Barely two months into this NHL season, several notable stars have surfaced in the trade rumor mill. Some of them are unrestricted free agents next summer, so it’s no surprise they’re popping up as trade bait.
Most, however, are players with term still on their contracts. While seeing their names mentioned in trade chatter makes for a sexy headline, it’s doubtful any of them are dealt before the Feb. 29, 2016 trade deadline. Here’s a list of several NHL stars mentioned in this season’s rumor mill who won’t be on the move this season.
Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks. As long as he keeps his preferred list of trade destinations to the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers, he’s not going anywhere. Sharks management won’t ship him directly to a California rival, so it’ll take a three-way deal with another team to pull that off. As for the Rangers, they can’t afford to take on his $6.6-million cap hit for this season.
Matt Duchene and Tyson Barrie, Colorado Avalanche. Given the Avs struggles this season, it’s not surprising GM Joe Sakic is willing to gauge the market value of a young star like Duchene or Barrie. However, Duchene’s $6-million cap hit is very difficult to move during the regular season. Sakic doesn’t seem like he’s trying all that hard to trade the 24-year-old center, who’s been tearing it up offensively throughout November.
As for Barrie, he’s arguably their best defenseman. Granted, he’s a restricted free agent next summer and could be expensive to re-sign. Given the Avs lack of quality blueline depth, however, Sakic would be mad to trade him simply to avoid facing salary arbitration next summer.
Ryan Johansen, Columbus Blue Jackets. It’s only due diligence for the Blue Jackets management to at least listen to offers for Johansen. However, he’s their first-line center and dealing him away creates a big hole in their offensive lines. The asking price will be steep. Figure a good young center or a first-pairing defenseman, a top prospect and a first-round pick. If no one’s willing to meet that, Johansen stays put.
Shea Weber, Nashville Predators. Yes, the Predators need a first-line center. Yes, Weber lacks a no-trade clause and can be dealt anywhere. Yes, his expensive contract could be burdensome for the Predators. But no, GM David Poile won’t trade his captain. Even if he did, that $7.87-million annual cap hit ($14 million in actual salary for this season!) is almost like a no-trade clause during the season.
Zdeno Chara and Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins. During the Bruins’ 0-3-0 start, a report out of Boston claimed management was gauging the value of Chara and Marchand in the trade market. Since then, the Bruins have righted the ship and are in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race. Chara and Marchand are key reasons for that.
Jeff Skinner, Carolina Hurricanes. The once-promising Skinner’s production has significantly declined since last season. Perhaps fear of another concussion is adversely affecting his game. Whatever the reason, Skinner isn’t playing up to the level expected of his $5.75-million annual cap hit. GM Ron Francis probably wants to move him, but unless he’s willing to accept an equally toxic contract in return, I don’t see anyone taking on that cap hit for a player with an injury history.
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning. The exception to this list, as he’s a UFA at season’s end. Lots of speculation over whether he’ll re-sign with the Lightning after this season. While his long-term future in Tampa Bay remains uncertain, don’t expect him to request or okay a trade this season. He and the Lightning still want to chase the Stanley Cup this season.