Arizona Coyotes Acquire Kessel

The Arizona Coyotes, on Saturday night, acquired Phil Kessel, Dane Birks, and a 4th round pick, in exchange for Alex Galchenyuk and Pierre Olivier Joseph. 

I’ll set a scene for you. Imagine you’re excited to watch an indoor football playoff game. You’re at a bar having a couple of drinks, and your friend won’t stop blowing your phone telling you the player you’ve wanted your team to trade for was acquired by them. You immediately don’t believe them, primarily because you know your small market team would never acquire elite talent that would put them at the cap ceiling. Then find out the cost was one of your favorite players in the team. One more drink was required to come to terms with everything.

It’s happened. The thing I wanted most this offseason actually happened. I actually feel foolish that my first reaction was “not Galchenyuk.” Like a spoiled Lakers fan over Lonzo Ball when we just acquired top tier talent for him. Galchenyuk and Pierre-Oliver Joseph have been sent to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Cheeseburger Phil, a 4th round pick, and Dane Birks.

Cheeseburger Phil Kessel is now an Arizona Coyote, and it’s a dream come true. Our leading scorer last season was Keller with 47 points. Kessel last year scored 82. (Per NHL.com)

What Arizona desperately needed was goal scoring, and this year they added a 30 goal scorer. I was on record last season saying that Galchenyuk wasn’t a 30 goal scorer considering how he hadn’t hit that mark in two seasons. With him only scoring 19 last season, it’s safe to admit what I said a year ago. That season was a career year and not the example of his consistent talent.

Kessel has had 5 seasons of 30+ production, and 11 consecutive seasons of 20+. Kessel is legit the answer to Arizona’s scoring woes.

Add in the fact that Kessel hasn’t missed a game in 9 seasons. (per ESPN) Arizona is sure adding guys who stay healthy after last seasons horrible misfortunes.

As of right now, the Coyotes top line is Keller-Schmaltz-Kessel. Not only did Keller play his best hockey with Schmaltz last season, but you add a multiple time Stanley cup champion, and elite goal scorer to that line, and Keller has just been handed the keys to not only a bounce back season. He’s been handed the keys to a career year two days before free agency.

Factoring in the acquisition of Soderberg (another 20 goal scorer) and the rumors of possibly more moves to come, Arizona is a legitimate playoff contender. I am fully comfortable saying that this team has gotten tremendously better over just the last couple of weeks.

I’m going to miss Galchenyuk. I loved his overall game and he paired very well with my favorite player, Conor Garland.

As for Joseph, I’ve been following him the last two Coyotes rookie camps, and moving on from his services was a great idea. Last year, he was easily the best at the camp, but this year he was far from it. I noticed that he was a lot slower than the season prior. It legitimately looked like he was nursing an injury. He wasn’t skating well in the corner, his transitions were sloppy, and his passing seemed to be weaker. The only upside he still had in my eyes was his shot. He has Keith Yandle‘s shot, easily. Unfortunately, like Yandle, he’s a defenseman and not a winger. I expect defensive ability with the potential upside of providing scoring depth.

The cherry on top of the deal was the 4th round pick as a “free asset” and Birks to replace Joseph on the depth chart. Chayka made an amazing trade and has made Arizona a playoff team. 

I should mention that Kessel is 31 with 3 years left on his contract with a cap hit of $6.8M (per capfriendly) , but he’s yet to show an signs of aging to date. If he does start to regress, he’s still likely to be a 60 point player, so this is still a huge net positive.

Chayka played pot of greed bois, and +1s are usually banned in Yu-Gi-Oh!

 

Player Profiles via hockey-reference.com

Featured Image Credit: Dinur Blum

Chicago Blackhawks: Will they stay or will they go?

I know, I know a bad reference to a song, but which UFA’s and RFA’s will be back?

This is the biggest offseason in a while for the Chicago Blackhawks and they have money to spend in free agency but first they have to bring a few players back. Let’s starts off with the UFA’s.

UFA’s:

Marcus Kruger

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Marcus Kruger is known as penalty killer, faceoff master and a great defensive center. Last year, Kruger couldn’t find a role under Jeremy Colliton. He recorded four goals and eight assists in 74 games. Despite being a defensive forward, Kruger recorded his lowest Corsi for percentage (47.6) and a disastrous 35.2 xGF% (expected goals for percentage). If you want to learn more about advanced analytics I have an article on that. Not to mention he struggled at the faceoff dot (48.1%). Kruger had a down year by his standards and he is going to be turning 30 years old. I think that makes the Blackhawks decision easy and they don’t re-sign him.

Chris Kunitz

Chris Kunitz was brought in last year as a bottom six forward and as a mentor. While he was a great mentor to the younger guys (Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome, Henri Jokiharju and etc.) he wasn’t a very effective on the ice. He only recorded five goals and five assists in 56 games. In the season prior, Kunitz produced 13 goals and 16 assists in 82 games and was probably expected to put up similar numbers. With Kunitz turning 40 years old in a months I don’t see the Blackhawks re-signing him.

Cam Ward

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Cam Ward did his job last season. He was brought in to be a backup and to fill in for Corey Crawford if he got injured. In 29 games last season, Ward had a 16-12-4 record. He also had a .897 save percentage, 3.67 goals against average and a -14.68 goals saved above average. While those stats don’t look great the Blackhawks defense was bad last year. He kept them in games multiple times. He also helped Blackhawks goaltending prospect Collin Delia throughout the year. With, Ward, turning 35 years old this year and Collin Delia taking over the backup spot, I don’t see Ward coming back.

Andreas Martinsen

Andreas Martinsen is a forward who has something most ‘Hawks forwards don’t possess. Size and physicality. He is 6’3″ and 230 pounds. Martinsen was sixth on the Blackhawks in hits last year with 83 hits and only played in 24 games. He is a black hole offensively, only recording a goal and three assists this year. I could see Martinsen coming back for cheap because he provides that physicality that the Blackhawks lack.

RFA’s:

Victor Ejdsell

Victor Ejdsell is a 24 year old center/winger. He was supposed to be a part of the Blackhawks future but elected to return to Sweden after a disappointing 2018-2019 campaign with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. He recorded 12 goals and 17 assists in 61 AHL games last year. By many, he was projected to be in the NHL this year. Ejdsell is expected be qualified in case he ever comes back.

Brendan Perlini

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Brendan Perlini is a 23 year old winger. According to Scott Powers of The Athletic the Blackhawks have already sent a qualifying offer to Perlini. Perlini is a former 12th overall pick from 2014. He’s inconsistent but when his scoring is on it is on. He has a great shot, decent offensive skill and good size at 6’3″. He struggles with his consistency, work ethic and speed. After scoring 12 goals for the Blackhawks I see him coming back.

John Quenneville

John Quenneville is also a 23 year old winger taken in the first round of the 2014 draft. He is also expected to receive a qualifying offer. And yes (John) Quenneville is a cousin to former Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville. Quenneville, has shown extreme offense skill and has produced in both the AHL and WHL, but has struggled to score at the NHL level. With Bowman, saying he is going to re-sign (John) Quenneville I fully expect him to come to Chicago.

David Kämpf

David Kämpf is a 24 year old Czech center. He posted 4 goals and 15 assists in 63 games with Chicago last year. Kämpf had 31 takeaways and six giveaways last year as well. He played a lot on the penalty kill and was a great two-way forward in the bottom six. He has arbitration rights, but I expect him to be back as Jeremy Colliton played him on the second line before.

Dylan Sikura

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The Canadian center, just turned 24 years old. He posted eight assists in 33 games. Despite, not being the offensive dynamo Dylan Sikura was expected to be, he has been an excellent two-way forward. In those 33 games, Sikura, posted a 54.55 xGF% and added 23 takeaways to seven giveaways. Sikura has gotten very unlucky and I expect him to be back.

Luke Johnson

The 24 year old American center put up an assist with the Blackhawks through 15 games last season. Luke Johnson is more of a defensive forward. He had 31 hits last season, but also posted an atrocious 35.71 xGF%. I do expect him to be back as he produced offensively in Rockford.

Anthony Louis

Anthony Louis is 24 year old American center. He is an Illinois native and is also listed at 5’7″. This past season he scored 12 goals and assisted on 22 more in 74 games. He was not tendered and isn’t expected to get an offer from the Blackhawks.

Spencer Watson

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The 23 year old Canadian winger didn’t receive a qualifying offer from the Chicago Blackhawks. After a disappointing season in Rockford recording one goal and two assists in 10 games it isn’t surprising to see Spencer Watson not get a qualifying offer. I wouldn’t expect him to re-sign

Blake Hillman

Blake Hillman, a 23 year old American left-handed defenseman, spent his season with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. While Hillman has been known as a defensive defenseman he struggled to put up points. He only scored one goal and had three assists in 54 AHL games. He didn’t get a qualifying offer and isn’t expected to return to Chicago.

stats from: Elite Prospects, Hockey-Reference, Natural Stattrick and Corsica

cap info from: CapFriendly

Feature Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons and Hendrik Seis

Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning: JT Miller Heads To Vancouver

The Tampa Bay Lightning traded Center Iceman J.T. Miller to the Vancouver Canucks for a haul of picks and a prospect.

The Tampa Bay Lightning made a splash at Day 2 of the NHL Entry draft. With a Brayden Point contract looming, and the salary cap, at the time, an unknown, Julien BriseBois decided to make a move now to ensure that no matter what, he would have enough room to bring back Point. But the guy who found himself packing was a favorite of mine, and he goes by the name JT Miller.

What Was The Deal?

The Vancouver Canucks were the team that got JT Miller, and what they had to cough up was quite the return for Tampa. The Lightning got a conditional 2020 1st round pick, a 2019 3rd round pick (Hugo Alnefelt) and goaltender Marek Mazanec. The condition for the first is this: If the Canucks don’t make the playoffs, the first is in 2021. If they make the playoffs next season, then it’s a 2020 1st. The Lightning would then find themselves with 2 first round picks in either 2020 or 2021, and if the Canucks miss the playoffs in 2020 and 2021, they have a solid lottery pick in two years. To get that value alone is a very good return for JT Miller, who was often rotating through the Lightning top 9. But to also get a 3rd rounder in a deep draft? Now that’s a steal.  I’m sorry, I really like JT Miller, but the Lightning got more than enough from Vancouver. Marek Mazanec ultimately becomes their AHL starter for the Syracuse Crunch, as the Lightning lost Connor Ingram in a trade with Nashville and Eddie Pasquale went to Russia to play in the KHL. That ultimately leaves their AHL goaltending empty, until now.

Salary Cap Room For Point Now?

Miller carried a $5.25M cap hit that would go on for the next 4 seasons. With that contract off the books, the Lightning went from $5,376,669 in free space to $10,626,669. That should absolutely cover Point’s next deal, in full.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning: Erik Karlsson Rumors

Is it unrealistic to think that the rumors resurfacing of Erik Karlsson heading down south to play for the Tampa Bay Lightning are true? Yes, it is, are you crazy?

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Wait a minute, hold on, I was told that, due to me being a journalist and all, this is something I should break down. Alright, so I take it back, it is perfectly realistic, no matter how far-fetched it may seem! Alright, alright, I need more than just that, I get it. So let’s take it one step at a time then.

The Cap Situation

The entirety of the hockey universe knows exactly what kind of conundrum that the Lightning are in when it comes to money. They need to re-sign Brayden Point for goodness sake, and there are plenty of people who say that won’t even happen. However, the anticipated increase from roughly $79.5M in cap space to $83M, gives the Lightning roughly $8.577M to spend on Point. To me, that’s right at the brim of what Point would be asking for. I get it, Point would ask for more than that thanks to the increase in cap space, however you are all missing one minor detail. Florida does not have a state tax so he would technically earn more on a contract that has a cap hit of $8.5M than someone with, lets say, a $9M cap hit. That being said, Point’s value would still be $9M but his hit is just $8.5M. Sticking with me? Good! Next step!

Just $77k For Karlsson?

Right, that doesn’t make sense. The cap space is extremely low, and other free agents that the Lightning presumably would keep around, like Cedric Paquette and Braydon Coburn, can’t even re-sign. The anticipated prices on those two guys would roughly combine for a maximum of $4M. So to free up a little over $3M just to bring back 2 players, without even considering Karlsson just pushes these rumors farther away. Regardless, here’s what the Lightning can do. Buy-out Ryan Callahan. It’s been a hot topic for, at this point, over a year because of all the upcoming free agents like Point.

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With that done, the Lightning would go from $77k to $3.2M, almost a $3M increase. That still may not be enough, but let’s dive deeper with Paquette and Coburn. Paquette will likely take $1M for 1 to 2 years, bringing the total down to $2.2M Coburn could take $2M, so it’s not too far off, but let’s be honest, he’s looking at more towards $2.5M. But, Tampa’s always been good with that whole negotiating spiel, so I’ll let it slide. That brings the total cap hit down to roughly $200k. So obviously just give Karlsson a short-term, “prove it” deal for a yearly hit of $200k! He’s more expensive than that? Alright, how much more expensive? Woah, alright. Word is that Karlsson is looking at upwards of $10M. We have some work to do.

Karlsson’s True Value In Dollars

Expectations are at a contract with an average value of $12M for Karlsson, and you can’t blame the people who think that. He was one of, if not the, best defenseman in the league while with the Ottawa Senators. He was one of the most fun to watch on the ice. He is so far ahead of the bunch with his offensive skillset and his skating. Then the Senators… well they, for lack of a better word, Senator’d. Karlsson also dealt with several injuries along the way and the general stink of the Senators got him. Then an awful rumor got out about Karlsson and his former teammate, Mike Hoffman. I know I don’t have to explain what happened there.

He was traded to the San Jose Sharks, linked arms with Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and rode off into the sunset as the best defensive unit in the NHL. Then those damn injuries came back, and they never made it to the sunset. Karlsson was getting some heat for being a liability in the defensive zone, and the lower body injuries hampered his skating. Now he finds himself in the postseason, still struggling with a lower body injury and still not playing like the Erik Karlsson we once knew. However, it is Erik Karlsson and he is still only 28 years old, right smack dab in the middle of his prime years. He also didn’t play as bad as people say he did, and the spider graphs I created (using data gathered by CJ Turtoro) proves exactly that. What I include is Karlsson’s last three seasons.

Karlsson’s worst season, depicted in yellow, was his 2016-17 season with the Senators. That’s the season that they went to the playoffs, not crashing and burning to the basement of the NHL. He was awful breaking up the opposition from entering the zone, as depicted by his possession entries allowed per 60 minutes (PossEntryAllw60) and possession entry% (PossEntry%). He also struggled breaking up plays when the opposing team was on the rush (Breakups60). His two better seasons were depicted in red (2017-18) and blue (2018-19, this season).

The two seasons he received the most criticism, he shined. Not just offensively, either, but in transition and on defense. Just look at the differences from 2016-17, it’s crazy. This tells me that Karlsson is still Karlsson, maybe even more reliable. The knock on him is his durability, but his play when healthy has been fine. All that said, Karlsson’s value may be more $11M to $11.5M, on a long term deal. But again, his durability may force him into shorter deals, like a 4 or 5 year contract, for a cheaper price, closer to $10M. So, how can the Lightning free up $10M?

How The Bolts Can Do It

The players they can move are Ondrej Palat ($5.3M), Alex Killorn ($4.45M), and Tyler Johnson ($5M). If they do move these guys, they’d need cheap wingers, that have the capabilities of playing at the NHL level. The Anaheim Ducks have a few guys who the Lightning could target, and they also have two firsts and a second, making their second rounder expendable. Here’s that mock trade:

Tampa Receives: Max Jones, 2019 4th round pick

Anaheim Receives: Tyler Johnson

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Anaheim struggled staying healthy at the center position, which Johnson can play, and they lack solid wingers, which Johnson can now step into. Plus, Jones is still on his rookie deal, and the Ducks have a surprising surplus of middle-six potential prospects, and they can all be relatively set to start in the NHL next season. Max Jones is 21, putting him on the older side of the spectrum for other prospects, and could be moved. This trade, along with calling up Alex Barre-Boulet and Jones, gives the Lightning $3.587M in space. Just $7M more cash to free!

The next trade involves Ondrej Palat, who primarily plays wing. A team that makes sense for Palat would be the Arizona Coyotes, another Western Conference team. They need more depth at the wings to go alongside their solid core of centers, and Palat is the answer. Like Anaheim, the Coyotes have a solid pipeline of prospects, and the Lightning get one in return with this deal.

Tampa Receives: Christian Fischer, Pittsburgh 6th round pick

Arizona Receives: Ondrej Palat

Arizona gets a top 6 winger to pair with Derek Stepan, Clayton Keller or Alex Galchenyuk, based on line configurations as both Keller and Galchenyuk can play wing. That gives them two great top lines, and even if there are a few injuries, they have guys who can fill those holes that would be playing on the third line. I mean, Michael Grabner had a fantastic season once he came back from that injury. Adding Palat would definitely help in their push for a playoff spot that they were so close to grabbing this season. As for Tampa, Fischer adds more winger depth in the bottom 6 with an entry level contract still going through this season. He would likely play anywhere in the bottom 9, from being the left wing for Point and Nikita Kucherov to playing on either wing on the bottom 6 with Paquette or Anthony Cirelli as the center. After this move, the Lightning would have roughly $8.065M in space. We are almost there!

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The third and final mock trade I have is arguably the hardest one to pull off, and it is an Alex Killorn trade. Based on recent moves that has been made, along with their rumored interests, there is one destination on mind, the New York Rangers. Killorn is in his prime years at this point, and the Rangers have shown interest in Ryan Callahan in the past, which is a link. The Lightning and Rangers have also been trading buddies for years at this point, so it wouldn’t shock me if they’d listen in on trades involving Killorn. Now, Killorn is a veteran leader, and they could definitely be interested, since he also has a smaller cap hit and better production than Callahan. But what would be the return, and would a trade like this even be worth it for the Rangers? Here’s what I came up with.

Tampa Receives: Vinni Lettieri (RFA Rights), Columbus 4th Round Pick

Rangers Receive: Alex Killorn

Tampa basically acquires their Danick Martel replacement. Lettieri would receive a $1M contract upon arriving, and will be an injury replacement when the time comes, though I don’t expect the Lightning to be as consistently healthy as they were last season. Killorn, as stated earlier, is in his prime, and will likely serve as a middle 6 veteran leader, with a scoring touch. Keep the Lightning-Rangers trade connection intact. This will ultimately give the Lightning $11.515M in free space, which should be enough. So back to Karlsson.

Erik Karlsson’s Contract

So, Karlsson’s expected value was a long term, $12M per season contract, which we were able to argue, and knock down to a long term, $11.5M expected contract. After looking more on his injuries, and his inconsistent health, we decided it’d be better if it were short term (4-5 year deal), worth a little cheaper ($9.5-$10M). We traded 3 forwards, mainly wingers, on big deals. We got younger, less polished, and far cheaper players to fill the holes up front. We re-signed Point and Paquette, and we’re left with $11.515M to play around with. After all that, it is determined that Karlsson’s contract with the Lightning would be a 4 year, $9.5M contract. You’re thinking it’s too cheap but no state tax, remember? See, the whole article comes full circle, it all makes sense now!

In Conclusion

Can we finally put this rumor to bed? The Lightning would have to part ways with three middle-six forwards, who all played big roles in the regular season. Not to mention, they all have No Trade Clauses, and there is no way of knowing if they’d ever leave. Odds are, even if they were to allow a trade, the limitations on who to trade that player to will make it difficult, because those teams may not be interested. So no, Erik Karlsson will most definitely never play with Victor Hedman in Tampa Bay. So, looks like they’ll have to wait until the World Cup of Hockey comes back to play together for Sweden.

All stats and player information courtesy of Hockey Reference, NHL.Com and elite prospects.

Spider Graphs created by Kyle Pereira, data gathered from CJ Turtoro, All salaries and cap info via Capfriendly

Featured Image Photo Credit – Nikos Michals

 

Minnesota Wild: Where Does Zucker Go, and for What?

Per the latest edition of Elliotte Friedman’s “31 Thoughts”, Minnesota Wild winger Jason Zucker is almost 100% going to be moved. The question remains now, where does he go, and what is fair return?

Does Trading Zucker Make Sense?

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The very uncomplicated answer is no, but nothing in the NHL is ever simple and thus the Minnesota Wild want to move this core piece. The Wild had also previously tried to trade the former 2nd round pick last offseason. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman states:

“It would be a surprise if Jason Zucker [returned to the Wild] following last season’s aborted trade to Calgary. There’s always interest in scorers.”

Jason Zucker, 27, has recorded 118 goals and 214 points in 411 career NHL games. Over his 8 year career, Zucker has averaged a 50.4 CF% and 100.2 PDO rating while starting 50.9% of his shifts in the defensive zone. This essentially means that Zucker has been able to consistently, and effectively, produce while being tasked with significant defensive responsibility.

This past season, Zucker registered 21 goals and 42 points while averaging 17:05 TOI. With these statistics, Zucker can be compared to the likes of Anders Lee, prime Mikhail Grabovski, and Vincent Trocheck. Thus, Zucker is a valuable asset that provides a coveted two way presence.

Why Would the Wild Move him?

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The Wild, who entered last season as a consistent playoff team, seemed to exist in a cycle of internal conflict throughout the year. The team struggled at times despite the much needed renaissance of Zach Parise and good play of Devan Dubnyk, Ryan Suter, and Zucker. Head coach Bruce Boudreau reassured fans numerous times that the team will make the playoffs, but the moves made by new GM Paul Fenton suggested that the club will be moving in a different direction.

In January 2019, Fenton traded 26 year-old scoring winger Nino Niederreiter to Carolina for 26 year-old 3rd line centre Victor Rask and nothing else. The move was received poorly at the time, and remains one of the worst moves made this past season.

On trade deadline day 2019, Fenton traded #1 centre Mikael Granlund to Nashville for middle-six winger Kevin Fiala. Both players disappointed when they arrived, but the reputation of Granlund as a 50-60 point centre trumps that of the 40ish point winger Fiala.

In both moves, the Wild sacrificed the better player and allowed the team to move more quickly towards being eliminated. The trades leaves the impression of an inevitable rebuild, and thus opens the opportunity to trade Zucker.

Who Should Trade for Zucker?

Below I have compiled a 3 team list of clubs that have an unfilled top-six forward spot and have the necessary cap space and assets to acquire Zucker.

Carolina ($16.29 million in Space)

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The Carolina Hurricanes, at request of owner Tom Dundon, made moves to acquire scoring in Nino Niederreiter from the Wild earlier this season. the acquisition of ‘El Nino’ greatly improved the Canes’ interesting forward group. Now in the Eastern Conference Final, the Canes could easily sit on their success and more or less be fine. However, the acquisition of Jason Zucker could send the Canes into legitimate, and consistent, playoff contender. Below are some of Carolina’s most notable prospects and picks that could be used in a deal for Zucker.

Forwards

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Martin Necas (20 Y/O, 64GP-52P AHL, CAR 1st Round #12 in 2017)

Janne Kuokkanen (20 Y/O, 48GP-38P AHL, CAR 2nd Round #43 in 2016)

Aleksi Saarela (22 Y/O, 69GP-54P AHL, NYR 3rd Round #89 in 2015)

Nicolas Roy (22 Y/O, 69GP-36P AHL, CAR 4th Round #96 in 2015)

Morgan Geekie (20 Y/O, 73GP-46P AHL, CAR 3rd Round #67 in 2017)

Jack Drury (19 Y/O, 32GP-24P NCAA, CAR 2nd Round #42 in 2018)

Eetu Luostarinen (20 Y/O, 54GP-36P Liiga, CAR 2nd Round #42 in 2017)

David Cotton (21 Y/O, 39GP-36P NCAA, CAR 6th Round #169 in 2015)

Stelio Mattheos (19 Y/O, 65GP-96P WHL, CAR 3rd Round #73 in 2017)

Defense

Jake Bean (20 Y/O, 70GP-44P AHL, CAR 1st Round #13 in 2016)

Goaltending

Alex Nedeljkovic (23 Y/O, 51GP-.916SV% AHL, CAR 2nd Round #37 in 2014)

Jeremy Helvig (21 Y/O, 39GP-.918SV% ECHL, CAR 5th Round #134 in 2016)

Jack LaFontaine (21 Y/O, 45GP-.923SV% BCHL, CAR 3rd Round #75 in 2016)

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Draft Picks

2019 1st Round Pick *Available*

2020 1st Round Pick *Available*

2021 1st Round Pick *Available*

Mock Deal

CAR Receives

  • F Jason Zucker (27 Y/O, 81GP-21G-42P NHL, 5YL@$5.5million)

MIN Receives

  •  2019 1st Round Selection (CAR)
  • F David Cotton (21 Y/O, 39GP-36P NCAA, CAR 6th Round #169 in 2015)

The Canes receive, as I mentioned previously, an excellent two-way scoring forward with solid advanced analytics and good production.

The Wild receive a 1st round selection in the upcoming NHL draft, although a late one. The team will look to target top prospects Matthew Robertson (D), Connor McMichael (C), and Philip Tomasino (C). Minnesota also receives David Cotton, who is a strong forward with excellent skating ability. Consistency is a concern with the NCAA centre though.

New Jersey Devils ($14.4 million in space)

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The Devils, coming off a disappointing season, lost key pieces Nico Hischier, Taylor Hall, and Kyle Palmieri to significant injuries. Entering the 2019 draft with the 1st overall selection, the likely selection of Jack Hughes would solidify the 2C position left vacant by Adam Henrique. The team also moved top-six forward Marcus Johansson to the Bruins at the deadline which leaves another top-six position open. Listed below are notable prospects that could be used to acquire the coveted Zucker.

Forwards

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Michael McLeod (21 Y/O, 55GP-33P AHL, NJD 1st Round #12 in 2016)

Brandon Gignac (21 Y/O, 66GP-36P AHL, NJD 3rd Round #80 in 2016)

Jesper Boqvist (20 Y/O, 51GP-35P SHL, NJD 2nd Round #36 in 2017)

Aarne Talvitie (20 Y/O, 17GP-16P NCAA, NJD 6th Round #160 in 2017)

Mikhail Maltsev (21 Y/O, 31GP-17P VHL, NJD 4th Round #102 in 2016)

Eetu Pakkila (19 Y/O, 52GP-60P Jr. A SM-Liiga, NJD 7th Round #203 in 2018)

Joey Anderson (20 Y/O, 13GP-6P AHL, NJD 3rd Round #73 in 2016)

Defense

Colton White (22 Y/O, 71GP-30P AHL, NJD 4th Round #97 in 2015)

Ty Smith (19 Y/O, 57GP-69P WHL, NJD 1st Round #17 in 2018)

Reilly Walsh (19 Y/O, 20GP-18P NCAA, NJD 3rd Round #81 in 2017)

Jeremy Davies (22 Y/O, 37GP-36P NCAA, NJD 7th Round #192 in 2016)

Goaltending

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Mackenzie Blackwood (22 Y/O, 23GP-.918SV% AHL, NJD 2nd Round #42 in 2016)

Akira Schmid (19 Y/O, 37GP-.926SV% USHL, NJD 5th Round #136 in 2018)

Mock Trade

NJD Receive

  • F Jason Zucker (27 Y/O, 81GP-21G-42P NHL, 5YL@$5.5million)

MIN Receives

  • D Jeremy Davies (22 Y/O, 37GP-36P NCAA, NJD 7th Round #192 in 2016)
  • G Akira Schmid (19 Y/O, 37GP-.926SV% USHL, NJD 5th Round #136 in 2018)

The Devils receive the underrated scorer in Zucker. The Wild receive Davies, a 22 year-old offensive machine of a defender, and Schmid, a good goaltender that fits nicely behind the NHL window of Kaapo Kahkonen.

Colorado Avalanche ($10.9 million in space)

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The Avalanche, who are coming off a surprising 2nd round appearance, have longed lacked depth scoring. After being labeled a ‘1-line team’ for the past couple of seasons, the Avs added ‘name-brand’ 2nd-line C Derrick Brassard from the Panthers. Their recent playoff success may lead to a more ‘buy-friendly’ attitude that could include the addition of Zucker to fill a much needed 2nd line spot. Below are some prospects and picks that could be used to obtain the two-way forward.

Forwards

Josh Dickinson (21 Y/O, 31GP-29P ECHL, Free Agent)

Shane Bowers (19 Y/O, 37GP-21P NCAA, OTT 1st Round #28 in 2017)

Brandon Saigeon (20 Y/O, 68GP-92P OHL, COL 5th Round #140 in 2018)

Cam Morrison (20 Y/O, 32GP-21P NCAA, COL 2nd Round #40 in 2016)

Logan O’Connor (22 Y/O, 64GP-42P AHL, Free Agent)

Nick Henry (19 Y/O, 69GP-94P WHL, COL 4th Round #94 in 2017)

Defense

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Conor Timmins (20 Y/O,**Injured**, COL 2nd Round #32 in 2017)

Cale Makar (20 Y/O, 25GP-30P NCAA, COL 1st Round #4 in 2017)

Goaltending

Petr Kvaca (21 Y/O, 19GP-.924SV% Czech2, COL 4th Round #114 in 2017)

Adam Werner (22 Y/O, 26GP-.926SV% SHL, COL 5th Round #131 in 2016)

Shamil Shmakov (19 Y/O, 23GP-.915SV% MHL, COL 7th Round #202 2017)

Draft Picks

2019 1st Round Pick (COL) *Available*

2020 1st Round Pick *Available*

2021 1st Round Pick *Available*

Mock Trade

COL Receives

  • F Jason Zucker (27 Y/O, 81GP-21G-42P NHL, 5YL@$5.5million)

MIN Receives

  • F Nick Henry (19 Y/O, 69GP-94P WHL, COL 4th Round #94 in 2017)
  • 2019 1st Round Selection (16th OVR)

The Avalanche receive the much-needed Zucker for WHL stud Nick Henry and the 16th selection in the upcoming draft. A feisty winger, Henry has a noticeable knack for scoring that may translate into an exciting energy role in the Wild’s bottom six. Also getting the 16th overall pick allows the Wild to select a top prospect along the lines of Cam York, Arthur Kaliyev, or Philip Broberg.

Conclusion

Overall, Zucker is an exceptional player whom provides a highly coveted presence. Although I firmly believe that the Wild should not move the underrated winger, there are several teams who need a winger of Zucker’s stature that seem poised to move major assets to fulfill that need.

Statistics, Quotes, and other info retrieved from puck77.com, sportsnet.ca, hockey-reference.com, eliteprospects.com, capfriendly.com, sportsforecaster.com, and tankathon.com

Feature Image courtesy of Niko Michals