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NHL Rumors: Top Trade Buzz Surrounding Jeff Skinner, Bryan Bickell and More

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJuly 28, 2015

Carolina Hurricanes left wing Jeff Skinner (53) stands on the ice in the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers, Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

Player movement often reaches a standstill during the dog days of summer, but NHL general managers continue to work the phones in hopes of improving their teams ahead of the 2015-16 season.

While most of the top free agents are off the market, quality players can still be had via trade due largely to the fact that organizations are looking to alleviate salary-cap stress. Because of that, there are plenty of potential moves that could be made in the coming months.

As the NHL's offseason carries on, here is a rundown of some of the hottest trade rumors that could come to fruition in the near future.

Jeff Skinner

On the heels of his worst NHL season, skilled winger Jeff Skinner's future with the Carolina Hurricanes is no longer as secure as most previously thought it was.

The 23-year-old speedster put up just 18 goals and 31 points in 77 games last season after netting a career-high 33 goals the previous year. With Skinner carrying a cap hit of $5.725 million through the 2018-19 season, according to NHLNumbers.com, a trade is a definite possibility.

Per Luke DeCock of the News & Observer, the Canes have explored trade possibilities with regard to Skinner for well over a month.

Ken Campbell of the Hockey News initially reported in June that Skinner was on the block, and he expressed confidence that Carolina would find a way to deal him. That hasn't happened yet, but the market could open up as teams become more desperate to land an impact player.

Karl B DeBlaker/Associated Press

Although Skinner is a former first-round pick, Calder Trophy winner and All-Star, his stock is certainly down after such a trying year. According to Chip Alexander of the News & Observer, Skinner admitted that his struggles took a bit of a toll on his psyche as well.

"It's been a little frustrating for me, personally," Skinner said. "When you want to help the team win, for me, being a part of that is producing offensively. That's part of my job. So, yeah, it's a little frustrating."

While Skinner's confidence may be shaken to some degree, he is among the most dynamic offensive players in the league when he is firing on all cylinders.

It isn't outside the realm of possibility that Skinner could regain his 30-goal form if placed in a situation that allows him to play alongside some talented and creative linemates. Skinner could also bounce back in Carolina if the Hurricanes decide against trading him due to his immense talent.

If the Canes do ship him out of town, they'll undoubtedly be selling low, which is a move that could come back to bite them.

Bryan Bickell

Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press

The Chicago Blackhawks have been extremely busy this offseason in an attempt to ensure that they'll be compliant with the salary cap when the 2015-16 campaign begins, but they may not be done quite yet on the trade front.

According to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times, the reigning Stanley Cup champions have been actively shopping winger Bryan Bickell, although they have been unable to find any takers. With Bickell set to make $4.5 million over each of the next two years, per NHLNumbers.com, trading him would be a major coup in terms of creating cap flexibility.

Despite Chicago's obvious desire to move the 29-year-old veteran, Bickell expects to be a Blackhawk at the start of the upcoming season, according to Tracey Myers of CSNChicago.com:

I feel like I'm staying. I don't feel like I'm leaving. I feel comfortable and I'm sure they feel comfortable with what I bring to this team and what I need. I don't want to say I'm replaceable but hopefully I can stay. I'm looking to come here for training camp as a Blackhawk, and hopefully I can stay that way.

Bickell chipped in 14 goals and 14 assists in 80 games this past season, and he has proven to be an asset in the playoffs in the past, as evidenced by his nine goals in Chicago's 2013 run to the Stanley Cup.

With that said, Bickell is a supporting cast member rather than a featured player, and it is difficult to justify paying that type of player over $4 million.

If Chicago is going to find a landing spot for Bickell, then it will almost certainly have to retain some salary. That would provide some cap relief, but the Blackhawks can't afford to take on much dead money considering their current cap situation.

Dealing Bickell is the quickest way for Chicago to fix its financial situation; however, it may have to get even more creative due to what looks to be a general lack of interest across the NHL.

Flyers Defensemen

Matt Slocum/Associated Press

The Philadelphia Flyers have a glut of defensemen on their roster after agreeing to a two-year deal with Michael Del Zotto, but they are reportedly hoping to change that by consummating a trade involving one of their blueliners.

According to TheFourthPeriod.com, Mark Streit, Andrew MacDonald and Luke Schenn are all potential trade chips Philly would consider dealing if the right offer comes along.

Even so, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall admitted that the trade market has stalled to some degree, per Dave Isaac of the Courier-Post.

"Things are pretty quiet right now," Hextall said. "We know we've got some good defensemen and I'm sure we'll get calls, but sometimes you can't predict your timing. There's still some free agents out there and what not. I think some guys are probably taking some time off right now."

Teams are often looking for defensive help right up until the beginning of the season. The New York Islanders were a perfect example of that last year, as they traded for both Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy just prior to the start of the 2014-15 campaign.

That means Philly should be able to move at least one of its big-ticket defensemen in the coming months, although Hextall and the front office may have to be extremely patient in the meantime.

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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