NHL Trade Speculation: 12 Players Who Might Benefit from a Change of Scenery

April WeinerCorrespondent ISeptember 26, 2011

NHL Trade Speculation: 12 Players Who Might Benefit from a Change of Scenery

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    This summer, we have seen many high-profile NHL players move teams. Ilya Bryzgalov and Brad Richards moved because their teams couldn't afford them and they joined teams where they feel they have the best chance at winning another Stanley Cup.

    Others, like Tomas Vokoun, moved teams solely based on the opportunity to win a Cup, rather than garnering the most money. 

    Some players, like Mike Richards, did not choose to move teams, but will probably benefit in some ways; in Richards' case, he won't have the pressures of the Philadelphia media hounding him on a daily basis. 

    There are many big-time players that are currently playing on teams who aren't exactly Cup contenders. These players deserve their chance at the Stanley Cup, but may need to change teams because of it.

    Other players may reap the benefits of a change of scenery in other ways; perhaps the new atmosphere will help improve their consistency.

    Here are 12 players that could benefit from a change of scenery. 

12. Brenden Morrow

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    Brenden Morrow is the captain of the Dallas Stars. He's played his entire NHL career for the Stars, starting with the 1999-2000 season.

    Morrow came in the year after the team won the Stanley Cup. That year, Dallas returned to the Stanley Cup finals, but lost to the New Jersey Devils. The Stars have made the playoffs five times since then, but the farthest they have advanced is to the Western Conference finals.

    The team hasn't made the playoffs since 2008 and the future doesn't look great until they get a new owner, since their biggest weapon last year now plays for the New York Rangers.

    Morrow deserves the opportunity to win a Stanley Cup. He's 32 now, and who knows how many years he has left in the NHL to get that. 

    He might need to move to another team in order to accomplish that. 

11. Rick Nash

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    Rick Nash could probably be one of the biggest stars in the NHL if he didn't play for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

    He has scored 40 or more goals twice in his career already; imagine what he could do with higher-producing linemates. 

    Nash seems committed to the Blue Jackets—he is the captain, after all—and he's signed in Columbus through 2017-18. In fact, it's likely that Nash will spend his career in Columbus.

    However, a player of his caliber certainly deserves the opportunity to shine in the playoffs and win the Cup. 

    Nash has only had one opportunity to play in the playoffs, two years ago when they lost in the Western Conference quarterfinals to the Detroit Red Wings.

    While the Blue Jackets have rebuilt some over the summer, adding James Wisniewski and Jeff Carter, it may not be enough to help the team win the Cup.

    Nash may have to go elsewhere to get that opportunity. 

10. Paul Stastny

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    Paul Stastny has played for the Colorado Avalanche for his entire NHL career, which started with the 2006-07 season. 

    Stastny is a very talented player and some would argue that his talent is wasted in Colorado.

    If the team adds more playmakers and their goaltending situation gets resolved (perhaps this year, with Semyon Varlamov), they could be a legitimate contender. However, many believe that the only leverage the Avs have to get those type of players is trading Stastny to complete their team.

    Either way, a player like Stastny deserves the opportunity to meet his full potential, so if the Avalanche can't provide that for Stastny, he deserves to have that opportunity elsewhere. 

9. Jonathan Bernier

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    The Los Angeles Kings are lucky enough to have two top young goaltenders on their roster: Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier.

    Unfortunately, only one can be the starter and get the most playing time.

    For now, that person is Quick. However, Bernier could easily be a starter. In three games during the 2009-10 season, Bernier posted a save percentage of .957 and GAA of 1.3 In 25 games last season, Bernier posted a save percentage of .913 and GAA of 2.48. 

    Imagine what kind of goaltender he could develop into if he received significantly more playing time. 

    Bernier deserves to be a starter and surely one day he will be; for now, he provides insurance for the Kings, backing up Quick. 

8. Miikka Kiprusoff

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    Miikka Kiprusoff has played for the San Jose Sharks and currently plays for the Calgary Flames. At almost 35 years old, his years in the NHL are numbered.

    Kiprusoff definitely deserves to win a Stanley Cup.

    For years, he has posted high save percentages and low goals-against averages, giving his often lackluster team chances they may not have otherwise had.

    Last season, Kiprusoff struggled at times and many were calling for him to be traded.

    He deserves a chance at the Cup and that may not be a reality in Kipper's remaining years in Calgary. He deserves to be appreciated for what he has done for the team. 

7. Alexander Semin

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    Alexander Semin is probably one of the most frustrating players in the NHL. 

    On the one hand, he is probably one of the most naturally talented players in the NHL. On the other hand, he is injury-prone and irritatingly inconsistent.

    It seems insane to think that another team could get a better result out of him. After all, the Washington Capitals have one of the most talented rosters in the league, so if they can't get consistency out of him, who else could?

    However, players often play differently from coach to coach. Who knows, perhaps another coaching style would suit Semin better and he could consistently perform to his potential.

6. Joe Thornton

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    During the regular season, the San Jose Sharks' Joe Thornton is one of the top centers in the game. That much people can agree on.

    However, it is his play during the postseason that is most often criticized. Thornton and the Sharks are often labeled chokers because, despite having one of the most talented rosters, they can't seem to go all the way in the playoffs.

    They made some changes in the offseason that may help with that in the future, but if not, they will continue to be criticized until they make the changes necessary to be successful.

    Unfortunately for Thornton, he receives the brunt of the criticism as the captain and leader of the team.

    Perhaps a change of scenery and relief from the pressure of the team on his shoulders could be good for Thornton. 

5. Roberto Luongo

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    Roberto Luongo is another frustratingly inconsistent player. Despite generally putting up fantastic numbers, he tends to perform poorly in the highest pressure situations.

    In his case, it's difficult to suggest that a change of scenery would change that, but it is possible.

    Plus, the Vancouver Canucks have Cory Schneider as well, so they're pretty well stocked in net. 

4. Shea Weber

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    Shea Weber is one of the top defensemen in the NHL. Once Nicklas Lidstrom retires, Weber could very well take over the leading Norris Trophy candidate and the player to outperform in order to win the Norris.

    An elite defenseman like Weber definitely deserves to be paid like it and win a Cup.

    Weber was awarded a top arbitration settlement, so he has the paid part of the equation. Now, he needs his Cup.

    While the Nashville Predators won their first playoff series last season, there is so much tough competition in the West that it will be difficult for them to advance to the finals.

    So, if Weber doesn't get the opportunity to win a Cup in Nashville, he deserves the chance to do it elsewhere. 

3. Ales Hemsky

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    Ales Hemsky is one of the most talented players in the NHL, but is primarily ignored, perhaps because he plays for the Edmonton Oilers.

    He has scored either a point per game or close to a point per game every season since the lockout, which is a pretty incredible feat.

    Hemsky could perform even better on a higher-producing team and he could benefit from a change of scenery.

    Perhaps he will get it, as he will be an unrestricted free agent next summer. 

2. Jason Spezza

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    Jason Spezza is a high-scoring forward, but doesn't generate a lot of attention considering his team: the Ottawa Senators.

    Since the lockout, Spezza has scored more than 85 points three times. 

    In the past three years, Spezza has scored 73 points and 57 points, respectively, the past two seasons. That's on a low-producing team. 

    The Senators are trying to rebuild their team, and Spezza is probably at the core of the team.

    However, Spezza deserves the opportunity to benefit from a change of scenery and play for a better team, even if he says he wants to remain a Senator. 

1. Jarome Iginla

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    Of all the currently Cup-less NHL players, no one deserves to win a Stanley Cup in his career more than Jarome Iginla.

    Iginla is one of those players that probably everyone loves, even those who hate the Calgary Flames.

    Iggy has spent his entire NHL career playing for the Flames as a devoted leader of the team and member of the community.

    He has at least a few more years ahead of him, but who knows if that will be enough time for the Flames to become a serious Cup contender.

    Iginla deserves the chance to win a Cup and may need to move to another team to accomplish that before he retires.