2018 NHL trade candidates: 22 players who could get dealt this summer

Sportsnet Hockey Analyst Jeff Marek joined the Jeff Blair Show to discuss the Dougie Hamilton trade with Carolina that went down on day 2 of the NHL Draft.

The NHL draft may have been a disappointment on the trade front (Even though we did get a significant blockbuster!), but with free agency on the horizon and a ton of names still being bandied about in rumours, the floodgates could open on the trade front at any point.

Alex Galchenyuk, Max Domi, Mike Hoffman, Dougie Hamilton and Noah Hanifin are some big names who have been moved already and this should still just be the beginning.

Here are 22 more players who could move at some point this summer, if the offers are right.

Ryan Dixon and Rory Boylen go deep on pucks with a mix of facts and fun, leaning on a varied group of hockey voices to give their take on the country’s most beloved game.

OSCAR KLEFBOM, EDMONTON OILERS

Peter Chiarelli hasn’t been shy to make big trades in his career as a GM. Tyler Seguin. Taylor Hall. Jordan Eberle. The last two were moved in the past two years, and with the Oilers coming off a terribly disappointing season, Chiarelli may be motivated/pressured to do more.

The 10th overall pick was expected to be in play, but when coveted defender Evan Bouchard slipped, the Oilers couldn’t pass up the prospect who also fills an organizational area of need. They could also use a backup to push Cam Talbot. Speed up front on the wings is a priority, as is a puck-mover on defence.

Oscar Klefbom‘s name has been floating around the rumour mill since Edmonton’s season ended, which could be a dangerous proposition. Injury limited Klefbom to 66 games this past season and his point total dropped by 17 from 2016-17. He averaged 22:51 per game, so he was the Oilers’ most-used defenceman, and at just 24 years old, Klefbom is under control for a while with a contract that carries a $4.167-million cap hit running another five seasons.

Klefbom seems like a player more likely to bounce back than continue to struggle. And if Edmonton is looking to add an offensive-minded blue-liner, Klefbom already fills that role so what’s the rush? If anything, the Oilers could be selling low on a young, controllable asset, depending on the return.

ERIK KARLSSON, OTTAWA SENATORS

Everybody was waiting for this deal to happen at the trade deadline. Now, everyone is expecting it this off-season.

Karlsson, one year away from unrestricted free agency, had suggested earlier in the season that he would be seeking top dollar on his next deal, echoing comments from Los Angeles’s Drew Doughty (more on him later). Karlsson would certainly be the most attractive player for any of the other 30 teams to add via trade, and with Ottawa struggling and considering some form of a rebuild, the Swedish defenceman was linked to various teams, including Vegas and San Jose, at the deadline.

Karlsson can sign an extension with Ottawa as soon as July 1, and if he’s not dealt by then we could quickly get a better idea of how likely it is he’ll stick around. The Sens are facing the prospect of paying him $10 million or more on his next deal, which may become a sticking point. The Senators also elected to keep the fourth overall pick to take Brady Tkachuk, meaning their 2019 first-rounder goes to Colorado, so the team would prefer to not finish in the basement next season.

For his part, Karlsson shot down any notion he wanted out of Ottawa.

“I never wanted to leave. I never had any say in that,” Karlsson said after the deadline passed. “That’s a different part of the business I can’t control. Hearing your name being thrown around as much as it was is very stressful and not something that I enjoyed going through. I love it here, I’ve always loved it here. I think the city of Ottawa has really made it home for me. I love everything about it, I love the fans. I’m pleased with where I’m at and I signed a long-term deal for a reason.”

Adding to this speculation was the recent story involving Karlsson’s wife and Mike Hoffman’s fiancee. Since Hoffman was traded out of Ottawa, perhaps it becomes more likely Karlsson stays — but even with that, it seems Ottawa is more in position to rebuild than to keep an expensive cornerstone it could receive a massive return for.

JUSTIN FAULK/JEFF SKINNER, CAROLINA HURRICANES

With a new owner and new faces at the top of hockey management, changes have started to come on a team that hasn’t reached the playoffs in nine years. The only player who has been given a vote of confidence is forward Sebastian Aho, who’s fresh off a 29-goal, 65-point season and was just named the best forward at the world championships. No one else is safe, and Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm have already been moved.

Goaltending is an obvious area that needs an upgrade, but it’s unlikely that teams will come calling about Scott Darling and his $4.15-million cap hit. Carolina could use more goal scoring too, as it finished with the 23rd-ranked offence in 2017-18 and has cracked the top 20 just once in the past five years. Micheal Ferland, just acquired from Calgary, scored five more goals than the departed Lindholm, while Hamilton was tied for the league lead in goals among blue-liners in 2017-18.

In the present, Hamilton is an upgrade on young Hanifin so Carolina’s strength along the blue line got even sturdier with the trade, but it’s opened up questions about one of their other top defencemen.

Justin Faulk has been a solid producer for the ‘Canes in the past, but coming off a down year with eight goals and 31 points his role could be filled by Hamilton. There’s a contract on the horizon to consider here, too: Faulk is two seasons away from being UFA eligible, so given this position is already a source of strength for Carolina, it might be wise to deal Faulk to a team that would pay up for two years of service rather than paying for a rental a year from now.

Up front, Jeff Skinner is a player to watch. He is one year away from unrestricted free agency and has 30-goal upside, though he’s only hit that mark once in the past three seasons. The thing about finding a new home for Skinner is that he would need to agree to any trade since he has a no-movement clause in his contract.

“[Skinner and Faulk] are guys certainly that people have called about,” ‘Canes GM Don Waddell told Steve Kouleas on the NHL Network’s Sirius XM radio show recently. “I talked to almost every general manager, that we’re looking to make some changes, so certainly when other teams are calling, they usually want to call about your better players. So we’re in discussions with not only those players but multiple players.”

RYAN O’REILLY, BUFFALO SABRES

Everyone is always in the market for centres in the NHL, so if the Sabres do decide to move O’Reilly there will be no shortage of suitors. The 27-year-old is coming off a 24-goal, 61-point season and is one of the better two-way forwards in the NHL. While he brings a good level of offence — finishing second in team scoring — O’Reilly is very much also a shutdown option who matches up against the opposition’s best. He’s also under contract for another five years, with a $7.5-million cap hit.

If everything went according to Montreal GM Marc Bergevin’s plan, O’Reilly would have been a Hab over draft weekend. But since Buffalo wanted the third overall pick, the price was too rich for the time being.

The added wrinkle around O’Reilly is that he’s due a $7.5-million bonus on July 1, which may turn off some teams from giving up a pool of assets until after that’s been paid out. If O’Reilly isn’t traded prior to July 1, the market and acquiring price could increase. The St. Louis Blues have also been linked to O’Reilly.

MAX PACIORETTY, MONTREAL CANADIENS

Had the first round shaken out differently, Pacioretty may have been moved for another first-round pick Montreal could have used to flip in an O’Reilly deal. It didn’t happen that way, but Pacioretty remains one of the more likely players to get traded this summer.

It seems the Habs were close to striking a deal with the Kings for Pacioretty over draft weekend, but when contract extension talks fell through, so did the trade. Later on Saturday, news came out that Pacioretty had fired CAA’s Pat Brisson as his agent and signed on with Octagon Hockey’s Allan Walsh.

Pacioretty was one of the hottest commodities at the trade deadline. As the UFA market starts to thin out, he could become an even more valuable piece for teams who either missed out on a target or want to complement one. The 29-year-old winger has one year left on a very team-friendly deal before becoming UFA-eligible himself. That’s why a contract extension — which couldn’t be made official until July 1 — is crucial for both the Canadiens to get the highest price and the acquiring team to get bang for its buck.

The $7-million contract extension Evander Kane signed with San Jose is an interesting measure for what Pacioretty could get on his next deal. He’s surely worth more than a player who has scored 30 just twice before with inconsistent offensive levels through his career.

PHIL KESSEL, PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

Penguins GM Jim Rutherford has never been shy to make trades. At this past trade deadline he picked up Derick Brassard, filling the third-line centre role he was searching for all season. He got Phil Kessel a few years ago for a cheap acquisition cost considering he’s scored 83 goals over three seasons with the team. Carl Hagelin was a great pickup three years ago and a central piece of the HBK line for Pittsburgh’s first of the back-to-back championships. Justin Schultz has been a successful reclamation project.

So when Rutherford says he’s looking for change in the off-season, your ears perk up.

“I think it’s obvious that I’m going to keep an open mind to making some changes, and I will make some changes,” he told local media after the Penguins were eliminated in Round 2. “I can’t give you a definite answer on who that’s going to be right now and exactly the positions, but we’re a good team, and we will be a good team going forward. We’ll have a chance to win again. We have the nucleus to do that.”

On Wednesday, Rutherford flipped Conor Sheary and Matt Hunwick to the Sabres for a draft pick, which freed up cap space and leaves them with $10.2 million in available room. This could mean the Penguins are making room to add a free agent defenceman — Jack Johnson has been linked — and it could mean bigger moves are coming.

Kessel’s name has popped up again and again in the rumour mill since the season ended, and maybe Rutherford explores selling high on a player coming off a 92-point career season. Head coach Mike Sullivan disputed a report there was some sort of rift in the relationship between himself and Kessel.

With three centres in tow, the most pressing need for the Penguins to address is on the blue line and Kessel could be used toward that, or as a headliner in a package to go even bigger. Rutherford has connections to the Hurricanes, so they could be a target, or if you want to dream big, you have to wonder if Rutherford could work out something for Karlsson.

ANDRE BURAKOVSKY, WASHINGTON CAPITALS

When the Capitals had to shed the likes of Justin Williams and Marcus Johansson last summer, the thinner roster opened an opportunity for Burakovsky, who scored 17 goals and 38 points as a sophomore in 2015-16. More ice time and better linemates were expected to bring out the best in the 23rd-overall pick from 2013, but injuries and mental frustration stunted his season and he finished with just 12 goals and 25 points in 56 games.

Now Burakovsky is one year away from being an RFA, finishing off a deal that paid him $3 million against the cap. Burakovsky will surely get some kind of a raise when the time comes, and his play next season could determine just how much of one, but could the Caps leverage the potential the player still has for an upgrade? An acquiring team would be adding an intriguing 23-year-old talent with the hopes he’ll have his breakout next season.

JASON ZUCKER/NINO NIEDERREITER/CHARLIE COYLE, MINNESOTA WILD

The Wild have made six straight post-season appearances, but haven’t reached the third round and have gotten out of the first round just twice. When this year’s team failed to move on from the Round of 16 again, GM Chuck Fletcher took the fall and was replaced with former Nashville assistant GM Paul Fenton. Some degree of change is destined to come to the Wild, because expectations start sky-high for the new guy in charge.

“I’m confident we have a very good team in Minnesota and believe Paul shares that same belief. The goal remains to bring a Stanley Cup to the state of hockey,” Wild owner Craig Leipold said at Fenton’s introductory press conference. “No pressure, Paul, but that is where it starts.”

There is no rebuild coming for this team. The owner is expecting a championship and the salary structure makes it hard to move away from a significant portion of this core. Still, there are options, and in a season-ending column wondering where it went wrong for the Wild, the Pioneer Press’s Dane Mizutani pondered two players who could become moveable assets:

Although Parise and Suter are unmovable based on their matching 13-year, $98 million contracts, guys like Coyle and Niederreiter might have finally worn out their welcome after following up disappointing regular seasons with scoreless post-seasons.

In the past few weeks, Jason Zucker’s name has been added into the mix, and it’s possible the Wild could move on from a guy who just scored a career-high 33 goals and has all the speed in the world. Minnesota seems primed to do something, it’s just not clear which one or two players (at least) will move on. There are all sorts of options for Fenton to consider and not just up front…

MATHEW DUMBA/JONAS BRODIN, MINNESOTA WILD

The Wild were one of the teams facing difficult expansion draft decisions last summer, and before they lost Erik Haula and Alex Tuch to the Golden Knights, there was a lot of speculation the Wild would make a trade elsewhere so they would have enough protection spots to keep everyone they wanted. Included in those discussions were defencemen Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba, for whom the Wild received offers.

Dumba’s role with the team has increased the past few years; he averaged a career-high 23:49 and scored a career-best 50 points in 2017-18. Now he’s an RFA due a hefty raise and if there is any hitch in those negotiations, he could become a valuable trade option. The ugly season-ending injury sustained by Ryan Suter, and the uncertainty of his recovery time, may make it more likely Dumba stays as his importance in the lineup grows, but he would bring back the biggest return of any Minnesota blue-liner via trade.

If Fenton looks at trading a defender, Brodin may be the more likely option on his own. The 10th-overall pick in the 2011 draft, Brodin came into the league with major expectations and mostly lived up to them early on. By Corsi and Relative Corsi, Brodin’s best season was his rookie year, though, and he’s never been a big offensive driver. Brodin’s value is as a defender and his contract isn’t bad, with a $4.16-million cap hit for another three years.

But remember, Fenton is coming from a Predators team that built its identity around a strong and deep blue line, so this may be a little out of character.

Tyler Ennis was listed in our buyout candidates list because he’s been unproductive with a $4.6-million cap hit for one more season. Since he hasn’t yet been bought out, it’s also possible Ennis and his contract become part of a deal involving any one of these five Wild players.

COREY PERRY/JAKOB SILFVERBERG, ANAHEIM DUCKS

Like his counterpart in Pittsburgh, Anaheim GM Bob Murray is never afraid to make a big splash in the trade market and did it again this past season by swapping Sami Vatanen for Adam Henrique in November. With his team eliminated in a quick four-game sweep at the hands of the much-faster San Jose Sharks — a team that re-tooled itself with youth after the 2016 Cup final — Murray talked about the desire to build a faster team and was critical about one long-standing franchise pillar in particular.

“Corey’s (Perry) got to buy into some more things in the off-season,” Murray said in April. “He’s got to buy into playing fast.

“Hopefully I can give [Carlyle] a healthy hockey team to start the year to see if they will change.”

Perry has been a central piece of Anaheim’s roster since he entered the league, but his play has started to dip in his 30s and he hasn’t scored 20 goals in either of the past two seasons. The problem in trying to trade Perry is that, with an $8.625 -million cap hit for another three years, he’s not an enticing pickup for many teams. Any potential move would likely have to involve either Anaheim eating a portion of that salary, or adding a valued prospect or defenceman to make the deal work.

As Perry struggles, another right-winger, 22-year-old Ondrej Kase, is on the rise. The third-liner scored 20 goals in his sophomore season and brings the kind of speed Perry has lost.

Jakob Silfverberg could be the more realistic trade option here, because he’s still in his prime (27) and his contract isn’t too onerous ($3.75 million). His deal does expire at the end of next season at which point he could become a UFA, so unless an extension is agreed to, Anaheim might not be able to regain full value. Murray landed Silfverberg in the first place from Ottawa for Bobby Ryan, who had two years left on his deal at the time.

It’s not that Silfverberg is a problem, but if the Ducks are going to slowly transition this off-season he’s a good candidate to start the process. Silfverberg is a decent checker with 20-goal upside and has PK responsibilities.

CHRIS TANEV/ALEXANDER EDLER, VANCOUVER CANUCKS

As long as the Vancouver Canucks are rebuilding, their veterans will pop up in the trade rumour mill.

But for Vancouver to trade either of these two defencemen, the player would have to sign off on it. Edler has a full no-trade clause, while Tanev can submit a list of eight teams to which he cannot be traded, per CapFriendly. With the Canucks likely to finish near the bottom again, the 32-year-old Edler and 28-year-old Tanev may be open to a move if one comes up, though.

Tanev’s contract is a very affordable $4.45 million for another two seasons and he’s a defensively responsible right-shot, which is a valued piece around the league. He’s a better fit as a second-pair blue-liner on most teams than a No. 1 or 2, but the downside is that Tanev is prone to injury — he has not played more than 70 games in his career and has failed to even reach 54 games the past two seasons.

“I’m happy in Vancouver,” Tanev told Sportsnet’s Starting Lineup in Vancouver. “I love the city, I love all the guys, it’s out of my control.”

Sportsnet’s Starting Lineup
Chris Tanev on getting 'beefed up' and other strategies for injury prevention
May 09 2018

Edler would be the most logical trade candidate if he didn’t have full trade protection, but his destiny is in his own hands. He’s one year away from unrestricted free agency and has been a huge part of Vancouver’s defence for nearly a decade, averaging at least 23 minutes a game eight years in a row. Although the Canucks are rebuilding, it’s important to maintain competitiveness and if they trade either Edler or Tanev, a ton of on-ice minutes would leave the roster.

KEVIN HAYES, N.Y. RANGERS

After folding at the trade deadline and announcing a new focus on young players and picks, the Rangers offloaded Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller to Tampa Bay and Rick Nash to Boston, giving them an extra two first-round picks in this year’s draft.

New York has roughly $29.4 million in cap space with a number of RFAs, headlined by 24-year-old defenceman Brady Skjei. New York Post columnist Larry Brooks wrote that he expects the Rangers to make a move or two, and while teams have reportedly called about RFA Ryan Spooner, the most likely to get traded could be Kevin Hayes.

Brooks noted the Rangers are overflowing with players who can play centre, a position which holds value on its own around the league. Hayes, Spooner, Mika Zibanejad, Filip Chytil, Lias Andersson and Vlad Namestnikov, he pointed out, can all play the position. Granted, none of those players are stand-out talents yet, but the Rangers would prefer to not bury rookies Chytil and Andersson when they’re given a full-time shot in 2018-19.

Hayes, 26, is coming off a career season in which he posted 25 goals in 76 games and is an arbitration-eligible RFA. Brooks wrote that Hayes would “likely command a five-year deal in the neighbourhood of $4.75 million per,” which is more in line with a second-line player, whereas Hayes would probably fit better as a third-liner on the Rangers in the future.

Brooks suggested the Rangers would be in the market for a right-shot defenceman, with the idea being they could use Hayes to take a step towards improvement with this deal, rather than continuing towards a build-up of picks and prospects.

MILAN LUCIC, EDMONTON OILERS

This may be a hard trade to pull off, considering Lucic is a big, slow, bruiser in a league getting faster by the season, and making $6 million against the cap for another five seasons. But reports indicate the team is working on it.

From Elliotte Friedman’s 31 Thoughts column on June 10:

We’re dealing with some verbal semantics when it comes to Milan Lucic in Edmonton.

I’d heard rumours he’d asked for a trade, but that was denied. However, it’s clear he and the Oilers are working together to gauge interest. It doesn’t look like an easy trade to make without taking back a big contract, but the team seems confident there will be a fit.

Lucic managed only 10 goals and 34 points this past season, both of which were full-season lows since he was a rookie. If the Oilers do find a taker for Lucic, it seems it would have to be as part of a package for a more appealing asset, such as Klefbom, who we mentioned above.

TOREY KRUG, BOSTON BRUINS

Boston’s power-play quarterback, highest-scoring blue-liner, and a 59-point player who has seen increased production three years in a row can’t escape being mentioned in trade rumours. Krug is making $5.25 million against the cap for another two seasons before he becomes a UFA at 29 years old and would be a valuable pick up for some other team.

However, if the Bruins do trade Krug, you can bet it won’t be for prospects and draft picks. Boston is a contender, and trading him would have to involve a return for an upgrade.

The most popular link in rumours is to Klefbom via Edmonton, but he has never recorded as many points as Krug has totalled each of the past four seasons. The Bruins would have to explore getting a left-hand shot back for Krug, which Klefbom is, because without Krug Boston is left with only two left-shot defencemen: Zdeno Chara and Matt Grzelcyk.

COLTON PARAYKO, ST. LOUIS BLUES

It’s not that 35-point defenceman Parayko is on St. Louis’ trade block, but teams are reportedly calling about the six-foot-six, 230-pound defenceman who has four more years left on a contract that pays him a very manageable $5.5 million against the cap.

As Friedman noted in his 10 pre-draft thoughts, the price to acquire Parayko would be “enormous” and the Blues aren’t in a situation where they have to trade him for money reasons. The 25-year-old averaged 22:37 last season and it’s believed there’s still more offence to come out of his game.

He’s a valued right shot and can blast the puck. He doesn’t play a top role on St. Louis’ power play, and that’s where a team interested in his services would likely find a bigger spot for him.

CRAIG ANDERSON, OTTAWA SENATORS

It was reported last week that Anderson had “expressed his desire to move on from the Senators.”

Now, the goalie market is never strong for trade and Anderson is coming off one of the worst seasons of his career with an .898 save percentage, but there is a case to be made that he is the best option out there for teams looking to upgrade or find a No. 1. In 2016-17, Anderson posted a .926 save percentage in the regular season, then followed it up with a .922 mark in a post-season run to the conference final.

If you look at Anderson’s career he tends to yo-yo from one season to the next, so he may be in line for a rebound of sorts in 2018-19. Granted, he’s 37 years old and on the downside of his career, but at $4.75 million for two more years, is he a “safer” option than the likes of Carter Hutton or Robin Lehner? His age and contract mean there’s no long-term commitment to make and the general weakness of the goalie trade market means he’s unlikely to cost anything much to acquire.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.