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NHL Rumors: Trade Buzz on Patrik Laine, Marc-Andre Fleury and Jake DeBrusk

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistOctober 9, 2020

Winnipeg Jets' Patrik Laine, of Finland, plays against the Columbus Blue Jackets during an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

On the heels of the Tampa Bay Lightning winning the 2020 Stanley Cup, the NHL offseason is off and running, and teams are taking steps to improve their rosters.

The 2020 NHL draft has come and gone, and free agency is kicking off Friday, which means there will be no shortage of player movement in the coming days.

A handful of significant trades went down before and during the draft, but there are still several big-name players who can be had on the trade market, especially if teams strike out in free agency.

Here is a look at the latest rumors surrounding some of the top players who may be on the move this offseason.

          

Patrik Laine

Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine has long been an offensive dynamo, but the team could be ready to move on from the 2016 No. 2 overall draft pick.

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According to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, the Jets are "going to try" to move the 22-year-old, but doing so could be "complicated" for several reasons.

For one, Laine can become a restricted free agent at the conclusion of the 2020-21 season, meaning any team that acquires him could be bringing in a rental if they can't come to terms on a new deal, and that could prevent teams from offering the type of trade package Winnipeg desires.

The Finn is also a liability on the defensive end, although he is one of the top snipers in the NHL when he is on his game.

He scored at least 30 goals in each of his first three NHL seasons and would have hit that mark last season as well if not for the regular season getting cut short due to COVID-19. Even so, Laine finished with 28 goals in 68 games and added a career-high 35 assists for 63 points.

His best season unquestionably came in 2017-18 when he scored a career-high 44 goals and 70 points. He also added 12 points in 17 playoff games that season.

There are plenty of NHL teams that need a pure goal scorer to complement a playmaking center, and there are none available via trade or free agency with more pure ability than Laine.

Winnipeg would likely prefer to change the makeup of its team after the 2019-20 season didn't go as well as hoped, but the Jets shouldn't part with Laine unless they come away with fair compensation.

         

Marc-Andre Fleury

After signing Robin Lehner to a five-year contract, it is clear that the Vegas Golden Knights are ready to cut ties with veteran goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.

According to TSN's Frank Seravalli, Vegas is "trying hard" to move Fleury and is attempting to get creative in order to do so. One possibility the Golden Knights are considering is adding a third team to a trade involving Fleury and having that team eat part of his salary.

In exchange, the Golden Knights are reportedly prepared to offer that broker team a second-round pick, of which they own two in the 2021 NHL draft.

Fleury is signed through the 2021-22 season, so a team that acquires him won't have to commit to him long-term, but making room for his $7 million salary-cap hit won't be easy unless a third team is willing to take on some of that cap hit.

While Fleury will be 36 years old when the 2020-21 season begins, he played well enough last season to suggest he still has something left in the tank.

In 49 appearances, including 48 starts, he went 27-16-5 with a 2.77 goals-against average, .905 save percentage and five shutouts.

He won 35 games with a 2.51 GAA, .913 save percentage and eight shutouts in 2018-19, and in his first season with the expansion Golden Knights in 2017-18, Fleury posted a 2.24 GAA and .927 save percentage, and led Vegas to the Stanley Cup Final in its inaugural season.

Given his experience and the fact that he has put up good numbers in recent years, Fleury could be a huge addition to a quality team in need of a goaltending upgrade, but his cap number is such that Vegas might have to essentially give him away in order to unload him.

            

Jake DeBrusk

The Boston Bruins reportedly involved forward Jake DeBrusk in trade talks leading up to and during the first round of the 2020 NHL draft.

According to Jimmy Murphy of Boston Hockey Now, the Bruins dangled the 23-year-old in an effort to trade into the first round of the draft, but no team was willing to take the bait.

DeBrusk is still on the roster, but Boston's willingness to part with him could mean that he remains on the block and up for trade.

In his three seasons with Boston, he has been a solid contributor. He finished with 19 goals and 16 assists for 35 points in 65 games last season on the heels of a career year in 2018-19 when he scored a career-high 27 goals and recorded 42 points.

Boston made DeBrusk the No. 14 overall pick in the 2015 NHL draft, and although he is far from a superstar, a young player with a 27-goal season on their resume is often in demand in the NHL.

The Bruins' interest in trading DeBrusk has to do with his status as a restricted free agent. After having a cap hit of just over $860,000 last season, he is in line for a substantial raise.

A team won't necessarily have to break the bank to re-sign DeBrusk, but the dollars add up for a contending team like Boston, especially when it is trying to keep its core roster together for as long as possible.

The likelihood of a DeBrusk trade may have lessened in the wake of the draft, but if Boston wants to move him, there will surely be some suitors for the right price.

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