The 10 Most Intriguing Trade Rumors in the NHL Right Now

Lyle Richardson@@SpectorsHockeyFeatured ColumnistNovember 17, 2015

The 10 Most Intriguing Trade Rumors in the NHL Right Now

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Approaching the quarter mark of the 2015-16 NHL schedule, several intriguing trade rumors are making the rounds. Stars such as San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau (pictured above) are among the notable names to surface in the rumor mill. 

    Some of the speculation involves teams looking to fill a particular need, like the Chicago Blackhawks searching for a defenseman. Others are ongoing conjecture over pending free agents like Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos. Several also involve young talent like Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene.

    The following slideshow ranks the 10 most intriguing trade rumors in the NHL right now, providing analysis and predicting their potential outcome. As always, feel free to weigh in with your opinions in the comments section below.

10. Sabres Looking for a Blueliner

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    The Rumor: On Nov. 3, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported the Buffalo Sabres have been seeking a left-handed defenseman since the 2015 NHL draft. 

    Analysis: The Anaheim Ducks' Cam Fowler, St. Louis Blues' Carl Gunnarsson and Tampa Bay Lightning's Matthew Carle recently surfaced in the NHL trade rumor mill. The Ducks, however, could be unwilling to move the 23-year-old Fowler. Gunnarsson's an unrestricted free agent at season's end, but the Blues don't seem in a hurry to move him. Carle carries a $5.25 million salary-cap hit and a modified no-trade clause. 

    Prediction: With little quality talent available, Sabres general manager Tim Murray will wait for the trade market to improve. Given his acquisition last season of Zach Bogosian from the Winnipeg Jets, he'll likely look for another blueliner who fits into his club's long-term plans. 

9. Blackhawks Still Seek a No. 4 Defenseman

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    The Rumor: On Nov.12, the Chicago Tribune's Chris Kuc reported a source claimed Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman is seeking a defenseman. Kuc stated they're in need of a consistent No. 4 blueliner.

    Analysis: The Blackhawks only have just over $39,000 in salary-cap room. Any trade Bowman makes will either be a salary dump or a dollar-for-dollar swap. Kuc believes they'll also have to move one of their depth defensemen plus a forward. 

    Prediction: Given the cap circumstances, Bowman could be waiting a while to find the right move. Any offers he's currently getting are likely from GMs trying to exploit his cap situation. A suitable deal might not come until closer to the Feb. 29 trade deadline.

8. Leafs Shopping Jake Gardiner?

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    The Rumor: On Nov. 14, the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch included Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner on his list of “blueliners being shopped.”

    Analysis: The goat of former Leafs coach Randy Carlyle, the 25-year-old Gardiner's confidence and performance has improved under new bench boss Mike Babcock. He's averaging over 19 minutes per game of ice time and seems comfortable as a top-four defenseman.

    Prediction: Gardiner's under contract for three more seasons at an annual salary-cap hit of $4.05 million. The Leafs will likely see how he plays over the course of this season before deciding on his future in Toronto.

7. Interest Growing in Cam Ward

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    Ellen Ozier/Associated Press

    The Rumor: On Nov. 7, the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reported a couple of teams have interest in Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward. He didn't indicate the identity of those clubs.

    Analysis: Ward, 31, is eligible for unrestricted free agency next July. His current salary-cap hit is $6.3 million, plus he has a full no-trade clause. In 14 games, Ward's record is currently 5-6-2, with a 2.52 goals-against average and .898 save percentage.

    Prediction: With backup Eddie Lack struggling, the Hurricanes have little choice but to stick with Ward if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive. Given his contract, he won't be dealt until close to the Feb. 29 trade deadline. That move will depend upon where the Hurricanes are in the standings and if Ward is willing to accept a trade. 

6. Could the Rangers Move Keith Yandle?

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    Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

    The Rumor: On Nov.11, the New York Post's Larry Brooks suggested defenseman Keith Yandle's long-term future with the New York Rangers wasn't a sure thing. Yandle, 29, is eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency.

    Analysis: Brooks claims there's no indication the Rangers will trade Yandle if he doesn't sign a contract extension. Of course, it's also still early in the season. If he's still unsigned as the trade deadline nears, they could entertain trade offers for him.

    Prediction: Much will depend upon Yandle's performance over the remainder of this season, as well as his asking price. Considering what they gave up to get him from the Arizona Coyotes last season (winger Anthony Duclair and a draft-protected 2016 first-round pick), the Rangers could retain him for the playoffs, even at the risk of losing him to free agency in July.

5. Teams Calling About Ryan Johansen

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    Paul Vernon/Associated Press

    The Rumor: On Nov. 12, TSN's Darren Dreger reported teams were contacting the Columbus Blue Jackets to inquire about center Ryan Johansen. 

    Analysis: Dreger stated Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen isn't shopping Johansen. He doubted Kekalainen has any interest in moving the 23-year-old center. It seems teams are checking in because the Jackets are struggling to gain ground in the standings. Dreger also suggested such a move would be a multi-piece deal.

    Prediction: Though Johansen's off to a slow start by his standards, he remains the Blue Jackets' franchise player and first-line center. Unless he demands a trade, Kekalainen's not shopping him.

4. Matt Duchene to the Senators?

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    Karl B DeBlaker/Associated Press

    The Rumor: On Nov. 12, TSN's Pierre LeBrun reported Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene had come up in the trade market. He cautioned it wasn't certain Duchene would be dealt, but his name was out there. Colleague Darren Dreger claimed Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic contacted the Ottawa Senators to gauge their interest in Duchene.

    Analysis: On Nov. 13, the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reported Senators GM Bryan Murray merely “kicked the tires” regarding Duchene. Garrioch also cited sources doubting the 24-year-old center will be dealt. On Nov. 15, the Denver Post's Mike Chambers reported Duchene wants to stay in Colorado.

    Prediction: Duchene's been on an offensive tear of late, with eight points in three games against Philadelphia, Boston and Montreal. Perhaps Sakic floated Duchene's name in the rumor mill to light a fire under him. If so, mission accomplished. Duchene's also carrying a $6 million salary-cap hit, making his contract difficult to move at this point in the season. 

3. Should the Flyers Trade Claude Giroux?

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    The Rumor: On Nov. 13, Philadelphia Daily News columnist Sam Donnellon suggested the Philadelphia Flyers trade center Claude Giroux while his value remains high.

    Analysis: Donnellon noted the Flyers are in the midst of a painful, necessary rebuild. Giroux will be in his 30s and perhaps past his playing prime when their young players reach their NHL prime. He suggested moving the Flyers captain for more depth at forward.

    Prediction: Flyers general manager Ron Hextall won't take Donnellon's advice. Instead, he'll try to shed some salary by the Feb. 29 trade deadline and in the offseason. He'll use those cap savings to bring up some young defensemen and perhaps add an affordable scoring forward. Giroux will be a Flyer for a long time.

2. Patrick Marleau to the Ducks, Kings or Rangers?

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    LM Otero/Associated Press

    The Rumor: On Nov 10, CSN Bay Area's Kevin Kurz reported a source claimed long-time San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau would accept a trade to the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings or New York Rangers. Marleau has a full no-movement clause, giving him control over potential trade destinations.

    Analysis: Marleau declined to comment on the report. On Nov. 12, the San Jose Mercury News' Mark Purdy doubted Sharks general manager Doug Wilson will trade the veteran forward to a California rival unless the deal was simply too good to pass up. The New York Post's Larry Brooks dismissed the notion of Marleau joining the Rangers.

    Prediction: The Ducks have the cap space to absorb Marleau's $6.6 million cap hit, but they're under a self-imposed cap ceiling. The Kings and Rangers lack sufficient room to take on his contract. If he wants to be traded this season, he must broaden his list of destinations. 

1. Steven Stamkos to Be Dealt by the Trade Deadline?

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    Mike Carlson/Getty Images

    The rumor: On Nov. 14, the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reported there's a belief Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman could trade center Steven Stamkos if he's not re-signed before the Feb. 29 trade deadline. Stamkos, 25, is eligible in July for unrestricted free agency.

    Analysis: Garrioch noted Stamkos also has a full no-movement clause, making him difficult to move. There's been no reports of progress in contract talks between the Lightning and their captain. Both sides are keeping negotiations out of the media.

    Prediction: Having come so close to winning the Stanley Cup last season, Yzerman and Stamkos want to go for it again in 2016. Even if Stamkos is unsigned by the trade deadline, Yzerman will retain his captain for the playoffs and take his chances on re-signing him in the offseason.

    Stats via Salary info via General Fanager.