Hockey

Top 5 NHL Trade Candidates For 2021-22

NEWARK, NJ – FEBRUARY 23: Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (9) skates during the first period of the National Hockey League game between the New Jersey Devils and the Buffalo Sabres on February 23, 2021 at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

As the 2021-22 season progresses, who are the top 5 NHL trade candidates who have been rumored to being moved? Let’s dive in to see who they are.

#5 Top NHL Trade Candidate For 2021-22

Tomas Hertl – San Jose Sharks

Hertl has stated they he’d like to stay with the San Jose Sharks. Hopefully things can be worked out. Tomas Hertl is a pending unrestricted free agent next summer and his name has been mentioned in trade rumors. He desires to play for a winner and may be getting tired of the Sharks’ ineptness of late.

The Sharks started out with four consecutive wins. Recently, they are back to their losing ways and have dropped three straight.

Hertl is in the last year of a four-year $22.5 million deal paying him $5.65 million a year. Negotiations are ongoing, yet he is still not signed past this season. He will be a top trade deadline candidate. He has tallied 153 goals and 173 assists in 510 games in all with the Sharks over nine seasons.

Prediction: Hertl signs a five-year extension for $7 million AAV.

#4 Top NHL Trade Candidate For 2021-22

Johnny Gaudreau – Calgary Flames

The Calgary Flames speedster has been in trade rumors even though he scored 49 points in 56 games last season. He’s off to a terrific start this season as well, with one goal and 10 assists in seven games. If he continues to play like that, it seems senseless to consider trading him.

For whatever reason, he has been rumored to go to the Philadelphia Flyers. Johnny Gaudreau is from Salem, New Jersey. He carries a six-year $40.5 million deal, expiring after this season. The way the Flames are playing right now, it seems they are happy with Gaudreau. They have won six straight as of this writing, and reside in first place in the Pacific Division.

The rumors of the Flyers trading for him seem invalid. They don’t have but $5.9 million in cap space. The issue with the Flames keeping Gaudreau is they also have little cap space to give him a new contract.

Prediction: The Flames will figure out how to keep Gaudreau and re-sign him.

#3 Top NHL Trade Candidate For 2021-22

Phil Kessel – Arizona Coyotes

Phil Kessel definitely wants to be moved. He is not a fan of playing for a team in a rebuild. The Arizona Coyotes are currently winless with a dismal 0-7-1 record. If Kessel wants to play for a contending team, he’s in the wrong place.

He could seriously help a contending team and may be moved before the trade deadline. His $6.8 million contract has only $1 million owed on it. A team trading for him will still need to pick up the cap hit for the full amount. For that reason, the Yotes may need to retain some salary to make a deal feasible.

Per Coyotes insider Craig Morgan, Kessel is in the final year of his contract and wants to be traded, rather than endure a rebuild. He loves the warm climate and could join a team like the Tampa Bay Lightning. Forward Nikita Kucherov is out for 8-10 weeks and they will miss his offensive talents. That’s where Kessel could come in an help out.

Kessel is listed in the top 5 NHL trade candidates… because he turns on the red light with frequency.

Prediction: Kessel will be traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning for a prospect.

#2 Top NHL Trade Candidate For 2021-22

Vladimir Tarasenko – St. Louis Blues

The talented Vladimir Tarasenko has been riddled with injuries over the last two seasons. He has only played 34 games in that span of time. Tarasenko has demanded a trade. He is unhappy with the way his shoulder injuries have been handled. When healthy, he can be a top player. He is proving it this season with four goals and four assists in six games.

Unfortunately, the Blues intend to keep him until they feel a fair deal can be arranged. He has two years remaining on his eight-year $60 million deal. Expecting a team to pick up a contract worth $7.5 million for the next two years may mean he stays in St. Louis.

The other factor which any team trading for him must consider, is how chancy it may be to give that much of a contract to a player with his injury history.

Prediction: Tarasenko will remain with the Blues through this season.

#1 Top NHL Trade Candidate For 2021-22

Jack Eichel – Buffalo Sabres

There’s a reason that this selection was the first choice of the top 5 NHL trade candidates.

This gifted center has scored 355 points in 375 NHL games. He is what’s known as an elite center and there have been endless rumors as to where he could be headed. Jack Eichel has been in a dispute with the Buffalo Sabres over the type of neck surgery he chooses to have done.

He could file a grievance with the NHL Players’ Association. Eichel has options if the doesn’t get traded soon. He desires to be allowed to proceed with the surgery he wants done. This can seriously motivate the Sabres into making a deal for him. Eichel’s enormous salary of $10 million average annual value has been the roadblock. The deal still has five years remaining, plus contains a no-movement clause. The clause starts in the summer of next year.

It seems that by all indications, the Vegas Golden Knights may have the inside track according to Frank Seravelli of dailyfaceoff.com.

By all indications, we should know something soon on the Jack Eichel trade front.

Prediction: Eichel will be traded to the Vegas Golden Knights.

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