With both the NHL expansion and entry drafts in the rearview mirror and free agency just days away, the trade market is heating up. This season the league is on track to a traditional start date and a full 82- game schedule featuring 32 teams, and four balanced divisions, and two conferences. The Seattle Kraken will enter the league as a Pacific Division franchise, and the Arizona Coyotes will be realigned to the Central Division.
With free agency set to begin on July 28, teams have been busy making moves.
The Flyers Acquire Ryan Ellis
Prior to the draft, the Philadelphia Flyers made a splash on the back end acquiring 30-year-old defenseman Ryan Ellis from the Nashville Predators in exchange for defenseman Philippe Myers and forward Nolan Patrick. Patrick was then immediately traded to the Vegas Golden Knights for Cody Glass.
It was unlikely that the Predators could protect Ellis from the Seattle Kraken in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft, so moving the popular defenseman was expected.
Selected by Nashville 11th overall in the 2009 NHL Draft, Ellis has scored 270 points in 562 regular-season games (75 goals, 195 assists) and has six seasons remaining on his eight-year, $50 million deal.
Myers just wrapped up the first year on his three-year, $7.65 million contract. The 24-year-old scored 11 points in 44 games this season.
Patrick, selected with the 2nd overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft is a restricted free agent. He scored nine points in 52 games with the Flyers this season and has missed substantial time over the last three seasons due to injuries.
Glass has one season remaining on the five-year contract he signed with the Golden Knights. The 22-year old center scored 10 points in 27 games this season.
Leafs Last Minute Deal Yields Nothing
Moments before the NHL trade freeze was to go into effect, the Pittsburgh Penguins traded forward Jared McCann to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for prospect forward Filip Hallander and a 7th round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft. The 25-year-old McCann has one season remaining on a two-year deal. He will be a restricted free agent at the end of the 2021-22 season.
Much like Nashville with Ryan Ellis, Pittsburgh wasn’t expected to protect McCann from the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft. Unlike the trade for Ellis, where the Flyers protected their acquisition, Toronto, in what may have been a calculated move to protect Alex Kerfoot, left McCann exposed. Seattle selected McCann on Wednesday.
Canucks Land Forward Jason Dickinson
In a pre-draft trade, the Vancouver Canucks sent a third-round pick to the Dallas Stars for Jason Dickinson. The 26-year-old forward had 15 points in 51 games last season for the Stars and according to Canucks GM Jim Benning is expected to fill a defensive void on the Canucks third line.
“We think he’s a real good, third-line, matchup-type player. We think he’s versatile. He can play center, he can play the wing, he gives us speed and he’s a good penalty killer. And he’s 26 years old; he’s right in that window with the rest of our group. And I think there’s still room for growth in his game offensively. We’re happy to get him.”
At worst, Dickinson takes defensive pressure off Bo Horvat and allows him more offensive end starts, and at best tips the scale making the Canucks third line more productive.
Arizona is a team that missed the playoffs and lost its 2021 first-round pick as a punishment for violating the NHL’s combine testing policy. General Manager Bill Armstrong had little to build on but a copious amount of salary-cap space and he’s wasted no time in using it. In a grip of pre-draft moves, Armstrong replenished his draft stock by acquiring a first-round replacement while adding six draft picks in the first three rounds of the next two drafts.
How did he do it?
The Coyotes picked up Andrew Ladd, who only likely will only play a handful of NHL games and has two more years left at a $5.5 million cap hit, from the New York Islanders in exchange for three draft picks.
- The Avalanches 2021 2nd round selection (60th overall),
- the Islanders 2023 3rd round selection (conditional upon Ladd playing at least one game in the 2022–23 NHL season), and
- a conditional 2022 2nd round selection (the Coyotes will receive the higher the two 2022 2nd-round picks the Islanders currently possess).
Arizona traded for 28-year-old veteran defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and a 2nd round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft from Philadelphia in exchange for future considerations. A pure salary dump for the Flyers who added Ryan Ellis’ contract to their payroll in a trade with Nashville.
Finally, Armstrong sent a pair of his best players, goal-scoring forward Conor Garland and defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson to Vancouver in exchange for the Canuck’s 1st round pick in the draft, a 2nd round pick in 2022, a 7th round pick in 2023, and forwards Loui Eriksson, Jay Beagle, and Antoine Roussel.