Almost halfway through the NHL’s 2018-19 schedule, several notable NHL stars have frequently surfaced in the rumor mill as possible trade candidates.
Some of them belong to once-dominant franchises whose fortunes have declined. Several are slated to become unrestricted free agents at season’s end.
None of them, however, are likely to be traded during the season.
In today’s salary-cap world, it’s rare for a noteworthy NHL star to be moved before the trade deadline. Those who end up on the block tend to be fading talent or depth players on expiring contracts from non-contenders intent on getting an early start on rebuilding their rosters.
Here’s a look at the biggest names currently floating in the NHL rumor mill and why none of them will be traded before the deadline. Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section below.
Alex Pietrangelo, Vladimir Taranseko, and Colton Parayko – St. Louis Blues
The Blues’ struggles this season has sparked plenty of conjecture over general manager Doug Armstrong’s plans for his roster. There’s speculation suggesting he could listen to offers for top players such as Pietrangelo, Tarasenko, and Parayko. Listening, however, doesn’t mean any of them will be dealt at the deadline.
Pietrangelo and Pararyko are the Blues’ best blueliners while Tarasenko is their top goal scorer. Prying any one of them away will require more than a package of draft picks and prospects. It will also mean including at least one good young player who can help the Blues now and in the future.
Trades of that caliber are difficult to pull off in-season, especially for high-salaried stars such as Pietrangelo and Tarasenko who have (or soon will have) no-trade clauses. They’re the type of deals typically done in the offseason when most clubs are flush with extra salary-cap dollars. If any of those three are traded (emphasis on the word “if”), it’ll be a summertime deal.
Jonathan Quick and Jeff Carter – Los Angeles Kings
Winners of the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014, the Kings are on pace to miss the playoffs for the third time in five years. Having already replaced their general manager and twice changed coaches since 2017, rebuilding their aging roster is the next logical step.
Despite a history of groin and knee injuries, the 32-year-old Quick is still considered among the league’s top goaltenders. Carter, 33, remains well-regarded for his offensive experience and leadership. They’re both under contract for the next several years carrying salary-cap hits in excess of $5.2-million annually.
They’re also among the few noteworthy Kings veterans lacking no-trade protection, which explains why they keep surfacing in the rumor mill. Trading Quick, however, leaves the Kings without an experienced starting goalie. There’s speculation Carter could retire rather than be traded, leaving the Kings facing an annual salary-cap recapture penalty of $2.75-million over the remainder of his contract.
Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin – Dallas Stars
Last Friday’s public expletive-laden critique of captain Benn and linemate Seguin by Stars CEO Jim Lites rocked the NHL world. It could also generate questions over the duo’s long-term future in Dallas.
Benn’s production has declined since a career-best 89-point effort in 2015-16, also the last time the Stars reached the playoffs. Seguin, meanwhile, is a consistent 70-plus point performer but has a reputation for coming up small in big-game situations.
Nevertheless, the Stars’ playoff hopes this season rest with Benn and Seguin. They remain the club’s leading scorers and carry expensive contracts with no-trade protection. Should the Stars fail to reach the postseason, perhaps ownership will explore trying to move one of them next summer.
Sergei Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin – Columbus Blue Jackets
Bobrovsky is the league’s only active multiple Vezina Trophy winner. Panarin is the Jackets’ leading scorer and on track for another 80-plus point campaign. Both are also slated to become unrestricted free agents in July and it’s uncertain if they’ll re-sign with the Jackets.
Bobrovsky could seek a deal comparable to the eight-year, $84-million contract of Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price. Panarin’s ongoing reluctance to sign a contract extension had the Jackets fielding trade offers last summer.
The Jackets, however, are jockeying for first place with the Washington Capitals in the Metropolitan Division. Bobrovsky and Panarin are crucial to their hopes for a lengthy playoff run. At the risk of losing both players for nothing to free agency, they’ll retain the pair and hope to re-sign them before July 1.
Duncan Keith – Chicago Blackhawks
Like Quick and Carter in Los Angeles, Keith is an aging veteran toiling on a club whose glory days are behind them. And like the two Kings, his name has surfaced in the rumor mill as a possible trade candidate.
Keith, 35, has accomplished much in his 14 NHL seasons with the Blackhawks. He’s helped them win three Stanley Cups, took home the Norris Trophy twice as the league’s best defenseman and won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2015 as playoff MVP.
Despite his age, Keith’s gaudy resume has some pundits wondering if he might be useful to a Stanley Cup contender this season. While he carries a reasonable $5.538-million annual salary-cap hit through 2022-23, he also has a full no-movement clause and could be unwilling to leave the only NHL team he’s ever played for.