Tyler Bozak

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Best NHL trade targets with Duchene off the market

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Fans of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Columbus Blue Jackets, Carolina Hurricanes, and other teams must feel a little left out after this weekend.

While those GMs either were afraid to pay the sticker price or weren’t in the conversation, the bottom line is that the Ottawa Senators got Matt Duchene, the Nashville Predators added Kyle Turris, and the Colorado Avalanche’s future looks brighter.

[Breaking down blockbuster Matt Duchene, Kyle Turris trade]

So, what’s next for teams hoping to add that missing piece?

As Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen told Aaron Portzline of The Athletic (sub required), “some stuff will always come up.”

With that in mind, let’s consider some of the best trade targets post-Duchene. For the sake of brevity, we’ll stick to forwards; maybe there will be a time to discuss the Keith Yandles of the world some other day. The likelihood of possible moves varies, and will likely change dramatically as the season goes along.

(Note: As usual, Cap Friendly was a glorious resource for this.)

Mandatory, especially unrealistic mentions

John Tavares: Even if they’re more worried about letting him go than they’re letting on, it’s very difficult to picture New York Islanders GM Garth Snow actually trading the face of the franchise and a guy who is, during the bleakest moments, the only bright side to look on.

Still, I’d have to turn in my blogger’s badge if I didn’t at least mention Tavares, because a team would offer up its vital organs if JT actually did go on the market.

The Sedin twins are unlikely as well, though in wildly different ways. Throw Joe Thornton here, too.

A bucket of Golden Knights

Even if the Vegas Golden Knights remain competitive heading into the trade deadline, GM George McPhee could be forgiven if he jumps on a good offer. It’s possible they can have their cake and eat it too, really.

  • James Neal: You can go in circles talking about the negatives (he’s 30, can sometimes go invisible for a while, takes bad frustration penalties), but getting a big, prime-ish-age sniper could be huge for a contending team. If Vegas decides he’s not a part of the future, why not sell high?
  • David Perron: A lot like Neal – they even both had stints with the Penguins – except a lower ceiling, one year younger, and a smaller cap hit. His slick mitts give him the potential to be a gamebreaker if a team doesn’t ask for too much.
  • Jonathan Marchessault: The 26-year-old carries just a $750K cap hit, and he’s at a fascinating fork in the road for his career. Vegas might want to keep him, but what kind of raise is coming? And what if a contender tight against the cap presents a war chest of assets for him, considering that cheap 2017-18 mark?

Lightning round

Alex Galchenyuk: Free Alex.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: Could the latest $6M Oilers forward be gone?

Jesse Puljujärvi: Would Peter Chiarelli and the Oilers really cut ties with another high draft pick?

Patrick Maroon, Ryan Strome: Two guys on expiring contracts. Bargain-hunting GMs might as well keep Chia on their speed dial, right?

Phil Kessel: Ugh, it’s irksome to mention, but it feels required. There’s at least some merit to the murmurs.

Rick Nash: See more on how Nash could fit into a mini-Rangers rebuild here. Nash is tantalizing, but the Rangers would need to find a way to make things work for a trade partner considering his Nash-sized cap hit.

Evander Kane: Has his issues, but he’s a power forward in his prime, and the 26-year-old seems like he’s playing at a high level. Manageable cap hit at $5.25M, especially since the trade deadline tends to make guys like him easier to get under the ceiling.

Gabriel Landeskog: Tough to imagine the Avalanche making such bold moves in succession, but then again, why not at least gauge the market? With four years remaining at about $5.57M per, it would require a major undertaking. What if Sakic offered to take, say, Ryan Callahan‘s problem deal on for Landeskog in exchange for a boatload of assets? Just saying.

[Sakic’s patience pays off in Duchene trade]

Gustav Nyquist, various Red Wings: Gotta pull off the rebuild Band-Aid sometime, right? Maybe?

Tyler Bozak, James van Riemsdyk: Two affordable Maple Leafs forwards who are likely to get lost in the shuffle when Auston Matthews & Co. burn through their rookie deals. JVR is a chronically underrated winger.

Patric Hornqvist: The scorer of the 2017 Stanley Cup-clinching goal is an old 30 considering all of his battles in front of the net. Maybe he’d go the other way if the Penguins wanted to make a move or a series of moves?

Tomas Plekanec, Thomas Vanek, etc.: There are a handful of aging, reasonably useful forwards on expiring deals. Imagine them all listed here; check Cap Friendly for even more options.

***

That’s quite the list, and some of those players are even worth trading for. Maybe Blue Jackets and Hurricanes fans can daydream about better days, too?

Feel free to add any names you believe are missing in the comments, emails, or via Twitter. You can even embrace the freedom to be more out-there than the idea of trading Tavares. Have fun.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

PHT Morning Skate: T.J. Oshie has special bond with young cancer patient

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–We know that Connor McDavid is really good at hockey, but like the rest of us there are certain things he just can’t do. He’s not a morning person, he can’t cook, and dealing with spiders isn’t a strength of his. (ESPN.com)

–The Rangers had a lot of scouts on hand to watch Monday’s game between Ottawa and Montreal. Could they be after Canadiens forwards Alex Galchenyuk and/or Andrew Shaw? (NY Post)

–The Toronto Maple Leafs got off to a hot start, but they’ve now dropped four of their last five games. Head coach Mike Babcock isn’t going to tolerate this slide going much further, so he decided to make huge changes at practice. Patrick Marleau was moved to center, Tyler Bozak found himself on the fourth line and a few depth players are coming out of the lineup. (pensionplanpuppets.com)

–TSN’s Travis Yost looks at established players that have seen the ice time drop over the last few seasons. There’s some interesting names on the list. Are these players starting to decline? (TSN.ca)

–NBCSN’s coverage of the hockey season continues on Wednesday night, as the Flyers battle the Blackhawks. NHL.com look at five reasons you shouldn’t miss this game. The fact that Patrick Kane and Ivan Provorov are in this game certainly doesn’t hurt. (NHL.com)

–In yesterday’s morning skate, we had a list of the top 15 scariest masks of all-time. Today, the Sporting News tells the tales of some of the most frightening masks the ice has ever seen. (Sporting News)

–Here’s a really touching story about the impact Capitals forward T.J. Oshie has had on a young cancer patient named Addy Flint. “Her getting to see T.J. and watch the Caps practice is really inspirational for her,” Addy’s mom, Stacey said. “She mentioned how it kind of allows her to look forward to something. She’s been determined to be healthy today as well as it kind of gives her something fun to remember when there are kind of the rough times.” (Washington Post)

–The Tampa Bay Lightning have several quality defensemen on their roster. Because Mikhail Sergachev is sticking around, there’s one less spot for Slater Koekkoek and Andrej Sustr. Despite their depth on the blue line, now isn’t the time to get rid of those two guys, according to rawcharge.com.

–You’ve probably heard a thing or two about Vegas’ depth between the pipes being tested. With Marc-Andre Fleury, Malcolm Subban and Oscar Dansk on the shelf, The Score looks at five goalies that could help the Golden Knights right now. Guys like Andrew Hammond and Michael Hutchinson could probably be had for a relatively low cost. (The Score)

–The Arizona Coyotes haven’t had much to celebrate this season, but rookie Clayton Keller has been one of the positives on the team. The youngster has been able to create offense on a bad team, which doesn’t surprise people in the organization. “A real creative mind, a creative person, a lot of structure and detail with his life,” Coyotes GM John Chayka said of Keller. “Good personality, easy to get along with, easy to talk to, but also very intense and passionate and driven about anything hockey related. He’s a hockey genius, no doubt about it.” (Sports Illustrated)

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Slow start pushes Marner to Maple Leafs’ fourth line

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The Toronto Maple Leafs were one of the pleasant surprises of the 2016-17 season. The biggest reason they were able to make the playoffs last year was because of the play of their three terrific rookies: Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner.

Matthews and Nylander are off to roaring starts (Matthews has eight points in five games, Nylander has five points in five games). But things haven’t gone as well for Marner, who has a four points in five games.

That’s far from a poor point total for the sophomore forward, but head coach Mike Babcock hasn’t been impressed with his overall play (for whatever it’s worth, he’s a minus-6 this season).

On Monday, Babcock tweaked his lines, which shocked the fans and media in Toronto. Marner was no longer skating on a line with Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk. Instead, he was with Dominic Moore and Matt Martin on the fourth line.

“Their line wasn’t going, so tie goes to the veterans,” Babcock said, per the Toronto Sun. “(Marner) just happens to be the kid on the line, that’s it. Let’s not read too much into that. You have to have all your units going and we’re trying to do that. It was a big win in Montreal (on Saturday), but saying that, we didn’t generate a lot and they did.”

If you thought the Leafs coach was just trying to send a message for one day on Monday, guess again. Marner was right back out on the fourth line during Tuesday’s morning skate ahead of tonight’s game against Washington.

It looks like Babcock is serious about this wake up call.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

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Welcome James van Riemsdyk to the trade rumor mill

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The Toronto Maple Leafs made it to the playoffs last season, which has increased expectations around this young core group heading into the 2017-18 campaign.

That said, they could have interesting decisions ahead of them when it comes to some of their veteran forwards on expiring contracts. James van Riemsdyk would sit atop that list.

The contributions of Toronto’s youthful players — Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner headline that list — was a major storyline all throughout last season, as the Maple Leafs qualified for the playoffs.

It isn’t forgotten, however, that the 28-year-old van Riemsdyk scored 29 goals and a career-best 62 points last season. Though Darren Dreger of TSN pointed out that he feels van Riemsdyk can still be better, especially when it comes to consistently using his speed and size to drive the net.

Van Riemsdyk now enters the final year of a six-year, $25.5 million contract and is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Per CapFriendly, that contract includes a modified no-trade clause.

From Darren Dreger of TSN:

“I’m not predicting that JVR is the likely candidate to get traded, when you look at the potential three unrestricted free agents in (Leo Komarov, Tyler Bozak) and JVR, but I think that there would be teams out there that would pay more for JVR based on exactly what we just said.

“Every coach is arrogant enough to think, and general managers fit into this as well — how many times have you seen the reclamation projects? Where a team will sign a player as a free agent and you’ll go, ‘Really? Like honestly? What do they see that we’re not seeing?’ Well, it’s exactly that. It’s the coach who thinks he can finally be the missing link to pull out something out of that player. There’s not a lot to have to do with JVR, but if you can push him up to that next level … man, you’ve got a horse. Because of that, maybe he is the obvious trade target as the season unwinds because people pay a premium for him.”

Of course, this isn’t the first time van Riemsdyk has been mentioned as a possible trade target. Even last season, there were rumors that he ultimately had to address.

He was doing the same thing before training camp earlier this month, too.

“That’s stuff you can’t worry about as a player,” van Riemsdyk told the Toronto Star. “It’s out of your control. I just want to go out there, play, and be a productive member of the team, and hopefully the rest of it figures itself out.”

Joffrey Lupul faces Thursday deadline to seek second medical opinion

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Look, if Joffrey Lupul doesn’t take a more official step to play hockey, it doesn’t mean that he was totally bluffing in his since-deleted Instagram complaint about his failed physical with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It could just mean that Lupul doesn’t want to jump through the hoops needed to make it happen.

Still, the option is out there, whether it’s an unpleasant route or not. And Lupul wouldn’t have much time to make something happen.

Multiple reporters note that the CBA allows Lupul, 33, to seek a second medical opinion regarding his failed physical, which would land him on the Leafs’ LTIR.

Again, though, he wouldn’t have long to make that decision; TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that Lupul’s deadline is Thursday at 5 p.m. ET.

Now, he could theoretically go that route, but note that getting the decision overturned doesn’t necessarily guarantee Lupul a whole lot. TSN’s Bob McKenzie doubts that Lupul will go for it because, even if deemed healthy enough to play, the Maple Leafs might just demote him to the AHL, anyway.

Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston goes deep on this issue here – including how Lupul might truly feel about his situation – while noting that the Maple Leafs, as an organization, are generally going the “no comment” route.

Johnston also quotes former teammates who believe that Lupul isn’t ready to hang up his skates just yet.

“I think he wants to play hockey and I think he believes he still has the ability to play hockey,” Tyler Bozak said. “It’s something I think he’s striving for.”

If Lupul’s Instagram beef ends up being fruitless, there’s another option, even if it’s not the most appetizing. Lupul could stay in shape to the best of his ability over the next year, and then try to land a spot on an NHL roster next summer, as his current contract expires after 2017-18.

That would amount to a lot of time away from NHL rinks, yet we’ve seen similar situations before, even if it would mean accepting a PTO like Ryan Malone surprisingly did this summer.

Overall, it’s understandable that Lupul is frustrated. There’s only so much he can do about it, really, and his current option might not really open the doors he wants to walk through, anyway.

It makes you wonder if issues like his might be part of the next CBA discussions.