Several notable players were subjects of considerable trade speculation prior to the recent 2019 NHL Draft. Three of them – P.K. Subban, Patrick Marleau and J.T. Miller – changed teams on Saturday. While the draft has passed, several players remain fixtures in the rumor mill. With the free-agent market opening on July 1, here are five who could be on the move soon:
Chris Kreider, New York Rangers
The Rangers acquired defenseman Jacob Trouba last week and could pursue winger Artemi Panarin via free agency. Some observers believe Kreider could become a cost-cutting casualty. The 28-year-old is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. The New York Post’s Larry Brooks speculated Kreider could cost around $6.75 million annually on a long-term extension.
Prior to the draft, Brooks felt Kreider’s time with the Rangers could be coming to an end. While no trade emerged during the draft weekend, he could still be in play. NBC Sports’ Joe Haggerty cited sources claiming the Boston Bruins were interested in the long-time Blueshirt.
Tyson Barrie, Colorado Avalanche
Barrie, 27, has been the subject of trade conjecture for nearly three seasons now. Cale Makar’s promising playoff debut this spring and the Avs’ selection of Bowen Byram in this year’s draft keeps those rumors alive.
During the draft weekend, Avalanche GM Joe Sakic denied the Barrie trade chatter. Nevertheless, Sportsnet’s Iain MacIntyre reports the Canucks pursued a Barrie deal but discussions cooled as the Avs were believed to be entertaining other offers.
Sakic seeks more scoring punch at forward and could go the free-agent route to find it. Should he emerge empty-handed from the UFA market, perhaps he’ll revisit those Barrie offers.
Rasmus Ristolainen, Buffalo Sabres
The 24-year-old blueliner first surfaced in trade talk earlier this spring. Before the draft, The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun speculated the Tampa Bay Lightning could be interested. Sportsnet’s Rick Dhaliwal reported the Vancouver Canucks contacted the Sabres about a defenseman, possibly Ristolainen or Zach Bogosian.
WGR 550’s Howard Simon believes Ristolainen could be the best trade chip to fetch the Sabres a scoring forward. Time will tell if GM Jason Botterill shares that view.
Nikita Zaitsev, Toronto Maple Leafs
Despite requesting a trade nearly a month ago, the Leafs have yet to find a taker for the 27-year-old defenseman. His contract, which has five years remaining at $4.5-million per season, is a significant stumbling block.
Of late, persistent rumors link Zaitsev to the Canucks. TSN’s Darren Dreger and Jamie McLennan suggest including a “sweetener” (such as winger Connor Brown) to entice the Canucks (or another club) to take him off the Leafs hands.
Jesse Puljujarvi, Edmonton Oilers
Puljujarvi’s agent recently requested the Oilers trade his client or the 21-year-old winger would play in Europe next season. GM Ken Holland said he’d consider a trade if it would benefit the Oilers but has no problem with Puljujarvi heading overseas. Because he’s a restricted free agent, the Oilers still retain his NHL rights if he bolts for Europe.
The Edmonton Journal’s Kurt Leavins reports several teams contacted Holland about Puljujarvi. It’s believed he’d prefer playing in a quieter NHL market, such as Carolina or Florida. Given the Oilers need for secondary scoring, Holland’s asking price could be a promising young winger.
Want more in-depth features, analysis and an All-Access pass to the latest content? Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.