Just because it is playoff time in the NHL doesn’t mean general managers stop trying to improve their teams for next season.
There’s already considerable buzz about big names possibly being in the marketplace this summer. Here are some desirable players whose potential availability has fans talking.
►Center Nazem Kadri, Toronto Maple Leafs: The Leafs have to trade a player or two to create more cap space for Mitch Marner’s anticipated long-term contract. Kadri is a logical choice to move. Two years in a row, Kadri hurt his team by taking a suspension during a playoff series. But his trade value is high. Many teams would be interested.
►Defenseman Jacob Trouba, Winnipeg Jets: The Jets would prefer to keep Trouba, but he’s a restricted free agent this summer and could be an unrestricted free agent July 1, 2020. The Jets have had difficulty signing him in the past. Trouba would yield a strong return on the open market.
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►Defenseman P.K. Subban, Nashville Predators: The Predators need to upgrade their forward group and moving Subban’s $9 million contract would clear a path for that to happen. With Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm, the Predators would still have a formidable defense without Subban. Like Subban, Josi and Ellis can generate considerable offense from the blue line.
►Right wing Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh Penguins: It feels as if Kessel has worn out his welcome in Pittsburgh. Coach Mike Sullivan and Kessel are not on the same page about how Kessel should be playing. GM Jim Rutherford is looking to shake up his roster. The Predators are looking for another proven scorer. Perhaps there’s a fit there.
► Center/right wing William Nylander, Maple Leafs: The Leafs’ need to clear cap space for Marner and Kasperi Kapanen is critical. Nylander’s cap hit is $6.96 million. This is an option that has to be explored.
►Left wing James Neal, Calgary Flames: With four years remaining on a contract paying $5.75 million per season, Neal will be extremely difficult to deal without the Flames accepting a bad contract in return or eating some of Neal’s money. But Neal did score 23 or more goals for seven consecutive seasons before scoring seven this season.
►Center Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins: The Malkin trade rumors pop up every spring, but they may be more plausible this year. The Penguins could use a face-lift and dealing Malkin could significantly alter their look. They could get veterans and prospects for Malkin. But Malkin has a full no-movement clause. Would the Penguins move such an elite player? For now, let’s call a Malkin trade possible, but still unlikely.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Could big-name players like P.K. Subban, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, James Neal get traded this offseason?