10 possible trade candidates that could be on the move this off-season

With the Stanley Cup Finals over and the NHL buyout period on going with the draft tonight, and free agency opening on July 13th, the fun of the off-season is just beginning. These next couple weeks will see craziness around the league as teams will trade star players as they look to retool their assets setting their franchise up for the future. On the buying end will be contenders looking to add that one or two pieces missing from their roster as they prepare to chase Stanley Cup glory next season.

This off-season has already seen its first big trade as Kevin Fiala was dealt from the Minnesota Wild to the Los Angles Kings for the King’s first-round pick this year (19th overall) and the rights to prospect Brock Faber. This trade kicked off the first of many as the league is expected to see a high volume of players moved around as teams look to dethrone the Colorado Avalanche next season.

This year there seems to be an endless amount of names floating around the rumor mill as the off-season frenzy kicks into high gear, especially with the draft tonight. Here is a list of ten off-season trade candidates who have had their names floated around the most, whether it be because they requested a trade themselves, their general manager announced a fire sale, or it makes the most sense since their team is headed towards a rebuild.

Alex DeBrincat, Chicago Blackhawks

As soon as Kyle Davidson took over as the full-time general manager of the Blackhawks back in March, the term rebuild was used to describe his plan on how to get the original six franchises back to their Stanley Cup-winning ways. This plan was backed up by the hiring of Luke Richardson as head coach, as he’s recognized as a great teacher for a younger core.

The Blackhawks have no easy task as they must decide what to do with the 24-year-old. He is coming off his second 41-goal campaign and can still be a key contributor for the Hawks on the other side of their rebuild. The biggest thing is the chemistry that DeBrincat has built with Patrick Kane, who has one year left on his contract. What Davidson decides to do with DeBrincat could have severe implications for the future of Kane in Chicago and if he decides to weather the rebuild this late in his career.

“I’ve developed some chemistry with DeBrincat over the years, so if he’s here and he’s a big piece, that makes it easier for me too, right, because I’m playing with him every day and he’s such a good player, and it makes it fun to be out there with him. We’ll see how it shakes out, though,” Kane said about the prospect of playing through a rebuild this late in his career.

The argument can be made to keep or to trade DeBrincat as both options have their pros and cons. He has one more year left on his contract before becoming an RFA, at which point he will be one year away from being eligible for UFA status. If the Hawks decide to keep him and sign him long-term, he will be a pivotal contributor to this team for years to come. If they choose to move on and trade him, they could secure a significant haul setting the franchise up with assets for years to come. The Athletic‘s Pierre LeBrun reports that to acquire DeBrincat, any team would have to send a young player, high draft picks, and top prospects.

A few teams interested in DeBrincat have the assets to make the deal happen, including the Detroit Red Wings, New Jersey Devils, NY Islanders, and Ottawa Senators. The LA Kings were interested but just completed a deal for Kevin Fiala instead.

J.T. Miller, Vancouver Canucks

Miller, without a doubt, will be traded; it’s just a matter of when. Miller’s name was prevalent at last season’s trade deadline as many thought he would be on the move then. Miller is fresh off a career-best 99-point season and has one more year left on a deal at $5.25 million before a salary increase comes next summer, perhaps via free agency.

The Canucks have made it known that with their new regime, they are focused on clearing cap room, and with the significant raise Miller is about to receive, their hand may be forced to trade him before they lose him for nothing in free agency.

“(Miller’s camp) are not surprised at these reports the Canucks are listening on Miller. In fact one source told me the Canucks have been listening to teams on Miller since February,” said Rick Dhaliwal on Donnie and Dhali. “This clearly tells me the two sides are far apart on Miller and his worth on a new deal.”

Miller is projected to receive over $8 million a year in his next contract, and some even have that number being over $9 million. The Canucks will need to decide sooner rather than later what their plan for Miller will be if they look to capitalize on the return they could get for him. Miller is a great candidate for a draft-day trade so stay tuned with round one of the drafts tonight on July 7th and day two on the 8th.

There will be plenty of suitors for the versatile wing/center, but the big name of the bunch is the Washington Capitals, who lost Nicklas Backstrom to potentially career-ending hip surgery. With Backstrom’s sidelined for who knows how long, Miller would play a considerable role in replacing the long-time Capital.

Conor Garland, Vancouver Canucks

Another Canuck to make the list is Garland, as interest is heating up around him. While his contract is attractive to keep around, the combination of said contract and his skill can fetch the Canucks pieces they would value as they look to be heading towards a rebuild. Garland is a complementary top-six winger who scored 19 goals and 52 points this season, and he’s cost-effective with a $4.95 million cap hit that runs another four years.

The recent signing of Andrei Kuzmenko, who was promised top-six minutes and time on the second power-play, does suggest the Canucks are leaning towards moving on from Garland as they have a replacement. They also just extended Brock Boeser for three years, locking him into that top right-wing spot. The rebuilding Canucks should be able to fetch an excellent return, especially with reports that the New Jersey Devils are interested and have plenty of desirable assets to use in a trade.

John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks

While the most critical question surrounding Gibson these days is whether he is even that good anymore? The answer is when it comes down to trading the soon-to-be 29-year-old goaltender, he will still retrieve a good haul for the Anaheim Ducks.

Gibson has five more years left on his contract at $6.4 million AAV. While he may not be putting up the stats he did early in his career; a lot has to do with the direction the team has been heading in the last couple of years. Now that the Ducks are on the up and up after drafting young talents such as Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry, it’s time to cash in on their aging goaltender. Luckily for the Ducks, this off-season is filled with teams needing solid goaltending.

While Gibson does have a 10-team no-trade list, if it comes down to it, the Ducks could always approach Gibson and see if he waives it for one of the teams.

“I do think that Gibson knows the Ducks have decisions to make about the direction of their team and he knows that there’s teams out there looking for goaltenders,” Elliotte Friedman told NHL Network. “My sense of what it is, is if the Ducks want to do something and it takes Gibson’s permission they’ll just eventually go to him. I’m just not convinced yet that (general manager) Pat Verbeek sees trading John Gibson as the right move for the team.”

If the Ducks decide it’s time to move on from Gibson or a team offers the right price, they will not hesitate to make a move. Keep an eye on teams such as the New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Edmonton Oilers, as all three teams need to upgrade their goaltending.

MacKenzie Blackwood, New Jersey Devils

Once thought to be the goalie of the future for the Devils, Blackwood may now find himself on his way out. He has dealt with injuries and lackluster play that has led to the Devils looking to cash in before it’s too late. Blackwood has one year left on his contract before becoming an RFA.

With the Devils looking to take the next step into competition, Blackwood could help accelerate that process with his return. One of the Devils’ most significant weaknesses is goaltending and defense, so finding an upgrade will be their biggest priority this off-season.

Blackwood still holds trade value as he’s only 25 years old and has one year left on his contract worth $2.8 million. There is still time for Blackwood to transform into the goalie the Devils thought he would be, but at this point, it seems they are growing impatient. A change of scenery may be what it takes for Blackwood to take the next step in his development, as this has been the case with many players in league history.

Look towards the Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, and other goalie-needy teams to kick the tires on Blackwood. Other teams may explore the option as bringing Blackwood in as a backup so he can prove himself before they invest long term.

Sergei Bobrovsky, Florida Panthers

After helping lead the Panthers to the president’s trophy, Bobrovsky now sees himself with one foot out the door. He is three years into a massive seven-year contract that pays him $10 million annually. If the Panthers are looking to move their starting goaltender, it will take them retaining some of the contracts which they’ve expressed is in the cards.

“Florida is pushing Bobrovsky hard,” Nick Kypreos recently said on the “Real Kyper & Bourne” show. “In terms of takers, who needs a goalie, and we are willing to hold cash back. And I’m told as much as 50 percent.”

While Bobrovsky is getting up in age, as he’ll be 34 years old by the time next season rolls around, a goalie-needy team could take the chance on the veteran goaltender, especially with his cap hit down to $5 million.

The biggest factor in the situation, though, is Bobrovsky has a full no-movement clause giving him all the power over Florida. If the situation is right would Bobrvosky be willing to accept a trade and move on from the sunshine state? Only time will tell what goes on down in Florida as the Panthers look to shed cap after falling short once again.

The 50 percent retention will entice goalie-needy teams, and teams like Edmonton, who lost both their goaltenders and are strapped with cap space themselves, may look and see the $5 million as a steal. Also, keep an eye on Toronto, who still has not come to terms with Jack Campbell, as it looks like he will test the market this off-season.

Martin Necas, Carolina Hurricanes

The 12th overall pick in the 2017 draft had a solid season as he finished with 14 goals and 26 assists for 40 points in 78 games. While this stat line was good for the 23-year-old, many expected more from Necas as he was destined to take the next big step.

A lot of this pressure stems from the success that the 13th overall pick in the 2020 draft had this year. Seth Jarvis was one of the best stories of this past NHL season as he had 17 goals and 40 points in just 68 games as a rookie. Due to Jarvis fast ascension, it has left open the possibility of Necas heading to the trade block.

Necas lack of production in the playoffs and the decrease in minutes towards the end of the season were concerning as he tailed off. With Jarvis having two years left on his ELC and Necas an RFA this summer, there are two possibilities at play he either gets traded and the Hurricanes can get something back for him, or he signs a bridge deal to prove himself next season.

Keep an eye on the Nashville Predators as a suitor, as they will most likely have a void thanks to the departure of Filip Forsberg, who at this point looks like he will be departing in free agency.

Jakob Chychrun, Arizona Coyotes

A prevalent name at last season’s trade deadline, the high-end defenseman is once again back in trade talks. The belief around the league is the Coyotes still want to move the 24-year-old defenseman. While Chychrun is coming off a down year that saw him only play in 47 games due to injury, he is still the player that scored 18 goals and showed off his two-way presence the season prior.

Chychrun is still under contract for three more years at $4.6 million AAV, which is a bargain for a player of his talent. His contract also will help sweeten the return for Arizona as teams are getting term and a low cap hit for a player of his caliber. With the Coyotes moving into a roughly 5,000-seat arena for a couple of years, it’s time to trade your best asset and help the rebuild.

Three teams that have shown interest this off-season are the LA Kings, who already pulled off one major trade for Kevin Fiala, the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Anaheim Ducks. The Bruins were considered a top destination at the trade deadline, but the price was too high, and they settled for Hampus Lindholm. Instead, could they go all in, creating a top four of McAvoy, Lindholm, and Chychrun?

Tyson Barrie, Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers enter the off-season with just under $8 million in cap space along with a handful of restricted free agents and some unrestricted free agents, as well as a nightmare between the pipes. They must find a way to clear cap space if they want any chance at re-signing Evander Kane, who proved to have chemistry with Connor McDavid as the two impressed in the postseason together. The Oilers are also without a goalie as Mike Smith is most likely heading towards retirement, and Koskinen is heading overseas to play.

GM Ken Holland will have his hands full as he explores potential avenues in his pursuit of clearing cap space. He could start by buying out Zack Kassian or if Ducan Keith retires, even though there’s no indication of that yet, which leads to one very possible option.

With Evan Bouchard ready for an increased role and the next wave of youngsters pushing for their opportunities, such as Philip Broberg, Barrie could become something of a casualty. Barrie is set to make $4.5 million for two more seasons, and shipping him out would give Holland the flexibility he would require in free agency as well as bring back some pieces for the future.

The 30-year-old offensive-minded defenseman would be an excellent addition to a contending team or a team looking for a veteran presence to help with a young defense core. Barrie can be counted on for at least 40 points a season and can quarterback the power-play.

Look for teams such as the Detroit Red Wings who have expressed interest in bringing in a veteran defenseman to play with Moritz Seider. Another team is the New Jersey Devils, who desperately need to get better on defense as they look to take the next step in contending with their young core.

Jeff Petry, Montreal Canadiens

The aging Petry will most likely be on the move as the rebuilding Habs will look to add to their chest of assets. The 34-year-old got off to a slow start last season as he recorded just two points in the first quarter before returning to form once Martin St. Louis was hired behind the bench. He got Petry jump-started as he finished as the league’s 23rd highest-scoring defenseman after the coaching change. He finished with 27 points after having four straight seasons of 40 points plus.

Petry will be the perfect addition to a team looking for a veteran presence. He has three years remaining on his contract that carries a $6.25 million AAV and can submit a 15-team no-trade list.

A team to keep an eye on is the Detroit Red Wings, as Petry would be the perfect mentor for Moritz Seider and the Red Wings have the assets to get the deal done. This could go down as a draft-day trade as the Red Wings begin to set their course for the upcoming season and beyond.

Atlantic Division Preview Cue’ the Duck Boats Pod

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Kevin Santangelo

Co Host of Cue' the Duck Boats Podcast Writer for Inside the Rink

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