One Player Each NHL Team Should Trade

Although the 2017-18 NHL campaign is well underway, exactly which teams will legitimately compete for the Stanley Cup this season remains anything but certain.

On one hand, a number of franchises exploded out of the gate this season and are well on their way to considerable regular season success. For these teams, they need not worry about making drastic changes to their existing rosters, as the scorching offence, deep defence, and stingy goaltending which they possess are the ideal ingredients for a long playoff run. While a bevy of minor league trades will surely be considered, these powerhouses likely won’t be overly active on the trade front.

Jacob Trouba Winnipeg Jets
The Jets came to a contract agreement with Jacob Trouba two years ago, however, he could be on the move given his deal is set to expire at the end of this season. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Now, on the other hand, there are the teams who stumbled, tripped, and blatantly fell out of the starting gate. For these franchises, major changes will be considered with a raging frequency and virtually no trade will be out of the question. Sure, star players will be withheld, however, valuable individuals once considered long-term fixtures will be offered up in exchange for younger players of tremendous skill at a rapid pace.

So, with this being said, which category does your favourite team fall into? Will they be a true contender this season and be relatively inactive on the trade front, or, rather, a pretender in desperate need of raw skill and additional prospects and assets?

If you’re eager for the answer, see which player each and every NHL franchise should consider trading this season, below.

Anaheim Ducks square logoAnaheim Ducks: Korbinian Holzer

The Anaheim Ducks boast an intriguing defence-core. Comprised of a number of young stars and veteran stalwarts, the Ducks’ blue line has long been amongst the most capable and intimidating within the NHL. However, due to its composure, playing time on Anaheim’s blue line has become incredibly difficult to come by, and for Korbinian Holzer such has been exactly the case.

Korbinian Holzer
Holzer is a towering and physical defender best suited within a bottom-pairing role.

Inked by the Ducks to a two-year deal this past offseason, Holzer has played sporadically this season and has logged a minuscule amount of ice time in doing so. A towering defender who plays a rugged game, Holzer is undoubtedly an NHL defenceman, yet he is simply lacking the opportunity to prove such. So, a trade out of town could be exactly what Holzer needs. Under contract through the 2018-19 season, Holzer could be valuable depth defender within a contending team or a strong and experienced physical pillar within a rebuilding franchise.

Phoenix Coyotes square logoArizona Coyotes: Tobias Rieder

Inked to a two-year contract on Oct. 3, 2016, Tobias Rieder’s current deal with the Arizona Coyotes is quickly reaching its underwhelming end. Following a breakout season in 2015-16, Rieder has thus far failed to justify his new contract, as the native of Landshut, Germany has struggled offensively and battled heavily with inconsistency.

Tobias Rieder
A speedster of immense skill, Rieder has failed to garner consistent results in Arizona. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

Off to a slow start to begin the 2017-18 campaign, Rieder’s meagre $2.22 million cap hit makes him the perfect candidate for a potential trade. A speedy winger with a quality shot and natural instincts, moving Rieder would not only provide him with a fresh start but also hand the Coyotes additional pieces with which to supplement their stagnant if not floundering rebuild.

Boston Bruins square logoBoston Bruins: Riley Nash

Although he is widely regarded for his ability to shut down opposing players, Riley Nash is suddenly making a name for himself on the offensive side of the puck. On pace to shatter his previous career-high in terms of points, Nash’s newfound scoring touch has combined to make him a more complete player and threat.

Riley Nash Bruins
Shutdown play and defensive work are the staples of Nash’s game, but he can contribute offensively, too. (Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports)

As such, this season could prove to be the perfect time for the Bruins to trade Nash. Carrying arguably the highest value of his career, moving Nash and his expiring contract to a contending team would open up greater ice time for Boston’s younger players as well as land assets to strengthen the team’s ongoing re-tool. Sure, he won’t land the Bruins a massive haul in return, however, it would be better to move Nash while his value is high than to lose the Consort, Alberta native for nothing come free agency.

Buffalo Sabres square logoBuffalo Sabres: Evander Kane

Trouble is brewing in Buffalo, as the Sabres simply can not seem to turn their ship around despite adding a number of highly valuable assets. Although the team has bolstered their blue line and revitalized their offence, Buffalo has struggled mightily to score goals as well as prevent them.

Evander Kane
Kane is an elite offensive player, there is no doubt about it. (Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)

As such, it would appear to be only a matter of time before the Sabres trade Evander Kane, as the power-forward is skating under an expiring contract while also playing arguably the greatest hockey of his career. With his value at an all-time high, Buffalo would be smart to deal Kane, and especially so if they are unable to turn their season around. An incredibly talented winger who boasts a terrific shot and insane skill, the Sabres would land a massive return in exchange for Kane’s services, and one which would undoubtedly strengthen their respective rebuild.

Calgary Flames square logoCalgary Flames: Sam Bennett

Sam Bennett is an immensely talented player of incredible physicality and raw skill. However, Bennett is also on pace for the worst statistical season of his young career – a meagre output impacted largely by his 15-game pointless streak to begin the 2017-18 campaign. Playing minuscule minutes largely within docile situations, the time has come for Bennett to move on from Calgary in search of a fresh start.

Sam Bennett
Boasting a wealth of potential, Bennett may need a fresh start to develop his true identity at the NHL-level. (Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports)

The fourth-overall selection in the 2014 NHL Draft, Bennett boasts immense potential and the ability to develop into a dominant player. However, such is simply not transpiring with the Flames. As such, Calgary would be smart to seek out a deal involving Bennett, as doing so would land the franchise a massive return which could be tailored to address areas of need within the organization. Yet, Bennett is just 21 years-of-age, so this trade could take some time to materialize.

Carolina Hurricanes square logoCarolina Hurricanes: Roland McKeown

The Carolina Hurricanes are without a doubt one of the NHL’s most promising young teams, even if such isn’t always reflected in the league standings. Boasting solid goaltending, an incredibly talented and deep defence, and a number of offensive stars, the Hurricanes’ time in the spotlight is much closer than many might think.

However, goal-scoring does remain an area in need of improvement for Carolina. Fortunately, the Hurricanes boast a bevy of talented young assets which could be traded in return for much-needed scoring help. While the franchise holds a number of solid prospects, the team remains over-loaded on defence, a fact which makes trading one of which even more likely. Of the lot, Roland McKeown could be moved in order to bolster the Hurricanes’ attack. A terrific young defender who emphasizes his own zone, his departure could result in the addition of the talented offensive player Carolina lacks.

Chicago Blackhawks square logoChicago Blackhawks: Patrick Sharp

Patrick Sharp made his return to Chicago official when he signed a one-year contract with the team on Jul. 1, 2017. At 35 years-of-age, the Blackhawks had reason to be sceptical of Sharp’s potential contributions, as the sniper had nabbed just 18 points with the Dallas Stars the season prior – an injury plagued campaign which showcased production nowhere near his typical pace.

Patrick Sharp Blackhawks
Sharp’s return to Chicago has yet to unfold how he or the Blackhawks would like. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Now, in the 2017-18 season, it is safe to say that Sharp’s return has failed to pay off. Failing to score at his usual clip, Sharp has been pushed down Chicago’s depth chart and is logging a minuscule number of minutes per night. Surpassed by a number of the team’s younger players, Sharp’s role with the Blackhawks has become increasingly diluted and to the point where his skill-set does not reflect his organizational standing. As a result, the time could be right to trade the long-time fan favourite, as he could play a much greater role within a team less successful than Chicago.

Colorado Avalanche square logoColorado Avalanche: Blake Comeau

A gritty and hard-working player, Blake Comeau is a veteran of five NHL teams whose value within the league today simply can not be questioned. Capable of contributing offensively, playing in a variety of situations, and standing up for his teammates, Comeau brings a diverse skill-set to the table and one that his highly sought after.

Colorado Avalanche forward Blake Comeau
Comeau’s vast experience makes him a valuable depth player at the NHL-level. (Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

However, with the Colorado Avalanche still far from legitimately contending and Comeau playing under an expiring contract, the time is right for General Manager Joe Sakic to deal the valuable veteran. No, the return for Comeau will not be immense – likely a draft pick or less notable prospect – however, it will open up greater ice time for team’s younger players to develop within.

Columbus Blue Jackets 2 square logoColumbus Blue Jackets: Jack Johnson

The Columbus Blue Jackets are a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, and, as such, could opt to make little to no changes to their existing lineup. However, if the organization were to consider making changes, trading Jack Johnson could be at the top of their list. Long one of the team’s best defenders, Johnson’s concluding contract and receding ice time could influence the Blue Jackets to deal the Indianapolis, Indiana native before he becomes a UFA.

Jack Johnson
Jack Johnson’s time in Columbus could be nearing its end. (Photo: Amy Irvin)

A six-year veteran in Columbus following his arrival from the Los Angeles Kings, Johnson’s size, offensive ability and sound defensive play have long made him a premier defender within the NHL. As such, interest in Johnson’s services would undoubtedly be high, and especially so for any team in desperate need of a legitimate top-four defenceman. While the return would not be sky-high considering his contract status, moving Johnson would provide Columbus with a number of attractive pieces with which to further strengthen their already intimidating team.

Dallas Stars square logoDallas Stars: Antoine Roussel

Antoine Roussel is a fantastic depth player who brings both grit and a smidgen of scoring touch to his game. However, his six-year residency with the Dallas Stars is likely coming to an end, as the native of Roubaix, France is skating in the last year of his current contract with the franchise.

Antoine Roussel
Roussel is a strong defender and gritty competitor. (Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports)

Of good size and ample skating ability, Roussel is a player who can impact the game in a variety of forms. Always willing to mix it up physically and willing to step up for his teammates, Roussel takes frequent trips to the penalty box when the moment strikes. Further, Roussel is a strong player defensively, and as such he sees a decent amount of time on the Stars’ penalty kill. Carrying a $2 million cap hit, Roussel’s addition to an interested team would not induce a substantial financial burden while providing Dallas with a reasonable haul in return.

Detroit Red Wings square logoDetroit Red Wings: Mike Green

Mike Green is an ageless wonder whose game has remained shockingly lethal. At 32 years-of-age, Green continues to play a major role on the blue line, as his ability to move the puck to his teammates creates offence on a consistent basis. A long-time member of the Washington Capitals who arrived in Detroit in 2015-16, Green’s time with the Red Wings has solidified him as one of the games best playmaking defenders.

Mike Green #25 of the Detroit Red Wings
Mike Green continues to produce offensively with startling consistency. (Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

However, off of the ice, Green’s current deal with the Red Wings is set to expire following the current season. As a highly valuable defender, Detroit would be wise to consider dealing Green, whose two-way game remains highly respected and sought after in today’s NHL. The one factor which could negate a potential deal, however, is Green’s $6 million cap hit. If Detroit can convince an interested team to eat the majority of his remaining salary, Green and his departure could help strengthen a thin Red Wings roster.

Edmonton Oilers square logoEdmonton Oilers: Patrick Maroon

As it stands, the Edmonton Oilers are a slow hockey team. Sure, they boast the likes of Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, however, the team’s roster outside of these two is dominated by towering albeit slower players of significant size and skill. As such, the Oilers need strip away some of their weight in exchange for greater speed, and the most likely candidate to depart has to be Patrick Maroon.

Patrick Maroon Oilers
A pleasant surprise for the Oilers, it could be time for Maroon to move on. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

While his play for Edmonton has been nothing short of sensational, it is, in fact, his stunning offensive production which makes him the perfect candidate for trade. Skating under an expiring contract which carries a cap hit of $2 million, Maroon’s ability to put the puck in the net while earning a pay-check unreflective of his output should have numerous teams interested in the power forward’s services.

Florida Panthers square logoFlorida Panthers: Radim Vrbata

Radim Vrbata has been traded on four separate occasions during his NHL career, so to hear his name suggested in a potential deal should come as little to no surprise. Now 36 years-of-age, Vrbata continues to chug along, producing respectable and consistent offensive results regardless of where he graces the ice. Now a member of the Panthers – his seventh NHL franchise – Vrbata has once again done exactly such, as his presence as a quality depth scorer has been of significant benefit to his team.

Radim Vrbata Panthers
Vrbata finds the back of the net with authority regardless of where he plays. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

However, Vrbata currently finds himself skating towards the end of a one-year contract. Inked by Florida as a free agent to a deal worth $2.5 million, Vrbata will garner the interest of a number of teams as the 2017-18 seasons grows older and deservedly so. Boasting quick hands, a solid shot, and ample vision, Vrbata’s natural offensive instincts make him a valuable and productive asset regardless of his time on ice. While the return in a deal for Vrbata would be slim, the draft pick or prospect secured by the Panthers would surely aid their current organizational situation.

Los Angeles Kings square logoLos Angeles Kings: Darcy Kuemper

The Los Angeles Kings are no stranger to quality goaltending. Led by Jonathan Quick, the Kings have rebounded as a team in 2017-18, with stingy goaltending, sound defence, and timely scoring combining to a create a balanced attack. However, easily lost in the team’s success has been the play of backup goaltender Darcy Kuemper who, on a one-year deal, has provided Los Angeles with tremendous play in support of their starting netminder.

Los Angeles Kings goalie Darcy Kuemper
Darcy Kuemper has been a sensational secondary option for the Kings in goal. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

As such, with his play and value at a high, the Kings would be smart to consider a trade involving Kuemper, as there are a number of NHL organizations desperate for depth within the crease. Not only would such a deal land Los Angeles a decent return but it would, in turn, provide prospect Cal Petersen with his first taste of NHL action. Currently dominating the AHL-level as a member of the Ontario Reign, Petersen could very well become a capable NHL goaltender following three dominant seasons with the University of Notre Dame.

Minnesota Wild square logoMinnesota Wild: Chris Stewart

In the final campaign of his two-year deal with the Minnesota Wild, power forward Chris Stewart finds himself on pace for one of his greatest statistical seasons in recent history. Standing well over six feet tall and weighing in at nearly 240 pounds, Stewart’s ability to score goals and physically dominate his opposition are two highly sought after qualities within today’s NHL.

Chris Stewart
A prototypical power-forward, Stewart’s size, strength, and scoring ability are of immense value. (Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

So, why should the Wild attempt to trade Stewart? Well, as mentioned, Stewart is in the final year of his current contract, and, as such, he stands poised to become a UFA come the conclusion of the season. Further, despite his productive play this year, Stewart has garnered meagre ice time with Minnesota, averaging roughly 12:00 per night – a total which translates to primarily third-line minutes. As such, Stewart could prove to be a far more effective player in a different market if provided with a greater opportunity to produce offensively.

Montreal Canadiens square logoMontreal Canadiens: Alex Galchenyuk

The Montreal Canadiens and Alex Galchenyuk have never enjoyed an overly strong relationship. Since being drafted by the historic organization with the third-overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, Galchenyuk has pieced together a 30-goal campaign, seen his playing time slashed, been shifted to the wing, and been demoted to the team’s fourth line. While some of which has been self-inflicted, Montreal’s handling of their star forward has been, at times, suspect, and has arguably hampered his development as a player.

Ondrej Palat
Galchenyuk’s time with the Canadiens can be best described as tumultuous. (Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports)

With an uncertain future looming with the Canadiens and trade rumours circling above like vultures, the time would appear to be now for Montreal to deal Galchenyuk. In the midst of a difficult season and with a playoff-berth uncertain, the Canadiens would be wise to trade Galchenyuk while his value remains high in exchange for a return dominated by defensive aid. With one of the weakest and most thin defence-cores in the entire NHL, Montreal is in desperate need of help in front of Carey Price, and moving Galchenyuk would all but ensure a feasible blue line over the long-term.

Nashville Predators square logoNashville Predators: Cody McLeod

The Nashville Predators are locked and loaded for another Stanley Cup run. With no visible weaknesses within their current roster, the Predators’ deep and experienced roster makes them a legitimate contender without any question. So, given the overall strength of Nashville’s squad, identifying one player which the surging organization should trade becomes extremely difficult, yet not impossible.

Cody McLeod
A gritty and competitive force, McLeod’s time in Nashville could be coming to an end. (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)

If there is one player which the Predators should consider moving, it is none other than Cody McLeod. Acquired by the organization in January of 2017, McLeod’s intense playing style and team-oriented game combines to make him an easy fan favourite. However, due to the depth of Nashville’s roster in 2017-18, McLeod has been a frequent scratch and had added just one assist through his first 18 games played. In the final year of his current deal which carries a mere $1.3 million cap hit, McLeod could be a solid depth addition to a number of contending teams come this year’s trade deadline.

New Jersey Devils square logoNew Jersey Devils: Jimmy Hayes

Following a strong first season with the Bruins, Jimmy Hayes had the final year of his three-year deal bought out by Boston this past offseason following a dismal 2016-17 campaign. As a newly minted free agent, Hayes waited until Oct. 1, 2017, before signing his current contract with the New Jersey Devils – a one-year deal worth $700,000. And, to begin the 2017-18 season, Hayes had been worth every penny, providing timely goal-scoring and a physical presence on the ice.

Jimmy Hayes
After an up and down tenure in Boston, Hayes is looking to prove himself with the Devils. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

However, on such a sweet deal, the Devils would be silly to not explore trades involving Hayes’ services. With his value at a high, New Jersey stands poised to land a decent return in exchange for Hayes which would help strengthen their surging rebuild. Now, while it would also be smart to hold onto Hayes considering his surprising production, the Devils would seemingly have to move Hayes if an enticing deal were to arise.

New York Islanders square logoNew York Islanders: Brock Nelson

Brock Nelson is a three-time 20-goal scorer who is fresh off of the best statistical season of his career. However, Nelson is also a pending RFA, as the three-year deal he signed with the New York Islanders in 2015 is set to come to an end. Although he is arbitration eligible and undoubtedly a vital member of the Islanders’ attack, re-signing the Warroad, Minnesota native could prove to be much more difficult than meets the eye.

Brock Nelson
Re-signing Nelson will be a difficult task for the Islanders, who must ink a slew of pending free agents. (Robert Duyos-USA TODAY Sports)

Once the 2017-18 NHL campaign comes to an end, not only will Nelson need a new contract but so too will John Tavares, Josh Bailey, Calvin De Haan, Thomas Hickey, and Jaroslav Halak. With a ton of money set to be handed out by the Islanders, Nelson’s place within the roster could quite easily come into question considering the values of those who also require new contracts. Given this complication, New York should test the market in order to determine Nelson’s value in a potential trade. Ideally, the Islanders would package Nelson as a part of a bigger deal in order to find a more permanent solution to their goaltending department.

New York Rangers square logoNew York Rangers: David Desharnais

David Desharnais is a crafty playmaker whose speed and high-compete level make him a persistent threat. Incredibly successful in the face-off circle and capable of playing in various situations, Desharnais’ versatile game has made him a staple at the NHL-level since he first broke into the league 2009-10. Now playing under an expiring one-year contract with the New York Rangers, Desharnais has continued to display the qualities which have made him an eight-year NHL veteran.

New York Rangers center David Desharnais
A versatile centre of great experience, Desharnais dominates the face-off circle and knows what it takes to win. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

However, it is Desharnais’ one-year deal which will surely make him an expendable asset come the 2017-18 trade deadline. Carrying a minuscule $1 million cap hit, Desharnais would be a fantastic addition to a team in need of greater depth down the middle of the ice. Sure, he is slightly under-sized considering his 5-foot-7 frame, however, Desharnais’ high compete-level and willingness to battle against stern competition has endeared him to coaches and teammates regardless of where he has played throughout his career.

Ottawa Senators square logoOttawa Senators: Zack Smith

The Ottawa Senators are facing a potentially critical cap crunch. With both Mark Stone and Erik Karlsson soon to be in need of new deals, and Cody Ceci also up for renewal, it appears as though the team will be forced to move on from one of their star players unless they are able to create a wealth of financial flexibility. If the Senators do indeed attempt to free up adequate cap space in order to re-sign their star players, it will mean that other assets who carry sizeable salaries will have to move on to new organizations.

Zack Smith
Smith can play a physical style of hockey in addition to bulging the twine on a regular basis. (Marc DesRosiers-US PRESSWIRE)

One particular player which Ottawa could look to trade in order to create additional cap space is Zack Smith, a versatile forward whose growing offensive game and long-term contract are of immense value. Carrying an annual cap hit of $3.25 million, Smith has three seasons remaining on his current deal following the 2017-18 campaign. Capable of contributing offensively while also playing a strong defensive game in a variety of situations, Smith’s complete game would undoubtedly make him a highly attractive player if made available through trade. If the Senators were, in fact, able to move Smith, it would ease their growing financial strain as well as land a reasonable haul of players, prospects, or draft picks in return.

Philadelphia Flyers square logoPhiladelphia Flyers: Brandon Manning

Although he is known widely for his ongoing feud with McDavid, Brandon Manning has quietly become a consistent and dependable defender for the Philadelphia Flyers. On pace to achieve the greatest statistical season of his young career, Manning’s ability to contribute offensively while also playing a vital role defensively in a number of situations has made him a player of increasing value for the Flyers.

Brandon Manning, Philadelphia Flyers
Manning has quietly become a valuable defender for the Flyers this season. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

However, despite his strong play and potential at the NHL-level, Philadelphia should look to trade Manning now while his value is at its highest. With a number of excellent defence prospects set to saturate the Flyers’ blue line – namely Philippe Myers and Samuel Morin – there will undoubtedly be little ice time and opportunity for Manning in the near future. Further, as a pending UFA, Philadelphia would run the risk of losing Manning for no return once the current season comes to a close if not traded. Boasting a slim $975,000 cap hit, there would surely be interest throughout the league in Manning’s services.

Pittsburgh Penguins square logoPittsburgh Penguins: Ian Cole

The Pittsburgh Penguins don’t boast an overly strong or deep blue line, however, if they do decide to make a deal at some point this season, it looks as though Ian Cole will be the odd man out. One of the NHL’s toughest and most fearless defenders, Cole was made a healthy scratch by the Penguins early in the 2017-18 season – a decision which certainly did not sit well with the gritty veteran. As a result, Pittsburgh gave Cole’s agent permission to seek out a trade with any willing organization – an indication that both sides were set to part ways despite Cole’s clear desire to remain with the Penguins.

Ian Cole Penguins
Ian Cole has been solid as a member of the Penguins, however, his contract status makes him a likely trade candidate. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

Although Cole is a highly valuable defender, his current contract status and Pittsburgh’s impending cap crunch have seemingly combined to force him out of town. Currently playing in the final season of his three-year deal, Cole carries a modest $2.1 million cap hit and would be an excellent addition to any team, and especially one bulking up for a long playoff run. With the Penguins desperate to create greater financial flexibility, moving Cole would take a significant contract off of their hands, and deliver the team a fairly strong return in the process.

San Jose Sharks square logoSan Jose Sharks: Joel Ward

Although Joel Ward’s most productive days are arguably behind him, the North York, Ontario native still remains a solid depth player at the NHL-level. Capable of killing penalties, driving possession, and acting as a net-front presence, Ward can quite easily impact the outcome of a given contest despite his steadily decreasing ice time. In the final season of his current three-year deal, the San Jose Sharks should look to deal the pending UFA before he hits the open market.

Joel Ward Sharks
Ward’s versatility has paved the way for a long NHL career. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

While he isn’t the same offensive threat which he used to be, Ward remains a highly effective player and one deserving of ice time at hockey’s highest level. However, now 37 years-of-age, Ward’s professional hockey career is undoubtedly in its final stretch. So, with this being said, Ward would surely love to seize a final and legitimate opportunity to hoist the Stanley Cup, as a championship has eluded him thus far throughout his 10 year NHL career. Simultaneously, the Sharks would surely love to offload Ward and his $3.25 million cap hit, as it would ensure a modest return for the team in the process.

St. Louis Blues square logoSt. Louis Blues: Beau Bennett

The St. Louis Blues are an absolute powerhouse, as their current roster is as sound as any throughout the NHL. Boasting scorching offence, an intimidating blue line, and solid goaltending, the Blues are built to win both now and long into the future. As such, the franchise will surely be quiet on the trade front this season, with those excelling deep within the organization the only true candidates to be dealt by the definite Stanley Cup contender.

Beau Bennett
Bennett’s NHL experience could make him a valuable depth addition in a trade. (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)

So, if St. Louis feels the urge to concoct a deal or a rival NHL franchise comes calling, one player which the team could look to unload is Beau Bennett. Now, while Bennett remains a strong option to be re-called in the case of an injury given his NHL experience, his strong play at the AHL-level could draw the interest of numerous league organizations in search of skilled depth players. Skating under a one-year contract which carries a meagre cap hit of $650,000, Bennett would be a relatively easy player to deal in the right scenario and would fetch the Blues a reasonable return in the process.

Tampa Bay Lightning square logoTampa Bay Lightning: Andrej Sustr

Like the Blues, the Tampa Bay Lightning boast a loaded roster, with their deep defence and scorching offensive attack the two trademarks of their game. However, let’s not forget about Tampa Bay’s goaltending, as Andrei Vasilevskiy began the 2017-18 season on fire and looks poised to cement his place amongst the NHL’s elite netminders.

Andrej Sustr
Tampa Bay’s deep blue line has meant little opportunity for Sustr. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

So, given the incredible depth of the Lightning’s roster, there are no glaring issues or deficiencies which the team must aim to immediately address. As such, if Tampa Bay does wish to shake up their roster with a trade this season, the likely candidate to go could be defenceman Andrej Sustr. At 27 years-of-age, Sustr is playing under an expiring contract and is set to become a UFA come the conclusion of the current campaign. In and out of Tampa Bay’s lineup as a healthy scratch throughout the season, Sustr’s limited playing time and fringe status within the Lightning roster could make him an expendable asset. While he is certainly an NHL defenceman, Tampa Bay’s loaded back end has provided little opportunity for Sustr to garner consistent playing time.

Toronto Maple Leafs: James van Riemsdyk

The Toronto Maple Leafs have a number of critical decisions to make prior to this season’s trade deadline, and the future of James van Riemsdyk is undoubtedly the most important of which. A consistent offensive producer who plays important minutes for the Leafs, van Riemdsyk is a quality power forward whose combination of size and skill is rare in today’s NHL.

James van Riemsdyk
Incredibly skilled and consistent, van Riemsdyk’s strong play has afforded him the right to pursue a long-term deal. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

However, the main issue when it comes to van Riemsdyk is his current contract situation. As a pending UFA, van Riemsdyk stands poised to cash in on a long-term deal, however, whether or not such will be possible with the Leafs remains to be seen. With the likes of Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and Mitch Marner in need of contract extensions in the coming years, Toronto’s ability to retain van Riemsdyk on a deal both he and the Leafs can agree upon will be an incredibly difficult task – as it could push the team into an extremely tricky financial situation.

As a result, if Toronto deems it impossible to re-sign van Riemsdyk, their best option moving forward from an organizational standpoint would be to trade the Middletown, New Jersy native. With his value arguably at the highest point of his career, dealing van Riemsdyk prior to the trade deadline would ensure that the Leafs receive the greatest possible haul of players, prospects, or draft picks in return. Ideally, a trade involving van Riemsdyk would allow Toronto to upgrade their relatively thin blue line.

Vancouver Canucks 1 square logoVancouver Canucks: Thomas Vanek

Thomas Vanek is a natural goal-scorer who, despite his increasing age and experience in the NHL, has shown no signs of slowing down. Fresh off of an incredibly successful 2016-17 campaign split between the Red Wings and Panthers, Vanek inked a one-year deal in Vancouver worth $2 million – a poultry salary given his track record of offensive production.

Thomas Vanek Canucks
Vanek’s hot start with the Canucks in 2017-18 has only increased his trade value. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

To no surprise, Vanek exploded out of the gate to begin the 2017-18 season, as the sharp-shooting winger has quickly become a prominent offensive figure with the Canucks despite his slightly diminished playing time. Logging roughly 14:00 of ice time per game, Vanek’s strong play at even strength as well as on the power play has made his signing a highly valuable one for Vancouver, who were certainly unsure of what to expect from the Vienna, Austria native. However, given his potent play and expiring contract – and the fact that the Canucks will likely not challenge for the Stanley Cup next spring – Vancouver would be wise to move the veteran winger in a deal which would immediately strengthen their current re-tooling process.

Vegas Golden Knights: David Perron

As the NHL’s most recent expansion team, expectations were low for the Vegas Golden Knights as the franchise entered its inaugural season in the league. However, despite the team’s unique composition, the Golden Knights began the 2017-18 campaign as one of the game’s greatest surprises, with the franchise’s hot start forcing many to consider a potential playoff appearance. Owing to the team’s early success was the fiery play of a number of Vegas’ new players – one of which being a stingy NHL veteran and potential trade candidate.

David Perron #57 of the Vegas Golden Knights
Perron has excelled with the Golden Knights – a fact which will make him a legitimate trade target. (David Becker/NHLI via Getty Images)

While William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, and Reilly Smith all were exceptional for the Golden Knights out of the gate, so too was David Perron – a ten year NHL veteran whose crafty abilities with the puck have long made him an offensive force. At just 29 years-of-age, it is hard to believe that Perron has already suited up for six different NHL franchises. However, now in the final season of a two-year deal which he signed as a member of the Blues, it would appear as though Perron will once again be shuffled to a new team. A pending UFA, Perron’s consistent offence and modest $3.75 million cap hit should endear him to a number of franchises desperate for depth production and playoff experience.

Washington Capitals square logoWashington Capitals: Alex Chiasson

Alex Chiasson is a big-bodied winger who boasts a scoring pedigree. However, Chiasson is also a pending UFA whose meagre $660,000 cap hit will make him a hot commodity come the 2017-18 trade deadline. Further, given the fact that Chiasson is averaging roughly 13:00 of ice time per game with the Capitals, it goes without saying that he could be a much more productive player if provided with greater opportunities to succeed offensively.

Washington Capitals right wing Alex Chiasson
Chiasson’s small cap hit and solid offensive production will make him an attractive option to contending teams. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Now, Washington will surely not rush to facilitate a deal involving Chiasson, as the team currently boasts one of the most lethal offensive units in the NHL. However, if the Capitals do look to shake up their roster, or receive a deal involving Chiasson’s services, look for them to move the Montreal, Quebec native, as the powerful winger could be of much greater value to a rival NHL franchise than to Washington considering his current utilization.

Winnipeg Jets square logoWinnipeg Jets: Jacob Trouba

Jacob Trouba and the Winnipeg Jets finally came to a two-year contract agreement in November of 2016, however, not before the young defender had requested a trade and been held out of the team’s lineup for a considerable period of time. Yet, while the contract had been signed, the relationship between Trouba and the Jets was anything but solid, as it appeared as though both sides had grudgingly made concessions in order to end the ongoing feud.

Jacob Trouba
The Jets and Trouba have a troubling history of contract negotiations. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Now, fast forward two years and Trouba’s two-year deal is set to come to an end. Poised to become an RFA once his contract concludes, Winnipeg would be wise to move the Rochester, Michigan native prior to the quickly approaching trade deadline and while his value remains at a high. While dealing a potential first-pairing defender is no simple task, doing so would be of great benefit to the Jets, who desperately need to improve their standing in goal if they wish to embark upon a long and successful playoff run.