NHL Trade Winds Are Blowing

NHL Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs, NHL, Hockey
Phil Kessel could be just one of a handful of big names that find themselves on new teams. (Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports)

The NHL offseason, lately, has been the busiest time of the league calendar when it comes to trades. From the draft to the start of free agency on July 1, General Managers throughout the league are constantly looking to wheel and deal in order to get their team ready for the upcoming season. It’s just the nature of the business.

It was expected that trades would be an even bigger part of the offseason because of the number of teams with salary cap issues. When it was announced that the cap would rise, but by only $2 million from $69 million to $71 million, the expectations regarding trades grew even more throughout the league.

After speaking with a few executives over the last couple of days, the belief among them all was that this offseason will be the busiest on the trade front in quite some time. Because there are teams like Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia, among others, that are staring at major cap crunch situations, plenty of teams looking to add top talent could do so without giving up as much as they would under normal circumstances.

One source, speaking under the condition of anonymity due to his work with an organization, mentioned that you could very well see big names traded that no one has talked about to this point simply so teams don’t wind up in a situation that the aforementioned organizations are finding themselves in. The name he brought up as an example was Ryan Johansen of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Now, that’s not saying the Blue Jackets are even considering trading their most prolific scorer, — the source made that clear — but he was used as an example as the type of player that could be dealt this offseason.

Appearing on Sportsnet 960 in Calgary, Elliote Friedman brought up the idea that Rick Nash could even be a name you see talked about when it comes to trade talks this summer. He then added to the previous point that, even though a player may not necessarily be on the trade block, GMs may toss someone out there just to see what happens.

“This is going to be a year where I think you see a lot of names where guys just throw them out there to say, ‘Okay, if I say this guy is available, what can I get?’,” he said. “The guy may not actually be available, but his GM is throwing him out there to see. ‘I’ve got to at least ask’.”

There’s no denying that players like Phil Kessel, Patrick Sharp and Ryan O’Reilly are three of the more likely names to be dealt this summer. But what about players like Brandon Saad, an upcoming restricted free agent; Alexei Emelin, a potential cap casualty after Montreal re-signed Jeff Petry; and Milan Lucic, a veteran entering the final year of his deal who may not be worth keeping around after seeing his production drop off in each of the last three full NHL seasons.

This summer certainly has the potential to produce some major trade storms from the time the NHL’s 30 clubs congregate in Sunrise, Florida for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft up through the start of free agency and beyond. It’s going to make for an exciting few months as the dog days of summer get set to begin.