Over the last week three NHL trades took place. Florida made some cap space wiggle room by passing on a heavy hitter to the New Jersey Devils. Arizona’s new young GM, John Chayka, made his first trade to secure early negotiation rights with a top defenseman; then there was the Chicago Blackhawks, who traded one of their top young players to Carolina in order to help shift salary and acquire a pair of picks.
June 13th: New Jersey Devils – Florida Panthers
Marc Savard and 2018 2nd Round Selection for Graham Black and Paul Thompson.
This deal was all about moving some cap hit between teams. With the Florida Panthers wanting to improve from being playoff entrants to playoff contenders, and New Jersey needing to hit their salary floor, shifting Marc Savard’s $4.027 million certainly helps both teams on the financial side. Savard himself hasn’t featured in an NHL game since January 2011, due to suffering his second concussion of that season. 2016-17 will see the last year of Savard’s seven-year contract, given to him by Boston in 2010-11. For relieving the Panthers of this mighty cap hit, NJD earned themselves Florida’s 2018 2nd Round pick. New Jersey now have nine selections in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, with five of them coming in the first three rounds. With Marc Savard on the books, the Devils have roughly $27.816 million in cap space, which will be focused on resigning their valuable RFAs – Kyle Palmieri, Reid Boucher, Devante Smith-Pelly, Jon Merril, Jacob Josefson, Sergey Kalinin – and seeing where they can get with their aged UFA corps. 40-year-old club legend Patrik Elias, who played just 16 games last season due to a knee injury, doesn’t look likely to be a Devil next season. Due to all of the resigning from within the team that needs to be done, the Devils don’t look like being major players when the free agent negotiations kick off on June 25th, but they do have the space to make some strong moves if they want to. Florida bagged themselves the extra cap space along with two non-NHL players. Graham Black has endured an injury riddled couple of seasons in the AHL, with Albany, which has hindered his development. But the 2012 5th rounder still shows potential to be a fair two-way player in the NHL, with his defensive game being the peak of his play. 27-year-old Paul Thompson has proven himself to be a decent AHL skater, but reports suggest that this may be his peak. With just three NHL caps under his belt, all coming in January of last year, Thompson looks set to spend the last year of his contract in the AHL.
July 15th: Carolina Hurricanes – Chicago Blackhawks
Bryan Bickell and Teuvo Teravainen for 2016 2nd Round Selection and 2017 3rd Round Selection
Once again Chicago’s salary cap has forced them to move money out in the offseason; in this case, they shifted Bryan Bickell’s $4 million hit to the Carolina Hurricanes, but not without sweetening the deal. Bickell spent most of last season with the Rockford IceHogs and has just one year left on his contract. He could still bring a strong level of experience to the fairly young Canes forward lines, but could just as easily see out the contract in the AHL. In order for the Hurricanes to give up the 2nd and 3rd Round picks, Chicago had to send them one of their most prized young stars, 2012’s 18th overall selection Teuvo Teravainen. The Finnish forward experienced his first full season of NHL in 2015-16, scoring 13 goals and 35 points. If not this season then next, Teravainen could feature as a top line playmaker for Carolina, and possibly on their first powerplay unit. He plays a very high paced game, whether he’s chasing down the puck or receiving and playing it. Teravainen has the ability to perform at a consistently high level so, with his entry level contract concluding at the end of this season, he’ll be looking to make his mark and secure more than just a bridge contract with this budding team.
June 16th: Arizona Coyotes – Dallas Stars
Alex Goligoski for 2016 5th Round Selection
Alex Goligoski is amongst the NHL’s top offensive defenseman, but Dallas couldn’t find a way to resign him before the free agency opened. To cut their losses, Dallas traded the six-year Star to Arizona for a 5th Round pick. As of today, the Yotes have five days to secure Goligoski before the rest of the NHL are allowed to start negotiating with him. Due to the immense strength of Arizona’s prospect pool, they could afford to spare a pick to have a shot at bringing in a top defenseman. Many consider Alex Goligoski to be the best blue-liner hitting the free agency this year, in what would likely be the 30-year-old’s final big contract, so Arizona’s trade does raise some eyebrows. Why wouldn’t a player of his bargaining power, in this market, test the waters to see what he can get? Arizona will be hoping that they can tend an acceptable offer, from their $36.956 million cap space, seasoned by the extra flattery of trading a pick just to have the second crack at signing him.