NHL trade market has intriguing names
The Buffalo Sabres upgraded their center ice outlook for the short-term Wednesday by acquiring Eric Staal from the Minnesota Wild for Marcus Johansson.
It wasn’t a deal that people saw coming.
Player-for-player swaps may be back in style as teams look to improve their team at a time when the salary cap isn’t growing because of pandemic-related economic issues. Some teams will even be reducing their payroll because of shrinking revenue expectations.
Here are some surprising players in the marketplace:
Left wing Jake DeBrusk, Boston Bruins: It seems as if the Bruins are leaning toward trading restricted free agent DeBrusk, 23, rather than awarding him a hefty raise. It is perplexing, given that DeBrusk has 62 goals over his first three seasons. The Hurricanes, Predators and Stars are among teams shopping for scorers. DeBrusk is also young enough to fit into the Red Wings’ and Devils’ rebuild.
Defenseman Anthony DeAngelo, New York Rangers: Pending restricted free agent DeAngelo (15 goals, 58 points in 63 games) looks like a prize young puck mover, but plugged-in New York Post columnist Larry Brooks reported that the Rangers are looking to trade him. According to Brooks, one reason is the Rangers want their defense to look like it has room for coveted 2018 first-round pick Nils Lundkvist. If the defense had DeAngelo, Fox and Jacob Trouba, Lundkvist may exercise his opportunity to become an unrestricted free agent. The Calgary Flames are looking for an offensive defenseman. The Toronto Maple Leafs might also be interested. The Detroit Red Wings should also make a call.
Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, Vegas Golden Knights: At the start of the 2019-20 season, no one would have guessed Fleury would be replaced as the team’s No. 1 by Robin Lehner. No team is going to want to take on Fleury’s salary of $7 million for the next two seasons. The Golden Knights will have to retain some of the cap space. It doesn't help Fleury's marketability that veteran Henrik Lundqvist will be a free agent after he is bought out by the Rangers. But they need cap space if they hope to sign unrestricted free agent Alex Pietrangelo. Maybe they would move Alec Martinez or Brayden McNabb as well.
Goalie Darcy Kuemper, Arizona Coyotes: Word is that the Coyotes are going to pare payroll this season. Kuemper ($4.5 million for the next two seasons) is their most marketable player. The Coyotes don't want to trade Kuemper but they may have to if they are seriously looking at trimming costs. If they go in that direction, Carolina, San Jose, Calgary and Edmonton are teams looking at goalies. Kuemper has been a difference-maker for the Coyotes for the past two seasons, and teams have taken notice. Another Coyote who could draw interest is speedy Michael Grabner. Don't see anyone jumping at Phil Kessel's contract.
Goalie Peter Mrazek, Carolina Hurricanes: Because Mrazek has one season left at $3.1 million, a few teams are interested in him because he is such a battler. Edmonton’s Ken Holland had him in Detroit so he might be interested. Mrazek’s price might be right as well for the Sharks who still have Martin Jones under contract for $5.75 million for the next four seasons.
Defenseman Matt Dumba, Minnesota Wild: GM Bill Guerin isn’t done shaking up the roster, and Dumba’s name has been in the rumor market for a while. Dumba has three seasons left at $6 million and he looks expendable now that Jonas Brodin has a new contract. Dumba can handle the puck and now offers 411 games of NHL experience.
Right wing Patrik Laine, Winnipeg Jets: He’s going to be a restricted free agent, and due for a big payday, and the Jets already have six players tied up for $45 million. It makes sense to deal Laine now. He could fetch help for Winnipeg's defense, plus prospects and a first-round pick. But how many teams can really afford him?
Defenseman Brandon Montour, Buffalo Sabres: If the Sabres are reducing payroll, Montour, a restricted free agent. might be the guy who is dealt. He is due a significant raise, and defenseman Rasmus Dahlin will get a mega-deal next summer. Montour would be a nice fit in Vancouver.
Left wing Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames: Fans in Calgary have turned on Gaudreau who had 58 points last season. The Flames aren’t going to move him without a major return. He was born in New Jersey, and the assumption is that, if he moves, it will be to a team in the East Coast corridor. The Devils could use his scoring.
Center/Wing Matt Duchene, Nashville Predators: GM David Poile needs to open up cap space to change the look of this team offensively and defensively, but it will be difficult to move Duchene’s hefty contract.
Center Jared McCann, Pittsburgh Penguins: He’s a dependable player who could help a team looking for secondary scoring. He could net 15-20 in the right circumstance.
Goalie Matt Murray, Pittsburgh Penguins: General manager Jim Rutherford has been looking for a first-round draft pick in exchange for Murray, but he probably won’t get that unless the pick was near the bottom of the first round. Murray's .899 save percentage in 2019-20 doesn't help Rutherford's bargaining power.
Center Max Domi, Montreal Canadiens: This is another case where the team would rather trade him than pay him.