The 2019 NHL Draft is tomorrow night, and there is an abundance of trade chatter around the league. This year, there seems to be more than usual, which albeit is said every year. However, this time it feels real.
Perhaps it is the impending cap crunch of the salary cap only raising to $81.5 million rather than $83 million, or the exuberant contracts being handed out already, or the impending Seattle expansion draft, but general managers are feeling the heat. Thus, some interesting names are being thrown around into the rumor winds and plenty of new players could wind up on new teams come next season. Here are ten potential names that could move and the implications of the transactions.
Player: Travis Hamonic, Calgary Flames
Contract: One year, $3,857,143 million
Analysis: The Flames have oodles of talent coming up through the system on defense, including Juuso Valimaki and Rasmus Andersson, so Hamonic can become expandable for cap space if general manager Brad Treliving should so please. Hamonic certainly will not return a net-positive from when they acquired him from the Islanders (a first round pick and two second round picks), but he is still a quality player and has shown the ability to be a shut-down defenseman in the NHL. I would expect teams that are defense deprived, including cross-province rivals Edmonton, to come calling. I would expect the price point to be around a second round pick and a prospect.
Player: Justin Faulk, Carolina Hurricanes
Contract: One year, $4,833,333 million
Analysis: Faulk’s time with Carolina is still in the air. It is reported that he is willing to talk to the team and see if something can be worked out, but a trade is also on the table. Top-four, right-handed defensemen do not come along onto the trade market every day, so Faulk is a highly valuable asset. This is pure spitballing: but I wonder if Carolina can make Patrick Marleau’s contract work alongside Kasperi Kapanen and focus a trade around those two and Faulk.
Player: Tyson Barrie, Colorado Avalanche
Contract: One year, $5,500,000 million
Analysis: Much lie Faulk and Carolina, Colorado certainly does not have to trade Barrie. For a potential playoff team, he holds a lot of value. Then again, it is a crowded right side with Erik Johnson and Cale Makar. If the Avalanche see themselves striking out on other fronts, I can see them flipping Barrie for some immediate help up front.
Player: Jesse Puljujarvi, Edmonton Oilers
Analysis: Obviously, Puljujarvi does not want to be in Edmonton. The 2016 fourth overall pick has spent time between the NHL and AHL and is seeking a fresh start. The Oilers will hold their laurels and wait for a good return, but it will be nothing near the value of the spot they drafted him in. I can see a fit in Arizona and Los Angeles.
Player: Jason Zucker, Minnesota Wild
Contract: Four years, $5,500,000 million
Analysis: The Wild have weirdly been trying to trade Zucker for some time now, so there may be something going on behind the scenes between organization and player. Regardless, Zucker seems to be almost a definite to be moved soon. He is a versatile, two-way forward that can play in multiple scenarios and, as a bonus, has strong community ties, as seen by him receiving the King Clancy at the 2019 NHL Awards. It is hard to pin a price tag on Zucker, but I would expect a late first, a prospect, and a fringe-NHL guy.
Player: Nick Leddy, New York Islanders
Contract: Three years, $5,500,000 million
Analysis: The Islanders may look to shed cap space and Leddy is the spot to do so. He started off well on Long Island but has since faltered, but he is still a smooth-skating, powerplay quarterback. Those are always in demand. The Islanders could either look to trade him straiht up for a forward or go to the cap space route to make a run at a free agent. It is always impossible to read what general manager Lou Lamoriello is thinking. Regardless, Montreal seems like a safe bet for teams who would be interested.
Player: Jimmy Vesey, New York Rangers
Contract: One year, $2,275,000 million
Analysis: The Rangers continue their overhaul by reportedly shopping Vesey, alongside Ryan Strome and Vlad Namestnikov. There really is not much here, Vesey will likely return a mid-round pick or similar player. He will get moved, though.
Player: Kasperi Kapanen, Toronto Maple Leafs
Analysis: It appears as though Kapanen will be a victim of Toronto’s cap crunch. There will be no shortage of takers on the speedy winger. As mentioned before, Carolina makes sense. Pittsburgh and Columbus also make sense. Kapanen will most likely be used as a trade piece in a larger move with cap relief implications.
Player: Andre Burakovsky, Washington Capitals
Analysis: Since being drafted 23rd overall in 2013, Burakovsky has failed to impress in Washington as much as he should have. Through a few coaches, he has not been able to find his footing. The Capitals will not trade him for nothing, but he could use a fresh start. The same teams kicking tires on Puljujarvi come to mind.
Player: Valeri Nichushkin, Dallas Stars
Contract: One year, $2,950,000 million
Analysis: Nichushkin could get traded, but a buyout seems more likely. After coming back from the KHL, he put up an abysmal zero goals and 10 points in 57 games while putting up less than stellar possession metrics. It remains to be seen how the relationship ends between him and Dallas, but one thing is for sure – it’s over.
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