Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
The NHL trade season was hectic in 2018, with several stars and impact players changing teams before the Feb. 26 deadline. However, those who weren’t dealt still have a lot to worry about.
Several players who could have been traded last month could be on the move in the offseason, even if they are under contract through at least next season.
It might not change the landscape of the league heading into the playoffs, but it is likely on the players’ minds, as well as those in the front offices.
Here is the latest on several notable players looking ahead to the summer.
Jesse Puljujarvi, RW, Edmonton Oilers
David Becker/Associated Press
Despite being loaded with upside, Jesse Puljujarvi is yet to establish himself at this level.
The forward had just one goal in 28 games last season and now has 11 goals in 51 games in 2017-18, adding only seven assists. He has scored just twice since the All-Star break.
Of course, he is still just 19 years old, which provides plenty of reason to be patient while he tries to reach his potential.
TSN’s Darren Dreger reported on Edmonton 1260 Radio that Puljujarvi was not available in a trade prior to the deadline.
“No, we’re not trading Puljujarvi,” a source told him in February.
However, Dreger also said the team could re-evaluate the situation in the offseason, potentially using him as a trade chip to acquire Oliver Ekman-Larsson. It would take a significant asset to bring back any impact player, and Puljujarvi could be enough to convince teams to make a deal.
Unless he proves something in the remainder of this season, Edmonton should be willing to part with the 2016 No. 4 overall draft pick.
Antti Raanta, G, Arizona Coyotes
Jeff Chiu/Associated Press
As Antti Raanta closes out his first season with the Arizona Coyotes, he is potentially thinking about staying with the team on a long-term deal.
According to Craig Morgan of ArizonaSports.com, there was interest from teams at the deadline as a possible rental, with the goalie set to be a free agent in the offseason. After remaining with Arizona, however, the next move could be signing an extension.
Raanta was acquired in a trade from the New York Rangers last June, and as his agent Kevin Epp explained, the Coyotes wanted this to be a long-term solution in net.
“[General manager John Chayka] wanted to make sure that Antti wanted to stay a part of the Coyotes and do what they’re doing and build with them,” Epp said, via Morgan.
Although he has dealt with injuries this season, Raanta has performed well with a .924 save percentage in a career-high 39 appearances. The 28-year-old is trying to show he can be a No. 1 goalie and a cornerstone for the young team.
If he can return from his lower-body injury and close the season strong, he could be in for a major payday in the offseason.
Erik Karlsson, D, Ottawa Senators
Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press
With the Ottawa Senators struggling in 2017-18, team captain Erik Karlsson seemed like a top candidate for a trade. This didn’t end up coming to fruition despite plenty of speculation heading into the deadline.
As Larry Brooks of the New York Post reported, however, he wasn’t dealt because he “refused to discuss a contract extension with interested parties.”
Considering he is still under contract through the 2018-19 season, the Swede isn’t allowed to renegotiate a new deal until July 1. This could lead to another round of trade discussions in the summer once Karlsson is free to talk about his next deal.
It makes sense for the 27-year-old to want to work out his new deal as soon as possible considering his performance in recent years. Karlsson was selected to his fourth straight All-Star game this season and his fifth overall, currently tallying 51 points in 63 games.
The two-time Norris Trophy winner is one of the best defensemen in the league and wants to get paid like it.
Even Kings star Drew Doughty said he and Karlsson should be paid “quite a bit more” than the rest of the league at the position, per The Athletic (h/t Iain MacIntyre of Sportsnet).
Whichever team is willing to open up the checkbook for Karlsson should get a head start by trying to trade for him in the summer.