The Biggest Trade Candidates in the 2017-18 NHL Season

Lyle Richardson@@SpectorsHockeyFeatured ColumnistAugust 17, 2017

The Biggest Trade Candidates in the 2017-18 NHL Season

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    It's quiet in the NHL trade market, but business will pick up over the course of 2017-18. Trade candidates include such notables as Colorado Avalanche forwards Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog.

    Some players, such as Duchene and Landeskog, were mentioned as trade bait last season. Dan Rosen of was among those who reported the Avs pair could have been moved prior to the trade deadline. Others, such as Detroit Red Wings defenseman Mike Green, are unrestricted free agents who could be moved before the trade deadline if their team is out of playoff contention.

    The following slideshow lists the biggest trade candidates in the 2017-18 season. You can express your thoughts on this topic in the comments section below.

Mike Green, Detroit Red Wings

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    Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

    Entering the final season of his contract with the retooling Detroit Red Wings, Green is a trade candidate. If the Wings are out of playoff contention before this season's trade deadline, he could be shopped to postseason contenders as a rental player.

    Green, 31, isn't the offensive force he was earlier in his career. However, he remains an effective puck-moving blueliner. In 72 games, he tallied a respectable 14 goals and 36 points for a Wings roster whose 2.41 goals for per game ranked 26th last season.

    That kind of production could prove enticing to clubs in need of blue-line offense. Green's $6 million salary-cap hit, however, is too hefty for most teams to comfortably absorb. His no-trade clause also makes moving him difficult.

    Given Green's value to Detroit's defense corps, they're unlikely to move him early in the season. On Aug. 9, Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press speculated the Red Wings could peddle Green before the trade deadline if they are unable to re-sign him.

Jacob Trouba, Winnipeg Jets

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    Prior to signing a two-year contract with the Winnipeg Jets last November, uncertainty over defenseman Jacob Trouba's future made him the subject of trade speculation that general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff addressed during a press conference. With his contract expiring at the end of 2017-18, the 23-year-old blueliner's name could resurface in the rumor mill. 

    A skilled all-around defenseman, Trouba told TSN last September he had requested a trade because he felt he wasn't getting enough playing time on the right side of the Winnipeg blue line (h/t Two months later, he rescinded his request and signed a new deal with the club.

    Thereafter, Trouba netted career highs in assists (25) and points (33). He also finished second on the Jets in time on ice per game, averaging 24 minutes and 57 seconds. He's quickly blossoming into a reliable top-pairing blueliner.

    Another strong performance this season would put Trouba in line for a significant raise over his $2.8 million annual salary-cap hit. If his contract demands prove too expensive, the Jets could be forced to consider moving him, especially if they are outside the playoff picture by the 2018 trade deadline.

James Neal, Vegas Golden Knights

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    Right wing James Neal was among the most notable players the Vegas Golden Knights selected in this year's NHL expansion draft. But with only a year remaining on his contract and unrestricted free agency beckoning next July, the Knights could be forced to trade him before the 2018 NHL trade deadline.

    Neal is a reliable, physical forward who's exceeded 20 goals in each of his nine NHL seasons. The 6'2", 221-pounder doesn't shy away from the heavy-traffic areas along the boards and in front of the net, using his big frame to create scoring chances.

    Turning 30 on Sept. 3, Neal is approaching the stage when his skills will begin to decline. Skating with the expansion Golden Knights will limit his chances of playing for a postseason contender. After featuring in the most recent Stanley Cup Final with the Nashville Predators, he could be keen for another shot at a championship.

    Vegas is unlikely to qualify for the playoffs in its inaugural season. If Neal would prefer to head to free agency next summer, the team could peddle him for draft picks or prospects before the trade deadline.

James van Riemsdyk, Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Eligible for unrestricted free agency next July, Toronto Maple Leafs left wing James van Riemsdyk could cash in big on his next contract. But if the 28-year-old proves too expensive for the Leafs to retain, he could be moved ahead of this season's NHL trade deadline.

    A big, skilled offensive winger, the 6'3", 210-pound Van Riemsdyk reached career highs in assists (33) and points (62) last season. His 29 goals marked the fourth time in his nine NHL seasons he's reached or exceeded the 20-goal plateau.

    In his playing prime and entering his contract year, Van Riemsdyk could earn a significant raise over his annual average salary of $4.25 million. But with rising young stars Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner due significant pay raises within the next two years, the Leafs could find it difficult to retain him.

    Should Toronto remain a playoff contender this season, it would likely hang on to Van Riemsdyk—even at the risk of losing him for nothing to free agency in July. But if they're out of the postseason chase by the trade deadline, the Leafs could consider moving him.

Justin Faulk, Carolina Hurricanes

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    The Carolina Hurricanes possess a deep core of talented young defensemen. However, the need to bolster their scoring punch at center could force them to use Justin Faulk as a trade chip. 

    Entering his seventh NHL season, the 25-year-old Faulk is the most experienced member of the Hurricanes blue line and one of the club's alternate captains. A smooth-skating defenseman with a right-handed shot, he reached or exceeded 32 points in each of the past four seasons.

    Last season, however, Faulk was overshadowed by rising young rearguards Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce and Noah Hanifin. Should they continue to improve, and if Haydn Fleury also cracks the roster this term, Faulk could become a trade candidate.

    On Aug. 6,'s Tom Gulitti speculated the Hurricanes could draw upon their defensive depth to bring in a playmaking center. Signed through 2019-20 with an affordable $4.8 million annual salary-cap hit, Faulk could attract considerable interest in the trade market.

Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Leading up to the most recent NHL trade deadline, Landeskog surfaced as a possible trade candidate. While the speculation has since died down, the 24-year-old left wing could be on the move this season if the Colorado Avalanche continue to struggle.

    With only 33 points in 72 games, Landeskog had his worst performance over a full NHL season last term. It likely had an adverse effect upon his trade value. For the Avalanche to progress in 2017-18, they will need a more inspired effort from their captain.

    Landeskog's contract could also explain why he wasn't moved last season. He's signed through 2020-21 with an annual salary-cap hit of over $5.57 million. That's a hefty deal for many teams to absorb.

    A bounce-back performance by the Swede would make him attractive to clubs seeking a physical offensive presence at left wing. If the Avalanche management decides to rebuild this season, Landeskog could land on the trade block before his modified no-trade clause kicks in next July.

Evander Kane, Buffalo Sabres

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    Paul Vernon/Associated Press

    Since last summer, Buffalo Sabres left wing Evander Kane has been a fixture in the NHL trade rumor mill. That speculation likely won't die down in 2017-18. 

    Kane, 26, is eligible for unrestricted free-agent status in July. His 28-goal performance last season improved his value in the trade market. On June 6, WGR 550's Howard Simon suggested this offseason could be the right time to move Kane for a defenseman. However, the Sabres addressed their blue-line needs on June 30 by acquiring Marco Scandella from the Minnesota Wild. 

    That hasn't stopped the media chatter regarding Kane. On Aug. 11, TSN analyst Darren Dreger, appearing on WGR 550, suggested the Kane rumors could resume once the season starts (h/t FanRag Sports' Chris Nichols).

    Much will depend upon Kane's performance and his intentions regarding free agency. If he decides to test the market, the Sabres could attempt to move him before the trade deadline if they are once again out of playoff contention.

Matt Duchene, Colorado Avalanche

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    The Colorado Avalanche's struggles in 2016-17 made Duchene the subject of trade speculation. The 26-year-old center will enter this season as the player considered most likely to be dealt. 

    During June's NHL draft weekend and into early July, it was anticipated Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic would shop Duchene. On July 1, BSN Denver's Adrian Dater reported Sakic refused to lower his asking price. It's believed he wants a young, established top-four defenseman as part of the return.

    Duchene's contract and performance last season are also sticking points. He's signed through 2018-19 at an annual salary-cap hit of $6 million. He endured his worst performance over a full NHL campaign last time out, netting just 41 points in 77 games.

    Teams with an interest in Duchene will likely wait and see how well he performs this season before seriously pursuing a deal. A significant improvement in his production could boost his value in the trade market, making him enticing for clubs seeking scoring depth. 


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