Hypothetical Trades Based on the Hottest NHL Trade Rumors
The NHL's holiday trade freeze begins on Dec. 19. With notable players like Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (pictured above) and Columbus Blue Jackets pivot Ryan Johansen popping up in recent trade rumors, it's a good time to put together some hypothetical transactions.
These deals are based on the latest trade speculations. Player skill, roster depth, contract status and salary factored into this compilation. We'll examine how these moves could address the respective lineups for the teams involved.
As always, feel free to weigh in with your opinions in the comment section below.
Cam Fowler for Evander Kane
Basis: The Sabres need skilled blue-line depth, and the Ducks need a true first-line left wing. On Nov. 21, Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News reported Sabres general manager Tim Murray was interested in Fowler.
Analysis: Though the Sabres only acquired Kane last season, it takes talent to land talent. Fowler, who turns 24 on Dec. 5, could fill that first-pairing defense role the Sabres currently need. Kane could finally reach his full potential playing alongside Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. To entice the budget-minded Ducks, the Sabres could also pick up part of Kane's $5.25 million annual cap hit.
Travis Hamonic for Jacob Trouba
Basis: Hamonic, a Manitoba native, requested a trade close to home for family reasons. On Nov. 30, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman (via colleague Mike Johnston) said he believes there's a deal to be made between the Islanders and Jets. However, it could involve the Jets parting with Trouba.
Analysis: The 25-year-old Hamonic and the 22-year-old Trouba are somewhat similar in style. Hamonic has a little more experience and carries an affordable $3.857 million annual cap hit through 2019-20. Trouba's coming off his entry-level deal. He could seek more than the budget-conscious Jets can afford, especially if they hope to re-sign Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd.
Ryan Johansen to the Minnesota Wild
Hypothetical trade: The Columbus Blue Jackets trade center Ryan Johansen and winger Cam Atkinson to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for defenseman Jonas Brodin and center Charlie Coyle.
Basis: On Nov. 28, the Star Tribune's Michael Russo suggested the Wild pursue Johansen if the Blue Jackets are indeed shopping him. He believes the Wild need a first-line center. He noted the Jackets need a defenseman and wondered if the Wild would part with Brodin or Matt Dumba. He also voiced concerns over the Wild's financial future when Johansen's due for a big raise.
Analysis: Johansen fills the first-line center role for the Wild. Brodin gives the Blue Jackets a skilled puck-moving blueliner. Adding Coyle helps fill the void at center for the Jackets in Johansen's absence. Atkinson adds depth to the Wild's wings. Johansen's and Atkinson's combined salary ($7.5 million) is an even swap for that of Brodin's and Coyle's combined $7.366 million.
Eric Staal to the Montreal Canadiens
Hypothetical trade: The Carolina Hurricanes trade forward Eric Staal to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for forward Lars Eller and goaltender Zachary Fucale. The Hurricanes also pick up part of Staal's remaining cap hit.
Basis: Staal is eligible for unrestricted free agency in July. Rather than re-sign the 31-year-old, the Hurricanes could trade him. He must first waive his no-movement clause. On Nov. 30, Pierre LeBrun appeared on TSN 1200 (via Chris Nichols of Today's Slapshot) and suggested the Canadiens as a possible trade destination for Staal.
Analysis: Staal could be a valuable playoff rental near the trade deadline for the Canadiens. Freeing up Eller's salary gives the Habs room to pursue another forward via free agency in July, as well. Eller is signed through 2017-18 at an affordable $3.5 million. He could reach his offensive potential with the Hurricanes. Fucale won't get a starter's job in Montreal, but he could earn one in Carolina.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for Shea Weber
Hypothetical trade: The Edmonton Oilers ship center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and their first-round pick in 2016 to the Nashville Predators for defenseman Shea Weber.
Basis: The Oilers desperately need a top-two defenseman, while the Predators need a good young center for one of their top-two forward lines. On Nov. 26, the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson suggested shipping Nugent-Hopkins to the Predators. He points out Weber lacks a no-trade clause.
Analysis: Weber's earning an annual cap hit of over $7.857 million, and Nugent-Hopkins is earning $6 million, so the financials could work for both clubs. Weber becomes the blue-line stud and leader the Oilers need. Nugent-Hopkins provides long-term depth at center for the Predators. He could fit in well alongside young winger Filip Forsberg.