With Lord Stanley once again residing in Pittsburgh, all 31(!) of the NHL's teams can now fully shift their focus to the offseason.
The arrival of the Vegas Golden Knights means things will be going a little differently for general managers around the NHL. Not only do they have to worry about free agency, trades and the draft but also the potential of losing players in the upcoming expansion draft.
That has everyone across the league a little bit on edge. With that in mind, let's take a look at a few trade rumors going around the NHL as teams prepare themselves for the new normal.
Rangers Out on Ilya Kovalchuk
Kovalchuk, a three-time All-Star and former cornerstone of the New Jersey Devils, has not played in the NHL since the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign. He retired in July 2013 from the NHL and has spent the last four years playing for SKA Saint Petersburg in Russia.
With his contract with Saint Petersburg expiring, Kovalchuk is said to be pushing for an NHL return.
The likelihood of that being with the Devils, however, appears slim. Kovalchuk has been the subject of trade rumors since his return became public knowledge. The Devils own his rights, meaning he would have to sign with the team, which would then trade him.
Igor Eronko of Sport-Express reported the New York Rangers are not a potential destination. That shouldn't come as much of a surprise because the Devils and Rangers working together on a trade of this magnitude would be completely out of the norm. The two are rivals competing for a fanbase in the same general part of the country.
Allowing longtime Devils fans a chance to see a former franchise cornerstone one state over would be a misfire. That said, Kovalchuk's next contract and trade haul is going to be mighty interesting given he's been out of the league for nearly a half decade.
Bruins Targeting Jonas Brodin
One name whose potential move is 100 percent linked to the expansion draft is Minnesota Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin, a 23-year-old under contract for the next four years at $4.166 million. The Wild have a deep defensive core that would likely make Brodin the odd man out in the June 21 expansion draft, where he'd be a surefire selection for the building Knights.
Reed Duthie of OHL Hockey reported the Boston Bruins may try to solve Minnesota's problem by sending a first-round pick to the Wild for Brodin. The Bruins need help on the defensive side and would make for a natural long-term home for Brodin.
Captain Zdeno Chara, 40, isn't getting any younger, and it's possible the Bs will lose a player like Adam McQuaid in the expansion draft.
"We have a lot of work to do as an organization, still," Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said, per Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com. "We want to become a deeper, more talented team from top to bottom. Taking one step forward, in my opinion, is not successful. It's a good step, but we have work to do in a lot of areas that we want to continue to get better."
Brodin finished last season with 25 points, including three goals, and is a long-term fit on a second pairing.