Much has already been written about the glut of forwards on the Vancouver Canucks roster, and the potential consequences thereof. As it stands, the Canucks are essentially faced with a decision between trading a veteran forward—most likely Markus Granlund or Sam Gagner—or risking a young player like Nikolay Goldobin or Brendan Leipsic on waivers. While most fans prefer the veteran-trading option, GM Jim Benning could also look to deal one of Goldobin or Leipsic to recoup some value instead of losing them for nothing. Either scenario, however, requires a trade partner, and that brings us to the current Trade Market: Extraneous Depth Forward Edition.
To make it on this Trade Market, a team must have a desire to be competitive this year and a lack of forward depth heading into preseason. In the specific case of Sam Gagner, having a little extra cap space doesn’t hurt. Each of these teams has young players knocking at the door and less-established veteran hopefuls competing for spots, but they also have enough grey area on their roster to suggest they may trade for a forward before opening night.
|Rickard Rakell||Ryan Getzlaf||Ondrej Kase|
|Andrew Cogliano||Adam Henrique||Jakob Silfverberg|
|Nick Ritchie (RFA)||Ryan Kesler (inj.)||Corey Perry|
Knocking On The Door: Sam Steel, Kevin Roy, Troy Terry
Competitive This Year?: Anaheim has a defense corps in their prime, but their offensive stars are aging quickly, and the closing of a competitive window is likely on the horizon. Ryan Getzlaf only has a couple of years left as an offensive centerpiece, and the Ducks are probably going to keep aiming for the playoffs until he’s firmly on the decline.
Why Them?: With Ryan Kesler potentially on the IR to start the season, the Ducks are hurting for reliable forward depth—and flush with emergency replacement cap space. Even if Kesler is ready—and RFA Nick Ritchie signs—Anaheim remains a little shallow for a playoff contender, and a versatile bottom-six forward like Granlund might just fit the bill.
|Jeff Skinner||Jack Eichel||Kyle Okposo|
|Conor Sheary||Patrik Berglund||Sam Reinhart (RFA)|
|Vladimir Sobotka||Johan Larsson||Jason Pominville|
Knocking On The Door: Casey Mittelstadt, Evan Rodrigues, Tage Thompson, Justin Bailey
Competitive This Year?: The lean years are finally over in Buffalo, and the burgeoning young core of Jack Eichel, Rasmus Dahlin, and Rasmus Ristolainen is ready to compete. The Sabres might not be a playoff team this year, but their days of languishing in the basement are over. Expect Buffalo to make a serious run at the postseason in an attempt to start Dahlin’s career off on the right foot. (No Brett Hull pun intended).
Why Them?: The Sabres are a team trying to better themselves as quickly as possible, and that requires depth. Several of the established veterans are questionable producers and multiple rookies will make the team, so a dose of consistent scoring in the form of Gagner could be enticing. Alternately, a Goldobin type could make for a more interesting linemate for Casey Mittelstadt than Conor Sheary or Jason Pominville.
|Brandon Saad||Jonathan Toews||Patrick Kane|
|Alex DeBrincat||Nick Schmaltz|
|Chris Kunitz||Artem Anisimov|
Knocking On The Door: Dylan Sikura, John Hayden, Victor Ejdsell, David Kampf
Competitive This Year?: The Blackhawks missed the playoffs in 2017/18 and, in the ultra-stacked Central Division, it seems entirely likely that they do so again this year. That being said, the Blackhawks still have Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, and Brent Seabrook on the payroll, so a rebuild isn’t an option. Chicago has no choice but to continue trying to make the best of the core’s remaining productive years.
Why Them?: The Blackhawks are probably the non-rebuilding team with the biggest question marks on their roster. Multiple players with limited experience are pencilled into the lineup, and some added stability would be a welcome addition. Although the Blackhawks have been traditionally cap-strapped, the trade of Marian Hossa’s contract has opened up some room—more than enough to accommodate Granlund or Gagner’s contracts with ease.
New Jersey Devils
|Taylor Hall||Nico Hischier||Jesper Bratt|
|Marcus Johansson||Travis Zajac||Kyle Palmieri|
|Miles Wood (RFA)||Blake Coleman||Stefan Noesen|
|Pavel Zacha||Brian Boyle|
Knocking On The Door: Blake Speers, John Quenneville, Joey Anderson
Competitive This Year?: With the reigning Hart Trophy winner in Taylor Hall and a recent first overall pick in Nico Hischier, the New Jersey Devils will be attempting to better their wildcard performance of last year. The Devils will have a tough time busting into the top three of the Metropolitan Division, but they’re certainly going to give it a shot.
Why Them?: The Devils have a lot of middle-six forwards, but are short on skilled wingers to stick with Taylor Hall and Nico Hischier. With their incoming youngsters more suitable for bottom-six roles, New Jersey could be very interested in a talented reclamation project in Goldobin or Leipsic—especially if the cost is low.
|Ryan Dzingel||Matt Duchene||Mark Stone|
|Mikkel Boedker||Chris Tierney||Bobby Ryan|
|J-G Pageau (inj.)||Tom Pyatt|
Knocking On The Door: Brady Tkachuk, Colin White, Nick Paul, Drake Batherson, Logan Brown, Rudolfs Balcers, Alex Formenton
Competitive This Year?: The Senators are in a unique position. With the loss of Erik Karlsson, they’re almost certainly a basement team, but they don’t own their first round pick. That gives Ottawa an incentive to be as competitive as possible this year, lest they sacrifice a lottery pick to the Colorado Avalanche. They’ve literally got nothing to lose!
Why Them?: The Senators roster is an utter mess, and they can use all the help they can get. They may also have a vested interest in keeping their talented rookies away from a guaranteed tire-fire season. It’s questionable whether the notoriously frugal Eugene Melnyk would be open to taking on Gagner’s contract, but any of Granlund, Goldobin, or Leipsic could find a permanent home on the barren wasteland that is the Ottawa forward corps.
Vegas Golden Knights
|Jonathan Marchessault||William Karlsson||Reilly Smith|
|Max Pacioretty||Paul Stastny||Alex Tuch|
|Erik Haula||Cody Eakin||Ryan Reaves|
|Tomas Nosek||Pierre-Edouard Bellemare||Ryan Carpenter|
Knocking On The Door: Cody Glass
Competitive This Year?: Nobody expected the expansion Golden Knights to be competitive last year, but then they went and made the Stanley Cup Finals. With an opening act like that, Vegas has little choice but to continue operating as a contender—anything less would be an insult to their enthusiastic young fanbase.
Why Them?: The Golden Knights went to the Finals and then replaced James Neal and David Perron with Max Pacioretty and Paul Stastny—and that might lead one to believe that their forward depth is just fine. However, Vegas got very fortunate when it came to injuries in 2017/18, and that saved them from having the kind of rail-thin depth chart that comes with being an expansion team exposed. Any significant injury to a forward will have the Knights begging for a fill-in, and that makes them a stealth team for one of the Canucks’ extraneous forwards.