6 Players on Bad Teams Who Could Be Traded at the 2023 NHL Draft
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San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images
Every NHL season has its share of bad teams. Some end up toward the bottom of the standing because they're rebuilding around younger players. Others waited too long to start rebuilding or attempted to build around a veteran core.
Each of those clubs has good players who could prove useful to other teams, though.
Some, like the San Jose Sharks, have a superstar like Erik Karlsson who might prefer skating for a Stanley Cup contender. Others, like the Anaheim Ducks, have a player like goaltender John Gibson who could be past their playing prime once they've emerged from their rebuild.
The NHL's annual draft is usually when offseason trade activity involving established players peaks. Some players on this season's crop of bad teams could end up on other clubs once this year's two-day draft period (June 28-29) is over.
Here are six players we believe could end up traded at this year's draft. Factors such as a player's salary, trade value, roster role and future potential could determine why they end up being moved.
Do you agree or disagree with our choices? Are there others you believe are more likely trade candidates? Let us know in the comments section below.
Jack Roslovic, Columbus Blue Jackets
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After joining the Columbus Blue Jackets along with Patrik Laine in a January 2021 trade with the Winnipeg Jets, Jack Roslovic showed potential as a second-line center. He had 34 points in 48 games during the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season. Despite a slow start to last season, he finished with a career-best 22 goals and 45 points in 81 games.
Roslovic finished this season with 44 points in 72 games. In late March, The Athletic's Aaron Portzline suggested the Blue Jackets moved Laine to center late in the season to showcase Roslovic as a winger to potentially interested teams.
Eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer, Roslovic might not fit into the Blue Jackets' long-term plans. They signed Russian center Dmitri Voronkov last week to a two-year entry-level contract. They also have promising centers Kent Johnson and Cole Sillinger on their roster, both of whom could take on larger roles next season.
With a reasonable cap hit of $4 million, Roslovic's contract wouldn't be difficult to move during the draft when teams have plenty of cap room and a willingness to make trades. He could be of interest to clubs seeking a middle-six center.
One of them could be the Vancouver Canucks. The Province's Ben Kuzma recently indicated the Canucks had an interest in Roslovic during his days with the Jets. He believes it would require the Blue Jackets to retain $1 million of the forward's salary with the Canucks offering up a draft pick to get it done.
Nick Schmaltz, Arizona Coyotes
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Since Bill Armstrong took over as general manager in 2021, the Arizona Coyotes have been rebuilding primarily with young players they've drafted and developed, including Clayton Keller, Matias Maccelli, J.J. Moser and Barrett Hayton. Logan Cooley, Dylan Guenther and Connor Geekie are all lurking as future Coyotes stars, too.
Nick Schmaltz has been a key part of the Coyotes' roster since they acquired him from Chicago in November 2018. Despite being hampered at times by injuries, the 27-year-old center still puts up solid numbers, including 59 points in 63 games in 2021-22 and 58 points in the same number of games this season.
However, Schmaltz surfaced in rumors prior to the March 3 trade deadline. In late April, GOPHNX.com's Craig Morgan suggested he could become an offseason trade candidate.
Morgan felt Schmaltz probably won't be a major piece of the Coyotes' future once they emerge from their rebuild. He believes the center may never have greater trade value than he does right now.
Schmaltz has three seasons remaining on his contract at a reasonable annual cap hit of $5.9 million. If the Coyotes trade him, the best opportunity could be at the draft before his 10-team no-trade clause kicks in on July 1.
Josh Anderson, Montreal Canadiens
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Montreal Canadiens defenseman Joel Edmundson was a frequent topic of speculation leading up to the March 3 trade deadline. However, it could be teammate Josh Anderson who ends up changing clubs if the Canadiens attempt to make a major acquisition this summer.
Anderson is completing the third season of his seven-year, $38.5 million contract that he signed under former Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin. However, current Habs GM Kent Hughes might not be hesitant about moving the 6'3", 218-pound winger if the right opportunity presents itself.
Sportsnet's Eric Engels recently noted that Anderson preferred that his name be kept out of trade rumors. Nevertheless, Engels is not discounting the possibility of the Canadiens trading him "because of the opportunity moving him might present."
That offer could involve Winnipeg Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois, who has been linked to the Canadiens for months. A restricted free agent this summer, he's also a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility. If Dubois and the Jets fail to reach an agreement on a contract extension, they could look to move him at the draft.
The Jets could seek a return that enables them to remain a playoff contender for next season. That could involve Anderson, provided Winnipeg isn't on his eight-team no-trade list.
Kevin Hayes, Philadelphia Flyers
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The Philadelphia Flyers roster seems headed for a shakeup after they replaced general manager Chuck Fletcher in March with Daniel Brière. One of those changes could involve center Kevin Hayes.
A frequent subject of trade speculation this season, the 30-year-old Hayes acknowledged during his end-of-season press conference that his tenure with the Flyers could end this summer. Having begun this season as their first-line center, he finished it skating as a checking-line winger.
Despite his difficulties this season, Hayes was second among Flyers scorers with 54 points. The 6'5", 216-pounder is a versatile forward who can play center or wing and be used effectively on special teams.
Clubs in need of depth and size at center could come calling for Hayes, although his contract might be a sticking point. He's signed through 2025-26 with an average annual value of $7.1 million and has a 12-team no-trade list.
The Flyers might have to retain part of Hayes' cap hit to make his contract more palatable on the trade market. If they're willing to do that, he could end up on another team before the end of the draft.
John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks
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When John Gibson signed his current eight-year, $51.2 million contract in August 2018, the Anaheim Ducks were coming off their fifth straight 100-plus point season and finished second in the Pacific Division after winning five straight division titles.
Five years later, the Ducks' glory years are well behind them. Gibson, who's now 30 and halfway through his contract, has spent most of this prime with a team that has missed the postseason five straight times. His stats have suffered as a result.
Gibson finished this season with only 14 wins in 53 games, a 3.99 goals against average and a career-worst .899 save percentage. However, The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun reported in March that some teams still see him as a difference-maker. LeBrun felt that Gibson would be open to a trade to a playoff contender this summer.
NHL.com's Dan Rosen suggested the improving Buffalo Sabres and the veteran-laden Pittsburgh Penguins as potential trade destinations for Gibson. Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman proposed that the rising Ottawa Senators might be a good fit, too.
Gibson would have some say over his future thanks to his 10-team no-trade clause. His $6.4 million annual cap hit could also be a sticking point. Nevertheless, the time may have come for him and the Ducks to part ways while he still has some good years left. Otherwise, he risks being past his prime when the Ducks finally complete their rebuild.
Erik Karlsson, San Jose Sharks
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Every NHL club would love to have someone like Erik Karlsson on their blue line. An elite puck-moving defenseman, the 32-year-old Swede enjoyed a bounce-back performance in 2022-23 after several injury-plagued seasons.
Karlsson tallied a career-best 101 points this season, becoming the first defenseman in 31 years to reach the 100-point plateau. That performance made him a finalist for the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the NHL's top blueliner.
Toiling with the struggling San Jose Sharks this season, trade rumors have dogged Karlsson throughout this season. With the Sharks likely several years away from becoming a playoff contender, he could be shopped leading up to this year's draft.
The Mercury News' Curtis Pashelka speculated a number of teams could express interest in Karlsson. During his end-of-season interview with the San Jose media, Karlsson indicated he hadn't had any discussions yet about his future with general manager Mike Grier, but he said he wants to play for a winner.
The Sharks will set a high asking price for Karlsson if he agrees to waive his no-movement clause for a playoff contender. His $11.5 million annual salary cap hit through 2026-27 will also be a major obstacle. But if the Sharks agree to retain part of his salary, a trade may be possible at the draft.
Salary cap information via Cap Friendly. Prospect info via The Athletic.