The NHL draft starts on June 22, which means the trade rumor mill is starting to pick up the pace.
That first domino hasn't fallen yet—it seems like it always takes one big piece to crash down before the rest topple—but with all the rumblings going on, it seems like it's only a matter of time until it does.
And once it finally falls, who knows what kinds of swaps we could see.
With some teams looking to move up in the draft, and others trying to solidify roster positions, general managers are working hard to try to make their organizations better. Anyone looking to make said improvements via trade has numerous options available.
Chicago Blackhawks Could Be Looking at Justin Faulk as a Trade Target
In 2017-18, the Chicago Blackhawks missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008. With a handful of high-end players still in place, you can bet that general manager Stan Bowman is doing everything he can to patch the holes that exist on his team.
The biggest issue Chicago had during the regular season—aside from Corey Crawford missing the final 47 games of the year—was a leaky blue line. Duncan Keith is still strong on the back end, but he didn't have a lot of support to work with.
Brent Seabrook is a shade of the player he once was, and saying that the Connor Murphy experiment didn't go as planned would be an understatement.
That has reportedly led Bowman to at least kick the tires on Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk.
That's according to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times, who reported on Tuesday:
"One target in particular Bowman has inquired about is the Hurricanes' Justin Faulk, two league sources said. Faulk, a 26-year-old right-handed shot, could form an elite top pairing with Duncan Keith and would improve a power play that was the third-worst in the league last season. Faulk has two years left on his contract and carries a cap hit of $4.83 million.
"Faulk wouldn't come cheap, though. The Hurricanes, seeking to shake things up under new ownership and first-year coach Rod Brind'Amour, have their eye on Brandon Saad, one league source said. The theoretical deal—and it's important to emphasize it's all theoretical at this point—would be for more than just Faulk."
It sounds like a massive deal could be brewing between two clubs that are looking to shake things up after disappointing seasons. Saad in Carolina? Faulk in Chicago? That's the kind of blockbuster that could open floodgates around the league.
Nashville Predators Won't Be Trading P.K. Subban
Most teams in the NHL could use another top-four defenseman. One organization that has them in spades is the Nashville Predators, so it seems like one of their blueliners is always involved in the rumor mill in some way, shape or form.
In recent weeks, some odd rumors have appeared regarding the possibility of a P.K. Subban trade. General manager David Poile nipped those in the bud on Wednesday, though, preventing them from taking on a life of their own as we approach the draft.
He spoke to Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic and emphatically denied he had even had conversations about moving Subban: "You see tweets from different places, but that's not happening. Nobody has even called me about him. P.K. played terrific this year. He played really well. He's a really good player. He's one of the three candidates for the Norris Trophy. I really don't know where this comes from."
Sometimes, GMs end up swapping players they say they aren't shopping, but it's difficult to imagine a scenario wherein Poile would pull the trigger on a Subban trade. He has four years left on his contract, and while Ryan Ellis will need a new deal next summer and Roman Josi the year after, moving Subban now to make room for those extensions wouldn't make a lot of sense.
There's no reason to believe Poile, the longest-tenured general manager in the NHL, is throwing up a smokescreen here.
Edmonton Oilers Confident They Can Trade Milan Lucic
When rumors began to surface that the Edmonton Oilers were looking into possible Milan Lucic trade scenarios, the hockey hive mind scoffed at the notion.
The forward's seven-year, $42 million deal has been ridiculed since the moment it was signed in 2016, and it appeared to be an albatross that would likely outlast general manager Peter Chiarelli's tenure in Alberta.
Worse players on crummier contracts have been traded in the past, though, and reports indicate that the Oilers are confident that they will find a taker for Lucic.
"Well, you know it sounds to me like—and I haven't spoken to anyone in Edmonton—but it sounds to me from the people who have kind of either spoken to them or spoken to teams who have spoken to them that the Oilers are somewhat confident that they're going to be able to do this. I'm not there. I assumed there was going to have to be a sweetener, whether a draft pick or eating money, or taking back a bad contract. But it sounds like Edmonton is reasonably confident."
He went on to talk about teams that could be interested in the power forward, listing the Vancouver Canucks, Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars as suitors. It's important to remember that Lucic holds a majority of the power here, however, as he has a no-movement clause tacked on to his huge pact.