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NHL Offseason: Five Blockbuster Trades That Need to Happen

Robert TheodorsonSenior Analyst IDecember 3, 2016

NHL Offseason: Five Blockbuster Trades That Need to Happen

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    Mutually beneficial one-for-one trades are becoming a rarity in pro sports. Nowadays the asking price for star players is usually a package of draft picks, mid- or top-tier prospects, and perhaps one or a few NHL-caliber players if the star in question warrants them.

    The problem with even trades is that one team will most likely always feel they are getting the short end of the stick, and that is exactly how I want the reader to feel here. If you come across a name from your favorite team, you are instinctively going to reject the offer. However, if you take a step back and look at it from an outsider’s perspective you’ll notice that the deal works in the long run for teams looking to rebuild or those with a five- to ten-year plan. The deal is also going to pay off in the short-term for those players who are sitting on the edge of free agency—veterans who can join a club and instantly increase their new team’s chance of winning a Cup as soon as the same season. 

Jarome Iginla for Jordan Staal

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    The Calgary Flames are probably in the worst position a team can be in the NHL. The Flames can’t be considered real contenders with their current roster and they have possibly the worst farm system in the league. Depleted of young talent due to poor drafting and foolishly sticking it out with old players who are past their prime, the Flames have been unwilling to trade for a bevy of picks and prospects which they could surely receive.

    It’s not easy to trade your captain and the face of your franchise but let’s be realists, the Flames are not going anywhere by holding on to Iginla. The elite power forward is 34 years old and not getting any younger.

    Iginla’s value lies in the fact that he still plays at an elite level and the prospect of him playing on Crosby or Malkin’s wing is almost a surefire way to go deep into the playoffs if not win the Stanley Cup entirely.

    In return the Penguins give up their third-line center Jordan Staal who is among the best two-way forwards in the league. The recent Selke nominee has first line potential, and can play second or third line center on almost any team in the league. The Flames are in desperate need of young and fresh talent, especially at center. Currently Daymond Langkow and Matt Stajan are the team’s highest paid centers. This state of financial affairs should give good insight into the current situation of the Flames. 

Alexander Semin for Johan Franzen

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    In this proposal, the Washington Capitals and Detroit Red Wings swap right wingers straight up. Detroit gets a high scoring first line winger whose chemistry with superstar center and fellow Russian Olympic teammate Pavel Datsyuk would be amazing.

    On the Capitals, Semin is an elite second line scorer expected to anchor an entire line. Semin’s two-way game is improving and his offense speaks for itself. Semin is fully capable of scoring 40 or more goals again, especially with an elite playmaker like Datsyuk. What the Capitals get is a strong power forward who can play the right wing on any line, possibly replacing Mike Knuble on the top line as soon as next year.

    Franzen is a proven playoff warrior and is exactly what the Capitals need for their “win now or else” mentality that they’ve seemed to adopt. Semin makes a considerably more than Franzen but only comes at a $6.7 million cap hit for the next year. Meanwhile, Franzen is signed until the 2020 season.

    Unlike most of the trade proposals listed here, this would not require any buyouts or burying players in the minors as it would be a very clean 1-for-1 swap. 

Zach Parise for Tuukka Rask

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    More likely to happen at the trade deadline than in the remainder of the summer, this trade works for both sides long into the foreseeable future. After months of negotiations that went nowhere, the Devils had their hand forced to sign Parise to a pedestrian one-year deal at six million dollars.

    Unable to sign the star winger to a long-term deal, the Devils now only have Parise for the year at most. What the Devils would be asking for is the heir to the greatest Devil ever and Tuukka Rask fits that bill quite well.

    Other candidates for this position could include Los Angeles’ Jonathan Bernier and Washington’s Michael Neuvirth. However with Tim Thomas signed for two more years and no signs of slowing down, there is a distinct possibility that the Vezina winner will be Boston’s number one goalie past 2013.

    With the acquisition of Parise, Boston puts themselves in prime position to be the first repeat Stanley Cup Champions since the Detroit Red Wings many years ago. New Jersey gets a soon-to-be restricted free agent who is used to playing behind a great goaltender and who can only benefit and learn from being behind Marty Brodeur for one or two more seasons before he assumes the mantle of top goalie in New Jersey in the post-Brodeur era.

    In rare circumstances the reigning Cup Champions have positioned themselves nicely to acquire a top priced player like Zach Parise.  Neither team would have to shuffle rosters to make this move work. 

Ales Hemsky for Derick Brassard

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    If the Columbus Blue Jackets are serious about morphing into a culture of winning, this trade must be completed at all costs.

    In trading away young Jakub Voracek, the Blue Jackets have left themselves quite a hole at the right wing for secondary scoring. Hemsky brings experience and winning to Columbus all at the price of an underperforming first line center in Derick Brassard.

    After the Jeff Carter trade the Blue Jackets are stacked for the present and future at center. Playing down the middle for Columbus is super sniper Jeff Carter, two-way grinder Antoine Vermette, and future star Ryan Johansen.

    In return for Hemsky—one of the longest tenured Oilers—Edmonton receives a young center who will play with other up-and-comers his own age. Brassard’s former sixth overall draft selection will not weigh heavily on him anymore, as the Oilers are currently in the middle of a rebuild and are simply looking for improvement around the board from all their players.

    Edmonton is creating a culture where players are not faulted for losing but are rather rewarded with playing time for any steps they make in their progression as an overall NHL player. 

Jason Spezza for Zach Bogosian

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    Another team that needs to accept their fate and go all in on a full rebuild is the Ottawa Senators.

    This starts with getting rid of talented, but high-priced Jason Spezza, who simply does not fit in with the organization anymore. One team who would welcome Spezza with open arms would be the Winnipeg Jets, who are trying to make a name for themselves and secure a postseason spot to reward their extremely loyal “new” fan base that sold out the maximum number of season ticket holder seats allowed in a matter of hours.  

    All this trade would cost the Jets is malcontent and former third overall pick Zach Bogosian. Bogosian has made it clear that he does not want to be in Winnipeg. It’s safe to say that Winnipeg will not achieve their postseason dreams in their inaugural year without a clear cut number one center, and Nik Antropov is not of that caliber.

    Fortunately for the Jets, they will not suffer too much by trading away Bogosian, as their top four defensemen can handle themselves rather well. The Jets also possess one of the best defensive pairings in the NHL in the Enstrom-Byfuglien pairing.  

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