Hypothetical NHL Trades Based on the Latest Rumors
As the 2015 Stanley Cup Final winds its way toward a conclusion, and with the NHL draft (June 26-27) quickly approaching, there's been an increase in NHL trade speculation.
Many offseason trades are usually made in the days leading up to, and including, the draft weekend. The combination of a number of NHL teams with limited salary-cap space for 2015-16 and a lack of quality talent in this summer's free-agent market could spark a significant number of trades.
The following slideshow lists 10 hypothetical NHL trades based on the latest media rumors, providing the basis for each proposed deal and analysis. Player skill, roster needs, contract terms and salary-cap payroll space factored into this ranking.
10. Adam Larsson for Leon Draisaitl
Basis: Sportsnet's Jeff Marek, appearing on Edmonton's 630 CHED (h/t the Edmonton Journal's David Staples), suggested the Oilers use Draisaitl as trade bait to land Larsson from the Devils.
Analysis: The Oilers need skilled defensive depth, while the Devils need more offense. With Ryan Nugent-Hopkins already in the lineup and the Oilers expected to draft Connor McDavid, Draisaitl could be pushed down their depth chart at center. He could get more playing time with the Devils. Larsson made considerable improvement last season and could be maturing into a quality rearguard.
9. Eddie Lack to the Buffalo Sabres
Hypothetical trade: The Vancouver Canucks trade goaltender Eddie Lack to the Buffalo Sabres for the Sabres' second-round pick in the 2015 NHL draft.
Basis: ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun reported that a source said the Canucks will soon decide whether Lack or Jacob Markstrom will be placed on the trade block ahead of this year's draft. As LeBrun noted, "The Canucks don’t have a second- or third-round pick in the draft, so replenishing in that area will be a priority."
Analysis: The Sabres desperately need quality goaltending depth. Lack showed potential as a starter filling in for the sidelined Ryan Miller earlier this season. The Sabres have two first-round picks and two second-round picks in this year's draft. They can afford to part with the 31st overall pick for Lack.
8. Robin Lehner for Nail Yakupov
Hypothetical trade: The Ottawa Senators trade goaltender Robin Lehner to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for right wing Nail Yakupov.
Basis: The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reported Senators GM Bryan Murray seeks a young player with top-six forward potential and a high draft pick.
Analysis: The Oilers need goaltending depth, while the Senators want to boost their offense. The struggling Yakupov might benefit from a fresh start. Like Yakupov, Lehner has yet to reach expectations. The Senators would have to accept a one-for-one swap or the inclusion of a lower draft pick as part of the return.
7. Dougie Hamilton for Boone Jenner
Hypothetical trade: The Boston Bruins trade defenseman Dougie Hamilton to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for forward Boone Jenner.
Basis: CSNNE.com's Joe Haggerty suggested trading Hamilton, who is a restricted free agent and could receive an offer sheet from a rival club. Haggerty said Columbus could be among the teams with interest in the 21-year-old blueliner.
Analysis: Hamilton could become the top-two blueliner to anchor Columbus' defense corps. If the Bruins trade Hamilton to avoid an offer sheet situation, they'll want a good young player back. Jenner can play center or left wing and has a physical, two-way style. He might be a decent replacement for Milan Lucic, who could depart via trade or free agency by July 2016.
6. Mikko Koivu for Lars Eller
Hypothetical trade: The Minnesota Wild trade center Mikko Koivu to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for center Lars Eller.
Basis: Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman wonders "if, in any way, there's a Mikko Koivu deal to be made." Friedman said the 32-year-old Koivu is "the kind of player the Canadiens need at center."
Analysis: The Canadiens lack a true first-line center, and Koivu could fit the bill. Eller has struggled with the Habs and might benefit from a change of scenery. The Canadiens and Wild both have limited cap space. The Wild would save over $3 million annually on this deal. The Habs must shed further salary, perhaps in a separate deal with another club, to comfortably absorb Koivu's $6.75 million cap hit.
5. Mike Richards for Cody Hodgson
Hypothetical trade: The Los Angeles Kings trade center Mike Richards and a prospect to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for center Cody Hodgson.
Basis: ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun reported the Kings have spoken with several teams "about a potential Mike Richards trade, although certainly at this point nothing is imminent." Matthew Coller of WGR 550 in Buffalo reported Sabres general manager Tim Murray said "a buyout of Hodgson is an option being considered."
Analysis: The Kings want to shed Richards' $5.75 million annual cap hit. The Sabres could try to move Hodgson's $4.25 million cap hit. A trade might help both players regain their form. Maybe the Kings can convince the Sabres, who have over $27 million in cap room, to pick up an extra $1 million of Hodgson's annual salary by including a top prospect in the return.
4. Keith Yandle for Milan Lucic
Hypothetical trade: The New York Rangers trade defenseman Keith Yandle to the Boston Bruins in exchange for left wing Milan Lucic.
Basis: The New York Post's Larry Brooks noted Yandle, 28, is eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency and could prove too expensive to re-sign. He wonders if the defenseman, perhaps packaged with backup goalie Cam Talbot, could land a "strong, grinding, physical forward." Brooks noted Yandle's cap hit next season is only $2.625 million.
Analysis: The Bruins could shed Lucic's $6 million cap hit, add an affordable puck-moving blueliner for next season and have enough space to re-sign Dougie Hamilton this summer. Lucic will provide that physical style the Rangers need if they hope to stage a Stanley Cup run next spring. However, they'll have to shed another salary, perhaps in a separate deal, to comfortably afford his cap hit.
3. Ryan O'Reilly for Dion Phaneuf
Hypothetical trade: The Colorado Avalanche trade center Ryan O'Reilly to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for defenseman Dion Phaneuf.
Basis: Responding to a question about contract extension talks between O'Reilly and the Avalanche, TSN's Bob McKenzie (via Paul Kukla of Kukla's Korner) said there haven't been any substantive discussions. If the Avs decide not to re-sign O'Reilly, who's an unrestricted free agent next year, McKenzie said they'll likely trade him for a defenseman.
Analysis: The rebuilding Leafs lack a first-line center and could try to trade Phaneuf this summer. The Avs lack experienced defensive depth and could be unwilling to pay O'Reilly a big raise over his current cap hit. If the Leafs are willing to pick up part of Phaneuf's annual salary, perhaps the Avs might be interested. The deep-pocketed Leafs can afford paying O'Reilly a lucrative new deal.
2. Phil Kessel to the Flames
Hypothetical trade: The Toronto Maple Leafs trade right wing Phil Kessel to the Calgary Flames in exchange for center Sam Bennett, goaltender Jonas Hiller and their first-round pick (15th overall) in the 2015 NHL draft.
Basis: Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman speculated on possible destinations for Kessel, claiming several teams approached the Leafs regarding their asking price for the winger. Among the destinations cited was Calgary, as Friedman noted former Leafs president and general manager Brian Burke is now the Flames' president.
Analysis: The Leafs are rebuilding and might shop Kessel, who could boost the Flames' offensive depth at right wing. The Flames have the cap space to absorb Kessel's $8 million annual cap hit and depth in promising youth to interest the Leafs. Bennett could blossom into a top-line center. Assuming the Leafs trade James Reimer, Hiller could provide experienced support for starter Jonathan Bernier.
1. Evgeni Malkin to the Sharks
Hypothetical trade: The Pittsburgh Penguins trade center Evgeni Malkin to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for defenseman Brent Burns, left wing Tomas Hertl, a top prospect and the Sharks' first-round pick (ninth overall) in the 2015 NHL draft.
Basis: Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman recently appeared on Sportsnet 960 The Fan in Calgary (h/t Sportsnet's Jeff Simmons) claiming there were rumblings of Malkin's growing frustration with the Penguins. CSNBayArea.com's Kevin Kurz said the Sharks have the cap space to absorb Malkin's $9.5 million cap hit. He suggested a package offer with defenseman Brent Burns as the centerpiece.
Analysis: The Pittsburgh Post Gazette's Dave Molinari reported Malkin's agent said he doesn't know where rumors of his client's unhappiness are coming from. Assuming Malkin wants a trade and the Sharks make a pitch, the Penguins could want (in addition to Burns) an affordable young scoring winger and other assets to bolster their depth down the road.