Buying or Selling NHL's Latest Trade Rumors as the Offseason NearsJuly 6, 2021
Buying or Selling NHL's Latest Trade Rumors as the Offseason Nears
Trade rumors are the NHL's most prevalent cottage industry.
Nearly every hockey watcher with a keyboard and a Wi-Fi connection weighs in on the would-be blockbusters of the day. Deals of all shapes and sizes are especially possible between now and the start of the NHL draft on July 23, not to mention the arrival of the free-agent signing period five days later.
True to form, the B/R hockey writing team tilted at the rumor mill to start the week and came up with a buy/sell designation on the more notable conjecture. Click through to see our thoughts and drop a viewpoint or two of your own in the comments.
Buy: Duncan Keith Will Open 2021-22 in Edmonton
Shield your eyes, Oilers fans.
Though many are cynical to the idea of acquiring 37-year-old defensemen with skidding metrics, it seems Edmonton general manager Ken Holland has an affinity for "greybeards."
Chicago's Duncan Keith is a particularly successful one, with three Stanley Cups, two Norris Trophies and a Conn Smythe on his resume. And Western Canada is reportedly among his preferred destinations now that his desire to leave the Blackhawks has gone public.
While Holland may see Keith as a veteran who could stabilize an unproven Oilers club come playoff time, Edmonton fans will likely focus on his $5.5 million cap hit for the next two seasons.
It'd be difficult for Holland to bring Keith in without unloading an onerous contract of his own—James Neal, Mikko Koskinen and Kyle Turris spring to mind—or getting Chicago general manager Stan Bowman to retain a significant chunk of Keith's salary to accommodate his wishes.
The guess here is that they find a way to get it done.
Whether it's a two-team deal or a third party is brought in to smooth out finances, expect Keith on the Edmonton blue line this October.
Sell: The Kraken Will Bite on Matt Duchene
For a player, having five years remaining on a contract paying $8 million per season is heaven.
For a general manager, it's, well...something else. Especially if that player has scored only 19 goals in his last 100 games.
So it's no wonder that Nashville GM David Poile suggested on ESPN Radio in Nashville that he'd like to swing a deal with the Seattle Kraken in the upcoming expansion draft. He didn't specify which player he'd want the Kraken to select, but there's ample reason to believe he was talking about his $40 million albatross.
What's less believable is the idea that Seattle GM Ron Francis, with offers coming in from nearly every executive in the league, will decide Duchene's contract is the one to take on.
Nashville does have 15 picks across the next two drafts, including No. 18 in the first round this year, but it'd presumably take that and a lot more for Francis to sign off on acquiring Duchene.
The guess here is that he won't.
Buy: Nate Schmidt Will Leave Vancouver
It's easy to understand Nate Schmidt's frustration.
Now 29, the veteran defenseman was coming off three solid years in Vegas, with the Golden Knights reaching the Stanley Cup Final one season and remaining among the league's elite for the other two.
And then he was traded to Vancouver, where the Canucks went through a 2020-21 season that can best be described as tumultuous.
Not only was the team not consistently competitive in the North Division, but a COVID-19 outbreak created scheduling woes and effectively sabotaged any playoff hopes.
It isn't surprising that he'd want a change of scenery from a place he never asked to go.
While dealing him would create a hole on a Vancouver blue line that isn't exactly chock full of Norris Trophy contenders, it would get cap-stressed GM Jim Benning out from under a contract that'll pay Schmidt $5.95 million per season for the next four years.
Considering there are several teams angling for defensemen, we'd expect Schmidt to be elsewhere sooner than later.
Sell: The Blues Will Deal Vladimir Tarasenko
At his best, Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko is one of the league's most dangerous snipers. He's eclipsed 30 goals in five NHL seasons, topping out at an even 40 in 2015-16.
But he hasn't been at his best lately.
He scored only three times while playing 10 games in 2019-20, and he added a meager four goals in 24 games in 2020-21 while continuing to deal with shoulder issues.
While St. Louis would assuredly love to pawn off the two years and $15 million left on his contract, other executives will likely wait for the 2010 No. 16 overall pick to re-prove himself before making a deal.
If he's healthy and back near his previous scoring pace by next season's trade deadline, he could again become a fixture of rumors.
But unless something surprising happens, we'll double down on selling this one for the time being.
Buy: Jack Eichel Will Play On the Coast
We left the headline vague for a reason.
While there's little doubt that disgruntled center Jack Eichel will be playing somewhere other than Buffalo in 2021-22, his next destination remains unclear.
Given the oft-reported disconnect between the Sabres and the 2015 No. 2 overall pick, it's been a while since GM Kevyn Adams could get through a day without a question or a story about a trade.
We're narrowing the field to three teams—the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers—with significant prospect capital and sufficient salary-cap space to pull it off.
Eichel would help each of those squads at his pre-2020-21 level, and GMs Bob Murray, Rob Blake and Chris Drury could assemble a package of picks and players to make it well worth Adams' while.
The Ducks, Kings and Rangers pick third, eighth and 15th in this month's draft, respectively. Buffalo already has the No. 1 overall pick.
Might be California. Could be New York. But either way, it's buy, buy, buy.
Sell: Matthew Tkachuk to the Flyers
Maybe it's Alberta truth. Perhaps it's Pennsylvania fantasy.
Either way, the Philadelphia Flyers might try to land 23-year-old winger Matthew Tkachuk if the perennially underachieving Calgary Flames choose to move him.
The second-generation NHLer is heading into the final year of his contract, and he'll be due a qualifying offer of at least $9 million as a restricted free agent next summer.
The Flames have $14.5 million in cap space at the moment, but they're facing similar decisions with high-profile unrestricted free agents-to-be Johnny Gaudreau and Mark Giordano, each of whom will make $6.75 million in 2021-22. If given the chance to keep one of three, we'd suspect it'd be Tkachuk.
They may have no choice but to move Tkachuk if he wants out of town. But the Calgary player most likely to wind up with Philadelphia is Gaudreau, who's from nearby Salem, N.J., grew up as a Flyers fan and has said it'd be "sweet" to wear their uniform.
So we'll sell on Tkachuk to Philadelphia (call St. Louis a favorite if he does go) and instead count the days until "Johnny Hockey" moves east.