With the NHL Entry Draft less than a week a way, there is a potential for many blockbuster trades. (NOTE: All predicted trades are predictions based on personal speculation not fact).
By Chris Yackel
The NHL Entry Draft is always a day many will remember and anticipate. This includes fans, players, management and of course the draftees. Although the draft is obviously about the players being drafted to NHL franchises and living out their dreams, its also the start of many offseason moves made by NHL GM’s. By the time the draft comes around team’s salary cap situations become very clear and making trades are much easier as opposed to trade deadline day.
In years past we have seen many blockbuster moves leading up to the draft. This was certainly the case before last years draft as an abundance of moves were made during the day before the draft that night. I expect this year to be no different. I’ll look at certain players in the rumor mill that are likely to be traded and give my predictions on where they will land. I will even speculate names that aren’t on the block and find a destination for these players that make sense for both teams involved in the trade. The draft is coming and maybe some of these trades are as well.
Max Pacioretty to the Los Angeles Kings
This is a trade that was reported to be close at the trade deadline by Sportsnets Nick Kypreos. It is also a trade that I think makes sense for all parties involved. First let’s start with Pacioretty. The Canadiens captain is coming off one of his worst statistical season of his career this past season. One has to wonder if he seems to be getting tired of the Montreal media and the pressure that comes with being captain. In my opinion, Pacioretty needs a fresh start. I don’t think Pacioretty is the type of player to lead a franchise and be a captain like he is with the Canadiens right now. I think when he’s on his game he’s a dangerous goal scorer and elite top 6 forward.
Think of Phil Kessel for example. He was asked to be the guy in Toronto, the star, but realistically he is not fit to be “the guy”. He’s realistically a secondary star that fits right behind real superstars like Crosby and Malkin. I think the same can be said for Pacioretty in Montreal. He is a secondary star with elite skills and gifted goal scoring ability. The Canadiens organization is stagnant right now and I think it would be beneficial for both Pacioretty and the franchise to move on from eachother. The Canadiens could get a nice package of picks and prospects for Pacioretty, which can help them in the future. Realistically even if Carey Price returns to form, the Canadiens are still not even a playoff team.
Ultimatley, Los Angeles would be the perfect place for Pacioretty to land. The Kings desperately need a pure goal scorer and have been looking for a guy like Pacioretty for years. Even during both cup runs the Kings were a team that struggled to score as it has been an organizational problem for years now. Pacioretty would thrive in a line with Anze Kopitar. I think he would not only re-discover his goal scoring touch, but he could score even as much as 45 goals with Kopitar centering him. Will this happen? We’ll wait and see, but this a trade that is realistic and makes sense for all parties involved.
Erik Karlsson to New Jersey Devils
The Ottawa Senators need to push the re-set button on their franchise right now. Ever since the double OT Game 7 loss in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Pittsburgh Penguins the Senators organization has been in a free fall. From top to bottom this organization is a disaster right now. There has been mismanagement beyond belief and mistakes made by almost every authority figure in the organization. It is culminating now with the Erik Karlsson, Mike Hoffman fiasco we are seeing unravel before our eyes right now.
Erik Karlsson also needs to push the re-set button as well. The Senators captain has been on the block for awhile now and was almost traded at the deadline to the Vegas Golden Knights. The deal ended up falling through. Karlsson is one year away from free agency and is likely to demand a huge contract. I think Karlsson ultimately would be a great fit with the New Jersey Devils. They are a young, exciting team with tons of talent, speed and skill. Karlsson threading beautiful passes to Taylor Hall on the powerplay would be a thing of beauty to watch.
The Devils also are a perfect fit, because they have plenty of cap space to resign Karlsson and the pieces to make the trade work for the Senators as well. New Jersey took a big step this year making the playoffs when no one expected them too. If they can land Karlsson I would elevate them to cup contenders right away.
Mike Hoffman to the Buffalo Sabres
After this whole fiasco involving Erik Karlsson, Hoffman’s fiancé and Karlssons wife, Mike Hoffman has 100% played his last game with the Ottawa Senators. I think even before this drama Hoffman was out the door anyway. His name has been in the rumor mill for awhile now and a trade out of Ottawa is inevitable. However, due to recent circumstances Ottawa unfortunately might have to deal Hoffman for much less of a return then they would have liked.
While Hoffman may be considered damaged goods and untouchable in some organizations, others would love the chance to bring in a 30 goal guy like him. I think there are many good fits for Hoffman, because many top line centers are lacking a trigger man right now on their line. Jack Eichel is one of them. Eichel needs a trigger man Eichel needs a guy with great skill and a laser shot he can create opportunities with.
Mike Hoffman can be that guy. Hoffman would be given a great opportunity to get his career back on track in Buffalo. If he makes good with his second chance he can help a young team take that next step and even lead the Sabres back to the playoffs.
*Update*-Hoffman was traded to San Jose and then was traded to Florida.
Philipp Grubauer to the New York Islanders
Phillip Grubauer is due to be a restricted free agent and after doing a great job serving as Braden Holtby’s backup and winning a Stanley Cup many teams will be interested in his services. The Capitals also are in a salary cap bind, with key players like John Carlson needing to be resigned. There may not be enough money for Grubauer as paying a lot of money to a backup goalie is something the Capitals are smart enough not to do.
Although the Islanders reside in the same division, I think that Grubauer would be a perfect fit for them. The Islanders desperately need a goalie as well as defense, so getting a guy like Grubauer would be a step in the right direction for sure. I think Grubauer will certainly be moved, and the Islanders will do their best to get him.
Noah Hanifin for William Nylander
This is a trade that has zero rumor and is just pure speculation. It is also a trade that I think will 100 % work for both teams based on needs. Toronto has plenty of depth at forward, but has a weaker backend. Carolina has a strong defense, but a weaker forward group. This trade just makes sense for both sides. Hanifin is 21 and a restricted free agent.
Nylander is 22 and is also a restricted free agent. Both players have played well to this point in their careers, but they both have potential to do so much more. They both haven’t reached the ceiling yet, especially Hanifin as defensemen usually take longer to develop.
I think this trade works in every aspect for both sides and it is my sleeper trade for the draft.
At the end of the day this draft will shape up to have a lot of movement that many will not see coming. It is only great entertainment for the fans and is something all hockey fans certainly should be circling their calendars for.
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