5 possible trade destinations for Patrick Sharp
It's been less than a week since the Chicago Blackhawks took over the headlines by winning their third Stanley Cup in six seasons.
Forward Patrick Sharp's name was front and center after the win, with storylines including a helicopter spying on the Cup trophy in his home and his adorable daughter.
But the most talked-about reason the four-time 30-goal scorer was in the news is because there's a very good chance he won't be wearing a Chicago uniform next season, a scenario TSN's Bob McKenzie thinks is a foregone conclusion.
With the Blackhawks having little wiggle room thanks to the salary cap, expiring contracts, and a huge payday expected for restricted free agent Brandon Saad, general manager Stan Bowman is going to have to make some moves, and Sharp leaving Chicago seems inevitable.
Here are five potential trade destinations - beginning with the least likely - for the 33-year-old winger.
5. Florida Panthers
Florida is an interesting option.
The Panthers have the necessary cap space to make some moves, and they could use a winger, as Scottie Upshall and Tomas Kopecky are unrestricted free agents.
Sharp would be a massive upgrade over both, and - along with Jaromir Jagr - could help mentor the Panthers' stable of budding superstars.
Adding Sharp to a front line that already includes Jagr, Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, Jimmy Hayes, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Brandon Pirri could give them the necessary firepower for a playoff run, which they made a serious push for last season.
4. New Jersey Devils
Even with a new GM in Ray Shero and a revamped coaching staff, the Devils could continue to acquire veteran point producers, as in years past.
Prior to last season, it was Mike Cammalleri and Martin Havlat, as well as a reunion with Scott Gomez in December.
The year prior, they inked Jagr and Michael Ryder.
It wouldn't be surprising if they added a player of Sharp's caliber, since they scored only 2.15 goals per game.
The Devils could look to add offense in the draft, but director of scouting David Conte has said "a defenseman is really in play" if that's the best player available, so the team may look to acquire production via another route.
3. Nashville Predators
With the Predators unlikely to surprise teams like they did last season, the squad is going to have to find a way to make it back to the playoffs and advance further than the first round.
Defense and goaltending aren't concerns; the Preds need scoring.
They made bold moves acquiring James Neal and Mike Ribeiro last season, which ended up paying dividends, while breakout seasons from Filip Forsberg, Craig Smith, and Colin Wilson aided their scoring attack.
The Predators have said they're interested in signing Smith and Wilson long-term, and they're making progress on a deal with Mike Fisher, but Ribeiro is a question mark, Matt Cullen is likely not returning and Mike Santorelli will be gone.
Enter Sharp, and the Predators could make up for the loss of production in one fell swoop.
They have the cap space to do it, so why not?
2. Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh seemed intent on making a move on Saad before Bowman shut down that idea, so the Penguins may go after one of his teammates.
The Penguins are already interested in acquiring Sharp's services, reports Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times:
Multiple sources say teams have been circling around Sharp since last spring, and he's almost certain to be traded to clear up cap space. The Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals are among the interested teams.
Cap space could be an issue with the team having to replace or re-sign a number of free-agent players, but if they can manage their budget effectively, Sharp could be the scoring presence needed to help them get over the postseason hump and return to Stanley Cup glory.
1. Washington Capitals
Washington seems like the best destination for Sharp.
They've shown interest in him in the past, discussed the forward at the trade deadline, and he'd be a fit for the Capitals, according to ESPN's Pierre LeBrun, who spoke on TSN 690:
I think the Washington Capitals are a team that I see as a fit for him - among the many - but I think they would like to add a top-6 player there and a guy that's won. We know what the Caps' issues are, right? So that would be an interesting fit for me. But who knows?
They have the necessary cap space and could lose forward Joel Ward to free agency. Sharp would be an exceptional replacement, as he earned nine more points than Ward last season.
With the Capitals showing real progress under the tutelage of Barry Trotz, they may just be an addition or two away from making a harder push for an appearance in the Stanley Cup Final.
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