The 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver is fast approaching. The opening round will be on Friday, June 21 with the remaining six rounds held the following day.
Most of the focus will be on where this year’s top prospects end up among the 31 NHL franchises. However, the draft weekend is also a time when trades of established talent also takes place. By the end of this week, several notable players could be changing teams.
Here’s a look at eight notable trade candidates entering this year’s NHL Draft.
Jacob Trouba, Winnipeg Jets
Soon to be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights, Trouba’s a year away from unrestricted free agent status. Given the contentious contract negotiation history between the two sides, the Jets could part ways with the 25-year-old defenseman this week.
On June 4, the Winnipeg Sun’s Ken Wiebe listed the Philadelphia Flyers, Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, and New Jersey Devils as possible suitors. Larry Brooks of the New York Post claims the New York Islanders are also pursuing Trouba. The Detroit Red Wings and Florida Panthers have also come up as destinations.
Jason Zucker, Minnesota Wild
It’s assumed Zucker will be changing teams this summer. At the trade deadline, the 27-year-old winger was almost shipped to the Calgary Flames. A deal that would’ve sent him to Pittsburgh for Phil Kessel fell through when Kessel declined to waive his no-trade clause.
In a recent interview with The Athletic’s Michael Russo, Wild GM Paul Fenton denied being intent on trading Zucker. Nevertheless, there’s speculation Fenton’s spoken with the Sabres, Jets, Vancouver Canucks, Arizona Coyotes, Anaheim Ducks, and Carolina Hurricanes.
Patrick Marleau, Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs must free up salary-cap space to re-sign winger Mitch Marner. Cap Friendly indicates Marleau has a year remaining on his contract with a $6.25-million salary-cap hit and a full no-movement clause. However, he could waive it for the right destination. He’d reportedly prefer someplace close to his family in San Jose.
On June 2, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported the Leafs and Coyotes discussed a Marleau deal. Perhaps that’s something they’ll revisit on the draft floor this weekend. The Leafs will probably have to include a quality prospect or young player as an enticement.
Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun broke the news on June 8 the Ducks could trade or buy out Perry. The long-time Anaheim winger has two years left on his contract with an annual average value of $8.625 million. Like Marleau, he also has a no-movement clause but could waive it for the right team.
On June 11, LeBrun’s colleague Darren Dreger wondered if the Edmonton Oilers could be a destination. He felt Perry could help Oilers captain Connor McDavid on the leadership side. Given his declining speed and skills, it’s unlikely he’ll be a fit in Edmonton.
Milan Lucic, Edmonton Oilers
Moving Lucic seems a long shot. The 31-year-old left wing is a fading power forward carrying an annual cap hit of $6 million through 2022-23. He also has a no-movement clause. Nevertheless, there’s persistent chatter suggesting he could be traded.
On June 8, TSN’s Darren Dreger noted the ongoing conjecture of peddling Lucic to the Vancouver Canucks for aging winger Loui Eriksson. He also carries an AAV of $6 million but for one season less than Lucic. However, the Oilers might have to include a quality prospect or young player to sway the Canucks.
Kevin Hayes, Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers acquired Hayes earlier this month from the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for a fifth-round pick. They hoped to re-sign the versatile 26-year-old forward, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
Hayes met with the Flyers last week but there’s no indication he and the club are close to a deal. If there’s no progress before this weekend, he could hit the trade block again.
Nikita Zaitsev, Toronto Maple Leafs
Reports emerged late last month indicating the 26-year-old defenseman requested a trade. He carries a reasonable $4.5-million AAV but he’s signed through 2023-24. Given his struggles over the past two seasons, that term could make him difficult to move.
Still, the Leafs are believed trying to honor Zaitsev’s trade request. Last weekend, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported the Leafs’ asking price is a defenseman or a return that can help them land another blueliner.
T.J. Brodie, Calgary Flames
Assuming the salary cap reaches $83 million as projected, the Flames will have around $14.4 million in cap room. A new contract for restricted free agent power forward Matthew Tkachuk could eat up around $9 million, leaving little for RFA Sam Bennett and to sign two goaltenders.
Brodie has frequently surfaced this spring as a possible trade candidate. He has a year left on his contract with a $4.625-million AAV. Clubs seeking skilled blueline depth could come calling.