With the NHL draft merely a memory and free agency currently in a lull, there hasn't been much news to speak of in terms of player movement. Trade rumors are constant, however, so it comes as no surprise that several quality players are currently on the block.
There generally aren't a lot of deals struck at this point in the offseason, but teams that failed to make a big splash in free agency could potentially be compelled to explore the trade route. Although no superstar players are going to be moved, that doesn't mean that difference makers can't be had for the right price.
Here is the latest trade buzz surrounding Edmonton Oilers winger Ales Hemsky, Detroit Red Wings winger Jordin Tootoo and more as the 2013-14 season slowly but surely approaches.
It seems like Hemsky has been perpetually available for the past five years, but teams have yet to bite for whatever reason. The 29-year-old Czech is a supremely talented playmaker, but his production has fallen off in recent years. Hemsky hasn't exceeded 42 points in a season since the 2008-09 season, and his $5 million cap hit next season might scare some teams away, but he has an expiring contract, and it probably wouldn't take a ton to pry him away from Edmonton.
The Oilers have so much young talent at forward that it's difficult to imagine them re-signing Hemsky at the conclusion of the 2013-14 season. With the likes of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov and Sam Gagner already in the fold, Hemsky seems like the odd man out. One team's trash is another team's treasure though, and there are plenty of teams that could use a guy like Hemsky. According to Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal, the Hemsky trade market hasn't progressed, but the Ottawa Senators would be a great fit.
It's tough to argue with Matheson's assessment, as the Sens could use a replacement for the departed Daniel Alfredsson. Hemsky isn't a heart-and-soul player like Alfredsson, but he would look good alongside either Jason Spezza or Kyle Turris on one of Ottawa's top two lines. The Senators reached the Eastern Conference Semifinals last season despite dealing with a myriad of injuries, so a healthy team and the addition of Hemsky could help them reach the next level.
Tootoo is one of the better agitators in the NHL, but due to a free-agent spending frenzy as well as some in-house restricted free agents that need to be signed, the Red Wings could be looking to deal the former Nashville Predator. Coincidentally, Nashville could very well be Tootoo's landing spot as the former division rivals have had discussions about a possible trade, according to Ansar Khan of MLive.com.
It's tough to envision where Tootoo might fit into the Red Wings' plans this season as he was already a spare part of sorts last year. Detroit has added the likes of Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss up front, and it is working on offers to restricted free agents Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson as well. Both Nyquist and Andersson are too far developed to send back to the AHL, so something has to give. The easiest and most logical move from the Red Wings' perspective would be to get rid of Tootoo.
Tootoo certainly has some value as he is an elite hitter, and he racked up 30 points for the Preds two seasons ago, but few teams boast as much forward depth as Detroit. Also, since Tootoo has two years remaining on his contract at a $1.9 million per season cap hit, it wouldn't make much monetary sense for the Red Wings to keep him. Tootoo was a fan favorite in Nashville as he perfectly fit the Predators' blue-collar style of play. If the Preds are willing to take him back, then the Red Wings should ship him south regardless of what Nashville offers up in return.
Defenseman Cody Franson played in the shadow of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter in Nashville for several years, but he finally seemed to hit his stride once he was acquired by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Franson was solid for the Leafs in 2011-12; however, he was especially good this past season as he put up 29 points in just 45 games. Franson also added six points in seven playoff contests. Franson has yet to prove his worth over a full season, but the 25-year-old seems to be developing into a premier offensive defenseman.
Those types of players obviously don't grow on trees, so the Leafs are going to have to open their pocketbook in order to keep him in Toronto. Franson is currently a restricted free agent, but there seemingly hasn't been a lot of movement on the re-signing front. According to Darren Dreger of TSN, the Maple Leafs want Franson to remain in the fold, but his asking price is too high, so a trade could very well be in his future.
Dreger didn't suggest which teams might be interesting, but one has to believe that there would be a long list of suitors for a young puck mover like Franson. Although the Leafs already have some offensively gifted defensemen in the form of Dion Phaneuf and Jake Gardiner, they can't afford to lose Franson. Toronto is finally starting to make some headway and has the makings of a perennial playoff team, but the loss of Franson would be a major step back. Unless some team blows them away with a great offer, the Leafs need to figure out a resolution in the near future.
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