Two very well respected National Hockey League veterans now find themselves as likely trade candidates as their team and their general manager look to get under the NHL's salary cap for the 2018 - 2019 NHL regular season.
The Anaheim Ducks are currently sitting at a little over $8.7 million in salary cap space but they have three important contract signings looming ahead of them that have convinced many pundits that a move will need to be made in order for Ducks general manager Bob Murray to get all his contracts done and to create enough space under the cap in the process.
The two most urgent deals are contracts for restricted free agents Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase both of whom need a new deal before they can play in the 2018 - 2019 season. The third deal however may be the most important, although it is admittedly less pressing, and that is a contract extension for 27 year old Jakob Silfverberg. There's has been no official indication of how much money Silfverberg is seeking in this contract but rumors have suggested that his camp wants an average annual value of $5 million per season or more.
That would but the Ducks under significant salary cap pressure and according to Anaheim Ducks insider Eric Stephens of The Athletic, there are now two veterans who are potential trade candidates. Stephens reports that the aforementioned Nick Ritchie as well as beloved veteran Andrew Cogliano could be moved for draft picks purely as a cap saving measure from Murray and the Ducks, a move that would almost certainly weaken the Ducks in the short term.
If I had to speculate here I would assume that Ritchie would be the player that the Ducks would much rather retain on their roster. Not only does Ritchie's status as a restricted free agent give the Ducks control over his future for several more years, but he is also nearly a decade younger than Cogliano. There are additional complications here though and that may be why Stephens mentions Richie along with the veteran Cogliano as potential trade bait options for the Ducks.
Cogliano has some trade protection in his contract and is able to submit a 6 team no trade list to the Ducks, effectively blocking a trade to any 6 teams of his choice although that choice must be made prior to the start of the regular season. This could complicate a trade for the Ducks all on it's own and there's also the matter that at 22 years of age Ritchie may also fetch the Ducks a much better return in the long term. It's unclear how the Ducks plan to move forward here but one thing is certain they do have some tough decision to make ahead of them.
There is one thing that could help the Ducks out here however and that will depend entirely on the status of veteran Ryan Kesler for this upcoming season. Obviously the Ducks would much prefer to have him on the ice but if his injuries are too severe he will go on long term injured reserve and that would clear significant salary cap space for the Ducks in the process. Obviously solving one problem by creating an even bigger one is not an ideal solution however.