NHL Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz on Rasmus Ristolainen, Torey Krug and More

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJune 26, 2019

BUFFALO, NY - FEBRUARY 10: Rasmus Ristolainen #55 of the Buffalo Sabres during the game against the Winnipeg Jets at KeyBank Center on February 10, 2019 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images)
Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images

With the NHL draft in the rearview mirror and free agency set to begin, the trade market is coming into focus and teams are looking to shake things up significantly entering the 2019-20 season.

There have already been a few major trades, including defenseman P.K. Subban going from the Nashville Predators to the New Jersey Devils, but there could be more to come since the free-agent market isn't particularly stacked with high-end talent.

Here is a look at the top players who may be on the move with free agency approaching.


Rasmus Ristolainen

The Buffalo Sabres are in the midst of the NHL's longest active playoff drought, which means the team may be open to some big moves in an effort to return to contention in the Eastern Conference.

Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen has been at the forefront of trade rumors since last season, and they appear to be heating up even more.

Appearing on WGR 550 in Buffalo, Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports said that the Sabres are "shopping Rasmus Ristolainen hard." Lavoie added that he has not heard anything about Ristolainen requesting a trade.

The 24-year-old Ristolainen is signed for three more years at a reasonably average annual salary of $5.4 million.

Risto has registered at least 40 points in each of the past four campaigns. Last season, the Finn racked up five goals and 38 assists for 43 points, but his minus-41 rating was the worst in the NHL. In six NHL seasons, Ristolainen has never posted a plus-minus better than minus-9.

While the 2013 first-round pick is a quality puck mover and an asset on the power play, his defensive deficiencies are obvious, and they may be holding the Sabres back. With 2018 No. 1 overall pick Rasmus Dahlin showing as a rookie that he can be a stud No. 1 defenseman in the NHL, there is little holding Buffalo back from moving Ristolainen.

Buffalo is in desperate need of secondary scoring, since they received little production from their forwards last season outside of Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart and Jeff Skinner.

While each of those players finished with 63 or more points and 22 or more goals, Conor Sheary was next among forwards on the team with just 34 points.

If the Sabres can land a quality second-line player in exchange for Ristolainen, it is a move general manager Jason Botterill has to make in hopes of helping Buffalo return to the postseason for the first time since 2010-11.


The Boston Bruins are reportedly listening to offers for defenseman Torey Krug, who is set to enter the final year of his contract in 2019-20.

According to Jimmy Murphy of Boston Hockey Now, the Detroit Red Wings, Vancouver Canucks, Minnesota Wild, Anaheim Ducks and Arizona Coyotes are among the teams that have inquired about Krug this offseason.

Murphy noted that while the Bruins are not actively shopping Krug, they are open to offers.

The 28-year-old Krug will make $5.25 million next season before being free to test the free-agent market.

Krug has been among the NHL's best and most consistent offensive defensemen in recent years. He has registered 50 or more points in three consecutive seasons, and he is coming off a 2018-19 campaign that saw him finish with six goals and 47 assists for 53 points along with a minus-two rating.

He was also effective during Boston's run to the Stanley Cup Final, as he finished with two goals and 16 assists for 18 points in 24 playoff games.

Krug had a career high in assists last season and a career high in goals (14) the season before, which suggests he is in his prime.

He also has 62 games of playoff experience to his credit, which makes him one of the most battle-tested defensemen potentially available this offseason.

There is risk involved with trading for Krug since he could leave in free agency after just one season, but Murphy noted that the Red Wings are considered a strong candidate to sign him as a free agent since he is a Michigan native, which means they could more compelled than other teams to give up assets for him.


Andre Burakovsky

There has reportedly been some interest in Washington Capitals restricted free agent winger Andre Burakovsky on the trade market.

According to Tarik El-Bashir of The Athletic, teams have been calling the Caps about Burakovsky, but they are not interested in giving up the 2013 first-round pick for little in return since they still see potential in him.

Burakovsky is a big (6'3", 201 lbs.), skilled winger with plenty of talent, but he hasn't been able to parlay that into a productive NHL season.

Since reaching career highs with 17 goals and 38 points in 2015-16, Burakovsky has actually regressed. He finished with just 35 points in 2016-17 and then 25 points in 56 games the following season. In 2018-19, Burakovsky had 25 points again even though he played in 20 more games than he did the previous season.

Burakovsky has been a plus player in each of his five NHL seasons, though, which makes him an ideal bottom-six forward who has the ability to pitch in some goals.

He also has 56 games of playoff experience and a Stanley Cup to his credit.

Burakovsky could potentially fill a greater role on a team that doesn't have as much forward depth as the Capitals, but he is a good fit in Washington, and there is little incentive for the Caps to trade him since they likely won't have to break the bank to re-sign him given his modest statistical output.