5 Early Trade Candidates Around the NHL
It’s still pretty early in the NHL season, and yet there’s a handful of players that could benefit from a change in scenery.
Let’s take a look at 5 players around the league who could be moved sooner than later.
Dylan Strome – Chicago Blackhawks
Spoiler alert – there will be more than one Chicago player on this list.
Let’s start with the third overall pick from the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Dylan Strome found himself scratched by head coach Jeremy Colliton, who was roundly booed by the hometown fans prior to the Blackhawks’ home opener.
Strome was acquired by Chicago during the 2018-19 season, and recorded 17 goals and 34 assists for 51 points in his first 58 games with the club. His numbers – and his role with the team – have steadily diminished since, and it’s widely believed he could be had for even as low as a mid-round pick.
He’s still only 24, and could be a very good buy low option for teams looking for help down the middle.
Erik Brannstrom – Ottawa Senators
Another high draft pick is struggling to get into the NHL lineup.
Erik Brannstrom was a major piece in a trade that saw the Ottawa Senators send Mark Stone to the Vegas Golden Knights, prompting GM Pierre Dorion to say it was one of the proudest days he’d had in the NHL up to that point.
Since then, the 15th pick in 2017 has appeared in only 63 games at the NHL level, with two goals and 15 assists to his credit. Despite being a skilled, mobile, puck-moving defenseman, he just can’t crack head coach DJ Smith’s lineup.
It would be no shock to hear he’s perturbed with his situation and would like to be moved to where he can play. Dorion would likely find no shortage of suitors, and the return might not make him so proud this time around.
Vitali Kravtsov – New York Rangers
It’s no secret that this top prospect is available.
After failing to crack the opening night roster, Vitali Kravtsov booted it to Russia instead of reporting to AHL Hartford, and there he remains until he’s dealt.
“He’s in Russia right now, awaiting a trade, refusing assignment to AHL Hartford, so I called around to find out what general manager Chris Drury could be looking for in a trade for this player, and what I got back was a top prospect,” Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek said during the 32 Thoughts segment on Hockey Night in Canada this past Saturday. “And he is not budging from that right now.”
Kravtsov was selected eighth overall in 2018. He scored two goals and added two assists in 20 games for the Rangers last season.
Jack Eichel – Buffalo Sabres
It’s wild that this situation hasn’t been resolved already, really.
Jack Eichel and the Buffalo Sabres have been at odds for months over the preferred method of treatment for a herniated disc in the franchise center’s neck. The player wants a disc replacement, the risk averse team erring on the seemingly safer disc fusion.
The 24-year-old requested a trade this past offseason, hoping a new club would see eye to eye with how he wants to proceed. Meanwhile, the Sabres stripped him of his captaincy and haven’t been able to secure an offer they can’t refuse.
If he’s not dealt soon, Eichel could file a formal grievance to help speed things along, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.
Drafted second overall in 2015, Eichel has amassed 139 goals and 216 assists in 355 games.
Marc-Andre Fleury – Chicago Blackhawks
Named a loser based on a poor showing in the first week of the season, Marc-Andre Fleury might already have an eye on the trade deadline and an exit from Chicago.
The Blackhawks are just straight up bad, posting a record of 0-5-1 and failing to hold the lead at any point this season.
Fleury is coming off a Vezina Trophy win and is in the final year of his contract. Chicago is not proving to be a fit, and contending teams looking to bolster their goaltending heading into the stretch run will certainly come calling.
Chicago might have to swallow some pride and retain some salary to clean up this mess.