The 2016-17 NHL regular season is only a few weeks old, but as teams gain a better understanding of what they have and how well their players mesh together, trade whispers continue to grow louder.
Although there is still a long and arduous season ahead, some teams already appear willing to shake things up in a significant way. Falling far behind early in the season is something that can be impossible to bounce back from at times, and a chemistry-changing trade can be the best way to avoid it.
As teams attempt to find the perfect balance with their rosters, here is a closer look at some of the top rumors making the rounds across the league.
Young, point-producing defensemen aren’t often available via trade, but Calgary Flames blueliner Dougie Hamilton’s name has reportedly come up in talks.
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According to ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun (h/t Chris Nichols of Today’s Slapshot), at least one team inquired about Hamilton, although no progress was made in subsequent discussions.
Hamilton is just 23 years of age and coming off back-to-back 40-point seasons. He set career highs with 12 goals and 43 points last season after being acquired by the Flames in a trade with the Boston Bruins.
Although Hamilton was a disappointing minus-14 for a Flames squad that struggled, he was a true workhorse, playing in all 82 games for the first time in his young career.
Hamilton is also off to a fast start in 2016-17 with two goals and four assists for six points in 10 games. He is also a plus-one and has been a bright spot for a Flames team that is brimming with young talent throughout its lineup.
The Flames have a lot of money tied up in their defensemen, and while Hamilton has a cap hit of $5.75 million through 2020-21 (per NHL Numbers), that could prove to be a bargain if he continues to produce points at his current rate.
Calgary has a bright future up front with the likes of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Matthew Tkachuk, but it must make sure that it has defensemen capable of jumping into the play offensively as well.
Hamilton has that skill and will likely continue to develop it even more as he approaches his prime.
It is never a bad idea to listen, but unless another organization is willing to part with an elite player in exchange for Hamilton, the Flames are best off standing pat.
Perhaps no goaltending situation in the NHL is more convoluted than that of the New York Islanders, which is why veteran Jaroslav Halak is reportedly on the block.
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Isles general manager Garth Snow is open for business when it comes to the Slovak netminder.
Halak is just 2-3 with a 3.04 goals-against average and .901 save percentage so far this season. That is a far cry from the 18-13-4 mark, 2.30 GAA and .919 save percentage he posted in 36 starts in 2015-16.
The veteran has also struggled in comparison to the performance he turned in for Team Europe at this summer’s World Cup of Hockey, as he led Europe to the finals against Canada and finished the tournament with a 2.15 GAA and .941 save percentage.
Like the Islanders, the Winnipeg Jets are overrun with NHL-caliber goalies, and that could necessitate a trade.
The likeliest candidate to move is veteran Ondrej Pavelec, and according to TSN’s Gary Lawless, the Jets have been approached about trading the 29-year-old.
Pavelec is currently in the AHL, as he was beaten out for NHL roster spots by Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson. The Czech Republic native is playing poorly in the minors, but he has a great deal of NHL experience under his belt.
Last season wasn’t a great one for Pavelec, as he went 13-13-4 with a 2.78 GAA and .904 save percentage, but he is just two years removed from the best campaign of his career.
In 2014-15, Pavelec went 22-16-8 with a 2.28 GAA and .920 save percentage, both of which were by far the best marks he has ever produced in the NHL.
Hellebuyck looks to be the present and future in goal for the Jets, and with Hutchinson looking like a capable backup, there is little reason to hang on to Pavelec—especially since he will be a free agent during the offseason.