Thursday, June 1, 2017

Ten star players who won't be traded this summer (but might)

We don’t see many trades in the NHL these days. Making deals is a dying art among NHL GMs, many of whom seem like they’d rather not pick up the phone at all. The few trades we do get are often relatively small ones, and sometimes it feels like the days of the true blockbuster are all but over.

Of course, we would have said all of that a year ago, too. And we know how that turned out.

Last June, hockey fans lived through one of the craziest days in hockey history, when we saw a pair of massive trades break within minutes of each other. First came word that the Oilers had sent all-star winger Taylor Hall to the Devils for Adam Larsson. Then came the P.K. Subban-for-Shea Weber deal, one that’s still being debated to this day thanks to Subban’s appearance in the Stanley Cup Final. Before that day back in June, most fans would have called all of those guys untouchable. In one hour, they were all on the move.

Most of them won't, of course, and it's possible nobody on our list gets dealt at all. But after last summer's day of madness, we can't rule anything out completely. So let's start with some names that have a good chance of moving, and work our way down to the biggest long shots.

Matt Duchene, Avalanche

Why a trade could happen: We'll start with the easy one. Of all the stars on our list, Duchene is the one who actually seems likely to move. The Avalanche have been openly shopping him for months now, and it seemed as if he might be moved at the deadline. That didn't happen, largely because the team felt like they could find a better deal in the off-season. Now, the pressure's on to get it done, and Duchene has been linked with teams like the Canadiens, Islanders and Blues.

Why there's a chance that it wouldn't: Duchene didn't do much to help his value after the deadline, going pointless in 18 of 21 games down the stretch, so it's possible that Colorado finds the market is even weaker now than it was in February. Even so, Avalanche GM Joe Sakic almost has to make a move here — the situation has just come too far to get cold feet now.

But we're not actually sure that Sakic will be the team's GM. Their recent play for Kyle Dubas paints a picture of an Avalanche organization that might be looking to kick Sakic upstairs and hand the reins over to new blood. If they do, that new GM might decide to take their time on any major moves, holding onto Duchene at least into the season.

And yet...: At some point, letting a star player twist in the wind gets to be too much. You'd have to think this gets done around the draft.

Marc-Andre Fleury, Penguins

Why a trade could happen: While Fleury has had his moments in Pittsburgh, including much of this year's playoff run, this is Matt Murray's team now. Normally, the team might be happy to have two solid goaltenders on the roster. But the Golden Knights throw a wrench into things; if Fleury is on the roster when it's time to submit the expansion list (and doesn't waive his no-movement clause), the Penguins would have to protect him and expose Murray. That's not going to happen.

The easiest solution would be to work with Fleury to find a destination he'd be willing to waive his no-movement for. The market for his services probably got a boost from this strong playoff run, so some team out there should be willing to give up some value to acquire the veteran Cup-winner.

Why it's not a sure thing: If the Penguins can't find a trade, or Fleury won't waive his NMC, they could always just buy him out. It's also possible that they could cut a side deal with the Knights to bypass Murray and hold onto both goaltenders.

And yet...: A trade to a team where Fleury could be the starter still seems like the best option for everyone involved.

Jordan Eberle, Oilers

Why a trade could happen: Everyone in Edmonton seems to want it to, after the winger laid an egg in the playoffs. With other holes in the roster to fill, it would make sense for the team to move somebody like Eberle or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, just like they did with last year's Hall deal.

Why it might not: Moving Eberle after the post-season he just had would seem like a classic case of selling low. And with two years left on a deal that carries a $6-million cap hit, Eberle would be a tough fit for most teams. The market wasn't exactly lining up for the guy at the deadline, so you can imagine what it would look like now. It might be better to hold on to him, if only until he can build back some value during the season.

And yet...: Between Leon Draisaitl's new deal and Connor McDavid's extension for 2018, the Oilers' cap room is going to vanish quickly. Underachieving players with big cap hits don't really seem to fit the long-term plan.

Alex Ovechkin, Capitals

Why a trade could happen: Ah, the big one. No name on the market carries the weight of Ovechkin, a three-time MVP who may go down in history as one of the greatest goal scorers of all time. And yet, after another disappointing playoff exit, the Capitals look like an organization in turmoil. All options seem to be on the table, including hitting the rest button on an entire era by moving the face of the franchise.

>> Read the full post at Sportsnet

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