Trade winds blow as
summer kicks in
July 3, 2017 | 10:45am ET
TORONTO, ON -- The majority of this off-season's top free agent class
has found a new home and as we wait on the likes of Alexander Radulov,
Thomas Vanek, Andrei Markov and legend Jaromir Jagr, teams have
started to explore their options on the trade front.
Matt Duchene remains a popular name out there, but Colorado Avalanche
GM Joe Sakic is singing the same song. We may not fully understand the
lyrics, but he's still singing 'em.
The Avs want a young NHL-ready/proven defenseman, a top defensive
prospect and another high-end asset for Duchene. The price hasn't
really changed, and while we scratch our heads over offers that have
come and gone -- Travis Hamonic and a first-round pick wasn't good
enough -- Sakic sits back and waits to collect.
Duchene ties the knot this Saturday and what better wedding gift than
an end to this unnecessarily overly-dramatic situation? Talks have
picked up in the last 48-to-72 hours, or at least that's the
perception, and multiple teams are believed to be in the mix.
It's been well documented, mainly by Aaron Portzline of the Columbus
Dispatch, the Blue Jackets are hot for Duchene. Defensemen Ryan Murray
and Gabriel Carlsson are two names that pop up in trade talks, and
it's possible they're packaged together in a deal for Duchene.
The Boston Bruins re-entered the equation recently, while the Carolina
Hurricanes and Nashville Predators are still believed to be in the
mix. There's been chatter over the Pittsburgh Penguins, Montreal
Canadiens and Anaheim Ducks poking around again, but I'm sure a few
more teams have picked up the phone and dialed Burnaby Joe.
Away from the Duchene chatter, the Los Angeles Kings are an
interesting team to keep an eye on. They went hard after Joe Thornton
and Justin Williams, but clearly fell short. While adding Mike
Cammalleri to a bargain of a deal is a risk they were most certainly
willing to take, they want to add more.
Kings GM Rob Blake was fishing for a top-line winger around the NHL
Draft and will certainly poke around to see what's available now that
July 1 is behind us. Buffalo's Evander Kane is a Plan G, but the price
has to drop for the Kings to truly consider him an options.
The Kings would love to rid themselves of Marian Gaborik and his
contract. The 35-year-old has four-years left at an annual salary cap
hit of $4.875 million. They've reached out to the Vegas Golden
Knights, the Carolina Hurricanes and even the Ottawa Senators (for a
swap involving Dion Phaneuf), but so far nothing's materialized.
Former captain Dustin Brown seems safe, for now.
In San Jose, Sharks GM Doug Wilson told the media during last night's
conference call to welcome back Thornton on a one-year, $8 million
contract that they plan on giving their younger players an opportunity
to spread their wings. Funny what a few hours will do.
The Sharks were involved in trade discussions and had recently reached
out to a few teams. Whether they inch closer to an agreement is
another story, but Wilson had been exploring the market and if he can find a
cheap replacement for Patrick Marleau, or provide his club with more
depth, he'll probably pull the trigger.
Shifting to Marleau's new team, the Toronto Maple Leafs have been
working the phone lines for weeks. The addition of Marleau tentatively
puts them over the cap, but with the dead-weight contracts of Joffrey
Lupul and Nathan Horton eating up $10.55 million of cap space that can
be alleviated once they're put on LTIR, Toronto's in good shape.
The signing of Marleau is a bold and good move for a team filled with
youth. He's got quite a bit left in the tank and I can see him playing
beyond his new three-year deal. But the way the Leafs look right now
isn't likely to be how they look on Oct. 4 when they open up the
Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello, while signing veteran Ron Hainsey and adding
him to the blueline, is still trying to add a top-pair defenseman.
Toronto's been speaking with the Avalanche about blueliner Tyson
Barrie. I'm not sure if moving Barrie depends on the Avs shipping out
Duchene in a separate move, but add the Leafs to the list of teams
that would take on the 25-year-old rearguard.
Barrie has three-years left on his deal that comes with a $5.5 million
salary cap hit. If they Leafs were to acquire him, they'd undoubtedly
need to send some salary the other way.
Tyler Bozak, not James van Riemsdyk, may be the odd-man out in Leafs
Nation. The 31-year-old is in the final year of his contract, which
comes with a 12-team trade list. While not confirmed, I believe
Colorado is on on that list. Bozak comes with a $4.2 million cap hit,
and while it may make sense, mathematically, the Avs would need
significantly more. Young forwards Connor Brown, Josh Leivo, Frederik
Gauthier and Kasperi Kapanen, and blueliner Connor Carrick may be a
few players the Avs are eyeing.
As for JVR, do you really expect a team with a young, top-four
defenseman with term on his contract to be swapped out for a player in
the final year of his deal who can hit the open market as a UFA next
July? Stop being silly. The Leafs like JVR and will try to keep him,
even with big contracts on the horizon for Auston Matthews, Mitch
Marner and William Nylander.
There are certainly more teams dangling the carrot and even more
trying to find some answers. For example:
The Pittsburgh Penguins want a third-line center.
The Montreal Canadiens, if they fail to re-sign Radulov, will be on
the lookout for another scorer -- and their hunt for a top-two center
The Washington Capitals, having already traded Marcus Johansson to New
Jersey for a pair of draft picks, may still need to move out another
contract to ice a full roster.
The Bruins, if they somehow win the Duchene sweepstakes or bring in another
top player, are likely to move out a bigger contract either in that move or
Vegas still has at least one defenseman to trade and they'd like some more
The Red Wings have been exploring help up front and moving out a defenseman.
Buffalo will continue to explore the defensive market.
While there's -- to quote Jumbo Joe -- "a shit ton" of trade talk
swirling around, General Managers were traveling all throughout Sunday
and some plan on taking a bit of a breather over these next few days.
If we don't see too much activity, or any, these next few days, that
simply means everyone's getting some much-needed time to themselves.
But if the flood-gates open, watch out.
When I first reported on Twitter on June 23 the players haven't been
paid yet for their participation in the World Cup of Hockey or the
All-Star Game, it created a bit of a stir. It sounded like the NHL
wanted that kept under wraps. But this matter has caused a lot of
animosity within the NHLPA, as it has now been well documented.
It's the summer now, but the NHLPA has their summer meeting set in
Toronto for July 12 and expect this to be a major point of discussion.
There are a lot of "why's" being asked -- as in, "why haven't we been
paid" -- and they need to be addressed.
The World Cup was an NHL/NHLPA joint venture, at least that's how it
came across publicly, but the All-Star Game is a League-run event.
It's already been a sticky issue. If the players don't hear what they
want to hear in a couple of weeks, this stickiness of the matter will
only get worse.
David Pagnotta is the Editor-in-Chief of
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