Ramblings: My Top 10 big name trade candidates for this summer…and more…
The Fantasy Prospect Report is now finalized – just put the updated document into your downloads now, so have at’er. Mock Draft is in there, as well as eight new profiles. A must-own resource for any keeper league owner – 198 pages. It’s my 10th annual edition, so by now I know exactly what the reader is looking for – and this is it.
I’ve been saying for the past year that this summer’s free agent market will be the best that I’ve ever seen. And as July 1st approaches and none of the big names have signed, it’s looking pretty bang-on. In fact, this might be the best free agent market we will see…ever. Teams that need to solve some serious roster problems over the course of four or five years could conceivably shave two or three years off of that number by taking advantage, provided they have the cap space. Fans of Canadian teams should be especially interested in this because none of the teams made the postseason and most of them have cap room and at least some semblance of a rebuilding plan.
But it’s not just the rebuilding teams that will be looking to make some changes. But these established teams have cap problems that they need to solve. So the domino effect here is that there will be more big-name trades this summer than you usually see. Generally what we would see are four or five reasonably notable names moving from one team to another over the course of three or maybe four trades. This summer, we could enjoy twice that amount. Enjoy it! I doubt this perfect storm will happen again, or at least it won’t happen for a long, long time.
So who will be traded? I have some ideas. Here are my 10 big names with the highest likelihood of moving to a new city (in order of likelihood – in my humble opinion, of course):
10. Tyler Bozak – The Leafs just signed Nazem Kadri long-term. And they’re likely drafting Auston Matthews. If they sign Steven Stamkos, where does that leave Bozak (who has two years left on his contract)?
9. Frederik Andersen – The Ducks have two goaltenders who are Top 10 caliber. No need to pull a St. Louis and keep them both, right? The organization seems to favor Gibson, so that’s who they’ll keep. Personally, I think Andersen is more talented so there is a lucky team out there that will see a big improvement between the pipes when they acquire him.
8. Marc-Andre Fleury – Fleury could win 40 games next year for the Pens. But so could Matt Murray. In fact, there is nothing that Fleury can do that Murray can’t. Keeping both would just see each of them playing 40 or 45 games next season and having a possible controversy heading into the playoffs. An expansion draft next year would cost the team Fleury for nothing, and moving him now will give the team a lot of breathing room under the cap.
7. Sami Vatanen – Shea Theodore is ready to make the jump. The Ducks won’t be able to properly use Theodore, Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen. And a year from now you can add Brandon Montour and Jacob Larsson to the list. No, the Ducks don’t need Vatanen and they could land a great package for him.
5. Rick Nash – The Rangers love doing stuff. I mean…seriously, can you think of a team that has made more trades and free agent signings over the last 20 years than the Rangers? They’re like that guy in your pool who does 20 trades per year and burns all his waiver-wire moves before Christmas. But the Rangers are in a bit of a cap bind as they have $15 million in space but have six forward slots and two defense slots to fill. That includes re-signing Kevin Hayes, Chris Kreider and J.T. Miller (I’m guessing $8-9 million per year combined). You know what would solve that? Trading Nash and his $7.8 million cap hit. Don’t be surprised if the Rangers don’t get much in return. The contract alone is a hefty price tag.
4. Kevin Shattenkirk – An unrestricted free agent one year from now. The emergence of Colton Parayko has made Shattenkirk expendable. If the Blues can land a nice package of picks and prospects then I think they’ll do it. Parayko would fill Shatty’s job and Petteri Lindbohm would fill Parayko’s spot. If Shattenkirk goes, then Parayko can repeat last year’s numbers and even better them. And Alex Pietrangelo would also bump back up to the range we’re used to seeing.
3. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins– The Oilers have no shortage of bait that they could use to land a solid, proven defenseman. Nugent-Hopkins may be the best fit in terms of asking price versus quality offered.
2. Martin Hanzal – Elliotte Friedman reported that Arizona has asked Hanzal for his list of teams to which he would accept a trade. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. I think the Coyotes are going in another direction and are probably a little tired of his 60-game seasons.
1. Scott Hartnell – He’s already agreed to waive his no-trade clause. The Blue Jackets have Kerby Rychel and Josh Anderson ready to make the jump so they could afford to lose Hartnell. And they could use the cap flexibility to help with their rebuild.
No Nail Yakupov? Well, I honestly feel that if he was going to be traded he would have been traded. Peter Chiarelli had a price in mind and no team was willing to meet it. So why would a team meet it now? Maybe if Yakupov has a hot start he’ll be traded in December, but don’t look for him to move in the summer unless it’s part of a larger package (involving the aforementioned RNH).
I would also be remiss if I didn’t address the big Auston Matthews trade rumor that would see the Leafs trading that first overall pick to the Coyotes for Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Max Domi and a first rounder. A huge deal that helps both sides, but also hurts both sides. Will it get done? If so, it would be the deal of the summer and all three of the above names would trump any name on my piddly little top 10 list. These deals are all discussed in our rumors area of the forum. We’d love to have you float your own trade ideas so we can discuss the pros and cons.
Hmmm…The two largest daily fantasy sports companies, FanDuel Inc and DraftKings Inc, are in early-stage talks to merge! If that happens, I’ll be pimping myself out to any startup who needs my help. We don’t like monopolies here in Dobberland!
Puck Daddy lists their seven candidates for a buyout this summer. Joffrey Lupul ended the season on the shelf after sports hernia surgery. He just needs to pretend that he’s still healing, and he avoids the buyout right there. Ditto for David Clarkson. So don’t expect it to happen for those two. I can see the other five though.
LA Kings fans are so thrilled this week because their team won the Stanley Cup! They didn’t, but Jimmy Kimmel managed to find fans who thought they did…
The NHL Executive Committee has recommended that the NHL expand by one team and award Las Vegas the new franchise. The Board of Governors need to give their approval and that will happen on June 22. Speculation is that the team will be called the Las Vegas Black Knights and will begin play for 2017-18 as part of the Pacific Division.
Why the word “Black” in front of Knights? Because black is the cool color?
One year ago, right around this time, Nate Thompson had shoulder surgery that kept him out of the NHL until December. And now it’s been announced that he is out for several months with a torn Achilles. He’s actually expected out for eight months (!) and may miss the entire season. By the time he returns, which would be for 2017-18 possibly, he’ll be 33 years old and will have missed over 100 of his last 150 games – and he won’t have a contract. Just terrible news, possibly ending his career in the NHL.
Randy Carlyle’s time in Toronto is often summed up by two things – the toughness that he stressed, and the puck possession that he didn’t. The analytics community had a field day with him. At the end of his tenure with the Leafs, he knew that he had a bad team and he knew that their possession game was horrible. But he knew that if they played the game “properly” then instead of losing a lot of games…they would lose almost all of them. And you saw that very thing after he was fired – the team started to play the possession-style game (or try to) and they lost almost every contest in the second half. Anyway, I think he’s a little more open to analytics than people give him credit for, and here is what he had to say on the matter.
No surprise here, but the Cup Final TV ratings were terrible. I know the NHL cringed when San Jose made the Final, but a little surprised that Crosby alone couldn’t prop the ratings up a little. I also think that NBC made a terrible mistake forcing two Sunday nights on us instead of Saturday. I know that traditionally Americans don’t watch sports on Saturday night, or any TV – but you start your own tradition. Let Canadian tradition bleed south of the border. It may take several years to build it, but it will happen. Just give it a chance.
By the way, Saturday night I was all set to watch the game. I had no idea it was scheduled for Sunday. I glanced at the schedule on Wednesday and thought I saw that Game 6 would be Saturday if the Pens lost Thursday. Then I never checked the schedule again (why would I?). And nothing in the news or on Twitter jumped out at me to tell me otherwise. Since I didn’t have Ramblings on Friday or Saturday, I wasn’t exactly digging deep on hockey news those days. So Saturday rolled around and I packed up my beer, my dog (wife and kids were away) and drove a half hour to my buddy’s place. Sat on the patio for some cold ones. Then went in at eight o’clock to put on the game and…
No game. What? Oh, it’s in San Jose…maybe it’s later. Checked later and…no game.
So I grabbed my phone and opened the NHL app and…it’s Sunday? All that time, nobody told me. Mind you, I don’t work in a giant office with 100 people to talk hockey with over the water cooler. I have a home office with one person. Me. But you’d think I’d stumble on the right game time, given what I do for a living. Embarrassing. But that’s how certain I am that Saturday games make sense for everyone.
The Predators signed goalie Marek Mazanec, 24, to a one-year contract extension. It’s a two-way deal, of course. It comes down to this for Mazanec – if he can’t make his mark this year, it won’t ever happen with the Preds. Not at his age and with Juuse Saros ready in a year or two.
Those of you who were in fantasy leagues during Dan Cloutier’s tenure as a starting goalie in the NHL would laugh at the irony – but he’s been named Vancouver’s new goaltending coach. His 2003-04 season was his best one (33-21-6, 2.27 and 0.914) and it was star-caliber. The fact that it was on the heels of two other pretty good seasons had his owners treating him like gold. He was just 28 years old. But the lockout killed him. He returned from the lockout having played just 13 games in Austria and I think that hurt his conditioning. He hurt his knee when the NHL started up again. Next season it was his hip. So at that point he had missed the better part of three seasons and there’s just no coming back from that.
Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe’s funeral Wednesday morning will be broadcast live at DetroitRedWings.com at 11am. Rest in Peace.
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