A list of RFA players who could become trade bait in today’s NHL rumor mill.
Possible RFA trade bait
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox examined the status of the top 36 NHL restricted free agents to determine those whose stock has risen or fallen and those whose rights could be dangled as trade bait. He noted contract talks between the Ottawa Senators and winger Mike Hoffman are currently non-existent, but he’d like to stay in Ottawa on a long-term deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hoffman’s streaky production raised concern with former Senators GM Bryan Murray. If recently promoted GM Pierre Dorion shares his predecessor’s concern, and with team owner Eugene Melnyk pushing for change, Hoffman could become a trade candidate this summer.
While Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie popped up in trade rumors this season, they need to hang onto quality blueliners like him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avs GM Joe Sakic would be insane to trade Barrie. Yes, he’ll be expensive to re-sign, but as Fox points out, the Avs need all the quality defensemen they can get.
Philadelphia Flyers forward Brayden Schenn went from having his name appear in trade rumors to posting up the best numbers of his career.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think Schenn will earn himself a new contract with the Flyers. He’s been a more engaged player this season, and certainly more physical.
The cap-strapped Chicago Blackhawks could move on from winger Andrew Shaw if his asking price proves too high.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With almost $67 million invested in 17 players next season, the Blackhawks can afford to re-sign Shaw, but it won’t leave much to re-sign or replace other players.
The Anaheim Ducks would like to re-sign defenseman Sami Vatanen. Given their blueline depth and GM Bob Murray’s search for more scoring, Vatanen could be moved this summer. His name surfaced in the rumor mill after Murray tried unsuccessfully to re-sign him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks have over $53 million tied up in 15 players, so they have the room to re-sign Vatanen. However, they also have a recent history of maintaining a lower salary-cap ceiling. With promising young defensemen like Shea Theodore and Brandon Montour waiting in the wings, I wouldn’t be surprised if they re-sign Hampus Lindholm (who’s coming off an entry-level contract) and trade Vatanen, who has arbitration rights this summer.
Speaking of the Ducks, goalie Frederik Andersen could also be used as a trade chip. He was apparently scouted late in the season by Toronto Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: John Gibson appears to have the starter’s position locked up with the Ducks. I’m expecting Andersen will be dealt this summer. No surprise the Leafs were scouting him.
New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider’s play this season picked up after his name appeared in trade rumors.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kreider didn’t help his case for a lucrative long-term deal this season, but I don’t believe the Rangers will move him.
With Calgary Flames young stars Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan due new contracts, Fox wonders if Joe Colborne could become the odd man out.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames want to re-sign Colborne, but of course it’ll depend upon how much it costs to re-sign Gaudreau and Monahan, who are in line for significant raises.
The Winnipeg Jets and defenseman Jacob Trouba are reportedly nowhere close to a deal. He could become a valuable trade chip if the Jets wish to go that route.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trouba’s agent denied a report claiming his client was seeking an eight-year, $56 million deal. Coming off an entry-level deal and a less-than-stellar performance this season, Trouba has little leverage other than to hope he gets an offer sheet or stage a holdout next season. I think the Jets intend to keep him. He’ll likely have to accept a two-year bridge contract.
Minnesota Wild defenseman and fan favorite Matt Dumba was linked to Tampa Bay Lightning winger Jonathan Drouin in midseason trade speculation.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild need to bolster their offense and could indeed deal from their defense to get it. Dumba might have the most value, but if the Wild are going that route they’ll have to be careful. This could be a move that comes back to haunt them. My guess is they’ll try to move Jonas Brodin rather than Dumba.