Every team is looking to trade up. I mean, I had a choice when I looked into my freezer this morning: plain Eggos or Cinnamon Toast Eggos. The longer you look at them, the more tempted you are. You have to think it's always an option and virtually every team (except Edmonton) is a candidate.
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Also, teams always seem to covet picks that are slated to go three to five slots ahead of where they currently are, and can sometimes undervalue their own candidates. Everyone wants to cheat and excite the fans and the draft is a good place to do that.
Trading down is another story altogether... there are only a handful of these every year. It's a logic much less traveled (and sometimes it's a very questionable move, see the NY Islanders from 2003).
So without further ado:
1. Arizona Coyotes (3rd overall) -
Arguably the biggest loser concerning the draft lottery is the Arizona Coyotes. They finished 2nd to last place, which meant a reasonable chance of getting either Eichel or McDavid, but they ended up with the players that don't necessarily have fans throwing their cloaks on the road for.
Arizona GM (Maloney) has had some time to recover from the loss, as did his walls after the draft lottery, I'm sure, but could seriously consider moving the 3rd overall pick to generate excitement for a city (or state) that needs a lot of it.
Are they likely to move it? No. Mitch Marner played with Max Domi this year, so he's already a very tempting option; and then you have Dylan Strome, who has already been told by Arizona that he's very high on their radar. Things might have changed since then. Neither of these guys are slouches, either.
But at their pick, you also have Noah Hanifin, who is ranked 3rd overall, but whom, I'm sure, Arizona has very little interest in. What if the Flyers want Noah Hanifin, who would be a perfect fit for them? Would the Flyers be able to tempt the Coyotes with a young and already developed player as well as their 7th overall? Perhaps! Never say never.
Chance of trade down: 5%.
2. Carolina Hurricanes (5th Overall)-
The Hurricanes have been lagging the last few years, so they're likely looking at any and all options for this year's draft. The Jordan Staal trade hasn't worked out for them, the Semin signing is looking like a stale banana and starting to smell like one, too, and injury concerns have hampered their franchise.
Francis has already expressed interest in trading down, according to rumours, so that means that he's probably thinking that both Strome and Marner are going to go three and four, which drops Hanifin down to fifth.
Hanifin is not a perfect fit for this franchise, though he wouldn't be a bad choice by any stretch, but I feel that their eyes might be more focused on Ivan Provorov, who was ranked 8th in McKenzie's draft, or Lawson Crouse, who was 7th. This gives Carolina the option to trade down with possibly Philadelphia or San Jose should Hanifin drop to their spot, and they can probably get some extra goods from those teams. Given Hanifin's value, they can probably get more than a 2nd in a trade-down, so I'm sure their ears are wide open.
Chance to trade down: 50%
3. New Jersey Devils (6th Overall):
The 6th overall pick is a bit of a fuzzy area in this year's draft for the Devils, since the BPA is likely to be a defenseman. Though their scouting staff has interviewed Zacha twice and wanted an extra interview with Marner, all signs point to them staying at six and simply taking Zacha.
However, their scouting staff also spent a lot of time interviewing Hunter Shinkaruk two years ago, and they ended up trading the pick for Cory Schneider (am I ever glad they didn't draft Shinkaruk!). So who knows?
But Lou isn't at the helm anymore, so Shero might simply stay put at six and take Zacha. I'm sure he'll be tempted to trade down if Carolina hasn't and picked Provorov, Crouse, or even Zacha at five, leaving them with Hanifin, who would be the worst choice for them in the top ten.
Chance of trading down: 25%
4. Columbus Blue Jackets (8th Overall) -
Columbus opened Pandora's Box last year and were plagued by injuries (the gnats) for most of the year before they exploded at the end of the season (the star of hope), becoming just as hot as the Ottawa Senators. They're much better than where they placed.
What this entails is that they likely believe they're entering their "arc" (which is the "rising action" of a story, or rise to competitive hockey in the NHL), which means that they can start moving pieces like this for more immediate help to a team that's looking to move immediate (wasted) help for help in the future.
It's quite possible that the Jackets trade for someone like Kessel, or even move the pick to try to acquire Ryan Ellis from Nashville (who's sitting on a treasure trove of defense), just to give them an extra boost coming into this season. I fully expect them to be in the playoffs next year, and I think they fully expect the same and will dangle the pick. They're also looking to move Rychel, and should they decide to move both of these assets, they could possibly acquire a future/present star forward or defenseman.
Chance to move the pick: 40%
5. Florida Panthers (11th overall) -
The Florida Panthers fans are probably like the rambunctious kids in the backseat of a car (before the cell phone era) asking, "Are we there, yet?" over and over again. And Florida GM Tallon continuously has to tell them, "Almost", just to assure them. Well this year, they have a reason to believe that they actually are moving up, and aren't going to be caught in the margins anymore.
Unlike previous years, Florida has some high picks developed into their system including Ekblad, who even exceeded my expectations. It's like Ekblad has already been fully developed... and no I'm not just like those guys on tv that go, "This kid is a man among boys" saying that once every three players they review... Ekblad is one of the very rare cases of a player that's well ahead of his age.
What this means for the Panthers is that, like the Jackets, they're going to be moving into their arc, which means they can try to move this pick as part of a package to give them the bump they need to show the fans, "We're there!"
They traded for Jagr, they might as well trade for another player that also gets them immediate help and become playoff contenders next year. There will be a lot of good options left at 11, so they can probably get more for this pick than they normally would.
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