NHL off-season trade candidates: 25 players who could be moved

Chris Johnston joined Tim & Friends to talk about the Oilers’ trade for Duncan Keith and touched on other big names that could be on the move in the NHL.

The Duncan Keith trade to Edmonton kicked off what is expected to be a busy three weeks on the NHL's off-season schedule. With the expansion and entry draft both next week, followed by the opening of free agency the week after, we're at a spot on the calendar where teams can make substantial moves to change up their rosters.

And don't forget, they can go over the cap by 10 per cent in the off-season as long as they are compliant again by the start of 2021-22, which makes trades a little easier to accomplish.

There is potential for this to be the "summer of the blockbuster" because of the new team being added, but also because of the long list of names being bandied about in rumours. We're talking star players, support players, you name it — the temperature is about right for an off-season of massive change.

"This is by far the most interesting and juicy off-season in hockey history between the depth and quality of players that are on the trade board, the deep free-agent class and you factor in the expansion draft as well," Daily Faceoff's Frank Seravalli told 590 the FAN's Lead Off. "There's going to be a lot of player movement over the next 15-20 days that really reshapes the look of this league."

With that, we turn to our list of off-season trade candidates, which currently runs 25 names deep:

Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres

Cap hit: $10 million
Years remaining: 5
2020-21 stats: 21 GP | 2 G | 16 A

The skinny: You know all about this situation by now. A neck injury shortened Eichel's season, but he and the Sabres organization have different ideas on how to treat it, with Eichel wanting a new kind of surgery and the team opting for rest instead. It's been apparent since his end-of-season press conference that Eichel wants out and it will be general manager Kevyn Adams' first big test — and maybe wind up being the biggest challenge of his tenure when all is said and done. The Sabres need a home run return for this franchise centre, the kind who rarely ever becomes available through trade, but the injury clouds everything.

Sam Reinhart, Buffalo Sabres

Cap hit: N/A (RFA)
Status: Eligible for UFA when next contract expires
2020-21 stats: 54 GP | 25 G | 15 A

The skinny: Amidst all the struggles and drama in Buffalo again this year, Reinhart was a rare positive story and their best player from beginning to end. The Sabres don't have to trade him right now, but his RFA status will allow a new team to work out a contract with him and fit that within their cap structure. If you're out on Eichel you might still be in on Reinhart, who is a top-two centre on most teams.

Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames

Cap hit: $6.75 million
Years remaining: 1
2020-21 stats: 56 GP | 19 G | 30 A

The skinny: An off-season trade candidate for a couple of years now, it's decision time on Johnny Hockey. Not only is he about to head into the last year of his contract, after which he could become a UFA, but he also has a modified no-trade list that kicks in on July 28. That would allow him to approve a trade to a list of just five teams, greatly diminishing Calgary's market, which is currently unencumbered. Gaudreau has stated a willingness to re-sign in Calgary, but change is necessary there. So if it's not him who goes, who is it?

Sean Monahan, Calgary Flames

Cap hit: $6.375 million
Years remaining: 2
2020-21 stats: 50 GP | 10 G | 18 A

The skinny: If Gaudreau doesn't go, will it be Monahan? He's been in trade rumours before, has had back-to-back disappointing seasons and underperformed his contract in that time. For those reasons his value may be low, though. Replacing him at centre wouldn't be easy either, but outside of shockingly trading Matthew Tkachuk, Gaudreau and Monahan are the core pieces that could bring about change here.

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals

Cap hit: $7.8 million
Years remaining: 4
2020-21 stats: 41 GP | 9 G | 20 A

The skinny: It's been three straight years of declining scoring rates for Kuznetsov, and since the Capitals have stalled in their bid to win another Cup with this core they might try and change it up a bit. GM Brian MacLellan openly discussed the possibility of trading Kuznetsov and seemed frustrated with the player. But he's 29 with immense offensive upside and is a top-two centre, which is always a piece in demand.

Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs

Cap hit: $5 million
Years remaining: 1
2020-21 stats: 55 GP | 5 G | 30 A

The skinny: Rielly could very well be back with the Maple Leafs next season, but if none of the Core Four are going to be moved and the right trade comes along, it might be time for Toronto to consider moving out its longest tenured player. They couldn't do it without finding a replacement, but with rumours that Toronto will try to make one big addition in an area of need, it could be at the top of the defence. It all depends on the market and how they see his next contract shaping up. Rielly will be UFA-eligible next off-season and, with limited cap space, they might have to be careful with how much they invest in him from here.

Nate Schmidt, Vancouver Canucks

Cap hit: $5.95 million
Years remaining: 4
2020-21 stats: 54 GP | 5 G | 10 A

The skinny: Year 1 in Vancouver just didn't work out for a variety of reasons. The initial shock of the trade; getting fewer minutes on a worse team; the COVID-19 outbreak within the Canucks. Schmidt struggled, but he has more to give than what we saw this season. Will there be a Year 2, though? It's not clear if Schmidt has formally asked for a trade or if it's more of a mutual agreement, but the Canucks are exploring moving him.

Kevin Labanc, San Jose Sharks

Cap hit: $4.725 million
Years remaining: 3
2020-21 stats: 55 GP | 12 G | 16 A

The skinny: Kevin Kurz of The Athletic reported Labanc's availability over the weekend and he's one of only a few Sharks with a good combination of productivity, affordability and term. The Sharks need to make some changes after back-to-back playoff misses even though the amount of money invested in this roster brings post-season expectations. A few players had soft seasons in San Jose, but Labanc still did pretty well and might be one of the trade pieces they could get the most back for.

Nolan Patrick, Philadelphia Flyers

Cap hit: N/A (RFA)
Status: Four years away from being UFA-eligible
2020-21 stats: 52 GP | 4 G | 5 A

The skinny: Four years after being chosen second overall, Patrick hasn't fully hit his potential and been slowed by injury. As the Flyers look to change up a unit that hasn't been able to consistently break into the playoffs, Patrick could be a player other teams view as an upside asset. What that means for a trade return remains to be seen, but he's a 22-year-old RFA with breakout potential who won't cost too much against the cap quite yet.

Seth Jones, Columbus Blue Jackets

Cap hit: $5.4 million
Years remaining: 1
2020-21 stats: 56 GP | 5 G | 23 A

The skinny: Jones has told the Blue Jackets he intends to test the market as a UFA next off-season, so now it's time for GM Jarmo Kekalainen to get ahead of this and trade the player before we're counting down to a deadline. Jones is a solid player coming off a disappointing season and his trade value may be determined by his contract outlook. It's believed there are only a handful of teams he might be willing to commit to with a new contract right away and those are the ones Columbus would ideally find agreement with.

Conor Garland, Arizona Coyotes

Cap hit: N/A (RFA)
Status: Two years away from being UFA-eligible
2020-21 stats: 49 GP | 12 G | 27 A

The skinny: We're into the Coyotes portion of the list and there are a number of possibilities here as they look to reload with prospects and picks. On one hand, Garland would be a great player to keep as he's still just 25 and coming off a breakout season. On the other, that means he should bring back a pretty good return in trade. Stay tuned.

Phil Kessel, Arizona Coyotes

Cap hit: $6.8 million
Years remaining: 1
2020-21 stats: 56 GP | 20 G | 23 A

The skinny: He'll be 34 next season and is past his best days, but Kessel can still be a great complementary player and a fit on a contender looking for one more top-six piece. Cap space is limited around the league right now so the Coyotes may have to retain some salary to get full value back in a trade.

Darcy Kuemper, Arizona Coyotes

Cap hit: $4.5 million
Years remaining: 1
2020-21 stats: 27 GP | 10-11-3 | .907 SV% | 2.56 GAA

The skinny: After a couple of strong, late-breakout seasons, Kuemper struggled a little bit more in 2020-21. Still, betting on him to recover behind a better team might be a good one, and his short-term cap hit is entirely manageable. If you need a goalie and either the free-agency prices are too much, or it's become too expensive to retain a goalie you already have, Kuemper is a worthy target.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Arizona Coyotes

Cap hit: $8.25 million
Years remaining: 6
2020-21 stats: 46 GP | 3 G | 21 A

Last year OEL was on the trade block, but through his no-movement clause he would only approve deals to Vancouver or Boston, and then set a deadline to get it done by. That didn't happen. Now he's on the block again, but reportedly willing to consider more trade destinations. The problem is that he's not been as impactful for a few seasons and has huge term and cap hit remaining. Hard to see how the Coyotes get this done without either retaining salary, or taking back an overpriced, long-term contract for themselves.

Dougie Hamilton, Carolina Hurricanes

Cap hit: N/A (UFA)
2020-21 stats: 455 GP | 10 G | 32 A

The skinny: The Canes allowed Hamilton to reach out to other teams and gauge interest ahead of him hitting free agency on July 28. The hope is that he finds out his best offer is coming from Carolina but, if not, it could allow the Hurricanes time to trade him to a signing team to get something in return before the market opens July 28.

Rickard Rakell, Anaheim Ducks

Cap hit: $3.789 million
Years remaining: 1
2020-21 stats: 52 GP | 9 G | 19 A

The skinny: A possible trade candidate at this year's deadline, Rakell is now a year away from unrestricted free agency and has a very manageable cap hit. It's been a couple years since he posted back-to-back 30-goal seasons, but he's still just 28 years old — can a higher-event team than Anaheim unlock his offensive ceiling again?

Vince Dunn, St. Louis Blues

Cap hit: N/A (RFA)
Status: Three years away from being UFA-eligible
2020-21 stats: 43 GP | 6 G | 14 A

The skinny: Every recent season has brought us Dunn trade rumours and it hasn't happened yet. Now, with the additional wild card of a Seattle expansion draft, the conditions may finally be right. Dunn will turn 25 early next season and is the type of puck-moving blue-liner many front offices will covet.

Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers

Cap hit: $8.25 million
Years remaining: 3
2020-21 stats: 53 GP | 9 G | 34 A

The skinny: Seattle needs to get to the salary floor, so there may be some value in taking Voracek's hefty contract and three remaining years — plus he's still a productive player. If he goes unclaimed, though, Philadelphia could look to move him elsewhere through trade and at that point salary retention or a contract swap could be in the cards.

Patrik Laine, Columbus Blue Jackets

Cap hit: N/A (RFA)
Status: Two years away from being UFA-eligible
2020-21 stats: 46 GP | 12 G | 12 A

The skinny: Hopefully this season winds up as the worst of Laine's prime years because it wasn't pretty after the trade to Columbus. Laine never settled in or scored at his usual goal pace, but will be a primary bounce-back candidate next season. How his contract talks go could determine what happens here. Laine was in position to slow play the Jets right to his first crack at UFA and he could do the same now in Columbus. And at the same time, committing big dollars and term to a player who had such a disappointing year would be tough to do. Laine could still end up being a Blue Jacket for the long future, but if his negotiations drag on or end up being another short pact, the trade timer will start ticking.

Rasmus Ristolainen, Buffalo Sabres

Cap hit: $5.4 million
Years remaining: 1
2020-21 stats: 49 GP | 4 G | 14 A

The skinny: Another player often put in rumour mills, Ristolainen is now a year away from being able to walk to free agency. He can log big minutes and, even though he hasn't had his best seasons recently, he'll be just 27 in October and a fresh start outside of Buffalo's losing culture could bring out the best in him again.

Jake DeBrusk, Boston Bruins

Cap hit: $3.675 million
Years remaining: 1
2020-21 stats: 41 GP | 5 G | 9 A

The skinny: Part of the reason Boston needed to add secondary scoring and then did so with left winger Taylor Hall was because DeBrusk just wasn't finding the back of the net consistently enough. A name mentioned in the rumour mill at the deadline, DeBrusk scored 27 times two years ago, but has scored less than that in 106 games since. He's got one year left on his contract and after that expires he'll be an RFA.

Joonas Korpisalo

Cap hit: $2.8 million
Years remaining: 1
2020-21 stats: 33 GP | 9-13-7 | .894 SV% | 3.30 GAA

The skinny: It wasn't a great year for Korpisalo, but you could say that about a lot of Columbus' players. If you consider some of the upheaval going on in the goalie market right now and that various teams are looking for value at the position, the 27-year-old Finn is just a year removed from a pretty good campaign and a solid playoff against Toronto and Tampa Bay. He's inexpensive and only has one year left on his contract so the commitment is minimal. If the Blue Jackets don't get a good enough offer for Korpisalo, they could explore trading Elvis Merzlikins instead.

Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues

Cap hit: $7.5 million
Years remaining: 2
2020-21 stats: 24 GP | 4 G | 10 A

The skinny: He wants out and it appears the Blues do, too. There is a disconnect between Tarasenko and the team that makes a return highly unlikely right now. When he was healthy, Tarasenko was one of the premier goal scorers in the game, but shoulder troubles have knocked him way off course. If he recovers to anything near what he was, adding him would be a big win, but whether or not he can get there again is a big question. That injury and his cap hit make Tarasenko a far greater risk than he used to be.

John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks

Cap hit: $6.4 million
Years remaining: 6
2020-21 stats: 35 GP | 9-19-7 | .903 SV% | 2.98 GAA

The skinny: A lot of teams are going to look at the Stanley Cup Final and take away that having an elite, No. 1 goalie is a game-changer. So keep an eye on Gibson, who didn't have the best season behind one of the worst teams in the NHL, but had been among the league's better goalies for a few years before. He's 27 now, and if the Ducks feel they are still a couple years away from challenging again, it might be wise to see if they can get a haul back for Gibson sooner than later.

Tyler Bertuzzi, Detroit Red Wings

Cap hit: N/A (RFA)
Status: One year away from being UFA-eligible
2020-21 stats: 9 GP | 5 G | 2 A

The skinny: The Maple Leafs have been rumoured to have interest in Bertuzzi, possibly as a replacement for Zach Hyman if he leaves in free agency. But if Toronto is interested, you know other teams will be, too. The Wings may decide they want to keep Bertuzzi, who had back-to-back 20-goal seasons before this injury shortened year and brings the kind of jam teams want. But does he fit in to Detroit's long-term plan given he'll be 27 next season?

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