Over the weekend, we had our top unrestricted and restricted free agents to look out for this summer. Now we take a look at the players who could be involved in trade discussions. It’s been widely stated that this will be an active draft, as far as trades go. Here are the top names to watch for…
1. Carey Price Given the tremendous play of Jaroslav Halak this postseason, there’s a real possibility that Montreal will have to part ways with its once-thought ‘goalie of the future’ – a.k.a. Carey Price. Price, who is an RFA this summer, would be prime trade bait if Halak (also an RFA) were to re-sign with the team. Despite Price’s struggles over the last couple years, he still has an extremely high ceiling. There’s no question that general managers needing to add a goalie would be drooling over the possibility of getting Price.
I’d expect Habs GM Pierre Gauthier will have made a decision on either Price or Halak by draft day. If so, assuming Halak stays, Price would be a hot commodity at that time. He won’t garner as much money as Evgeni Nabokov will on the market, and the asking price for his rights via a trade probably has gone down a bit; making him even more attractive for a goalie-less team. I can see as many as ten teams jumping in on the Price sweepstakes when it’s all said and done. He would thrive with a change of scenery.
2. Tomas Vokoun The other marquee-name goaltender on the market this summer will likely be Vokoun. Florida, who has two great youngsters coming up through the ranks, would like to get something in return for the workhorse netminder; Vokoun is a free agent after next season. It was thought that he could be dealt at the deadline this past March. It didn’t happen, due in large part to the lack of demand for goalies around the league.
This summer, though, many teams will be hunting for help in the crease. And if teams have the cap room for Vokoun’s $6.3 million price tag, I’m sure they’ll be giving GM Randy Sexton a call. He had a stellar season before hitting a wall, thanks to too many starts between the Olympics and Florida. I’d say there’s a pretty good possibility he’d waive his no-trade clause to move to a contender, and that he’d be traded when the draft rolls around.
3. Brad Richards Dallas Stars owner Tom Hicks has made it clear that he wants the payroll to be lower next year. Under that circumstance, one player that could go is Brad Richards. He compiled 91 points this year (tied for a career-high), and is even a finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy. That said, Richards’ $7.8 million for the final year of his contract sends off a siren. Not that he doesn’t deserve that amount of mula, but GM Joe Nieuwendyk may not have a choice but to trade him if Hicks stands true to his word.
Richards is one of the top play-making centers in the league, so he would definitely be under high demand – if placed on the trading block (and if he’d waive his no-trade clause). St. Louis would be a team that would make some sense to go after him. They have a lot of cap space, and a need for a top-line center. The Blues certainly have the ammo to pull off a deal. Can you imagine Richards on a line with T.J. Oshie and David Perron?!
4. Tomas Kaberle Leafs GM Brian Burke has been adamant about not approaching Kaberle to waive his NTC. I’m very interested to see if that changes this summer. For Toronto to become a playoff contender next year, they need to free up some space to add another forward. My question is who is Burke going to deal to create that space??
Aside from Kaberle, anyone with a significant cap number was either signed/traded for by Burke (and lord knows he won’t be able to find a sucker to take on Jeff Finger’s $3.5 million contract). Plus, with Dion Phaneuf in town as ‘the man’ on the back end, and the team not making the playoffs since the lockout, I don’t see why Kaberle wouldn’t want to go to a contender… but that’s just me!
With all of that being said, Kaberle would be the premier defenseman available if he opts to waive his NTC. He’s a free agent after next season, and has a very affordable $4.25 million contract coming along.
5. Patrick Sharp With the Blackhawks in a situation where they’ll have to cut salary this summer to fit in all of those lucrative contracts, a few well-like players could be heading out… including Patrick Sharp. He’s been a perfect fit in Chicago, and overshadowed by the young guns Toews and Kane. Sharp’s career has taken off ever since those two came up to the NHL. He’s scored 87 goals in the last three seasons, turning into one of the best all-around forwards in the league.
Sharp has two more years left on his contract, worth $8.3 million. The ‘Hawks probably have to clear out two fairly big contracts. Even though ‘Hawks wouldn’t want to deal Sharp go, they might have to. GM Stan Bowman would be able to get a pretty good return for Sharp, who is still in the prime of his career. Kris Versteeg and Cristobal Huet are other players Chicago could ponder dealing this off-season.
Note: I’m not looking to spread rumors… just pure speculation Photo credit: Getty Images
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.