While the 2021 NHL offseason isn’t here yet, it is getting closer each passing day. This means that soon enough, many players will find themselves on new teams heading into the 2021-22 campaign. Most of this will happen via free agency, however some may come through trades as well.
There have already been some pretty big rumors on players who may be wearing a different jersey next season, and that talk is only going to intensify as we get closer to the summer. With that being said, here are the top 5 players who are likely to be traded this offseason.
5. Phil Kessel
Since being shipped from the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Arizona Coyotes, Phil Kessel’s production has taken a major hit. Though he was able to bounce back somewhat this season with 20 goals and 43 points in 56 games, it is a far cry from the numbers he was posting prior to his arrival in the dessert. As a result, the team is reportedly considering moving the 33-year-old this summer.
Kessel, who recorded his 900th career point this past season, has one season remaining on a deal that pays him $8 million per season. Despite his salary, however, he carries a slightly lower cap hit for the Coyotes at $6.8 million. Arizona is in somewhat of a rebuild stage at this point and is supposedly looking to get younger, meaning trading Kessel would make plenty of sense. Though his offensive numbers have dwindled the past two seasons, he has proven he can put up big numbers when paired with top players, meaning there would likely be several teams interested in acquiring him this summer.
4. Nolan Patrick
Though nothing has been officially confirmed yet, there have been many reports that Philadelphia Flyers forward Nolan Patrick is going to be asking for a trade this offseason. This news gained steam in recent weeks when it was announced that the 22-year-old had switched agents as soon as the 2020-21 season had concluded.
Though the former second overall pick has yet to do a ton of damage at the NHL level, he still has a ton of promise and could benefit from a change of scenery. While injuries remain a concern, especially given the fact he was forced to miss the entire 2019-20 season, there would still be a ton of teams that would hold interest given how much hype he had surrounding his name a few years back.
3. Sean Monahan
Due to his struggles the past two seasons, it is easy to forget just how good of a goal scorer Sean Monahan has been throughout his eight season career. The 26-year-old, who was taken sixth overall in 2013, is second in his entire draft class with 204 career goals, trailing only the first overall pick from that year, Nathan MacKinnon, who has 210.
This season, one that Monahan played through with an injured hip that required surgery recently, was the first in his NHL career that he has failed to score at least 22 goals. Still, he has struggled over the past two seasons, and given his teams overall struggles this year, it appears they are ready to make a change to their core. Most signs point to that change being a Monahan trade. He has two seasons remaining on his deal with a reasonable cap hit of $6.375 million, meaning that if the Flames do decide to move him, they shouldn’t have any problems doing so.
2. Seth Jones
Over the years, the Columbus Blue Jackets have been unable to keep their star players around, and it appears that will soon be the case with defenceman Seth Jones as well. While the 26-year-old still has one-year left on his contract and has not asked for a trade, he recently told management he is not interested in signing an extension and is willing to test free agency when his deal expires.
Though this is devastating news for the organization and its fans, management would be best to seek out a trade as soon as possible, as he would bring them more assets now than a potential trade closer to next seasons trade deadline. He is highly regarded as one of the better defencemen in the entire NHL and has a cap hit of just $5.4 million, meaning the Blue Jackets will have no problems finding a ton of suitors.
1. Jack Eichel
During the 2014-15 season, the Sabres did everything in their power to ensure that they would be able to get the first overall pick and select Connor McDavid. Unfortunately, the draft lottery didn’t go in their favour, but they ended up with a great consolation prize in Jack Eichel. The 24-year-old has more than lived up to big expectations placed on him from a young age, but multiple management groups have failed to build a capable team around him, and it appears the relationship between the two sides is irreparable at this point.
Though it seems crazy to trade a franchise centerman who is just scratching the surface of his prime, the Sabres may not have a choice, as Eichel made several hints at his end of season media availability that he would like a change of scenery. The only good news here for the Sabres is that a player of his stature should net a very big return, but given their track record many are doubting that they will get fair value. He doesn’t come cheap as he has five years remaining on a deal with a cap hit of $10 million, but he has certainly proven in the past that he is worth that money. As of now, the L.A. Kings are believed to be the frontrunners, but there will be a ton of other teams who inquire about him as well if they haven’t already.
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