The biggest weeks of the NHL season, apart from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, are upon us.
This time of year is always busy due to the impending entry draft and free agency. However, the expansion draft presents general managers with a whole new entity to deal with this time around.
Within these next 18 days, an extraordinary number of players will be moved. Whether it be to improve teams or to ensure players are not lost to the Vegas Golden Knights for nothing, there will be a tremendous amount of transactions made and a lot more chatter to go along with them.
Here are 30 players from the 30 teams, excluding Vegas of course, that could be moved in his hectic time period. Some of these are reasonable speculation, whereas others are sourced.
Anaheim Ducks: Sami Vatanen
As everyone knows by this point, the Ducks have an influx of defensemen heading into the expansion draft. Vatanen being expendable stems from the fact that Fowler, Manson, and Lindholm are currently viewed as more valuable by the Ducks. Vatanen has the ability to play a strong two-way game and would be a welcomed addition to the top-four of almost every team in the league. The Leafs seem like an obvious destination, however Tampa Bay and Buffalo are also possibilities.
Arizona Coyotes: Anthony Duclair
Duclair split time between the NHL and AHL last season and his current standing within the Coyotes organization is unknown. Although he has not tapped in to his natural scoring ability lately, Duclair still possesses the ability to be a game-changer in someone’s middle-six. The cost will not be cheap, though.
Boston Bruins: Ryan Spooner
The Bruins have had Spooner’s name in the trade mill for seemingly two seasons now. Spooner has not found his stride in Boston, partially due to their incredible center depth. He is not going to get the rightful chance he deserves in his natural position while the team has Bergeron, Krejci, and Backes. According to Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News, the Canucks have expressed interest in Spooner.
Buffalo Sabres: Evander Kane
Just over two years after acquiring him in a massive trade, the Buffalo Sabres appear ready to move on from Evander Kane. The new regime, headed by general manager Jason Botterill, is looking to wipe the slate clean in Buffalo. Kane has the skills to be a 30 goal scorer in the league, but his off-ice attitude remains an issue. It is largely overblown by the media, but there still may be something there.
Calgary Flames: Sam Bennett
Bennett has popped up in the rumor mill recently, although he has not requested a trade. The Flames are likely listening on him, but a move being made seems unlikely at this point. The return would have to be astronomical to pry the former top-five pick from Brad Treliving. It is possible though. Elliott Friedman mentioned the Ducks as a destination.
Carolina Hurricanes: Eddie Lack
Eddie Lack was not a favorite of head coach Bill Peters last season and likely will not be returning to the NHL roster next year. Scott Darling is the main man in Carolina now, and due to seniority and partially play, Cam Ward is slated to be the backup. Lack can still be a solid backup in the league, but things just have not worked out in Carolina. I wonder if Edmonton would take a crack with him behind Cam Talbot.
Chicago Blackhawks: Niklas Hjalmarsson
Although the initial consensus was that Brent Seabrook may be moved out, Blackhawks beat writer Mark Lazarus clarified and stated that Hjalmarsson was much more likely. The Swede has quietly transformed into an amazing defensemen in Chicago, but he has been overshadowed by the likes of Duncan Keith and the aforementioned Seabrook. Whichever team lands him will be very lucky. The same teams interested in Vatanen will probably be in on Hjalmarsson, although they are opposite hands.
Colorado Avalanche: Matt Duchene
This is a biggie. Duchene was rumored to be on the move at this year’s trade deadline and the rumblings have only gotten bigger since. Bob McKenzie even proclaimed that he was the most likely player to be moved this offseason. Duchene will fetch a quality, young defenseman plus a first round pick at minimum. Joe Sakic cannot afford to take anything less for his superstar (although struggling) center.
Columbus Blue Jackets: David Clarkson
Clarkson is only included on this list because a trade involving him going to Vegas is essentially guaranteed to happen. In return for Vegas selecting Clarkson in the draft, the Blue Jackets will be sending at least a first round pick plus a prospect to Vegas. I suspect that prospect will be Oliver Bjorkstrand. The initial Clarkson report came from Elliott Friedman.
Dallas Stars: Stephen Johns
Jim Nill’s most prized asset this summer is his third overall pick. He will use that to either move down in the draft and get a defenseman or trade it for an NHL ready defenseman. Other than that, it’s hard to see Dallas moving anyone out. In terms o players they might lose in the expansion draft, Stephen Johns and Jamie Oleksiak head the list. So one of them could theoretically be moved beforehand.
Detroit Red Wings: Riley Sheahan
Although he did score a goal (actually, two goals) in the final game of the season, it is unclear what Sheahan’s future in Detroit is. Detroit has a number of other young players to protect, so Sheahan has a good chance of winding up in Vegas next season. Trading him beforehand may land Ken Holland a pick or two instead of losing him for naught.
Edmonton Oilers: Jordan Eberle
With three dynamic presences that can play center, Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the Oilers can afford to sacrifice a few wingers. Eberle carries a large cap hit ($6 million) and the money could be used to solidify the back-end for Edmonton or just to keep handy. Eberle has reportedly been of high interest, so it appears his days in Edmonton are finished. John Shannon of Sportsnet is reporting that as many as six teams are highly interested.
Florida Panthers: Alex Petrovic
When the Panthers asked Keith Yandle to waive his no-movement clause (reported by Elliott Friedman), it could have been so they could keep Alex Petrovic instead. The big, bruising, and rising defender has proved his worth in Florida. He would be a nice pickup for Vegas if they choose to go that route. However, if Florida did look at trading him, the return may not be worthwhile and they may just take the risk of losing him for nothing instead.
Los Angeles Kings: Brayden McNabb
With Doughty, Martinez, and Muzzin on the point, it is hard to see where McNabb fits in in Los Angeles’ protection plans. The defender has shined brightly since being acquired from Buffalo. At 26-years-old, plenty of teams would be interested. However, to be fair, the Kings could wind up holding onto McNabb by protecting four forwards and four defensemen.
Minnesota Wild: Matt Dumba
The Wild are one of those teams with a glut of talent that could be taken by Vegas in a week. They have too many forwards to not use the 7-3-1 protection method. Furthermore, Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon have priority on defense. It also appears that Chuck Fletcher has chosen Jonas Brodin over Matt Dumba, so Dumba is likely to be moved. He will fetch a nice return, but the player will (ideally) need to be expansion exempt or it will need to be for picks.
Montreal Canadiens: Alex Galchenyuk
This one has picked up a lot of teams in the past 24 hours. It seems extremely likely that Galchenyuk, who is not viewed as a center in Montreal’s eyes, will be moved. Nathan Beaulieu is equally as likely to go.
Nashville Predators: James Neal
Recently, Pierre Lebrun speculated that James Neal may be left exposed for the expansion draft. If that is true, he becomes a prime target to be taken and flipped by Vegas. David Poile, if he plans on exposing Neal, should jump on the opportunity to trade Neal to the East. It is not an ideal situation, but Nashville’s stellar defensive core has caused this.
New Jersey Devils: Jacob Josefson
Honestly, there are not really any rumblings coming from the Devils. Josefson could look to obtain a larger role in another organization. Other than that, the Devils’ biggest piece to move is the #1 overall pick. They would be using it to move down, but it is intriguing nonetheless.
New York Islanders: Calvin de Haan
The Islanders are looking to move out a defenseman for a top-six forward, and currently it is a coin-flip between Calvin de Haan and Travis Hamonic. Based on the fact that de Haan is younger and that Garth Snow declined a trade that would have sent Hamonic to Edmonton last offseason for Taylor Hall, it seems more likely that de Haan is moved out.
New York Rangers: Antti Raanta
Since coming over from Chicago, Antti Raanta has been nothing short of spectacular behind Henrik Lundqvist. Due to this, he may be selected by Vegas to be their 1A goalie for the upcoming season (or to get flipped). NBC’s Pro Hockey Talk reported that the Flames and Jets have contacted the Rangers about Raanta. The Rangers could definitely get a package similar to what they got for Cam Talbot, a couple of mid-round picks, back for him.
Ottawa Senators: Dion Phaneuf
The Dion Phaneuf saga over the past few days has been interesting to watch. Bob McKenzie reported that Phaneuf declined to waive his no-movement clause before the expansion draft. Then, today, Darren Dreger furthered that by stating that a few teams had interest in trading for Phaneuf. It is an unfortunate situation for an oft-criticized player who seemed to find a home in Ottawa. Dreger also speculated that Ottawa would be taking a contract back in the deal.
Philadelphia Flyers: Nick Cousins
The Flyers are definitely going to be picking at #2 this season, so the attention turns to the immediate roster at hand. Ron Hextall would like to see internal growth and is not likely to be moving out any core players, but a few depth guys could be shuffled. Nick Cousins is a young center who could use a larger role somewhere else. With Giroux, Filppula, Konecny, and one of Patrick of Hischier on the roster, Cousins will not be getting a fair shake in his natural position in Philadelphia.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Marc-Andre Fleury
Coming off back-to-back Stanley Cups, the Penguins are not going to want to change up much. Expect them to remain similar, however Fleury will be off the roster. It seems more likely at this point that he will wind up in Vegas, but a trade beforehand by Pittsburgh is not out of the question.
San Jose Sharks: Mirco Mueller
Mueller was a top pick for the Sharks back in 2013, but he has had a troubling NHL career since. To this date, he has only appeared in 54 career games. A change of scenery would benefit both parties.
St. Louis Blues: Jori Lehtera
After an impressive first season with St. Louis, Lehtera has fallen off a cliff as of late. With a large cap hit, it would be wise for Doug Armstrong to look for a suitor for the Finland native. It may be a fruitless effort, though.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Alex Killorn
Tampa Bay needs to choose between Alex Killorn and Vlad Namestnikov before the expansion draft takes place. Due to age, Namestnikov seems more likely, but it could go either way. Killorn is on a new, long-term deal and would be a viable option in almost all middle-sixes in the league.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Connor Brown
Although a home-grown talent, the Leafs may look to move on from Connor Brown. This deal only happens if they get a top-four defender in return, though. Elliott Friedman brought up a good point in one of his 30 Thoughts: Brown was drafted by Dave Nonis when he was general manager of the Leafs. Nonis now has a front office role in Anaheim. There could be a perfect fit.
Vancouver Canucks: Chris Tanev
Tanev’s name has surfaced in trade rumors for quite some time now. He is a dynamic defenseman on a solid contract, so the price is rightfully high. It is plausible that Jim Benning is shopping Tanev, however it will take a deal to believe it.
Washington Capitals: Nate Schmidt
With a few prominent defensemen to protect, the Capitals cannot afford to hold onto Nate Schmidt ahead of the expansion draft. His speed and offensive talents should make him coveted around the league. He may even be immediately ready to step into a top-four role on another team. His situation, although not cap related, reminds me a lot of when Nick Leddy went from Chicago to New York a few years ago.
Winnipeg Jets: Connor Hellebuyck
The Jets are trying to acquire a bonafide starting goalie, so I am curious as to whether or not they will move Hellebuyck. This one is pure speculation. If they can acquire another goalie, using Hellebuyck to improve another part of their team would be smart.
Stay tuned for more news and analysis on our Twitter feed.
In less than six months, the entire shape of the NHL will be shifted.
The potential NHL expansion draft is rapidly approaching and a big factor for it has yet to be determined. No trade clauses and no movement causes have become far more prevalent in NHL contracts over the last half decade. They put the NHL and NHLPA in a tough situation regarding the use of the players who have them in the expansion draft.
Option #1: players with clauses cannot be taken in the draft, but do have to be protected by their team
This means that anyone with a no movement or no trade clause (or whatever/whichever they decide) would be required to remain on their team at the expense of a protection spot being taken. This means that, for example, the Bruins would have to protect Zdeno Chara if he is still around. Also, the Penguins would be forced to protect Marc-Andre Fleury, meaning prized prospect Matt Murray would be available for the taking. Another example is Ryane Clowe, who technically has a no movement clause, as he is signed until the summer of 2018. Would New Jersey be forced to protect him?
I highly doubt teams want this option. Owners and management personnel do not like these clauses to begin with, so being stuck with them won’t be too appealing.
Option #2: players with clauses cannot be taken in the draft, but do not have to be protected by their team
This seems like a better option, but it still has it’s loopholes. For one, a team like Chicago for example, would not have to protect Hjalmarsson, Keith, Crawford, Toews, Kane, or Seabrook. Same thing with Crosby, Malkin, Kessel, Letang, and Fleury in Pittsburgh. This leaves those two teams eligible to protect more depth players, a luxury teams like Edmonton with only Sekera and Talbot and New York with only Boychuk would not get.
The use of this tactic would also see the number of no movement clauses increase in the upcoming years since general managers and players alike will know that they won’t have to waste a protection spot on a player with said clause.
Option #3: players with clauses are still eligible to be taken in the expansion draft
The NHLPA and it’s player representatives will fight this one. It seems like the most reasonable option from a business and fairness standpoint, but a contractual agreement is a contractual agreement. This option would leave certain names like Dion Phaneuf, Joffrey Lupul, and Alex Burrows, to name a few, eligible to possibly be taken.
There is no indication to believe that any expansion team would want these players, but it largely affects the teams these players currently play on.
Nothing is written in stone, at least not yet. Gary Bettman, Donald Fehr, and the NHL brass will have a lot of thinking to do before they decide what to do about these clauses, albeit time is at a minimum. The decision they make will have gigantic implications on how the next few offseasons and the expansion draft itself play out.
It’s an issue that needs to be sorted out sooner rather than later.