Red Wings may have multitude of options to make a splash in trade market

Detroit News

Detroit — The Red Wings appear to be ready to make a significant trade this summer.

But the difficult aspect of that usually is finding a partner to make a trade.

Judging from this first month of the offseason, there might be quite a few teams the Wings might be able to work out a deal with. And a long list of star players to sift through to acquire a bona fide goal-scorer, something this roster needs.

The list of available players is still forming as the playoffs continue and eliminated teams take stock of what they have, what they need, and who they can or cannot afford.

This list will surely be tweaked in the weeks ahead. But given the news around the NHL thus far, and looking at how teams’ rosters are shaping up early on, here are some names who could be available for the Wings and the rest of the league. And it’s a fairly exciting list.

Auston Matthews, Toronto, center: Let’s get the monster name out in the open first. The Maple Leafs’ front office has been shaken, with general manager Kyle Dubas not being brought back. How will that affect Matthews, who has one year at $11.6 million left on his contract and has a full no-movement clause kicking in July 1? If Matthews isn’t extended, would the new Leafs GM consider trading the former 60-goal scorer and NHL Most Valuable Player?

Surely the Leafs will do everything possible to re-sign Matthews. His talent and star power are something Toronto can’t lose. But it can’t lose Matthews for nothing. It’s anyone’s guess what the Wings, or any other team, would have to offer to even entice the Leafs into trade talks.

William Nylander, Toronto, right wing: It sure sounds like the Leafs will trade one significant piece to loosen their salary cap dilemma and break up a core four that hasn’t won anything significant. Nylander, 27, has one year left at $6.9 million and scored 40 goals this past season. A team would likely want to have an extension worked out. An important question here is whether the Leafs would trade within the division, not wanting to see Nylander thrive for a divisional rival. But Nylander would be a good fit for the Wings.

Mitch Marner, Toronto, right wing: Marner, 26, who has two years left on his contract at a $10.9 million per cap hit and is developing into one of the best two-way players in the NHL, would be another fit. It’s difficult to imagine the Leafs dealing Marner, but if they really would, 31 other teams would at least make a call to see what it would take. This is an elite player.

Alex DeBrincat, Ottawa, right wing: A restricted free agent, DeBrincat will earn about $9 million if the Senators qualify him, then it’ll take about that much annually to keep him (he’s unrestricted in summer of 2024). The 25-year-old Farmington Hills native saw his production dip to 27 goals and 66 points, but the Wings have the cap room to accommodate him. But again, would Ottawa trade within the division?

Clayton Keller, Arizona, right wing: The Coyotes have an uncertain future in Phoenix after the recent arena deal lost in the voting booth. Keller has expressed disappointment, and you wonder if the Coyotes would consider moving this 37-goal scorer who has five more years left at a $7.15 million per cap hit. Keller is only 24. You’d imagine the trade package headed to Arizona would be monstrous, but the Wings would have to listen.

Nick Schmaltz, Arizona, center: Schmaltz is 27 and has three years left at a $5.85 million cap hit. Schmaltz might not be the most well-known player on this list, but he has gone over 20 goals three times in his career. He has also played for Wings coach Derek Lalonde in junior hockey and familiarity never hurts. The trade package might be a lot more reasonable for a player like this.

Ross Colton, Tampa Bay, center: The Lightning are salary cap strapped, as usual, and this restricted free agent might be available for the right deal. Colton has 47 goals in 190 NHL games and played well in the playoffs. It’s difficult to think Tampa would be looking to trade a player like this easily. The return would be fairly substantial.

Brock Boeser, Vancouver, right wing: Boeser seems to be on these kind of lists every year, yet always finds his way back to Vancouver. Boeser, 26, has two years left at $6.6 million remaining, but he slumped to 18 goals this season and might be too streaky for some teams’ tastes.

Jeremy Swayman, Boston, goaltender: The Wings do need another goaltender and Swayman could be an option. Swayman, 24, is a restricted free agent and the Bruins have all sorts of salary cap issues. He had a .920 save percentage on the powerhouse Bruins and might be available, if only to alleviate Boston’s cap issues.

Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg, goaltender: We now begin the Jets’ portion of this list. Hellebuyck, a Commerce Township native, is an elite goalie so a trade package would be big. Hellebuyck, 30, has one season left at $6.1 million and is an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2024, so an extension is likely to be worked out. Hellebuyck would solve any goaltending issues the Wings had and Ville Husso would likely head to Winnipeg, but it would be an expensive contract that Hellebuyck would need to re-sign. But the Wings or many other teams looking for a star starting goalie would be glad to pay that price for a goaltender like this.

Kyle Connor, Winnipeg, left wing: The Clinton Township native is a regular 30- to 40-goal scorer and is only 26. But Connor still has three years left on his deal at $7.1 million per, and the Jets aren’t likely to engage in too many discussions regarding a core piece like this.

Nikolaj Ehlers, Winnipeg, left wing: Ehlers is only 27 and had two years left at $6 million per. You may hear Ehlers’ and Connor’s names in speculation, but they are players the Jets aren’t likely to deal unless the offer blows them away.

Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg, center: The Jets had a disappointing season and playoff finish, so change is coming, especially with a player like Scheifele, 30, having one year left on his contract ($6.1 million). Scheifele scored a career-high 42 goals and is a consistent 30-goal guy. But the age, defensive issues and the fact he’s UFA in summer of 2024 might scare some teams, such as the Wings, away.

Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg, right wing: Wheeler is likely very much available but may not be a pure fit with the Wings. Wheeler is 36, has one year left at $8.25 million, and slumped to 16 goals. This sounds more like a player for an established playoff contender rather than a younger team like the Wings, especially with the danger Wheeler might be in the downside of his career.

Pierre-Luc Dubois, Winnipeg, center: Only 24, Dubois is a restricted free agent and would be a great fit for the Wings. Dubois is coming off a season with 27 goals and 63 points, and is a 6-foot-3, 218-pound center who will fill a huge lineup hole for any team. But some scouts have wondered what the ceiling is, and the fact Dubois is likely headed to his third team in four years.

Twitter: @tkulfan

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