The NHL Trade Deadline is looming and things are heating up. This has sparked plenty of NHL trade rumours, adding to the excitement of the mid-season. As long as NHL trade rumours remain around, Last Word on Hockey will look to keep fans up to date. Today, we will cover rumours surrounding the Chicago Blackhawks, New Jersey Devils, and Philadelphia Flyers.
Analysis: There has been a back-and-forth all season long. Fans aren’t sure who is getting moved, between Corey Crawford and Lehner. Even now, despite Johnston’s comments, speculation remains. One thing is adamantly clear, though: Chicago can’t keep them both. Which is a huge blow. The duo of Lehner and Crawford has been the best goalie tandem in the Western Conference this sesaon. They’ve combined for a team-save percentage of .917, with Lehner holding a .921 and Crawford a .912. They also have a combined goals-against-average of 2.90, another impressive tally given the lack of help they get from Chicago’s skaters.
But while the goalies have been what’s held up Chicago, they’ve also weighed down the salary cap. They’re currently combining for $11 million of Chicago’s cap hit; roughly 13 percent going towards only two players. That’s far too much going towards goaltending and things are only going to get worse this summer when both players become free agents and, reasonably, demand raises.
So Chicago’s hands are tied. They simply can’t afford to keep both players in the system considering their six other NHLers that are soon to become free agents. Instead of losing one of these star goalies for nothing this summer, it makes sense to aggressively shop them around now. Lehner could fetch a very attractive return package, given his Vezina-nominated 2018-19 season and his continued strength this year. If the Hawks are confident that they won’t make the playoffs, dealing away Lehner would be more-than-smart.
New Jersey Devils
Analysis: As much as they’ve denied it, the Devils are jumping ship. They’ve become a mainstay of the recent NHL trade rumours, with speculation surrounding a large majority of their lineup. Of the players to garner the most interest, though, Palmieri is surely on top of that list.
Over the course of the last few seasons, Palmieri has established himself as a strong goal-scorer. He’s scored over 25 goals in three of the last four seasons, excluding this one. In the one year he didn’t score 25, he netted 24 in only 62 games. He’s very quickly become an exciting player to watch, giving the Devils a star for their own. This is especially true this year. On a Devils team that has struggled this season, Palmieri has still managed 22 goals and 41 points in only 55 games. This puts him on pace for 33 goals and 61 points in total. On a playoff contender, these already-great numbers could soar.
Palmieri’s addition to the list of forwards being heavily shopped is a very exciting one for the league. He offers amazing goal-scoring and is signed through the 2020-21 season as well. He’s all-in-all one of the best options on the market, although that will come at a price. The trade market has been noticeably pricier this year and garnering a player with dazzling skills like Palmieri will be a big-ask. Still, his great goal-scoring in New Jersey will surely improve given top-six minutes on a playoff contender like the Colorado Avalanche or Boston Bruins. If they’re willing to spend big, Palmier will surely pay dividends.
Analysis: The Los Angeles Kings are in the final stage of their rebuild. It’s a stage that sees the team in question finally part with their hardened veterans, much to many fans dismay. Tyler Toffoli has already been traded away, Alec Martinez is almost guaranteed to follow shortly, and now Carter is joining the list.
The asking price for Carter surely can’t be as high as Toffoli or Martinez’s, though. He was once a dominant force in the league, averaging at least 60 points each year but has since fallen off. He hasn’t been the same, though, since missing most of the 2017-18 season with injury. Carter only posted 33 points, in 76 games, last season and has put up 27 in 60 games this year.
With that said, 17 of those 27 points have been goals, which is a great tally for the 35-year-old, 15-year veteran. Like Palmieri, these numbers will go up as Carter moves from one of the league’s bottom-feeders to a playoff contender. This would seemingly be even truer with Philadelphia, who originally drafted Carter in the first round of the 2003 NHL Draft. The Flyers have been fighting for a playoff spot all year long and adding a great, and likely cheap, goal-scorer like Carter would be the thing to put them over the top. If he is going to go anywhere, he should go home to Philly.