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10 best NHL players who could get traded this summer

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Two blockbuster trades were made Wednesday, but that doesn't mean more won't follow. Here's a list of the best 10 players who could be dealt this summer.

Mitch Marner, Maple Leafs

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Trade potential: ★☆☆☆☆

If the Maple Leafs are going to shake things up and trade away a member of their core after another early playoff exit, all signs point to Marner. Auston Matthews is the franchise player. William Nylander just signed an eight-year extension. John Tavares wouldn't have any trade value, and he likely wouldn't waive his no-movement clause. Moving Morgan Rielly would create even more holes on defense.

The problem for the Leafs is that Marner holds all the cards with his no-movement clause. But despite being from the Toronto area, there's a chance Marner might be open to a change of scenery given all the scrutiny he's received for his playoff performances.

A lot will have to go right for a deal to come together. Any potential trade partner has to possess the space to take on Marner's $10.9-million cap hit this coming season and a willingness to give him a raise on a long-term extension. A trade partner must also offer enough to entice the Leafs, ideally a young center or young defenseman at the forefront of the package. Very few clubs check all of these boxes.

One thing is clear: teams will be interested. Marner is one year removed from a 99-point season in which he finished 13th in Hart Trophy voting and was a Selke Trophy finalist. This type of star talent - at just 27 years old - doesn't become available often.

Martin Necas, Hurricanes

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Trade potential: ★★★★★

It seems highly likely that Necas will be dealt, as his name is already out there as a trade candidate. Also, about half the NHL teams have reportedly contacted Carolina about his availability, including the Chicago Blackhawks, Montreal Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers, and Winnipeg Jets.

The 25-year-old is a pending restricted free agent who can become an unrestricted free agent in 2026. The Hurricanes may not be able to afford to keep Necas considering all of the free agents they have this offseason - Jake Guentzel, Teuvo Teravainen, Brady Skjei, and Brett Pesce are all UFAs, and Seth Jarvis is an RFA.

Necas produced 24 goals and 29 assists this past season as a winger but tallied a career-high 71 points in 2022-23 while splitting time between center and wing.

Nikolaj Ehlers, Jets

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Trade potential: ★★★★☆

Three Jets players appeared on this list a year ago - Connor Hellebuyck, Mark Scheifele, and Pierre-Luc Dubois. Winnipeg re-signed Hellebuyck and Mark Scheifele to eight-year deals and, to nobody's surprise, traded Dubois.

It's clear the Jets don't want to let key players walk as free agents for nothing, and they shouldn't with another pending UFA in Ehlers. General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff should trade the Danish winger if he doesn't think extension talks are progressing toward a solution. Cheveldayoff is reportedly already open to the idea of a move.

For Ehlers, it'd be understandable if he didn't want to re-sign. He's been underutilized across the past two seasons under Rick Bowness, averaging 15:48 of ice time per contest. That isn't expected to change now that Scott Arniel - Bowness' right-hand man over the last two years - is the new head coach. Ehlers averaged 18:04 per game in 2021-22 under Paul Maurice and Dave Lowry.

There will surely be a strong market for Ehlers' services. He's a dynamic, speedy forward with point-per-game potential if everything clicks. At 28 years old, there's a chance some of his best hockey lies ahead if he finds the right fit.

Patrik Laine, Blue Jackets

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Trade potential: ★★★★☆

The Blue Jackets and Laine are reportedly working together to find the sniper a new home. That doesn't mean it'll be easy, though.

Laine has two years left on his contract with an $8.7-million cap hit. He spent most of last season in the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program or out with injuries, managing six goals and three assists in 18 games. Columbus probably isn't eager to retain a lot of salary, either.

But the 2016 No. 2 pick is still an intriguing talent. Even though he's struggled to stay on the ice the last few seasons, he's averaged 30 goals and 65 points per 82 games since joining the Blue Jackets in 2021. We've already seen Laine's ceiling, too: a 44-goal, 70-point campaign with the Jets in 2017-18 as a sophomore. It's easy to forget he's still just 26.

Trevor Zegras, Ducks

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Trade potential: ★★★☆☆

It doesn't appear Ducks GM Pat Verbeek has Zegras in his long-term plans. He wasn't the GM to draft him, he only gave him a bridge deal after his entry-level contract expired, and now he's reportedly listening to offers for the 2022 Calder Trophy runner-up.

Young, controllable centers are hard to come by (though there's a case to be made that his best long-term fit is on the wing), so there will be a market for Zegras' services. He rattled off back-to-back campaigns of at least 60 points in 2021-22 and 2022-23 but battled injuries this past year and struggled when healthy, managing 15 points in 31 games.

Zegras is loaded with skill. However, there are questions about his compete level. Don't be surprised if Verbeek is willing to swing a trade for the right offer as he continues to leave his mark on the roster.

Frank Vatrano, Ducks

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Trade potential: ★★★☆☆

Coming off a career-high 37-goal season, Vatrano's trade value will likely never be higher than it is now. His $3.65-million cap hit is also very team-friendly.

However, Vatrano is entering the last year of his contract. And at age 30 and with only two other 20-plus-goal seasons to his resume, is Vatrano the type of player Verbeek wants to lock up long term? The GM could wait until the trade deadline, but Vatrano's value will only diminish if he isn't scoring like he did a year ago. The Ducks are a long shot to make the playoffs in 2025.

Vatrano's name hasn't been mentioned in many reports, but it's only sensible for Verbeek to explore trade options for the veteran winger.

Pavel Buchnevich, Blues

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Trade potential: ★★☆☆☆

Buchnevich finds himself on this list for the same reason as many players: he's about to enter the last year of his contract. St. Louis reportedly listened to offers for him at the deadline but needed to be wowed to say yes.

The Blues' 92 points would've put them in the playoffs if they played in the Eastern Conference. They're right in that crop of middling teams. But they also have several aging veterans on long-term contracts. Buchnevich is 29 and will likely seek a seven- or eight-year deal. Does GM Doug Armstrong really want another player under contract into his mid-to-late 30s?

Buchnevich has played his best hockey since joining St. Louis in 2021, tallying 206 points in 216 games across those three campaigns. It's unclear what direction the Blues want to go. Still, there will be no shortage of suitors if they make Buchnevich available.

Jakob Chychrun, Senators

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Trade potential: ★★☆☆☆

The Senators have a decision to make with Chychrun entering the last year of his deal this offseason: extend or trade him. The team reportedly listened to offers for him at the deadline, and Chychrun said at the end of the campaign that there had been no extension discussions at that point. That doesn't mean a deal won't happen, but it's not a good sign.

Despite missing the playoffs for the seventh straight year this past season, the Sens are low on cap space. Dealing Chychrun could help free up room to land a top goalie (more on that below) that GM Steve Staios seems to covet. Of course, moving Chychrun would also create a new hole on the blue line.

If Chychrun receives an extension, that could open up the possibility of a Thomas Chabot trade. But either way, a marquee defenseman could be available out of Canada's capital this offseason.

Linus Ullmark, Bruins

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Trade potential: ★★★★★

The UFA goalie market is one of the weakest in recent memory, with veteran journeyman Cam Talbot arguably the top netminder who could become available. That could push goalie-needy teams - and there are a lot of them - to look for solutions via trade. That already came to fruition with the Devils acquiring Jacob Markstrom on Wednesday.

This timing bodes well for the Bruins. Jeremy Swayman has become Boston's clear-cut No. 1 goalie, and he's an RFA due for a big raise this summer.

Ullmark, meanwhile, makes $5 million annually and is entering the last year of his deal. The Bruins could surely use that cap space to improve the roster elsewhere.

And it doesn't mean his value is in the dumps just because Swayman unseated him. Ullmark, who turns 31 this summer, still posted a stellar .915 save percentage in 40 games in 2023-24 after winning the Vezina Trophy the year prior. The Senators are reportedly pushing hard for Ullmark.

Juuse Saros, Predators

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Trade potential: ★★☆☆☆

Trade rumors around Saros have seemed to cool down, but a move still can't be ruled out. Despite GM Barry Trotz saying he'll "work hard" to extend the star netminder, a trade could be back on the table if talks go sideways.

Saros is entering the final year of his deal with a team-friendly $5-million cap hit. He's been a true workhorse since taking the No. 1 job from Pekka Rinne, leading the league in games played in each of the last three years. Saros also finished no lower than sixth in Vezina Trophy voting for three consecutive campaigns between 2021-23.

The Predators have an heir apparent waiting in the wings, too. Yaroslav Askarov, the 2020 No. 11 pick, is coming off his second straight stellar AHL season and appears ready for the NHL. If Nashville could deal Saros for some help up front while still having an answer in goal, it could be a win-win.

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