses, the Wings have limited options. Still, the prospect of missing the playoffs again could entice a few to consider waiving those clauses.
Defenseman Mike Green is the sole unrestricted free agent on the Detroit roster. The 31-year-old is a mobile blueliner who could attract interest from playoff contenders. Perhaps he'll agree to waive his no-trade clause to join a postseason team.
Goaltenders Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek will be jockeying for the starter's job this season. Whoever fails to clinch that role could be shopped. The 25-year-old Mrazek is younger and lacks no-trade protection. He's also a restricted free agent with arbitration rights at season's end.
Winger Gustav Nyquist ($4.75 million annually through 2018-19) could be another trade chip if management feels he doesn't have a long-term future in Detroit. Another disappointing season from center Riley Sheahan could see him dealt by the trade deadline. Like Mrazek, he's a restricted free agent next July.
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Since 2014-15, the Minnesota Wild struggled with inconsistent regular-season performances and early playoff exits. Having changed coaches last year, hiring Bruce Boudreau, management could consider shaking up the roster if they fail to significantly improve this season.
Among their unrestricted free agents, center Mikko Koivu could become a trade option if the Wild fall out of the playoff chase later in the season. If he agrees to waive his no-movement clause, he could attract interest from postseason teams seeking an experienced playmaking center.
Veterans Chris Stewart and Matt Cullen are also unrestricted free agents. Both lack no-trade protection and could be peddled as depth forwards to contending clubs.
Left wing Jason Zucker and defenseman Matt Dumba are restricted free agents with arbitration rights next July. Both surfaced in last season's rumor mill, though that speculation was tied to June's expansion draft. Should they fail to improve in their contract years, they could become trade bait.
Management could also consider moving out a player or two under contract beyond this season. Possible candidates include center Eric Staal and recently acquired left wing Tyler Ennis. Both are signed through 2018-19.
New York Islanders
The upcoming season could be pivotal for the New York Islanders. After winning their first playoff round in 23 years in 2015-16, they failed to reach the postseason last term. Failure to get back on track this season could result in some significant changes before next summer.
Center John Tavares could become the biggest trade chip. An unrestricted free agent next July, he could consider testing the market if he feels the Isles aren't heading in the right direction. If the 26-year-old superstar becomes available, he would attract considerable interest, even as a playoff rental.
Goaltender Jaroslav Halak, defensemen Calvin de Haan, Thomas Hickey and Dennis Seidenberg and forwards Josh Bailey and Nikolay Kulemin are also eligible for unrestricted free agency at season's end. If the Isles are out of contention, some of them could become trade candidates by the 2018 deadline.
Bailey, 27, enjoyed a career-best 56-point performance last season. Another solid effort in 2017-18 would boost his trade value. Having inked a one-year deal, De Haan's future with the Isles beyond this season seems uncertain.
New York could also attempt to shed some players signed beyond this season. Right wing Jordan Eberle ($6 million annually through 2018-19) could become available if he fails to bring his scoring touch over from the Edmonton Oilers.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Thanks to an unexpected playoff berth last season, expectations are high for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2017-18. However, they're still a rebuilding club. Should they struggle to reach the 2018 postseason, changes could be in store involving some of their veteran players.
Signing that trio to long-term deals could complicate efforts to re-sign forwards Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitchell Marner. Those rising young stars will be due significant raises in salary over the next two years.
Of the three pending UFAs, Van Riemsdyk would attract the most interest in the trade market. Given the Leafs' ongoing need to bolster their blue line, the 28-year-old left wing could fetch an experienced top-pairing defenseman.
Another possibility could be moving a young forward to address their defensive needs. Nylander, 21, occasionally surfaced in the rumor mill last season as a potential trade candidate. That scenario could come up again if the Leafs struggle in their own zone this season.
After missing the playoffs for the second straight season, the Vancouver Canucks replaced Willie Desjardins as head coach with Travis Green. If the coaching change fails to bring about a notable improvement, management could attempt to shed some veterans before the trade deadline.
The Canucks gradually brought in more youth in recent years, preferring to retool rather than stage a full roster teardown. However, they could attempt to shop several pending unrestricted free agents near the trade deadline.
Longtime Vancouver forwards Henrik and Daniel Sedin could attract serious interest from playoff-bound clubs. Both carry no-movement clauses, but perhaps they would waive them if an opportunity arose to join a Stanley Cup contender.
Defenseman Erik Gudbranson could also become a trade candidate. Like the Sedins, the 25-year-old is eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer after signing a one-year contract.
Forwards Sven Baertschi and Markus Granlund are both restricted free agents next summer with arbitration rights. If the 24-year-olds fail to build upon their promising efforts in 2016-17, they could become trade bait later in the season.
Vegas Golden Knights
The Vegas Golden Knights have too many defensemen. With 11 blueliners under one-way NHL contracts, they will have to move some of them before the start of the season. A few could be demoted to the minors, but they could also become trade bait.
That could make them difficult to move before the start of the season. They could, however, be shopped closer to the 2018 trade deadline, when most of their respective cap hits have been paid out by the Golden Knights.
More affordable early-season trade options could include Brayden McNabb ($1.7 million), Jon Merrill (over $1.1 million) and Deryk Engelland ($1 million). Rivals could be more interested in younger, promising options such as Shea Theodore, Nate Schmidt and Colin Miller, but it's doubtful Vegas parts with them.
If the Golden Knights are out of playoff contention by the trade deadline, they could consider shopping their notable unrestricted free agents. That could include forwards James Neal, David Perron and Jonathan Marchessault.
Since their relocation from Atlanta in 2011, the Winnipeg Jets have reached the playoffs only once (2014-15). Another disappointing effort this season could result in changes in the front office, behind the bench and on the roster.
Notable unrestricted free agents include center Bryan Little and defenseman Toby Enstrom. If the cost of re-signing the 29-year-old Little proves too expensive, management could listen to offers near the trade deadline. The Jets could part ways with the 32-year-old Enstrom.
Defenseman Jacob Trouba is a restricted free agent next summer with arbitration rights. If it appears he and the Jets can't agree on a long-term extension, perhaps the 23-year-old hits the trade block.
Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck and forward Marko Dano are also RFAs next July. Their play this season could determine their long-term futures in Winnipeg.
Blueliner Tyler Myers is signed through 2018-19 at an annual cap hit of $5.5 million. Since joining the Jets in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres midway through 2014-15, he's struggled with injury and inconsistency. If he's healthy this season but fails to play up to expectations, perhaps he will also become a trade chip later in the season.