Hypothetical Trades Based on the Latest NHL Speculation

Lyle RichardsonFeatured ColumnistNovember 16, 2017

Hypothetical Trades Based on the Latest NHL Speculation

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    The three-team trade on Nov. 5 involving centers Matt Duchene and Kyle Turris shook up the NHL trade market. With such notable players as Buffalo Sabres left wing Evander Kane and Montreal Canadiens left wing Alex Galchenyuk garnering increased attention in the rumor mill, it's time to have some fun and examine some hypothetical trade scenarios.

    Kane's eligibility for unrestricted free agency in July could see him moved by the Feb. 26 trade deadline. Galchenyuk's struggles this season could make him a trade candidate. They are just two of the noteworthy players drawing attention in the rumor mill.

    Here's a look at some hypothetical trades based on the latest NHL media speculation. Player skill, salary, roster needs and free-agent status factored into this compilation. Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts on this subject in the comments section.

James Neal to the Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Trade Proposal

    The Vegas Golden Knights trade right wing James Neal to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for defenseman Slater Koekkoek and a draft pick. 

          

    Basis

    On Nov. 7, TSN had Neal, an unrestricted free agent in July, sitting in the second spot on its Trade Bait list. If the Golden Knights can't re-sign him, they could peddle him before the trade deadline. During Tuesday's TSN Insider Trading segment, Pierre LeBrun reported the Lightning need a top-nine winger to skate alongside center Tyler Johnson and left wing Alex Killorn on their third line.

          

    Analysis

    Sitting atop the Eastern Conference standings, the Lightning look like Stanley Cup contenders. Adding a playoff rental such as Neal, who can skate on either wing, to their third line could improve their championship hopes this season. He's a nine-time 20-plus goal scorer with 10 goals in 17 games this season.

    Koekkoek, 23, is a promising defenseman struggling to crack the Lightning's deep blue line. With the Golden Knights carrying five veteran rearguards (Luca Sbisa, Jason Garrison, Clayton Stoner, Deryk Engelland and Brayden McNabb) eligible for unrestricted free-agent status, they could benefit from adding a promising, affordable blueliner.

Alex Galchenyuk to the Anaheim Ducks

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    Trade Proposal

    The Montreal Canadiens trade Galchenyuk to the Anaheim Ducks for defenseman Sami Vatanen.

             

    Basis

    In an Ask Me Anything segment on Saturday, The Hockey News' Matt Larkin suggested the Galchenyuk-for-Vatanen swap. He observed both players are signed through 2019-20 and carry almost similar salary-cap hits. Galchenyuk, 23, is a former 30-goal scorer who's struggling with the Habs and could benefit from a change of scenery.

           

    Analysis

    Dollarwise, this deal is a good fit. Galchenyuk has a $4.9 million cap hit through 2019-20 while Vatanen's earning $4.875 million. Larkin noted this move would bolster the Ducks' injury-ravaged forward lines. Galchenyuk can play left wing or center and could regain his scoring touch skating alongside Ducks forwards Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry or Rickard Rakell.

    Vatanen wouldn't improve the Canadiens' anemic offense, but he would boost their defensive depth. He's a skilled top-four defenseman with a right-handed shot—qualities the Canadiens carry in short supply on their blue line.

Mitchell Marner to the Edmonton Oilers

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    Trade Proposal

    The Toronto Maple Leafs trade forward Mitchell Marner to the Edmonton Oilers for defenseman Darnell Nurse.

            

    Basis

    On Nov. 7, Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos stated his belief that Marner doesn't have a long-term future with the Leafs. He noted Auston Matthews, William Nylander, Zach Hyman and Connor Brown are ahead of Marner on coach Mike Babcock's depth chart. He felt it's inevitable the 20-year-old forward gets traded. When asked for whom, he suggested shipping him to Edmonton for Nurse.

           

    Analysis

    Kypreos wasn't saying a Marner-for-Nurse swap would occur, but it could address the glaring needs of both clubs. The Leafs require a skilled top-four defenseman who fits into their long-term plans. The 22-year-old Nurse could be just what they are looking for. He's a physical shutdown rearguard whose best seasons remain ahead of him.

    The Oilers acquired Mike Cammalleri Tuesday, but the younger Marner has more upside to address their weak scoring punch at right wing. He could also skate at center if they decide to move Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, perhaps for a blueliner to replace Nurse.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to the Columbus Blue Jackets

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    Trade Proposal

    The Edmonton Oilers trade center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for right wing Cam Atkinson.

          

    Basis

    In a Nov. 8 mailbag segment, The Athletic's Aaron Portzline noted the Blue Jackets had interest in Duchene before the Colorado Avalanche traded him to the Ottawa Senators. Asked about trade options at center for the Jackets, he listed Nugent-Hopkins and Galchenyuk as possibilities. 

            

    Analysis

    Nugent-Hopkins would address the Jackets' need for a skilled center, allowing them to move Nick Foligno back to his natural position at left wing. With over $5 million in salary-cap room, the team could absorb Nugent-Hopkins' $6 million annual salary by moving Atkinson's $3.5 million cap hit for this season. 

    Assuming the Oilers don't acquire another young right wing, Atkinson could be a good fit. Despite the Oilers' recent addition of Cammalleri, Atkinson would better address their need for a scoring right wing. This move could also allow them to move Leon Draisaitl into the second-line center position. 

Evander Kane to the Carolina Hurricanes

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    Trade Proposal

    The Buffalo Sabres trade Kane to the Carolina Hurricanes for defenseman Justin Faulk.

             

    Basis

    On Nov. 6, The Hockey News' Jared Clinton ranked the 26-year-old Kane atop his list of nine potential trade candidates this season. Kane is eligible for unrestricted free agency and could prove expensive for the Sabres to re-sign. On Monday, Clinton suggested Faulk could be among the Hurricanes' potential trade chips to attract more scoring.

            

    Analysis

    Kane has reached or exceeded 20 goals three times in his career and would give the Hurricanes some much-needed physical offense. His UFA status makes him a risky acquisition. However, Carolina has sufficient room to offer Kane over $6 million annually on a five- or six-year contract, especially if the team moves Faulk's $4.833 million annual salary-cap hit.

    The Hurricanes possess considerable depth in good young defensemen to draw upon as trade bait. As Clinton observed, Faulk has surfaced in trade rumors before. He would bring the Sabres invaluable blue-line experience and skill. He's also signed through 2019-20.

              

    Player info (as of Nov. 15) via NHL.com. Salary info via Cap Friendly