Vegas Hockey Now wishes everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, and good luck on Black Friday. I know I will be eating a good bit of turkey and going after a camera on Black Friday.
NHL general managers may be doing some NHL shopping, too, but in the trade department. While the Vegas Golden Knights are finally starting to get healthy, they will need to make some moves to get under the NHL salary cap when Jack Eichel returns.
With American Thanksgiving upon us, will the NHL trade market pick up?
For most NHL teams, this is the point in the season where they have a better grasp of who and what they are. The NHL trade rumor circuit is usually always churning but things tend to pick up in substance and action. With that in mind, National Hockey Now has been scouring the league, talking and texting with various NHL executives and pro scouts, and here are three forwards and three defensemen that appear to be popular names on the NHL trade block.
3 Potentially Available Forwards
1. Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks
It’s hard to believe that the Vancouver Canucks would consider trading the player they took 23rd overall at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, but word on the street is Boeser’s name has been out there since the summer.
Amidst the Canucks tough start, vultures are circling.
Boeser has not only become a hot name on the NHL trade market but was rumored to be available at the NHL Draft and as the free-agent market took flight in late July. Boeser has four goals and four assists in 16 games this season but based on recent success, it’s hard to believe the Canucks would be entertaining trade offers for the 24-year-old.
He had 23 goals and 26 assists last season and has been the least of the problems for this franchise in disarray. Boeser is in the final year of a three-year contract that carried a $5.8 million cap hit and will be an RFA after the season.
2. Ryan Strome, New York Rangers
The New York Rangers have been shopping the 28-year-old Strome on the NHL trade market for a while now but there has been some chatter that he could actually get moved soon. Darren Dreger recently reported that the Rangers have been scouring the NHL trade market for a middle-six forward and it’s no secret Strome is there for a return.
Boston Hockey Now speculated if a Jake DeBrusk for Strome deal would make sense. The bottom line is, the unrestricted-free agent-to-be is available for the right price. Strome is finishing off a two-year contract that carries a $4.5 million cap hit.
3. Phil Kessel, Arizona Coyotes
Pittsburgh Penguins fans may take note of their former mercurial favorite. Kessel has a modified no-trade clause and a no-movement clause but numerous sources confirmed to the NHN that he is willing to waive everything for the right fit.
Could the Boston Bruins, the team that drafted Kessel fifth overall at the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, be interested? There’s no telling from our sources that the Bruins are thinking of a reunion with the pending UFA and given the $6.8 million cap hit left, that’s highly unlikely unless the Arizona Coyotes are willing to retain salary. That’s likely the case with any interested team on Kessel, but the player and team want to move the 34-year-old Kessel so this is worth watching.
3 Potentially Available Defenseman
1. Will Butcher, Buffalo Sabres
Butcher, 26, came into the NHL in 2017 as the highest-rated NCAA free agent. With 44 points in his rookie season with the New Jersey Devils, the 2013 fifth-round pick of the Colorado Avalanche did not disappoint. Butcher had 30 points the next season but it’s been downhill since then. The former University of Denver defenseman is in the final year of a contract that carried a $3.7 million cap hit but is currently at $2.8 million for this season.
2. Olli Maatta, Los Angeles Kings
The second former Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup-winning player on the list, Maatta, 27, is in the final season of a six-year contract that carries a $4 million cap hit. The 22nd pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft was a steady offensive defenseman for the Penguins during their recent Cup runs in 2016 and 2017.
Maatta’s recent best was in 2017-18 when he registered 29 points.
3. Brayden McNabb, Vegas Golden Knights
The 31-year-old rearguard has two goals and four assists this season but at a $2.5 million cap hit in his final season with the Knights, his experience and poise are garnering some attention.
The Golden Knights figure to be over the salary cap when Jack Eichel is ready to enter the lineup, perhaps in March. So, watch the Golden Knights on the NHL trade market.
Story written by Jimmy Murphy of Boston Hockey Now.