8 Realistic Trades We Could See at the 2020 NHL Draft
The NHL draft tends to see significant trade activity. It's the period when teams have the most salary-cap space, as well as the best opportunity for general managers to meet and discuss possible deals involving established players.
As the offseason draws nearer, several players have surfaced in media-generated rumor chatter. The notables include Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray, Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba and Montreal Canadiens forward Max Domi.
The 2020 NHL draft could be among the busiest for player trades in league history. With the salary cap remaining at $81.5 million for 2020-21, cap-strapped clubs such as the Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning could attempt to shed salary.
Those teams could be targeted by clubs with plenty of cap space in hopes of landing quality players. The Canadiens and Ottawa Senators could fall into that category. Meanwhile, teams like the Wild, Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets could be in the market to address roster weaknesses.
Here's a look at eight realistic trades we could see at this year's NHL draft.
Josh Anderson to the Montreal Canadiens
Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin has been very active in the trade market in September, acquiring goaltender Jake Allen and defenseman Joel Edmundson. Having bolstered his goaltending and blue-line depth, Bergevin could be in the market for a scoring forward. Columbus Blue Jackets right winger Josh Anderson would be a good fit.
Anderson, 26, missed all but 26 games in 2019-20 to shoulder surgery. The 6'3", 222-pound winger has power-forward potential, tallying a career-high 27 goals and 47 points in 2018-19. He's a restricted free agent with arbitration rights completing a three-year contract worth an annual average value of $1.85 million.
With $74.5 million invested in 22 players and first-line center Pierre-Luc Dubois due for a raise, the Jackets will find it difficult to re-sign Anderson. They could get some cap relief if sidelined forward Brandon Dubinsky ($5.9 million for 2020-21) remains on long-term injury reserve, but the Jackets could put that money toward boosting their depth at center.
The Canadiens, meanwhile, have $10.2 million in cap space with all their core players under contract next season. They can afford to acquire Anderson and sign him to a new deal.
The Jackets' salary constraints mean they could attempt to trade Anderson for draft picks and/or prospects. With three picks in the second round and three in the fourth round of this year's draft, Bergevin could be in a good position to make a competitive bid for Anderson.
Max Domi to the Winnipeg Jets
The lack of a skilled second-line center factored into the Winnipeg Jets' struggles during the regular season and their qualifying-round exit at the hands of the Calgary Flames. With center Bryan Little facing an uncertain future after missing most of this season with an ear injury, Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff could turn to the trade market for help.
One option could be Max Domi. The Montreal Canadiens center struggled through a 44-point performance this season after enjoying a career-high 72-point effort in 2018-19. Domi, 25, spent time centering the fourth line during the playoffs. The rise of young centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi could make him the odd man out.
Domi is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights coming off a two-year contract worth an annual average value of $3.2 million. He could end up on the trade block if his contract negotiations become difficult.
The Canadiens could seek a promising forward in return for Domi. Jets forward Jack Roslovic, who's completing an entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights, could be the Habs' asking price.
With $65.9 million invested in 13 players, Cheveldayoff could afford to acquire and sign Domi. His playmaking skills could provide sniper Patrik Laine with the setup man he's been lacking over the past two seasons.
Matt Dumba to the Toronto Maple Leafs
The lack of a skilled top-four, right-side defenseman remains a significant issue for the Toronto Maple Leafs. With $75.4 million invested in 18 players for 2020-21, general manager Kyle Dubas cannot afford to address that issue via free agency. He could instead look into acquiring Minnesota Wild blueliner Matt Dumba.
Dumba, 26, is coming off a 24-point effort in 69 games in 2019-20. That's well below his career-high 50-point performance in 2017-18, though it could be attributable in part to recovery from pectoral surgery that cost him all but 32 games last season.
The Wild's recent re-signing of rearguard Jonas Brodin to a seven-year, $42-million contract extension casts doubt on Dumba's future in Minnesota. Of their top-four defensemen, he's the only one without a no-movement clause. Unless the Wild protect those four, they risk losing Dumba to the Seattle Kraken in next year's expansion draft.
On Sept. 16, Wild GM Bill Guerin sang Dumba's praises, adding he hasn't fielded many calls for the blueliner and isn't in any rush to trade him. However, Guerin's trading Eric Staal to Buffalo for Marcus Johansson recently and his decision not to re-sign longtime captain Mikko Koivu creates a need for a first-line center in Minnesota.
That's where Dubas and the Leafs come in. If they want Dumba, William Nylander could be the asking price. He's a versatile forward who can play center or wing. Nylander's $7 million AAV is slightly higher than Dumba's $6 million. While Dubas could be reluctant to part with the young forward, it could be the only solution to finally address his blue-line issue.
Marc-Andre Fleury to the Carolina Hurricanes
Having lost the starting goalie job to Robin Lehner, Marc-Andre Fleury's tenure with the Vegas Golden Knights could be drawing to a close. If the Golden Knights re-sign Lehner, the 36-year-old Fleury could be heading to a new home. The Carolina Hurricanes would be a good option.
The Hurricanes tandem of Petr Mrazek and James Reimer sported a respectable 2.84 combined goals-against per game this season. However, neither is an established starting goaltender. Both could be better suited to backup roles at this stage in their careers.
If the Hurricanes are serious about becoming a Stanley Cup contender, they need to find an experienced starter. Fleury would address that need. He was a three-time Stanley Cup champion with the Pittsburgh Penguins. During the Golden Knights' inaugural season, he backstopped them to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final. Moving on to a new club could provide him with renewed motivation.
Fleury struggled at times this season, prompting the Golden Knights to acquire Lehner. However, he played well during his four playoff games this term, winning three of them and finishing with a 2.27 goals-against average and .910 save percentage. Fleury has a 10-team no-trade list, but the rising, young Hurricanes might not be on it.
The Hurricanes' $73.7 million cap hit leaves little room to take on Fleury's $7 million cap hit through 2021-22. However, they could free up almost half of that by sending Mrazek ($3.1 million) or Reimer ($3.4 million) the other way or by convincing Vegas to pick up half of Fleury's annual average value.
Alex Killorn to the Boston Bruins
The Tampa Bay Lightning face a cost-cutting situation in the offseason. With $76.2 million committed to 15 players, they must free up cap space to re-sign restricted free agents Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev. General manager Julien BriseBois could be forced to put Alex Killorn on the trade block.
Killorn, 31, is a skilled two-way left wing who sees plenty of playing time on the Lightning's special teams. He also carries an affordable $4.5 million cap hit for the next three seasons. BriseBois could be reluctant to part with Killorn, but his cap limitations could leave him no choice.
The Boston Bruins could find Killorn an enticing addition. They will be in the market for some blue-line help if they don't re-sign defenseman Torey Krug, but they could also use experienced, affordable depth at left wing.
Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk fill the top-two left wing positions, but the depth drops sharply beyond them. Joakim Nordstrom is likely to depart via free agency, while Anders Bjork is young and inexperienced. Killorn could provide a welcome measure of skilled depth, especially on their special teams.
If the Bruins feel their championship window remains open, Killorn would be a good fit, provided they are not on his 16-team no-trade list. Given the Lightning's cap situation, the Bruins shouldn't have to give up much to get him.
Darcy Kuemper to the Chicago Blackhawks
The Chicago Blackhawks could soon require a new starting goaltender. Longtime starter Corey Crawford is due to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9. He's completing a six-year deal worth an annual average value of $6 million.
If Crawford and the Blackhawks cannot negotiate a new deal with a lower cap hit, general manager Stan Bowman could search the trade market for help. An ideal target would be the Arizona Coyotes' Darcy Kuemper.
On Sept. 14, Arizona Coyotes Insider Craig Morgan reported he's getting the sense the Coyotes could trade Kuemper or Antti Raanta. Citing Kuemper's strong performance this season, Morgan believes the Coyotes won't want just draft picks or prospects in return, noting their need for an impact player like a top-six forward or top-four defenseman.
Kuemper is signed for the next two seasons with an annual salary-cap hit of $4.5 million. The 30-year-old goalie would be a cost-effective acquisition for the Blackhawks to replace Crawford.
With $73.7 million tied up in 17 players and Calder Trophy finalist Dominik Kubalik to re-sign, Bowman would have to move some salary to fit Kuemper within the Blackhawks' payroll. Bowman could offer up winger Brandon Saad ($6 million), defenseman Olli Maatta ($4.1 million) or restricted free agent (and former Coyotes center) Dylan Strome as part of the return.
Matt Murray to the Ottawa Senators
Matt Murray's tenure with the Pittsburgh Penguins could come to an end at this year's NHL draft. On Sept. 2, TSN's Darren Dreger reported Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford is attempting to move the 26-year-old goaltender.
Murray is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights completing a three-year contract worth an annual salary-cap hit of $3.8 million. Having backstopped the Penguins to consecutive Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017, he could seek at least $6 million per season on a long-term deal.
The Penguins, however, have $75.4 million invested in 20 players. They must also re-sign goalie Tristan Jarry, who's also an RFA with arbitration rights. He would be more affordable and had better stats last season than Murray.
If Rutherford wants to unload Murray without taking back salary, the Ottawa Senators could be the club to call. They are in need of an experienced starting goaltender. The Sens also have only $41.9 million invested in 10 players next season and must spend to reach the $60.2 million cap minimum.
Assuming the Senators re-sign key players such as forwards Connor Brown, Chris Tierney and Anthony Duclair, they could still afford to acquire Murray and sign him to a lucrative deal. GM Pierre Dorion could also draw upon his club's depth in picks for this year's draft (including three in the first round and four in the second) to make an attractive bid.
Brandon Saad to the New Jersey Devils
The Chicago Blackhawks could be in need of shedding a salary to re-sign or replace some key players. That could make left wing Brandon Saad a trade candidate at this year's NHL draft.
With $73.7 million tied up in 17 players, Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has little cap space to re-sign restricted free agent forwards Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome and unrestricted free agent goaltender Corey Crawford. He could move Saad, who has a year remaining on his contract with a $6 million cap hit and a 10-team trade list for 2020-21.
If Bowman shops Saad to free up cap room, perhaps New Jersey Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald will come calling. The Devils have only $55.2 million invested in 13 players. Once they re-sign key players like goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood, Jesper Bratt and Mirco Mueller, they should have sufficient room to take on a player like Saad, provided the Devils aren't on his no-trade list.
The Devils lack experienced scoring depth, especially on the wings. Saad has been a consistent performer over the past seven seasons, netting at least 18 goals every year. He's a strong skater who plays a good two-way game and has plenty of postseason experience, including two Stanley Cup rings.
Saad could be a worthwhile short-term pickup for the Devils and could prove himself worthy of a long-term deal if he plays well next season. With the Blackhawks looking to shed salary, the asking price could be a draft pick or a prospect.