The second month of the NHL season is underway and with it comes the first iteration of TSN’s “Trade Bait” board. To no surprise, unsigned Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander tops the list. With the countdown at 28 days until the December 1st deadline for Nylander to sign and play in the NHL this season, the impasse between the two sides is desperately in need of a resolution, and with each day that goes by, a trade looks more and more likely. TSN’s Frank Seravalli notes that it was the first week of November last year when No. 1-ranked trade bait player Matt Duchene was traded away, making it entirely possible that a Nylander trade or other big name move could drop in the next few days. Joining Nylander in the top six of the list are recent rumor mill highlights Kevin Hayes of the New York Rangers and Alec Martinez and Tanner Pearson of the Los Angeles Kings, as well as summer trade bait board holdout Mats Zuccarello, also of the Rangers, and perennial rumor monger Gustav Nyquist of the Detroit Red Wings. Both free agency-bound Columbus Blue Jackets superstars – Sergei Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin – feature in the top ten, as does a possible Nylander return piece Brett Pesce of the Carolina Hurricanes. A surprise addition is Winnipeg Jets defenseman Tyler Myers, who seems unlikely to move in the midst of what the Jets hope is a Stanley Cup-caliber season. So too is Wayne Simmonds, who the Philadelphia Flyers seemingly would like to re-sign and keep on as a leader and core contributor, but the Flyers’ success this season will likely determine his availability. The trade board is limited to just 15 names right now, but this initial list certainly features plenty of talent and some names that have already featured prominently in rumors. TSN may have perfect timing, as the NHL trade market seems ready to heat up.
- One of the off-season’s biggest trades almost went differently, writes Sportsnet’s Luke Fox. Fox talked to new Calgary Flames head coach Bill Peters recently, who stated that he expected a different package from a different team entirely in return for defenseman Dougie Hamilton, only to find that his former club, the Carolina Hurricanes, had offered the top package of Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin. Peters (obviously) says that he likes the way the deal turned out. While Hanifin is off to a slow start in Calgary, Lindholm has been an excellent fit next to Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau on the top line and currently sports a 24.3% shooting percentage to go with a team-leading nine goals and total of 14 points.
- Fox also recently spoke with Dallas Stars center Jason Spezza, who this past week played in his 1,000th NHL game, about how he is approaching a contract year. Spezza was transparent with his answer:
“Not when you’re 35. You don’t care about the contract years… I just want to play the year, have a good year. I want to be back here next year. The money doesn’t matter. I just want to play and make sure I have a good role… It’s different when you’re at this point in my career. I just want to be on a team that has a chance to win. So, no, I can’t say that’s once played into my mind… That time has passed in my career. I’m just looking to play and be on a good team and have a good role and contribute… If you put the work into it, you get rewarded with big contracts. I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever played the game for the money.”
Spezza’s honesty is refreshing, but he also contradicts himself with a scenario that is likely to unfold as the season progresses. Spezza states that he wants to be back in Dallas next season, yet also wants a chance to finally win the Stanley Cup. Those two things may not coincide soon enough for the veteran center. The Stars currently share the 14th-best record in the NHL, but sit sixth out of seven in the powerhouse Central Division and have struggled to score goals early on this season. If Dallas cannot improve over the course of the season, Spezza will become an attractive trade rental candidate, especially since his eight points thus far indicate a bounce-back season compared to a disappointing 2017-18 campaign. Dallas may also be a few years away from really competing with the likes of Nashville and Winnipeg in the Central. A desire to win may make a continued career with the Stars less likely, but would make Spezza’s decision to waive his No-Movement Clause and choices in free agency much easier.