The trade appetites of NHL fans have been whetted with months of speculation, and it’s almost time to dig into the potential smorgasbord.
Conversations among general managers are surely heating up with the expansion draft and entry draft on the immediate horizon, and Darren Dreger shared some of his thoughts during a Tuesday morning radio appearance on Montreal’s TSN 690.
After a discussion on Alex Galchenyuk, Dreger was asked if he had anything to add to trade conjecture concerning defenseman Nathan Beaulieu, who is a pending restricted free agent with the Canadiens.
“No, not really,” said Dreger. “Again, it’s such a volatile time of year and any team that didn’t achieve its goal – and Montreal most definitely didn’t – has got to be looking for answers. They’ve got to be willing to look at every piece, with the exception – I would say – of Carey Price. But you know what? There are some out there who are starting to ask that question. If you’re going down the path of considering trading your marquee piece, which is Carey Price – and I’m not saying for a second that they are – but if you’re having these boardroom discussions about a renovation, if you will, and his name is on it then I think that you’re in big, big trouble. So I dismiss that, but everything else I think is fair game, isn’t it? I think you have to look at every piece and especially if there’s a market out there.
Price, of course, is eligible to sign a contract extension as early as July 1.
The goaltender’s six-year, $39 million pact has one more season to run before it expires, and the pact carries a modified no-trade clause, no-move clause.
“But when it comes to defense, this year more than any other that I can remember in a long, long time, there are good young defensemen available,” continued Dreger. “Beaulieu fits into that group to some degree. But when you’re throwing out names like Tyson Barrie of the Colorado Avalanche – it depends on what is required to get that piece – but maybe there’s a fit in some scenario there.
“Again, we want to connect Matt Duchene to the Montreal Canadiens. We know that Colorado is not going to trade Tyson Barrie unless they get a defense in return.
“So that’s just wild speculation, but those are the conversations that are taking place.”
TSN 690 host Conor McKenna didn’t miss a beat on that comment.
“Love wild speculation,” said McKenna. “One of my favorite things, especially at this time of the year.”
Teams wanting to acquire Duchene will get another two years of his contract and a cap hit of $6 million, while Barrie has three more seasons at $5.5 million per.
Neither Duchene nor Barrie has any trade protection in his contract.
The defensemen thread was picked up from there on TSN 690, with Matt Dumba being noted as one player being heard in trade speculation.
“Well, Brodin from Minnesota as well, although I think that the Wild would prefer to keep him,” said Dreger. “Dumba’s name has been on and off the market for quite some time.
“I wouldn’t say this guy fits into the group of a young defenseman, but Toby Enstrom from the Winnipeg Jets has been kind of quietly out there on and off again for the last couple of seasons.
“When you go through every team, there’s probably names that we’re not even aware of that might be surprising. But again, because of the expansion draft – and the Islanders to me are the most captivating because of Hamonic and because of Calvin De Haan. They would like to move one of those guys and I’m sure they would prefer to move Calvin De Haan so they can protect Travis Hamonic, but there’s a team that we’re going to watch closely here in the days ahead.”
Some teams would love to use the expansion draft setting to partner with the Golden Knights to also take care of a few salary cap-related issues, and the Chicago Blackhawks seem to fall into that category.
Dreger was asked about recent speculation concerning a core player from the Blackhawks potentially being on the move.
“Well again, the speculation suggests that it’s going to be a defenseman,” noted Dreger. “I don’t see how it can be Brent Seabrook. I think that he’s still very important to the Chicago Blackhawks. I think that one would be really, really complicated. His family has just expanded, so he’s entrenched in Chicago.
“Hjalmarsson’s name is kind of out there, but sort of in that same vein. If Stan Bowman is going to have to make a real tough call, then maybe Hjalmarsson is going to be the odd man out.
“I still think that there’s this connection to the Vegas Golden Knights with Marcus Kruger and Trevor van Riemsdyk, and I believe that that’s one of the deals that George McPhee from the Vegas Golden Knights is likely going to announce. My understanding is it’s not done yet, but they’re working to that direction. But that’s not going to be enough, just moving out Kruger’s contract and TVR’s.
“So if Hjalmarsson is even remotely out there, I can tell you the market would be strong. I, while covering the Stanley Cup Final, just floated his name to a couple of teams in the NHL. The response was, ‘If he’s out there, we’d be interested.’
“So not always where there’s smoke there’s fire, but in this case given the cap situation of the Chicago Blackhawks they have to be willing to consider just about anything.”
Seabrook will be headed into the second season of his eight-year, $55 million contract and he has a full no-move clause until the final two campaigns of that pact.
Hjalmarsson has two seasons left on his contract, and has a $4.1 million cap hit. He has a modified no-trade clause, no-move clause through which he submits a 10-team trade list.
If the Blackhawks are able to trade Kruger, that’ll shave a little less than $3.1 million per season from their cap hit over each of the next two seasons.
His modified no-trade clause, which will list seven teams to which he cannot be traded, will not kick in until July 1.