As the calendar creeps closer and closer to 2016, it's time for NHL teams to start considering how to get the most out of their expiring assets.
Cutting those cords isn't always easy. There's always doubt involved.
Maybe this player will finally live up to expectations if we give him more time!
What if his replacement doesn't pan out?
If I don't get a good return for him the fans will mount my head on a spike.
It's times like these that make me glad I'm not a general manager. The trade deadline might be months away still, but these three players should already have their GMs staying up late at night considering how to cut ties.
Loui Eriksson, LW, Boston Bruins
It's unfortunate that Eriksson will forever be compared to Tyler Seguin. The trade that sent Seguin to Dallas and brought Eriksson to Boston in 2013 will go down as one of the worst trades in Bruins franchise history, which is somewhat unfair to Eriksson.
After two injury-plagued seasons, Eriksson is finally showing the Bruins exactly what he's capable of at peak performance: Some of the best two-way play in the NHL. With 23 points in 25 games, Eriksson is on pace to eclipse the 70-point mark for the first time since 2011-12.
You'd think the Bruins would want to keep him. But they can't, and they shouldn't. Eriksson's cap hit of $4.25 million is already costly enough for Boston, which is skimming the cap ceiling already with big contracts committed to a handful of other players over the age of 30. The 30-year-old Eriksson has shown signs of slowing down, but not enough to warrant a significant pay cut. The Bruins need to shift focus from retaining expensive veterans to embracing cheaper, younger players coming up through the system.
Besides, Eriksson is the perfect trade deadline target for contenders who can afford him. His two-way play and reasonable age will make him the hottest commodity even as an impending UFA. The Bruins should cash in.
Frederik Andersen, G, Anaheim Ducks
With John Gibson marinating in the minors, it was only a matter of time before the Ducks parted ways with Andersen. You've already started to see that shift occur. Andersen has missed over a week with the flu, but the Ducks haven't bothered to rush him back while Gibson takes the reins for a while.
Why trade Andersen and not Anton Khudobin, you might ask? First, Khudobin is a UFA while Andersen is an RFA. Any team that trades for Andersen gets to negotiate with him exclusively over the summer.
Plus, Andersen is the better net minder. He's posted above-average numbers over the last few seasons with the Ducks. And while his play has tapered off a bit since his career's torrid start, his age (26 years old) makes him a worthy trade target for goalie-starved teams. Looking at you, Calgary.
Eric Staal, C, Carolina Hurricanes
Ah. The Great Divorce. Although with less greatness and more sadness.
Staal has stated he wants to stay. That's predicated on a desire to get the Hurricanes back into the playoffs, which honestly isn't a realistic possibility for the next few years. Both he and his brother and teammate Jordan sound realistic about that.
"I've been in Carolina my whole career. I have stated I'd like to stay and be a part of getting better and getting back to the playoffs with this group, but in reality is that stuff will play out as it goes," Staal told Puck Daddy.
"We don't play on the same line and think identical things, but we want to play together. We enjoy playing together," Jordan told Puck Daddy. "We have fun but when things don't go well, changes are made, so hopefully we play well enough to where those changes don't have to happen."
Staal is reportedly asking for $9 million a year, which is a price the rebuilding Hurricanes absolutely should not pay. That leaves them with two choices: Trade him for assets at the deadline or let him walk and get nothing in return.
You trade him. He's a few years removed from his annual 70-plus points seasons, but that belies the talent around him in Carolina lately.
The problem with trading Staal is his astronomical cap hit of $8.25 million. But smarter people than I are paid to figure out how to squeeze that in under the cap. There will be teams who can afford him and need a top-six forward to take the next step and will pay a high price for him. Capitalizing on that is crucial to the success of Carolina's rebuild.