Rabid Habs

5 NHL Trades I See Happening

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I won’t pretend that I’m the next Bob McKenzie but I hope you guys think my ideas make more sense than a certain reporter whose name rhymes with Patrik Berglund… Like my religion teacher used to say: attachez vos tuques because you’re in for a ride!

FIRST DEAL

To the Florida Panthers:

Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau RW

Stefan Elliott D

To the Colorado Avalanche:

Dmitry Kulikov D

Florida’s 4th round pick in 2014 (92nd overall)

Reasoning: Bob McKenzie tweeted earlier this week (Source: Twitter) that the Avalanche was shopping Parenteau who just came off an average season (33 pts in 55 GP). The talented winger has shown in the past that he can be a serious threat offensively (67 pts in his final year with the Islanders and 43 pts last year with Colorado). Parenteau had his best moments in the Avalanche uniform when he played alongside Matt Duchene. It’s no revelation since it was the same thing with Tavares and the Islanders. The main problem with Parenteau is that he has to play with elite players in order to produce. I don’t think I’m shocking everyone when I point out that not every team has a Tavares or a Duchene that the slick playmaker can feed the puck to. His contract is reasonable considering his track record and it shouldn’t too hard for Colorado to find a trade partner for his services. I think he can be a valuable asset to a team with realistic expectations for the Quebecer (he should be a lock for 55 pts).

Kulikov’s progression has stalled in the last two years and it doesn’t seem like his game is going anywhere with the Panthers. The Russian defender has been involved in trading rumours for a little over a year now. Andy Strickland reported yesterday that the defender who played his junior career with the Drummondville Voltigeurs could be on his way out (Source: Twitter). Despite being only 23 years old, Kulikov has a lot of NHL experience under his belt (313 NHL games plus a small taste of the playoffs in 2011-12). He’s been given a lot of responsibilities in Florida and has responded pretty well considering his young age for a defender. He logged in average 21:41 minutes a game and played in all situations (PK & PP). His 125 hits endorse that he’s not afraid to use his 6’1 frame and his 92 blocks show that he’s willing to sacrifice his body. A change of scenery could do wonders for him and let him flourish into the defender he can become.

I think these two teams make perfect partners considering what they need and the assets they can trade away. I think the value between the two players is pretty close. I also believe that the Panthers could be interested in adding defense prospect Stefan Elliott to the trade. Elliott was a 2nd round pick made by the Avalanche in 2009 and was highly touted at one point by Colorado fans. He had some cup of coffees with the team (18 pts in 58 NHL games) but he’s been surpassed in the depth chart by Tyson Barrie who’s recently emerged in the last two seasons. If the Panthers don’t re-sign impending UFA Tom Gilbert, they’ll only have Erik Gudbranson as a right-handed defenseman on their NHL roster. I think Elliott could be a decent gamble for them.

SECOND DEAL

To the Anaheim Ducks:

Ryan Kesler C

Jordan Schroeder

To the Vancouver Canucks:

Rickard Rakell C

Pat Maroon LW

Ottawa’s 2014 1st round pick (10th overall)

Reasoning: There has been talk circulating that the Ducks are interested in both Jason Spezza and Ryan Kesler. I think the American center is the better fit for Anaheim between the two given the fact that he’s signed for longer, he’s cheaper than Spezza and he fits well with the mold of players that they already have. Note: Adding another playmaking center like Spezza is pointless when a) you don’t have the best depth on the wing and b) you have Ryan freaking Getzlaf as your top center.

The Ducks have the assets to make some interesting changes this summer. They have some prospects that may be intriguing to other GMs (Devante Smith-Pelly, Rickard Rakell, Emerson Etem, Sami Vatanen) and NHL regulars that are replaceable (Pat Maroon, Luca Sbisa and Matt Beleskey). They came very close to beating the Kings these playoffs and their cup window is just starting with the likes of Hampus Lindholm, Nick Bonino, Cam Fowler, Andrew Cogliano and Ben Lovejoy just breaking out of their shells. The issue with the Ducks is that they haven’t had a good #2 center since Saku Koivu’s first year with them. Adding a player of Kesler’s caliber would legitimize them as a threat in the West. Kesler is a very complete player and is often underrated by NHL fans. He has pretty good size for a center (6’2, 202 lbs), he’s physical (133 hits in 77 GP) and is not afraid to block shots (68 blocks this season). He’s been a leader in Vancouver which is demonstrated by the A he wears on his jersey. In other words, he’s your typical heart and soul type of player that fans adore.

Since 2010-11, the Canucks’ PK has never been outside of the top 10 in that category and Kesler has played a vital role in that success. He has a Frank Selke trophy in his trophy room (I assume every athlete have one of these considering I do for crying out loud!) and came one game away from having a Stanley Cup ring in 2011. Anaheim is one of the worst team in the league at faceoffs (they were 14th in that statistic in the playoffs and 20th in the NHL this season). You have to go all the way back to his rookie season (2005-06) to find the last time that the Missouri native was under 50% between the faceoff dot. There is one concern about Kesler though; he’s had difficulty in the last years to stay healthy. It would be a shame if he turned into another Mike Richards and that is a concern that the Ducks management have to evaluate.

The Canucks are rebuilding and due to their scouting ineptitude and their amateur scouts being ordinary (and that’s being polite!) during Mike Gillis’ entire GM tenure; their prospect pool is rather thin. They added Bo Horvat last summer and they have interesting projects like Nicklas Jensen and Hunter Shinkaruk but they’ve been one of the worst team in the league at producing NHL talent since the lockout. Acquiring a blue chip prospect like Rickard Rakell and another first round pick gives them a chance to get build towards the future. Unlike Horvat who isn’t really projected to be a first line center, Rakell would be their prospect with the most potential. Rakell had a very productive rookie season in the AHL this season (37 pts in 46 GP) and should be NHL ready next year. One thing that the Canucks management will have to take in consideration is that Henrik Sedin isn’t getting any younger (he’ll be 34 in September), and Rakell could be a viable option to replace him in the future. Maroon is the type of winger they need on their NHL roster. They already have Shawn Matthias and Zack Kassian who bring similar elements but adding size never hurts, especially if they can make you pay on the score sheet.

There’s also been a rumour going around that the Canucks are trying to move former 1st round pick Jordan Schroeder. Like fellow 2009 draftee, Louis Leblanc, the forward who was picked 22nd overall has struggled to make an impact at the NHL level. With GM Bob Murray not afraid to pick up reclamation projects (Cogliano, Maroon, Lovejoy, Perreault and Leblanc), I could see the Ducks being interested in Schroeder. (Source: Twitter)

THIRD DEAL

To the St. Louis Blues:

Jason Spezza C

Jared Cowen D

Zack Smith C

To the Ottawa Senators:

Kevin Shattenkirk D

Patrik Berglund C

Reasoning: St. Louis’ GM, Doug Armstrong, made a bold move last February by making the acquisition of highly coveted goaltender Ryan Miller. Following the move, everybody thought the Cup was theirs to lose and had them pegged as the TEAM to beat in the NHL. Since hockey is such an unpredictable sport; following a devastating first round exit to the Chicago Blackhawks, they’re back to square one. Experts in the past were quick to blame the Blues’ deficiencies in net for their disappointing results in the playoffs but with Miller being brought in; it was hard to use the goalie yet again as the scape goat for their loss. With only 1 playoff series win in the last 3 years, it’s getting clearer and clearer on what the problem is on that team. If you dissect their line-up, you’ll realize that they have no star up front. Players like David Backes, Alex Steen and TJ Oshie are good and all, but they don’t have that game breaking talent that a Patrick Kane or a Jonathan Toews does. I love David Backes and would take him on Montreal any day but he isn’t 1st line center material. Ideally, he’d be your second line center who can face tough match ups and energize the team with crucial plays on both ends. It’s worth adding that word has been going around that Spezza would like to be traded to either St. Louis or Anaheim (Source: Twitter). Like I pointed out above, I think St. Louis would be the more logical fit for the Mississauga native since he’d be their clear cut #1 center.

The problem with these two teams trading is that while St. Louis has a surplus of NHL defensemen (which is what Ottawa needs), it’s hard to justify Spezza’s price based on the fact that he could possibly vanish and sign with another team next summer. St. Louis’ Cup window is slowly closing and they won’t be able to maintain all these players under the salary cap (Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Tarasenko and Jake Allen amongst a few). Adding a player of Spezza’s level (who’s still a top 15 center in the league in my opinion) would bring them closer to the Promised Land. Spezza’s mediocre play in his own end won’t be a factor given the system that Hitchcock makes his team play and the amount of two way talent they have in their line-up. I think him and Tarasenko would make a terrific duo offensively (especially on the PP). Back problems are definitely a concern for the Canadian center but his offensive game hasn’t been affected by it considering he was on pace for yet another 70+ pts season this year. The Blues were abysmal on the PP these playoffs (which is partly why they brought in Kirk Muller to their coaching staff) and adding a slick playmaker like Spezza would revitalize their man advantage.

The loss of Kevin Shattenkirk would definitely hurt them but they have the depth to make that work. Jordan Leopold is a pretty good option on your bottom pair and Barret Jackman or Roman Polak can step in the top 4. Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo have definitely shown in the last two years that they’re one of the most effective duos in the NHL defensively and they can handle the minutes that the Blues’ coaching staff have given them. Patrik Berglund hasn’t really developed into the top 6 forward they expected out of him when they made him their first round pick back in 2006. The Swedish center has shown that he can be a solid option on the third line though given his size and his defensive awareness. With players like Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko emerging, the signing of Joakim Lindstrom plus prospects like Ty Rattie and Dmitrij Jaskin knocking at the door, Berglund could be used as an asset towards acquiring that #1 center they need.

Bryan Murray doesn’t have much of a choice but to fulfill the stars’ recent trade request. But it couldn’t have come at a better time for the Sens with Turris starting to live up to his 3rd overall selection in 2007 (58 pts in 82 GP this season) and Mika Zibanejad showing signs of being ready for a top 6 role. The loss of fan favorite Zack Smith sucks but it’s the price to pay to acquire a defenseman who can play on your top 4 immediately. Shattenkirk has never had under than 40 pts (in a full season) in his career. Berglund can play a shutdown role for the Senators and his two way play would certainly benefit a team who hasn’t truly had a good defensive presence down the middle since the departure of long time Senators forward Mike Fisher back in 2011. After earning himself a nice contract, tall defenseman Jared Cowen has regressed and been surpassed by the likes of Cody Ceci and Patrick Wiercioch. I think a change of scenery especially to a team like the Blues who put a lot of emphasis on defense would do wonders for his career.

FOURTH DEAL

To the Pittsburgh Penguins:

Jeff Skinner LW

To the Carolina Hurricanes:

Kris Letang D

Reasoning: Following the unacceptable results in the playoffs post-Cup victory, I think the Penguins are bound to make a big move. Considering the trading history between the two teams (Jordan Staal, Jussi Jokinen and Mark Recchi trades), I wouldn’t be surprised to see these two make another blockbuster trade. Another obvious connection between the two organizations is the new Penguins’ GM, Jim Rutherford, who was GM for the Hurricanes for over a decade. The Pens simply can’t stay status quo after only winning 4 series since 2009. Marc-André Fleury has been pretty inconsistent in the last years but this year’s 2nd round loss to the New York Rangers wasn’t his fault. He had a .915 save percentage which is far from being the worst and a GAA of 2.40. The idea of trading one of Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby is simply not conceivable. I know a lot of people like to bring up that if even the greatest hockey player that ever lived was traded, anybody can. But this is not a move that the Penguins should contemplate.

That leaves two possible suspects for a trade: winger James Neal and defenseman Kris Letang. Given his great contract and chemistry with Malkin, I think Neal should stay in Pennsylvania. On the other hand, Letang makes a lot of money and his heart problems are without a doubt worrisome for the Pens’ new management. Skinner would be a solid winger for Crosby and is signed long term at a decent contract.

The Hurricanes are in a similar boat, they just cleaned house and hired a new coaching staff and are starting a new era with Hall of Famer Ron Francis calling the shots. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2009 and have been mostly irrelevant by making the playoffs only once since their 2006 Cup win. Their defense is nothing remarkable beside Justin Faulk and Andrej Sekera. The addition of the offensive defenseman on the back-end would give them a lot more credibility throughout the league.

Note: Obviously if the Penguins don’t re-sign impending UFA, Matt Niskanen, I don’t see Pittsburgh pulling the trigger on a deal like this.

FINAL DEAL

To the Edmonton Oilers:

RJ Umberger C

To the Columbus Blue Jackets:

Sam Gagner C

Reasoning: Jarmo Kekalainen (Columbus’ GM) confirmed that the 32 year old center, RJ Umberger, asked to be traded this summer. His contract, albeit not being a horrible one, makes it hard for teams to be interested since he still has a cap hit of 4.6 million for the next three seasons. Umberger is a solid option for any team looking to add experience, grit and goal scoring to their roster. The Pittsburgh native would fit like a glove in Edmonton’s top 6; he brings the much needed size and experience that they’ve needed desperately. In his NHL career, Umberger has hit the 20 goal plateau 5 times. Sam Gagner is another name in this article that’s been rumoured to be on the market in the last year. His contract is equally as bad given the fact that at 4.8 million a year, he’s never had over 50 pts in a season. The offensive center man who was picked 6th overall in the 2007 NHL entry draft has almost 500 NHL games on his resume despite being only 24 years old! Rare are the players that can brag about that fact. I think given the current group of forwards in Edmonton, he’s a redundant piece (Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent Hopkins and previously Ales Hemsky brought similar elements). Despite his obvious weaknesses (soft and mediocre in his own end), Gagner can be a good asset to have in your top 6 if you surround him with players willing to the dirty work for him which is what Columbus have (Nick Foligno, Boone Jenner and Brandon Dubinsky). I could see this being a fair deal for both sides and given their contract statuses being a wash, I think this deal is the most likely to happen.

 

Author’s note: If any of these deals actually happen the way I predicted them to, I think I deserve a well-earned medium-rare steak from André!

You can share your thoughts at @HabsoluteTruth! If you’re a fan of one of these teams and feel your team is getting fleeced, don’t hesitate to let me know, I love a healthy debate!