8 NHL Stars Who Could Be Traded During the 2020-21 Season
The NHL trade market has been busy since the offseason began on Oct. 1. The 18 trades thus far involving established players include the Montreal Canadiens shipping Max Domi to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Josh Anderson, the Chicago Blackhawks dealing Brandon Saad to the Colorado Avalanche for Nikita Zadorov in a multi-player swap and the Ottawa Senators acquiring Matt Murray from the Pittsburgh Penguins.
That activity could be an indication of a busy trade market during the 2020-21 season. Several stars, including Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau and Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine, have featured prominently in media trade speculation.
Those players might not be moved during the offseason. However, the flattened salary cap and the pressure for general managers to address ongoing roster issues could see some of them change addresses before next season's NHL trade deadline.
Here's a look at eight NHL stars who could be traded during 2020-21.
Frederik Andersen, Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs' elimination from the qualifying round by the Columbus Blue Jackets generated speculation over a possible roster shakeup. Frederik Andersen was a frequent subject of trade chatter. The 30-year-old goaltender is due to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of 2020-21.
On Aug. 25, The Athletic's James Mirtle listed Andersen among several players the Leafs were reportedly dangling in the trade market. Five days later, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported the Carolina Hurricanes were interested in the Leafs starter.
The Andersen trade chatter has since died down. On Oct. 5, Sportsnet's Luke Fox reported that general manager Kyle Dubas insisted the netminder would still be a Leaf whenever the 2020-21 season begins. Dubas acknowledged the trade rumors but said he addressed the issue with Andersen. Nevertheless, Fox believes questions about his status will linger unless he re-signs with the Leafs or is traded.
Dubas won't trade Andersen now that the once-flooded offseason goalie pool has been drained of quality starters. However, that could change if a suitable replacement becomes available or if the Leafs are out of playoff contention by the trade deadline.
Matt Dumba, Minnesota Wild
Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin's been busy in the trade market since his club was eliminated from the qualifying round by the Vancouver Canucks. That's raised questions about Matt Dumba's future in Minnesota. On Sept. 24, TSN's Frank Seravalli listed the 26-year-old at No. 2 on his trade bait board, but The Athletic's Michael Russo reported six days later the Dumba trade talk had cooled.
Guerin traded Eric Staal to the Buffalo Sabres for Marcus Johansson, shipped goaltender Devan Dubnyk and forward Ryan Donato to the San Jose Sharks, acquired center Nick Bjugstad from the Pittsburgh Penguins and center Nick Bonino from the Nashville Predators. It's no wonder there was speculation suggesting Dumba could be next.
Dumba, 26, has three years remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $6 million. He's also the only Wild top-four defenseman lacking a no-movement clause, meaning he could be left exposed in next year's expansion draft if Guerin opts to protect more forwards than defensemen.
The Wild still need a scoring center despite Guerin's wheeling-and-dealing. Dumba's lack of no-trade protection and his puck-moving abilities will make him their most attractive trade chip in 2020-21.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Arizona Coyotes
Trade rumors dogged Arizona Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson soon after his club was eliminated from the first round of the 2020 playoffs by the Colorado Avalanche. The 29-year-old defenseman used his no-movement clause to ensure he will remain with the Coyotes, but that doesn't mean his name won't surface again in the rumor mill.
On Sep. 29, TSN's Darren Dreger reported the Boston Bruins and Edmonton Oilers were interested in Ekman-Larsson. Two days later, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported the Coyotes defenseman would waive his no-movement clause for the Bruins or the Vancouver Canucks.
Ekman-Larsson's camp set Oct. 9 as a deadline for the Coyotes to work out a trade with either club. While there was interest from both teams, Arizona Coyotes insider Craig Morgan reported the blueliner's agent, Kevin Epp, declared time was up when a deal wasn't reached by that deadline.
While Ekman-Larsson will start next season in Arizona, it's possible he could be moved at some point before the trade deadline. The Bruins or Canucks could revisit their interest, or perhaps he will expand his list of preferred destinations.
Marc-Andre Fleury, Vegas Golden Knights
Marc-Andre Fleury has been the face of the Vegas Golden Knights since their successful inaugural season in 2017-18. However, the 35-year-old goaltender lost the starting job to trade-deadline acquisition Robin Lehner in the 2020 playoffs. Factor in the Golden Knights' re-signing Lehner and Fleury's $7 million salary-cap hit through 2021-22, and it's unsurprising he surfaced in trade rumors.
Fleury's future in Vegas remained in doubt until Oct. 12, when Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon said the three-time Stanley Cup winner would share the goaltending duties with Lehner. Fleury acknowledged the trade rumors but said he was relieved to be staying put.
The Golden Knights now have $12 million invested in Lehner and Fleury for 2020-21. Carrying a $7 million backup isn't an ideal option for a club sitting $974,000 above the $81.5 million cap as of Oct. 21. If a team with cap space in need of goaltending depth comes calling, Fleury could end up playing elsewhere before the trade deadline.
Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames
Johnny Gaudreau has been the Calgary Flames' highest-scoring player since 2014-15. However, the club's inability to advance deep in the playoffs, including their first-round elimination from the 2020 postseason, prompted media speculation that he could be a trade candidate.
On Aug. 21, Sportsnet's Eric Francis went so far to say Gaudreau may have played his final game as a Flame, criticizing his subpar playoff performance. A poll by the Calgary Sun released 10 days later showed more than 60 percent of Flames fans believed the club's priority should be moving core players such as Gaudreau.
Flames general manager Brad Treliving, however, doesn't seem willing to give up on Gaudreau. The winger has two years left on his contract, so there's no urgency to trade him. It would also be hasty to move Gaudreau after adding goaltender Jacob Markstrom and defenseman Chris Tanev to the lineup.
Nevertheless, Treliving's shown a willingness to shake things up with his offseason additions of Markstrom and Tanev. He could put Gaudreau on the trade block if the Flames fail to improve next season.
Taylor Hall, Buffalo Sabres
The best forward in this year's unrestricted free-agent market, Taylor Hall shocked NHL fans and pundits by signing a one-year, $8 million contract with the Buffalo Sabres. That move, however, probably won't keep the 28-year-old winger's name out of next season's rumor mill.
By agreeing to a one-year deal, Hall is giving himself an opportunity to improve his stock in next year's free-agent market. Skating alongside superstar center Jack Eichel on Buffalo's top line, he could see a return to the 93-point form that garnered him the Hart Memorial Trophy in 2017-18.
It's not guaranteed that Hall could hit next summer's free-agent market. He and Eichel could play so well together that they turn the struggling Sabres into a playoff club. That could entice him to stay with the Sabres if they are willing to pay him a lucrative long-term deal.
However, that scenario could be different if they are out of playoff contention as the trade deadline approaches and if Hall decides to test the free-agent market. Management could decide by that stage to shop him for the best possible return.
Patrik Laine, Winnipeg Jets
The future of Jets winger Patrik Laine in Winnipeg has become perhaps the hottest topic in the offseason's rumor mill. Given the 22-year-old sniper's offensive skills, he could be a fixture in media trade chatter through next season.
Laine first appeared on TSN's Frank Seravalli's trade bait list on Sept. 1. Seravalli's colleague Pierre LeBrun reported earlier in October that the winger hasn't requested a trade but that his agents suggested it might be beneficial for their client and the Jets if he were dealt to another team. They cited his usage in the Jets lineup, including the fact that he hasn't received consistent first-line minutes.
LeBrun also reported Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is looking at all options and maintained Laine remains a big part of the organization. He believes Cheveldayoff will only move the winger for something that would benefit the team.
Laine becomes a restricted free agent next summer with arbitration rights who will seek a significant raise over his current $6.75 million annual average value. Cheveldayoff could put him on the block at some point before next season's trade deadline if this situation isn't suitably resolved.
P.K. Subban, New Jersey Devils
The past two seasons haven't been very good for P.K. Subban. Injuries limited him to 31 points in 63 games with the Nashville Predators in 2018-19. Traded to the New Jersey Devils on June 22, 2019, the 31-year-old defenseman netted just 18 points in 68 games last season.
Trading Subban next season seems unlikely given the decline in his stats and his $9 million annual salary-cap hit through 2021-22. However, the former James Norris Memorial Trophy winner could draw some interest if he has a bounce-back performance.
Subban's puck-moving skills and big shot powered him to five straight 40-plus point seasons from 2013-14 to 2017-18. There could be a market for those skills if he regains that form and the Devils are out of the playoff race by the trade deadline.
The Devils might have to absorb part of Subban's cap hit to make a trade feasible, especially if the salary cap remains flat for 2021-22. Still, it could be worthwhile if he fetches a decent return that helps them over the long term.
Salary info via CapFriendly.