Trade Targets: How would Flyers or Islanders clear cap space for Johnny Gaudreau?


If you’re watching Tuesday through the prism of a chess board, you can begin to see the pieces move around, as teams in the Eastern Conference jockey to potentially take a run at Johnny Gaudreau should he make it to free agency on Wednesday.

To date, the Philadelphia Flyers, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils have all been linked to interest in the 115-point winger, who finished second only to Connor McDavid in scoring this season.

Both the Flyers and Islanders would have to clear cap space in order to sign Gaudreau.

Gaudreau’s hometown team, the Flyers, made the first move on Wednesday by creating $3.3 million in salary cap space when they bought out the final year of forward Oskar Lindblom’s contract. It was a tough decision, because they love Lindblom and admire his battle back from Ewing’s Sarcoma in 2020. But buying out Lindblom, because he was 25, was the cleanest cut to create cap space.

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Will the Islanders follow suit? Who else would be in play from either team?

A few of those options are on the latest Trade Targets board, which always seeks to blend a player’s prominence with his likelihood of a trade:

1. J.T. Miller
Center, Vancouver Canucks
Age: 29
Stats: 80 GP, 32 G, 67 A, 99 Pts
Contract: 1 more season, $5.25 million AAV
Scoop: The Canucks and Miller are far apart on parameters of a contract extension and there has been no shortage of outside interest in Miller, which the Canucks have been fielding since even before GM Patrik Allvin was hired. There was a rumored deal to the Islanders involving Miller that never materialized. Miller has racked up 217 points in 202 games in a Canucks uniform. The sense is the Ohio native would prefer to play in the United States. One of his previous clubs, the New York Rangers, has been bandied about as a possibility. The New Jersey Devils are believed to have interest, in addition to the Washington Capitals as a potential replacement for Nicklas Backstrom. Expect the return to be north of what Kevin Fiala brought back for Minnesota.

2. Blake Wheeler
Right Wing, Winnipeg Jets
Age: 35
Stats: 65 GP, 17 G, 43 A, 60 Pts
Contract: 2 more seasons, $8.25 million AAV
Scoop: Sources say the Jets have explored the market and engaged with teams on the possibility of moving Wheeler, the franchise stalwart and last remaining holdover from the Atlanta Thrashers days. Wheeler has complete control over his destination until July 1, when his full “no-move” clause converts into a five-team list to which he’d accept a trade. The early sense is Wheeler may be willing to consider a proposed destination that also is not on his list, if it’s a proper fit for his family and career. Will his cap hit prove difficult to move? Maybe not. Wheeler could be the missing piece for a contending team as a point-per-game, play-driving winger with size and heart.

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3. Jakob Chychrun
Left Defense, Arizona Coyotes
Age: 24
Stats: 47 GP, 7 G, 14 A, 21 Pts
Contract: 3 more seasons, $4.6 million AAV
Scoop: The rebuilding Columbus Blue Jackets were recently mentioned as a possible fit for Chychrun. The Los Angeles Likely remain in the mix. As his name swirled in rumors last season, Chychrun said he learned one lesson: “Stay off the phone.” Chychrun also hinted in his end-of-season media availability that he isn’t up for more scorched earth rebuild in the Valley of the Sun. “That stuff is important to me. I want to be in a position where I’m getting ready to play [in the playoffs], not packing up and leaving the boys.” Will the Coyotes get their return? The four-piece package Arizona asked for was met with polarizing views from other GMs.

4. Brent Burns
Right Defense, San Jose Sharks
Age: 37
Stats: 82 GP, 10 G, 44 A, 54 Pts
Contract: 3 more seasons, $8 million AAV
Scoop: New Sharks GM Mike Grier certainly didn’t pour cold water on the speculation on Monday that Burns might be moved. Grier said he would work with Burns, the one high-priced defender on San Jose’s blueline that has played close to his cap hit, to find a suitable home if No. 88 desires. Burns holds most of the cards with the ability to block a trade to 28 teams by virtue of his three team trade list. Some of the destinations that have been rumored include Dallas, Nashville and Carolina, though all three would likely require some type of salary cap surgery in order to squeeze him in.

5. James van Riemsdyk
Left Wing, Philadelphia Flyers
Age: 33
Stats: 82 GP, 24 G, 14 A, 38 Pts
Contract: 1 more season, $7 million AAV
Scoop: Yes, of course cap space is tight, but the Flyers have been a little surprised in how steep the price is to move their leading goal scorer. The belief is teams like Detroit and Arizona have surfaced, among others, willing to take on ‘JVR’ but the ask has been a first-round pick as a sweetener. That’s expensive. The fact is van Riemsdyk has averaged a 27-goal pace for each of his first four seasons in Philadelphia on this deal, when factoring in the shortened seasons, so he’s lived up to his end of the bargain. The thought is the Flyers would much prefer to potentially move van Riemsdyk as a deadline rental when they can retain salary and actually get something in return for him, but they may not have that luxury.

6. Tyson Barrie
Right Defense, Edmonton Oilers
Age: 30
Stats: 73 GP, 7 G, 34 A, 41 Pts
Contract: 2 more seasons, $4.5 million AAV
Scoop: With Duncan Keith and possibly Brett Kulak not returning, Edmonton’s blueline is in-flux, and Barrie might not end up moving at the end of the day. However, in a perfect world, the Oilers would not be spending as much on a dedicated power play specialist when Evan Bouchard could probably produce in a similar manner for much less money. They’d also like to create additional cap flexibility. Sliding Barrie, an elite power play facilitator, elsewhere would be one way to try to achieve that. The ready-made defense solution would be if 2019 No. 8 overall pick Philip Broberg is ready to take the next step, to pick up the slack for Barrie on the right side with Cody Ceci and Bouchard next season.

7. Jeff Petry
Right Defense, Montreal Canadiens
Age: 34
Stats: 68 GP, 6 G, 21 A, 27 Pts
Contract: 3 more seasons, $6.25 million AAV
Scoop: The Habs are still working to move Petry. Last season was a write-off for both Petry and the Montreal Canadiens. Both the player and team struggled, and the Habs acknowledged they would try to facilitate a trade to help Petry, whose family was back living in the U.S. That’s tough for any player. At the same time, the Canadiens know Petry didn’t suddenly forget how to play hockey, the pandemic restrictions have lifted now, and they aren’t willing to pay assets to move a player that is surely better than last season indicated. He’d be a solid backup plan in Pittsburgh if the Penguins aren’t able to re-sign Kris Letang. There is a potential domino effect with some of the power play facilitators available: Barrie, Petry, Tony DeAngelo and Torey Krug.

8. Jesse Puljujarvi
Right Wing, Edmonton Oilers
Age: 24
Stats: 65 GP, 14 G, 22 A, 36 Pts
Contract: Pending RFA, Arbitration Eligible
Scoop: Puljujarvi’s days in Edmonton are numbered, hastened by his reported interest in a change of scenery. The 2016 No. 4 overall pick has generated interest from teams who see his frame and underlying numbers as untapped potential. He struggled mightily in the playoffs with just two goals and three points in 16 games, often looking like a deer in headlights. The Oilers are looking for a player of similar potential, maybe someone whose career has been on a similar track as Puljujarvi, in return rather than getting a draft pick. Edmonton is seeking a player or project they can build up again.

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9. Anthony Beauvillier
Left Wing, New York Islanders
Age: 25
Stats: 75 GP, 12 G, 22 A, 34 Pts
Contract: 2 more seasons, $4.15 million AAV
Scoop: Beauvillier’s name popped up on a few teams’ radars over the last few weeks, someone that the Islanders may be willing to part with this summer if Lou Lamoriello has any designs on shaking things up. Beauvillier’s progression seems to have flatlined a bit. After scoring 21 goals in 2017-18 as a 21-year-old, he has not been able to get back to that mark, netting just 12 in 75 games – which was a drop-off from the previous season. He is no doubt a talented player, which is why teams may have interest, even if he isn’t exactly producing commensurate with his cap hit.

10. John Marino
Right Defense, Pittsburgh Penguins
Age: 25
Stats: 81 GP, 1 G, 24 A, 25 Pts
Contract: 5 more seasons, $4.4 million AAV
Scoop: Do the math. With Rickard Rakell, Kris Letang and Bryan Rust re-signed, if the Pens have any designs on keep Malkin or signing an expensive replacement, someone will need to move. The Penguins received a few calls on Marino ahead of last season’s deadline, but remained focused and committed on their playoff push. The truth is Marino is not Pittsburgh’s preferred choice to move on their back end. That would be Marcus Pettersson. But no team seems willing to take on Pettersson’s three more years at just over $4 million, while there are teams interested in Marino, and the Penguins have a real need to move money.

11. Travis Konecny
Right Wing, Philadelphia Flyers
Age: 25
Stats: 79 GP, 16 G, 36 A, 52 Pts
Contract: 3 more seasons, $5.5 million AAV
Scoop: The Flyers engaged in exploratory conversations with a few teams about Konecny ahead of the March trade deadline, certainly willing to examine the possibility of moving him. They never advanced beyond that, but GM Chuck Fletcher laid enough ground work that if he is indeed ready to move Konecny, he at least has an idea of what he might be able to get in return. Konecny’s goal scoring has fallen off in a big way after 24, 24 and 30-goal (pace 2019-20) seasons. He works hard, is willing to go to the dirty areas to score, but his body language isn’t great. Is he the type of player to blossom or sag under John Tortorella? That’s probably what the Flyers are trying to figure out.

12. Ivan Provorov
Left Defense, Philadelphia Flyers
Age: 25
Stats: 79 GP, 9 G, 22 A, 31 Pts
Contract: 3 more seasons, $6.75 million AAV
Scoop: Sources indicated the Flyers engaged in similar type exploratory conversations with Provorov, but seemed much less inclined to experiment with moving Provorov on their backend. Nonetheless, he would have to remain an option as a more palatable way to move salary if need be. The Jets are one of the teams that was believed to have interest in Provorov, a former Brandon Wheat King. There is no doubt Provorov has been asked to do a lot for the Flyers, who have had a rather thin blueline at times during his tenure, but at the same time, Provorov’s progression toward becoming a true No. 1 defenseman in the NHL has not been a straight line. He hasn’t proven capable of holding that title, which is where he was trending a few years back.

13. Semyon Varlamov
Goaltender, New York Islanders
Age: 34
Stats: 31 GP, 10-17-2, 2.88 GAA, .912 Sv%
Contract: 1 more season, $5 million AAV
Scoop: At this point, all of the chairs seem to have been spoken for among starting goalies for next season. But there is a chance someone steps up to pry Varlamov out of the Islander, where Ilya Sorokin is the guy. Yes, you need two goaltenders to share the workload now more than ever, and Lou Lamoriello is on-record as stating the importance of that. He clearly likes his two goalies, and they seem to get along well together, which is important. Had Varlamov been available two weeks ago, there’d have been a ton of interest in him. He had a strong season and has just one year’s worth of string attached.

14. Lawson Crouse
Left Wing, Arizona Coyotes
Age: 24
Stats: 65 GP, 20 G, 14 A, 34 Pts
Contract: Pending RFA, Arbitration Eligible
Scoop: Rangy wingers with size are drawing tons of interest. If Chychrun is available, then why not Crouse? His name has been out there for a while. That’s the current plight of the Coyotes. To date, Crouse and the Coyotes haven’t been able to come to terms on an extension. He’s looking for a longer term deal and there has been little common ground to this point. He will certainly be in line for a raise coming off his first career 20-goal season. The big (6-foot-4) winger will draw interest from teams for his size, even if his game isn’t overly physical. He is eligible to be an unrestricted free agent after two more accrued seasons.

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15. Alec Martinez
Left Defense, Vegas Golden Knights
Age: 34
Stats: 26 GP, 3 G, 5 A, 8 Pts
Contract: 2 more seasons, $5.25 million AAV
Scoop: Martinez struggled mightily with a facial injury that manifested in migraines and concussion-like symptoms, causing him to miss nearly 60 games. He is healthy now and ready to contribute. Even so, it’s probably fair to say he has lost a step in the process, so his level of play isn’t likely to be commensurate with his pay. That’s a gamble the Golden Knights can’t afford to make. Would there be suitors for Martinez, with his 12-team “no-trade” list, if Vegas was willing to retain maybe $1 million? That’d be an intriguing bet. 

16. Kasperi Kapanen
Right Wing, Pittsburgh Penguins
Age: 25
Stats: 79 GP, 11 G, 21 A, 32 Pts
Contract: Pending RFA, Arbitration Eligible
Scoop: Kapanen was qualified by the Penguins on Monday, but that was an easy decision. His qualifying offer was relatively low. It’s his arbitration award – likely in the $3.5 million range – that is likely problematic for Pittsburgh depending on their success in the free agent market in the coming days. Logic would dictate that as the Penguins may soon run out of money to pay Kapanen. He falls below Evan Rodrigues on the pecking order as the Pens dish out their dollars. Kapanen may be a player Pittsburgh simply cannot afford to keep.

17. Anaheim Ducks’ Cap Space
Must Spend $18 million to Get to Salary Floor
Scoop: For new GM Pat Verbeek, spending to the salary floor certainly won’t be a challenge. The sense is the Ducks will be very active in free agency. But they also have space to play with. To that end, the Ducks have let other teams know that they’re interested in taking on problematic contracts in exchange for draft capital and flippable assets. Verbeek already tried to do that with Evgenii Dadonov (voided) and took on John Moore’s deal from Boston to increase the return for Hampus Lindholm. Anaheim can be a major player in that space this summer.

18. Torey Krug
Left Defense, St. Louis Blues
Age: 31
Stats: 64 GP, 9 G, 34 A, 43 Pts
Contract: 5 more seasons, $6.5 million AAV
Scoop: Blues GM Doug Armstrong quietly explored the potential of moving Krug, whom he brought in two seasons ago on a $45 million deal. Most importantly: Krug has a full “no-trade” clause and can block a deal to any team, and to this point, it sounds as if he has not been approached about the possibility. However, Armstrong is juggling a lot of balls in the air at the moment (see: Vladimir Tarasenko at No. 5). The Blues are wondering how they can create some cap flexibility. Would Krug have significant value at is cost certainty? Robert Thomas needs an expensive new deal, Jordan Kyrou will be up in a year, and the Blues might want to target other key players as they tinker with their group.

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19. Pavel Zacha
Center, New Jersey Devils
Age: 25
Stats: 70 GP, 15 G, 21 A, 36 Pts
Contract: Pending RFA, Arbitration Eligible
Scoop: It’s never a problem to be well-built down the middle, but it feels like the Devils have run out of room for Zacha in New Jersey with Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier ahead of him at center. Zacha hit a new career-high in points (36) last season while playing the most minutes (1,179) of his career. There’d be no harm if the Devils were to keep Zacha, the sense is that they’d be able to better parlay a return for him into more help elsewhere in the lineup.

20/21. Tanner Pearson, Jason Dickinson
Forwards, Vancouver Canucks
Ages: 29, 26
Stats: 68 GP, 14 G, 20 A, 34 Pts / 62 GP, 5 G, 6 A, 11 Pts
Contracts: 2 more seasons, $3.2 million AAV / 2 more seasons, $2.65 million AAV
Scoop: Rutherford said recently on the DFO Rundown that the amount of money the Canucks can move off their books will determine how big of a player they are on the trade and free agent market this summer. We know from Pittsburgh that Pearson is not Rutherford’s type of winger. He’s already traded him once. Dickinson is vastly overpaid for his production, but it will cost assets to move him. The Canucks will be working to try and find suitors for both.

22. Filip Zadina
Right Wing, Detroit Red Wings
Age: 22
Stats: 75 GP, 10 G, 14 A, 24 Pts
Contract: Pending RFA, not eligible for arbitration
Scoop: There was no shortage of excitement around Zadina when the Red Wings selected him at No. 6 overall in 2018. GM Steve Yzerman doesn’t tip his hand, but the sense league-wide is a change of scenery is in order for Zadina. He is a gifted shooter, but the knock on him is that he’s become more of a perimeter player – and only a select few players (Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos) can consistently score in today’s NHL from the outside.

23. Justin Holl
Right Defense, Toronto Maple Leafs
Age: 30
Stats: 69 GP, 3 G, 20 A, 23 Pts
Contract: 1 more season, $2 million AAV
Scoop: Holl has been passed on the Leafs’ depth chart by Timothy Liljegren, making him eminently available. Holl’s contract is not unreasonable for a third-pair defenseman who can chip in 20 points consistently, but it’s also fair to say Toronto probably should have moved him when there was more interest and his value was higher.

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24. Jesper Bratt
Right Wing, New Jersey Devils
Age: 23
Stats: 76 GP, 26 G, 47 A, 73 Pts
Contract: Pending RFA, Arbitration Eligible
Scoop: GM Tom Fitzgerald gave a full-throated denial this week, saying Bratt is not and was not ever available in trade talks. That’s in line with what Fitzgerald said after the season, that Bratt is a big part of New Jersey’s future. As we reported last week, Bratt was offered a long-term contract by New Jersey, but it wasn’t in the realm of being considered acceptable. He is a heck of a player. He’s young. He’s worked his way to become a point-per-game guy from a sixth-round pick. Until he’s signed, he’s staying on the board.

25. Josh Anderson
Right Wing, Montreal Canadiens
Age: 28
Stats: 69 GP, 19 G, 13 A, 32 Pts
Contract: 5 more seasons, $5.5 million AAV
Scoop: GM Kent Hughes’ phone has continued to ring consistently with teams inquiring about Anderson, whose skillset makes him a rare breed in today’s NHL. The Canadiens also have a significant amount of money tied up in wingers and they’re close to the cap. Anderson has skill, he can move, he’s big and has brawn. Oh, yeah, and he’s locked up for five more seasons at a very reasonable number for a guy who has knocked on the 30-goal door. To date, the Habs have resisted the urge and likely some tempting offers, but you have to at least allow for the possibility that they get a ‘Godfather’ offer they cannot refuse.


TRADED: No. 1 Alex DeBrincat (to Ottawa); No. 2 Kevin Fiala (to Los Angeles); No. 5 Tony DeAngelo (to Philadelphia); No. 11 Alexandar Georgiev (to Colorado); No. 14 Evgeni Dadonov (to Montreal); No. 15 Matt Murray (to Toronto); No. 20 Contract of Shea Weber (to Vegas); No. 31 Zack Kassian (to Arizona); No. 31 Philippe Myers (to Tampa Bay), No. 34 Petr Mrazek (to Chicago).


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