When a name keeps popping up in trade rumors, it’s usually not for nothing. In the latest “31 Thoughts”, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman becomes another hockey insider to tab Los Angeles Kings forward Tanner Pearson as a likely trade victim this season. Despite the sweeping changes already made by GM Rob Blake in regards to his coaching staff, he is certainly going to tweak his roster as well. Friedman notes that after a 24-goal campaign in 2016-17, Pearson notched just 15 last year and has yet to find the back of the net this year. In fact, Pearson has just one lone assist on the year, not to mention a slowed pace on shots and hits, a drop-off in ice time, and the worst plus/minus of his career. Pearson is sorely in need of a change of scenery and even though the Kings would be selling the 26-year-old winger at his lowest value, it would not be a shock to see a move come sooner rather than later. The team will land a nice return regardless; Pearson is still capable of being an effective two-way middle-six forward for many teams.
- The only player whose name has been more talked about on the rumor mill than Pearson’s is disgruntled – and unsigned – Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander. The one team constantly connected to Nylander has been the Carolina Hurricanes, who would likely be dealing away one of their many talented defenseman as part of a hypothetical package. However, Friedman notes that another player the ’Canes are likely willing to move, to Toronto or otherwise, is young forward Valentin Zykov. Zykov, 23, has been struggling to find a full-time role with Carolina for years. His twelve NHL games this season is already a career-high, but he played just 4:41 last game and has only three points on the year. Zykov simply doesn’t look like a long-term fit for the Hurricanes and Friedman indicates that he could be on the move as a result.
- One potential trade target who has flown under the radar is New York Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy. Last month, The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta noted that Leddy’s name began popping up in conversations as early as last year and again over the summer. Pagnotta said a deal wasn’t imminent, but that it remained a possibility. The remarks were prompted by Leddy’s poor start to the season; the offensive defenseman began the campaign with nine scoreless games. After a brief outburst of three points in two nights, Leddy is again on a scoreless streak of three games after the Islanders’ loss last night. Leddy was one of the worst plus/minus players in the NHL last season at -42 and that was with 42 points to his credit. If his offense has dried up in New York and the Isles are having to win in spite of him, he could be traded away for a nice haul in no time. Leddy would be a prime candidate to bounce back on a team where he is not relied upon as much for minutes and defense.