In all likelihood, the recent three-way trade that sent Matt Duchene to the Ottawa Senators and Kyle Turris to the Nashville Predators will be the biggest deal made this season. Yet, that hasn’t stopped the whispers of an bustling trade market, especially this early in the season. At the quarter pole of the 2017-18 campaign, it’s been an unpredictable season, prompting an unexpectedly active market. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch has had his ear to the ground and has plenty of input on who the buyers and sellers are right now:
- To no one’s surprise, Garrioch states that the floundering Arizona Coyotes are “willing to talk about pretty much every player on their roster”. That of course doesn’t include Calder-hopeful Clayton Keller or many of their other 21-and-under starters, but the rest of the roster may as well be up for grabs. The big off-season acquisitions of Derek Stepan, Antti Raanta, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Jason Demers have done nothing to change this team’s ability to win hockey games. At some point, GM John Chayka is going to go from “up-and-coming” to “up-and-went” and that pressure could force him to make some major moves as he rethinks his rebuild. While impending UFA’s like Raanta, Brad Richardson, and Luke Schenn would be the easiest pieces to move, the stakes are high for a Coyotes team whose core has done next to nothing for years and key pieces like Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Max Domi, Anthony Duclair, and Tobias Rieder could soon be on their way out.
- Perhaps the only team more disappointing than Arizona in 2017-18 is the farthest team from them across North America: the Montreal Canadiens. Under new head coach Claude Julien, the Habs have fallen apart. However, the newly-signed coach isn’t going anywhere, putting GM Marc Bergevin, who Garrioch calls ” the NHL’s most active GM”, on the hot seat. Bergevin may be willing to make a big move to save his job, and of course the first name that comes to mind is young forward Alex Galchenyuk, who has predictably struggled under the defense-first Julien. Galchenyuk seems lost in Montreal, without an identifiable position, role, or spot in the lineup, and could use a change of scenery. However, he is not wholly to blame for the Canadiens’ struggles. Tomas Plekanec has long been on the block and if the team truly commits to a rebuild, big names like Max Pacioretty, Shea Weber, and (if anyone is willing to take on his monstrous new contract) even Carey Price could soon join the list.
- Garrioch mentions both the Winnipeg Jets and New York Islanders as possible sellers, but given the surprising success of both clubs thus far, neither is likely rushing to trade pieces away unless they can make their teams better this season. Impending Jets UFA’s Shawn Matthias and Matt Hendricks may draw interest, but if Winnipeg is in playoff position come deadline time, they would want veteran depth for themselves. It seems more likely that GM Kevin Cheveldayoff could use his overflow of young forwards like Marko Dano, Joel Armia, Andrew Copp, Adam Lowry, or Brandon Tanev as trade bait to bring in another top-six forward for a team that doesn’t shoot the puck nearly enough. As for the Islanders, Garrioch singles out first-time UFA Calvin de Haan as the player to watch. Yet, de Haan is one of, if not the best shot-blocker in the NHL, can play major minutes, and is reliable in both ends. If the Isles can resign him, wouldn’t they? Obviously, John Tavares is the main focus and the team thinks highly of younger options like Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock, but the loss of a player like de Haan, especially with Travis Hamonic now in Calgary, could cripple a playoff-bound Islanders squad. Odds are de Haan sticks around, at least as long as New York remains playoff-bound.
- So who’s looking? Garrioch mentions the Florida Panthers, Calgary Flames, Columbus Blue Jackets, and the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins as suitors for forward help, with the Dallas Stars potentially looking to make another big blue line trade to turn their season around. With that many buyers and several disappointed sellers, the trade NHL trade market may not wait until 2018 to heat up.