NHL Trade Rumors: Jeff Carter and the 10 Biggest Names That Could Move
During the NHL's Offseason, each team makes trades and signings with the intention of either bolstering their lineup for the upcoming season, or to better prepare themselves for the future.
Seeing as the free agency pool is considered to be one of the weakest in recent memory, with only one true superstar player available, the best opportunities for General Managers to add big names to their rosters will likely be found via the trade market.
As many of the league's best teams find themselves with little cap room with which to operate, there are a variety of names being tossed around through the rumor mill, such as Philadelphia's Jeff Carter. Carter, though he is one of the Flyers' best players, comes with an expensive contract, one that Philadelphia will be unable to afford if they're serious about signing free agents Ville Leino and Ilya Bryzgalov.
With that in mind, here's a look at the biggest names that could be available on the trade market this Summer.
10. Semyon Varlamov: Washington Capitals
The Washington Capitals have a bunch of decisions to make this Offseason, including whether or not to re-sign restricted free agent goaltender Semyon Varlamov.
Varlamov, once thought to be the Capitals' goalie of the future, has been plagued by injuries and has been usurped as Washington's starting goaltender by Michal Neuvirth, who was drafted just one round after Varlamov in 2006.
He's proven he's a capable NHL goaltender, and could be a starter in the league in the right situation. However, it appears increasingly unlikely that he'll get the opportunity to do so in Washington, seeing as Neuvirth and Braden Holtby are already under contract for next season.
Varlamov has potential, as he's won a playoff round and was selected for the 2010 Russian Olympic team, so he'll likely garner interest from teams in need of a goaltender. Though he's hinted he may return to Russia and play in the KHL, he's indicated his first choice would be to remain in the best league in the world.
It wouldn't cost more than a second-round pick to get Varlamov either, so he may be donning a new jersey by the time the 2010-11 season starts.
9. Filip Kuba: Ottawa Senators
As the Ottawa Senators attempt to at least partially rebuild their roster for the future, they may be looking to trade at least one of their aging defensemen.
Seeing as the team's management opted to wildly overpay Sergei Gonchar to come to Ottawa as a free agent last Summer, it appears the most likely candidate to go is 34-year-old Flip Kuba.
Kuba is coming off of two straight seasons in which he was plagued by injuries, so the asking price for the Czech rearguard won't be as steep as it would have been in previous years. Kuba is a former All-Star and 40-point man, so he could be a valuable addition to teams in need of some secondary scoring from the back end.
At $3.7 million a year, Kuba's contract will be a stumbling block for some teams, but it's more than likely that the Senators will receive some calls about the offensive defenseman.
8. Keith Ballard: Vancouver Canucks
While the Vancouver Canucks managed to get within a game of winning the 2011 Stanley Cup, they did so without the help of their second-highest paid defenseman.
That's because Keith Ballard was sitting in the press box for 15 of the team's 25 postseason games, as a healthy scratch. Even when the Canucks' defense corps lost Dan Hamhuis to injury and Aaron Rome to suspension, Ballard was passed over by head coach Alain Vigneault, demonstrating the lack of confidence the man behind the bench has in Ballard.
Ballard has demonstrated he's a capable two-way NHL defenseman, as he's twice posted over 30 points, but it's unclear whether any teams would take on his monstrous contract which pays him $4.2 annually through 2014-15.
Vancouver made it clear during the playoffs that they feel they're a better team without Ballard in the lineup, so expect the Canucks to try to deal him before training camp opens in the Fall.
7. Wojtek Wolski: New York Rangers
While it's still possible the New York Rangers will opt to buy-out the remaining year on Wojtek Wolski's deal, if the team is able to find a willing partner, the 25-year-old will be dealt immediately.
Wolski's cap hit of $3.8 million a year is steep for a player who tallied just 35 points in 2010-11, but not for the Wojtek Wolski who potted 65 points the previous year.
Prior to this season, Wolski was a consistent 45-50 point scorer, and a productive offensive player in the Postseason, which is why a team in need of scoring depth may take a chance on the young forward.
With the Rangers in need of cap room in order to take a run at Brad Richards, expect General Manager Glen Sather to be working the phones in an attempt to move Wolski before July 1st.
6. Cam Barker: Minnesota Wild
The Minnesota Wild entered the 2011 offseason with a number of question marks with regards to who will return to the team next season. However, no player has been rumored to have worn out his welcome in St. Paul as frequently as former third overall pick Cam Barker.
Barker has not yet blossomed into the two-way defenseman that scouts projected him to be, but at age 25, there's still hope he may emerge as a top-four defenseman. After a breakout season in 2008-09 that saw him notch 40 points in 68 games, Barker's offensive numbers dropped to just five points in 52 games in 2010-11.
He's got the size and skill to be a productive defenseman in the NHL, but whether he puts these gifts to use remains to be seen. Seeing as he's still young and has the potential to end up being a steal, the Wild will receive offers for Barker, unless of course they choose to buy him out before then.
5. Kris Versteeg: Philadelphia Flyers
For such a talented young forward, Kris Versteeg has moved around quite a bit during his three full seasons in the National Hockey League.
After playing a key role during Chicago's Stanley Cup run in 2010, Versteeg was dealt to Toronto to alleviate cap space, but was shipped to Philadelphia just seven months later after his production dropped off with the Maple Leafs.
Now it may be time for Versteeg to pack his bags once again. Philadelphia remains intent on signing goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, and would prefer not to have to trade Jeff Carter in order to do so. If they opt not to deal Carter, Versteeg may be the next candidate for a trade.
He's a desirable player for many teams, because he brings offense and a proven track record in the Playoffs, at a reasonable cap hit of around $3 million annually. One team that could be interested is Winnipeg, as new General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff was the assistant GM with Chicago when Versteeg helped the Blackhawks win the Cup.
4. Alexander Semin: Washington Capitals
After another inconsistent season from Alexander Semin, there is a possibility that his days in the nation's capital may be numbered.
There's no questioning Semin's talent, as he's among the best goal scorers in the game when he wants to be, but he's also prone to lengthy droughts in which he hurts the Capitals more than he helps them.
With the team loaded with talent offensively, dealing Semin and his $6.7 million contract could allow General Manager George McPhee to sign pending free agent Brooks Laich and still add another piece.
Los Angeles, as always, is on the market for a scoring forward, and with a stable of talented young players, a deal involving Semin that helps both sides could be worked out over the Summer.
3. Ales Hemsky: Edmonton Oilers
As the Oilers build towards the future, they'll likely want to play young guns Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Magnus Paajarvi more in 2010-11. In addition, the team's blue line is one of the weakest in the league, so help on the back end should be priority number one entering the offseason.
That being said, Ales Hemsky is currently without a doubt the Oilers' most productive offensive player, when healthy, so the team won't be itching to trade the talented 27-year-old.
However, seeing as Hemsky makes $4.1 million annually, he probably won't be re-signed by the Oilers when he's a free agent in a year's time, so a trade may make sense for both parties.
Hemsky has twice registered 70 points in a season, and would be a valuable addition to any team looking to add some help up front. If Edmonton gets the right offer, he could be gone by the time training camp opens in two months time.
2. Jeff Carter: Philadelphia Flyers
Jeff Carter has quietly become one of the NHL's best goal scorers since being drafted in 2003, which is why he's a hot commodity on the trade market this Offseason.
With the Flyers desperate for cap space in order to sign Ilya Bryzgalov and possibly Ville Leino, Carter and his $5 million salary may become too expensive for Philadelphia's taste.
Earlier this week, Carter was rumored to be heading to Columbus, so it's possible that he'll end up a Blue Jacket before July 1st. Either way, if the Flyers are successful in their attempts to sign Bryzgalov, Carter is the most likely candidate to move.
The Flyers have no shortage of depth up front, especially at the center position, so even though Carter has been a consistent 30-40 goal scorer for Philadelphia, he may be deemed expendable.
1. Ryan Smyth: Los Angeles Kings
The reason Ryan Smyth is at the top of this list is simply because he wants to be. Earlier this week, Smyth reportedly informed the Kings that his preference is to be dealt to the team that drafted him, the Edmonton Oilers, for the last year on his current deal.
While Smyth's $4.5 million salary won't be easy to move, he's been a very productive winger for the Kings since being dealt from Colorado in 2009. He's a proven performer in the Postseason, and is a calming presence in the Kings' locker room, so Los Angeles won't be giving the 35-year-old power forward away for nothing.
That being said, the Oilers have a host of young, talented players who could be offered as compensation for Smyth in the event that the Kings choose to honor his request to be traded.
Smyth would be a valuable veteran for the Oilers to add in order to aid the development of their young offensive weapons, so it's possible that a deal could materialize in the coming weeks.