Predicting the Biggest Trades in the 2014 NHL Offseason
The NHL season is winding down, and teams are heading in one of two directions. Playoff teams are pushing for a better spot in the standings and making sure everyone is healthy. Non-playoff teams are giving auditions to young players and planning for the future.
The shortened 2012-13 schedule created false hope in many NHL cities. This summer will be the first chance to address the post-lockout world with an increased cap number.
It is going to be a very interesting offseason, and many moves could involve big-name players in new cities by the fall. Here are the 10 biggest trades we're likely to see this summer.
10. Florida Panthers Trade LW Scottie Upshall to the Edmonton Oilers
The Trade: The Florida Panthers trade Scottie Upshall and a 2014 second-round pick to the Edmonton Oilers for center Sam Gagner.
Why It Makes Sense: Florida needs to add skill to its forward group and a capable power-play contributor. Edmonton needs a gritty winger who can play a two-way game.
Who Wins the Trade? This is a high-risk trade for the Oilers. They would be selling low on Gagner, a 40-50 point producer annually. Gagner's productivity has been reduced this season due to a devastating injury, and it's very likely he will return to previous levels in 2014-15.
9. Buffalo Sabres Trade D Tyler Myers to the Calgary Flames
The Trade: The Buffalo Sabres trade Tyler Myers to the Calgary Flames for left winger Sven Baertschi, defenseman Tyler Wotherspoon and a 2014 second-round selection.
Why It Makes Sense: The Flames get a towering defenseman with two-way skills to help anchor the defense for the rest of the decade. Buffalo is in rebuild mode, adding two quality prospects in Baerstschi and Wotherspoon, plus a draft pick.
Who Wins the Trade? There's every chance both teams would benefit from this deal. The Sabres acquire two quality prospects who are NHL-ready, and Calgary gets a bona fide top-four defenseman.
8. Winnipeg Jets Trade RW Dustin Byfuglien to the Colorado Avalanche
The Trade: The Winnipeg Jets trade Dustin Byfuglien to the Colorado Avalanche for center Ryan O'Reilly.
Why It Makes Sense: The Jets moved Byfuglien to forward at midseason, and his cap hit is too much for his current role. The Avalanche can move him back to defense and justify the money and help their power play at the same time. Ryan O'Reilly represents a very good return and allows the Jets to ice a strong group of centers.
Who Wins the Trade? O'Reilly is a restricted free agent this summer, which brings its own challenges. If they can sign him to a reasonable deal for good term, the Jets win this trade going away.
7. Buffalo Sabres Trade D Christian Ehrhoff to the Toronto Maple Leafs
The Trade: The Buffalo Sabres deal veteran Christian Ehrhoff to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Buffalo receives young defenseman Jake Gardiner and a 2015 second-round selection.
Why It Makes Sense: The Leafs need to add a veteran defenseman to their group. Gardiner is a gifted player, but he has chaos in his game. Buffalo gets a creative defender whose age matches the rebuild and a valuable draft pick in return for the veteran D-man.
Who Wins the Trade? The short-term winner is Toronto. However, the future is bright for Gardiner, and he is eight years younger than Ehrhoff. The 2015 draft is reputed to be a very strong one, so the pick has extra value.
6. Detroit Red Wings Trade LW Johan Franzen to Montreal Canadiens
The Trade: The Detroit Red Wings trade veteran Johan Franzen to the Montreal Canadiens for left winger Lars Eller.
Why It Makes Sense: The Red Wings are aging quickly and are going to need youth in the heart of their roster. Eller is a fine young winger who fits their two-way style. Montreal acquires a proven winner and a veteran who can help them reach the next level.
Who Wins the Trade? Montreal wins the deal in the immediate future, but this is the kind of trade Detroit has to make in order to push back roster erosion. Trading Franzen for full value moves Detroit's median age back and gives the club a solid young replacement in Eller.
5. Vancouver Canucks Trade C Ryan Kesler to the Chicago Blackhawks
The Trade: The Vancouver Canucks trade Ryan Kesler to the Chicago Blackhawks for right wing Andrew Shaw and a first-round draft pick.
Why It Makes Sense: Chicago has not been successful in a long search to replace Dave Bolland. The club gets a veteran center to play a complementary role. Vancouver gets younger with a skilled, physical winger and adds a first-round pick.
Who Wins the Trade? Chicago wins the trade in the short term, but if Vancouver drafts well, this deal could impact the team in a big way.
4.. Edmonton Oilers Send RW Jordan Eberle to the Philadelphia Flyers
The Trade: The Edmonton Oilers send Jordan Eberle and their first-round pick to Philadelphia in exchange for center Sean Couturier, defenseman Braydon Coburn and the Flyers' first-round pick.
Why It Makes Sense: The Oilers need strength up the middle. Couturier at center and Coburn on defense addresses two huge needs. The Flyers get a quality scorer, and the pick that allows them to add Aaron Ekblad as their franchise defender.
Who Wins the Trade? Philadelphia gets more talent, but the club will have to wait for Ekblad to emerge as a useful defenseman. Eberle will help the Flyers' offensive output next season. For Edmonton, it adds two NHL players who address important areas of weakness in one trade.
3. Carolina Hurricanes Trade C Eric Staal to the Phoenix Coyotes
The Trade: The Carolina Hurricanes trade Eric Staal to the Phoenix Coyotes. The Hurricanes acquire center Antoine Vermette, young forward prospect Henrik Samuelsson and a second-round draft pick.
Why It Makes Sense: The Coyotes are one of the few teams that can take on Staal's enormous contract. It allows the team to strengthen the center position with a top-quality pivot. Carolina acquires a capable veteran in Vermette and a good prospect in Samuelsson.
Who Wins the Trade? It's an even trade. Carolina gets two useful forwards and saves cap money it can spend on the defense. Phoenix acquires a franchise center—possibly the rarest of all assets.
2. Nashville Predators Trade D Shea Weber to the San Jose Sharks
The Trade: The Nashville Predators trade Shea Weber to the San Jose Sharks for center Joe Pavelski, forward Tommy Wingels, a 2014 first-round pick and a 2015 first-round pick.
Why It Makes Sense: The Sharks can't rely on Dan Boyle anymore, and Weber is a franchise defenseman. They are so deep up front that trading two quality forwards isn't fatal. Nashville strengthens its offense in one bold move.
Who Wins the Trade? Both teams win the trade. San Jose remains a team contending for the Stanley Cup, albeit with a slightly different look, and Nashville becomes a team with real offensive punch.
1. Pittsburgh Trades D Kris Letang to Anaheim Ducks
The Trade: The Pittsburgh Penguins trade defenseman Kris Letang to the Anaheim Ducks for wingers Nick Bonino and Jakob Silfverberg.
Why It Makes Sense: The Penguins badly need to improve their depth up front, and they have a plethora of young defensemen. The Ducks can afford to trade two forwards in a deal that brings back an elite puck-moving defender.
Who Wins the Trade? It's an ideal trade for both teams. The benefits would be felt in each city for years to come.