While the summer of 2016 provided hockey fans with two blockbuster deals in the Shea Weber for P.K. Subban swap and the Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson swap, the summer of 2017 hasn’t produced near as much excitement. While the Expansion Draft produced a flurry of trade activity, none of the deals consummated by Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee have come close to the approaching the previous offseason’s trades in terms of impact and fan reaction.
However, with some intriguing players coming off of their deals next offseason, hockey fans could see another blockbuster or two in the next calendar year. Let’s take a look at the three biggest, most likely trade targets.
Ryan Nugent-HopkinsThe 24-year-old former first overall draft pick has stumbled through his NHL career up to this point, but a fresh start with a new team could jump start his once promising career. Nugent-Hopkins currently plays a third line checking role for the Oilers behind centers Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, but is clearly more valuable in a top-six playmaking role and on a team’s top PP unit. Look for the Oilers to flip him in exchange for some depth on the wing or on defense.
Matt DucheneThis has to happen sooner or later, right? The talented 26-year-old sniper has been the target of trade rumor and speculation for over a calendar year. However, with Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic playing the waiting game, don’t be surprised if Duchene’s trade gets dragged out into next season.
John TavaresThis is the big fish. Like Steven Stamkos in 2015-16, John Tavares will be the subject of many speculative reports and opinion pieces in 2017-18. That’s because, like Stamkos in 2015-16, Tavares’ contract expires at the end of 2017-18 and he could potentially hit the free-agent market on July 1st, 2018. Of course, the New York Islanders would love to re-sign Tavares on a long-term deal, but if he chooses to go elsewhere in free-agency, look for the Isles to trade him first in order to salvage some assets for their departing superstar.