The buzz surrounding the 2015 NHL Draft isn’t only about Jack Eichel or Connor McDavid.
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, a handful of NHL teams are preparing to be very active on the trade market.
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“It’s going to be crazy,” Friedman said Friday during a guest appearance on Sportsnet 960 The Fan in Calgary. “In terms of player movement, it has a chance to be one of the wildest drafts that we’ve seen.”
Elliotte Friedman on Sportsnet 960 The Fan
Here’s a look at which teams could be the busiest:
St. Louis Blues
“That’s going to be a big one,” Friedman said. “(General manager) Doug Armstrong, he knows he’s got to pay (Vladimir) Tarasenko and that’s going to be a big number.”
The Blues could be looking for a bit of a roster shake-up after three straight first-round exits. As Friedman alluded to, the team is moving towards a younger core with Tarasenko in need of a new deal and forward Jaden Schwartz developing into a high-level talent.
Veteran David Backes has already said that the team would be “insane not to make changes” and players such as T.J. Oshie and Patrick Berglund could be dealt if the front office doesn’t envision them as part of the top-six going forward.
During the segment, Friedman mentioned there have been rumblings that Evgeni Malkin has had growing frustrations with the Penguins. The team finished eighth in the Eastern Conference and looked underwhelming throughout the latter half of the 2014-15 season. However, Friedman said the most logical course of action would be to continue to add around Malkin and captain Sidney Crosby.
They know they need to get better on the back end and require more depth up front. GM Jim Rutherford could be fighting for his job with an ownership change possibly looming.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Prior to the hiring of head coach Mike Babcock, the Maple Leafs were preparing a full-fledged roster rebuild.
“They were looking at a scorched-earth kind of roster,” Friedman said. “Get guys out and start all over again.”
The addition of Babcock may change things a bit, but the team is still looking to get younger and the future of captain Dion Phaneuf and forward Phil Kessel remains up in the air. If there’s a time to trade the aforementioned highly-priced players or core forwards such as Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Bozak, the draft would be the ideal time. That’s when teams have salary cap space to take larger cap hits before the start of free agency. Kessel is the likeliest of the bunch to go.
New York Rangers
The Rangers may have some cap issues going forward, which could prompt a key piece getting traded.
Key forwards such as Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, J.T. Miller and Kevin Hayes will require new deals in the next few seasons, so the team could be strapped unless they move a large contract. The team went all-in to make a Stanley Cup push, giving up draft picks and salary cap space in the process, and moves such as acquiring defenceman Keith Yandle limits their cap flexibilty heading into the off-season. That could cause the club to decide against re-signing UFA forward Martin St. Louis.
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Friedman said there’s some legitimacy to the notion that forward Rick Nash could be on the trading block, but he expects the team to first shop a bunch of players in order to determine who carries the best trade value.
“They have two moves to loosen up the logjam,” Friedman said. “No. 1 is (Rick) Nash. No. 2 is one of their defencemen. Nash has a no-trade (clause) until July 1 and then it becomes a limited no-trade so they know where they will be able to trade him to.”