We looked at some of the rumors circulating prior to the NHL Draft, where it is expected there will be some actions. Many teams are looking to move up in the draft or some are looking to get a first round pick since they have traded it away in a previous deal. Add to this, the fact the free agency pool is not deep and that some teams are near the cap on their roster salary cap, you have a perfect storm of many changes leading to the NHL Entry Draft in Sunrise, Florida.
Today we find that Anthony Mantha may be available after all in possible trade options and more precisely with the Leafs. In addition, we look at what the Bruins may do with Milan Lucic and the most likely traded players in the off season.
Could Mantha be traded by the Wings?
Lately there are plenty of rumors coming out of Detroit stating forward Anthony Mantha is one player the teams are inquiring about when asking who’s available. The Wings have assets to move but mainly are at the AHL level. This has always been the way the Wings develop their younger players. Mantha has become a target to other teams based on the recent criticism by the Wings management stating that Mantha didn’t progress as much as they had anticipated.
In Grand Rapids, Mantha in his first season scored 15 goals and 18 assists for 33 points in 62 games played. During the past playoff, Mantha had two goals and two assists in 16 games. He was drafted 20th overall in the first round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. He played his junior years with the Val D’Or Foreurs in the QJMHL. He is seen as the Red Wings current top prospect.
During the talks prior to the trade deadline last season, The Maple Leafs offered defenseman and captain Dion Phaneuf to the Wings and one of the players thy wanted in the package back was Anthony Mantha. At the time Detroit was unwilling to move Mantha and the first round pick of this NHL Draft. According to Damien Cox, Sportsnet analyst, Detroit is more willing to let go either Mantha or their first pick this or even both if the offer makes sense.
In last March trade talks, the deal was Dion Paneuf for center Stephen Weiss, Brendan Smith and Anthony Mantha. The deal breaker was Detroit not willing to let Anthony Mantha go. Detroit could revisit the idea of acquiring Phaneuf in the off-season from the Leafs and Mantha could be in play this time around.
Lucic on the block?
Word on the street is that the Bruins are listening to teams inquiring about forward Milan Lucic. The Bruins do need to make some room under the cap, especially if they are to resign defenseman Dougie Hamilton and obtain some help up front on offense. Acquiring a power forward like Lucic would be a very expensive price to pay. Lucic is coming out of one of his worst seasons since he has reached the pros. he failed to reach the 50 points plateau for the first time since he played in his first full season in 2008-2009.
Milan Lucic often played a frustrated game and that could be due to the injury to his linemate David Krejci. Lucic who is a 6.0M cap hit on the Bruins roster will play his last season of his current contract, next season. He is the prime trade bait for a team wishing to add a grinding game to some established forwards and take some pressure off Lucic.
General manager, Don Sweeney hasn’t made it public that Lucic is on the block but he is listening. Teams that could fit with that type of player are the Columbus Blue Jackets with Scott Hartnell, the Winnipeg Jets and the Calgary Flames.
Players likely to be traded in the off-season
Below is a list drafted up by Kevin Allen of USA Today of ten players that could be traded in the off-season. Many of the names mentioned are players we have already featured or rumors that have come up concerning those players.
Phil Kessel: Allen states that Kessel could be the official start point of rebuilding the Toronto Maple Leafs franchise. His salary is an obstacle and Toronto is likely to assume part of his salary should he get traded. He says that Kessel is not the right fit for a market like Toronto and its media scrutiny.
Dion Phaneuf: Like Kessel, Phaneuf has had a bad rap since being the captain of the Leafs. He is tough, physical defenseman that when he is on top of his game, he could be a hard player to play against. Toronto may look at someone who is younger that can play the same style of game with more production. His salary like Kessel is the hardest thing to deal with should a trade be in the works.
Ryan O’Reilly: He has been in the trade rumors for the last two years and Colorado would like to trade him before he is an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season. Colorado is looking for an elite top four defenceman for O’Reilly. It may be a higher draft pick as well if the offer is right.
Rick Nash: The Rick Nash rumors came after the New York Rangers season was over. Nash’s production in the playoffs was sub-par for the salary he is earning. Nash is victim of his salary and that is what has put him on the block with New York “cap strapped” situation. New York will need to resign Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin to substantive raises and look ahead on future players due for contracts extension next season.
Patrick Sharp: This another situation where the Blackhawks may not have a choice and part with their veteran. Sharp whose performance have slowed down this season is a prime target for the Hawks to trade and make room under the salary cap. With Toews and Kane becoming the two highest salaried in the NHL at $10.5M next season, the Hawks may be force to trade Sharp. The Hawks would look at nothing but draft picks or prospect in his case.
Bryan Bickell: This is a situation similar to Patrick Sharp. The $4.0M salary of Bickell may prove to be too much to handle for a fourth line or tough guy. Bickell’s use in the playoffs was essential to their success for the last six years and there is no doubt the team getting Bickell would add the toughness needed in front of the opponent’s net.
Eric Staal: Allen reports on the meeting Rick Curran had with Carolina Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis last week but the meeting was seen as preliminary and where the Staal brothers should be in the long term plan of the Hurricanes. Same thing goes with Cam Ward and Jeff Skinner. Staal with his 8.25M cap hit is a heavy load to carry and the Hurricanes have to figure if they keep Eric Staal at a reduced price or move him.
Cam Talbot: Cam Talbot is probably the best option out there for a goalie aspiring to be a no.1 in the NHL. Allen indicates the numbers for Talbot over the course of the last two seasons where he played a total of 57 games, which is the equivalent amount of a starter goalie would play and his numbers were a 2.00 goals against average with a .931 save percentage. New York is probably looking at packaging Talbot in a bigger deal in order to maximize their return and obtain a player they really need.
Robin Lehner: Lehner is in a situation similar to Eddie Lack in Vancouver. Three’s a crowd. With the surplus in net the Ottawa Senators are having, they would like to trade Lehner soonest before teams get the goalie they want. Of note, this year the goaltender market is fairly deep on the trade market, which could play against the Senators. Lehner is the one with most upside even if the trade rumors have also included veteran Craig Anderson.
Kari Lehtonen: The Dallas Stars goalie has had a difficult season in 2014-2015. His .903 save percentage and the trend for Lehtonen to give the easy goal when Dallas provided the offence needed to win has put a considerable amount of doubt in the Stars management. They are rumored to be looking at Antti Niemi who will be a UFA come July 1st. Lehtonen’s weakness remains his ability to perform when under pressure in important games.
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