What's one trade you'd like to see this season?
Chris Peters: It seems as though they have been paired together in rumors for months, with nothing seemingly close to happening, but I still think a Matt Duchene trade to the Nashville Predators makes sense for both teams. That's especially true with the Preds struggling to score consistently to start the season. This isn't something that should happen right now, however.
The Predators do have a surplus on D, which is a major need for the Colorado Avalanche. Nashville boasts one of the more talented top-four groups in the league. Ryan Ellis remains on the shelf, however, while recovering from offseason surgery. His absence has been felt, particularly by P.K. Subban, Roman Josi and Mattias Ekholm, who are all playing major minutes. So the question becomes more about what kind of hit the Preds are willing to take on their blue line in order to make a Duchene trade work. The good news is that they have another layer of prospects that isn't far away. Samuel Girard is with the team for now. Jack Dougherty in the AHL and Dante Fabbro at Boston University are also in the long-term pipeline, while also remaining potential trade assets.
It's still early enough that the Preds don't have to pull the trigger, but it remains something to consider. They could figure out their scoring, but GM David Poile has to feel like his team remains very close to another Stanley Cup run, and a piece like Duchene could really add depth and productivity to an already strong forward group. Poile is one of the NHL's best dealmakers, sometimes fleecing opposing GMs. But he also has made multiple trades where both teams get high benefit. Avs GM Joe Sakic has to get a big return for Duchene given the franchise's current position, and looking to a divisional foe might be his best bet at getting what he needs. These teams fit together in terms of wants and needs, but finding the right deal remains tricky, and both teams have every reason to remain patient.
Greg Wyshynski: The Carolina Hurricanes are once again a team with outstanding underlying analytics and middling results in the standings (4-4-2). Assuming goalie Scott Darling starts playing better than his .896 even-strength save percentage, they'll be sounder defensively than they've shown. But it's the offense that's the concern. The Hurricanes are scoring 2.59 goals per game, which is deceiving: They scored five or more goals three times in their first 10 games; they scored just one goal in four of them.
Part of the problem is at center. Jordan Staal, Victor Rask, Derek Ryan and Marcus Kruger all have their virtues but can be an underwhelming group. Elias Lindholm and Sebastian Aho could be game-breakers in the middle, but the Hurricanes prefer these talented youngsters on the wing.
So what do you do if you're the Hurricanes? You make a trade for a center. This is where I'm supposed to bring up the Avalanche and the forever-coveted Duchene. But instead I'm going to talk about Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers.
Oilers fans and pundits have been conflicted about the Nuge. He makes $6 million against the cap through 2021, but the first-overall pick in 2011 hasn't broken 60 points in a season. Is he a second-line center? Is he a third-line center? Is he ever going to be worth that money?
Here's what he is: a talented offensive pivot who plays well in all three zones. He does the little things that good teams need to do to win. He's currently the Pittsburgh-era Jordan Staal for the 2017-18 Oilers, if Jordan Staal couldn't win a faceoff.
What he needs is a change in scenery and role, because there's a solid offensive player lying dormant inside that 24-year-old wispy frame. The Oilers could use help defensively, and the Hurricanes have one of the deepest blue lines in the league. Although he won't come cheap -- please recall the Matt Dumba-for-RNH swap rumored last season -- Nugent-Hopkins also won't carry whatever absurd price tag Sakic has affixed to Duchene at the moment. For the right price, it's a nice fit.
Emily Kaplan: A lot is ailing the Pittsburgh Penguins. They've given up 21 first-period goals in 13 games. They need to play better on the second half of back-to-backs. (On the second night of double-headers, Pittsburgh is 0-4 while being outscored 29-7.) The Penguins have also been plagued by sloppy defensive play, marked by an ugly minus-14 goal differential. My trade suggestion isn't a total panacea -- but it certainly will help. The Penguins need a solid backup goaltender. And I know just the guy: Calvin Pickard.
You know the name. The 25-year-old played in 50 games for the Avalanche last season, posting a .904 save percentage. Pickard was plucked by the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft and spent all summer poised to be the heir apparent to Marc-Andre Fleury while promoting the team at community events -- even on a friggin' bus in Idaho. Then on Oct. 5, the Knights made a shocking move: They put Pickard on waivers. Their corresponding move, picking up Malcolm Subban off waivers from the Boston Bruins, wasn't terrible. (After a string of bad injury luck, my, oh my, could Vegas use Pickard now.)
Anyway, this fabulous and promising goalie is now buried in the AHL, with the Toronto Maple Leafs' affiliate, the Marlies. The Penguins could use Pickard with their big club. Pittsburgh has already burned through one veteran backup, waiving 34-year-old Antti Niemi after he posted a woeful 7.49 goals-against average and .797 save percentage. Pittsburgh then briefly tried Casey DeSmith before turning to touted prospect Tristan Jarry. Jarry, 22, should get a start sometime this week, perhaps Thursday in Calgary. But this wasn't the plan. Jarry has played only two seasons in pro hockey. As GM Jim Rutherford told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, "Ideally we wanted Jarry to play more games in the minors this year just for his confidence." The Penguins can still adhere to that plan and find assurance behind Matt Murray. Just go out and get Pickard.