Predicting the 10 Most Active NHL Teams in 2014 Trade Market
The 2014 NHL draft will be held on June 27-28. The days leading up to, and including, the draft weekend is usually a time when significant trades involving established NHL talent take place. That's because teams have more cap space during this period and a willingness to deal.
Several factors this year could result in more player movement than usual this year. Sporting News' Sean Gentille recently cited The New York Times' columnist Jeff Z. Klein reporting NHL commissioner Gary Bettman estimating the salary cap could increase from $64.3 million to between $69-$70 million. Teams can also absorb up to half of a player's salary to facilitate a trade.
Since January several teams underwent management changes, sparking considerable media speculation of possible trades following the Stanley Cup playoffs. A lack of star talent in this summer's free-agent market could also spur more trade activity.
Those factors could affect the 10 teams on this list. The ranking is based upon their respective roster needs, quality of their trade assets and frequency of their appearance in recent media trade rumors.
10. Buffalo Sabres
What they need: skilled depth at forward and on defense
Potential trade bait: Sportsnet.ca's Gare Joyce reports the Buffalo Sabres have received inquiries about their first-round pick (second overall) in this year's NHL draft. Sabres.com's Chris Ryndak reports right wing Chris Stewart acknowledges the possibility he could be dealt this summer.
ESPN.com's Craig Custance believes they'll get calls about veteran defenseman Christian Ehrhoff. There could also be interest in blueliner Tyler Myers.
The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators had interest in Stewart before the trade deadline and could touch base again about him. Expect the rebuilding Sabres' asking price for these players to be promising young forwards or defensemen.
9. St. Louis Blues
What they need: An experienced scoring forward, particularly at center. They could also use a stay-at-home defenseman to pair with Kevin Shattenkirk.
Potential trade bait: The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson speculates center Patrik Berglund could be available. Winger Magnus Paajarvi could be odd man out following the St. Louis Blues signing Swedish forward Joakim Lindstrom.
Possible trade partners: The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reports the Blues made inquiries about Senators captain Jason Spezza before the trade deadline. He claims they could still have interest in Spezza. If Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler is willing to expand his list of trade destinations, the Blues could come calling.
8. Detroit Red Wings
What they need: a top-four right-handed defenseman
Potential trade bait: MLive.com's Ansar Khan reports defenseman Jakub Kindl could be a trade candidate. He believes rival clubs could have interest in promising forwards Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan and Luke Glendening. Center Joakim Andersson could also be available.
Possible trade partners: Khan reported Buffalo's Tyler Myers, Winnipeg's Dustin Byfuglien, Toronto's Cody Franson and Calgary's Dennis Wideman could be trade options. The Detroit Free Press' Helene St. James speculates the Detroit Red Wings could have interest in Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alex Edler.
The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson speculates the Wings could have interest in Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green. The Boston Globe's Fluto Shinzawa also suggested Calgary's Wideman as an option.
7. Anaheim Ducks
What they need: an experienced second-line center
ESPN.com's Craig Custance believes the Anaheim Ducks could also use another experienced defenseman. They could also seek replacements for the retiring Teemu Selanne and free-agent center Saku Koivu.
Potential trade bait: The 10th overall pick in the 2014 NHL draft (acquired from the Ottawa Senators). They also have depth in young forwards (Nick Bonino, Emerson Etem, Devante Smith-Pelly, Kyle Palmieri and Mathieu Perreault) to draw upon if they should pursue a big-name center.
Possible trade partners: The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reports the Ducks inquired about Jason Spezza before the trade deadline. The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson reports they also had interest in Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler. They could revisit their interest in either player leading up to the NHL draft.
6. Dallas Stars
What they need: a second-line center, a top-two defenseman
Potential trade bait: Last year Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill showed a willingness to make a big trade when he acquired Tyler Seguin from Boston. He could swing another major move this summer. Should Nill pursue a second-line center, The Dallas Morning News' Mike Heika speculates forward Alex Chiasson and defenseman Brenden Dillon could become bargaining chips.
Possible trade partners: Heika listed the Ottawa Senators' Spezza and Vancouver Canucks' Kesler as second-line center targets.
Sportsnet's Mike Johnston reports Nill also hopes to add a top-two defenseman, speculating he could have interest in Toronto's Dion Phaneuf. Heika suggested Vancouver's Alex Edler, Florida's Dmitry Kulikov and Buffalo's Christian Ehrhoff and Tyler Myers as blue-line trade options.
5. Florida Panthers
What they need: scoring and defensive depth
Potential trade bait: GM Dale Tallon is willing to trade his first-round pick, which is first overall in this year's draft. He told ESPN.com's Craig Custance six teams have expressed interest. Tallon could also try moving forwards Tomas Fleischmann, Tomas Kopecky and Sean Bergenheim.
Possible trade partners: The Toronto Sun's Mike Zeisberger reports a wild rumor out of Toronto has the Toronto Maple Leafs offering Dion Phaneuf, Nazem Kadri and the eighth overall pick to the Florida Panthers for the first overall pick and defenseman Ed Jovanovski.
ESPN.com's Mike Hume (subscription required) believes the Vancouver Canucks have depth in defensemen to offer up for the first overall pick. The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson suggests the Panthers could be among the clubs with interest in Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green.
4. Vancouver Canucks
What they need: secondary scoring, especially if center Ryan Kesler gets traded
Potential trade bait: The Vancouver Province's Jason Botchford believes the Canucks must trade Kesler and one of their defensemen to restock with NHL-ready prospects. His colleague Ben Kuzma speculates defenseman Jason Garrison might become a trade candidate, wondering if they might ship him back to the Panthers. Blueliner Dan Hamhuis could also be shopped.
Possible trade partners: CBC.ca's Elliotte Friedman reports the Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning are on Kesler's list of preferred trade destinations. Friedman suggests that list could change.
The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson believes the Ducks and Penguins will pursue Kesler by the upcoming NHL draft. The Dallas Morning News' Mike Heika feels the Stars could also have interest in the 29-year-old Canucks center. If Kesler does hit the trade block, expect a good young player and a promising prospect to be part of the asking price.
3. Ottawa Senators
What they need: a top-six scoring winger and an experienced shutdown defenseman
Potential trade bait: Last month, TSN's Bob McKenzie reported Ottawa Senators captain Jason Spezza was "very much in play on the NHL trade market." They could also shop the rights of pending unrestricted free-agent winger Ales Hemsky.
Possible trade partners: The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reports if Senators GM Bryan Murray trades Spezza he'd prefer sending him to a Western Conference team.
Garrioch claims the Anaheim Ducks, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators and Vancouver Canucks could have interest in Spezza. Of these, the Ducks could be the front-runners. Garrioch cites a league source, claiming if the Ducks pursue Spezza, the Senators could ask for young forward Nick Bonino as part of the return.
Contract talks between Hemsky and the Senators have broken off. The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson reports the Phoenix Coyotes tried to acquire Hemsky at the trade deadline. Perhaps they might offer up a conditional draft pick for Hemsky's rights.
2. Pittsburgh Penguins
What they need: skilled defensive depth on the blue line and checking lines; they could also seek a new starting goaltender
Potential trade bait: The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Rob Rossi cites sources claiming several teams have contacted winger James Neal's agent expressing interest in his client.
His colleague, Dejan Kovacevic, believes the Pittsburgh Penguins should try to shop Neal and defenseman Kris Letang to free up cap space to address their roster issues. ESPN.com's Mike Hume speculates they could consider moving goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
Possible trade partners: InsidePittsburghSports.com's William DePaoli suggests shopping Neal to Tampa Bay (for Teddy Purcell, Brett Connolly and a first-round pick), Edmonton (for a package centered around winger David Perron) or Winnipeg (for Evander Kane).
Before the March trade deadline, NHL.com reported the Penguins had interest in Vancouver center Ryan Kesler. It remains to be seen if new Penguins GM Jim Rutherford continues his predecessor's pursuit of the Canucks center.
1. Toronto Maple Leafs
What they need: skilled defensive blueliners, plus an experienced second-line center
Potential trade bait: Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos claims all but Phil Kessel, Jonathan Bernier, Tyler Bozak and Morgan Rielly could be available. ESPN.com's Mike Hume lists defenseman Dion Phaneuf as a trade candidate, though he has a 12-team no-trade list.
The Toronto Star's Damien Cox suggested defenseman Jake Gardiner and center Nazem Kadri as trade options if the Toronto Maple Leafs wish to move up from eighth overall in this year's draft.
Possible trade partners: The Toronto Sun's Mike Zeisberger reports the Leafs are eyeing the first overall pick, held by the Florida Panthers. One rumor making the rounds has the Leafs shipping Phaneuf, Kadri and the eighth overall pick to the Panthers for the first overall pick and ageing defenseman Ed Jovanovski.
The Ottawa Citizen's Ken Warren thinks the Leafs would have interest in Senators captain Jason Spezza but doubts they'll trade him to a division rival. If Canucks center Ryan Kesler is willing to expand his no-trade list to include Toronto, the Leafs could pursue him.