The 2020-21 NHL regular season is scheduled to end on May 19. As playoff-bound clubs look ahead at possible first-round opponents and bubble teams jockey for the final postseason berths, those at the bottom of the standings will soon have plenty of time to make their plans for next season.
Some of those non-playoff clubs, like the Anaheim Ducks, were undone this season by a popgun offense. Others, like the Ottawa Senators, could use some blue-line help.
The general managers of these teams will attempt to address their respective needs this summer. Some could try signing some veteran talent when free agency opens on July 28. They could also turn to the trade market by targeting cap-strapped clubs or teams at risk of losing skilled players to the Seattle Kraken during the July 21 expansion draft.
Here's a look at several offseason trade ideas that could help some of this season's worst NHL teams.
Anaheim Ducks Trade Josh Manson or Rickard Rakell
Look no further than the Anaheim Ducks' weak offense for why they are nestled in the basement of the Honda West Division. Their 2.16 goals-per-game average and 9.8 power-play percentage are the NHL's worst.
The Ducks must engage in a roster rebuild this summer. It will take time to draft and develop promising young forwards with scoring potential. That could mean entertaining offers for veterans like winger Rickard Rakell or defenseman Josh Manson in the hope one of them fetches a promising young forward.
Rakell and Manson are both due to become unrestricted free agents next summer. Rather than risk losing them for nothing, the Ducks should consider shopping one or both to playoff contenders seeking a veteran scoring winger or an established shutdown blueliner.
The Bruins could be a destination for Rakell if things don't work out with trade-deadline acquisition Taylor Hall, provided they feel their Stanley Cup window remains open next season. Young winger Jake DeBrusk is struggling in Boston and might benefit from moving to Anaheim.
Manson, meanwhile, could be of interest to the Winnipeg Jets. They were in the market for a defenseman at the trade deadline and could continue that search into the offseason. They won't part with top prospect Cole Perfetti, but maybe they'll do a package deal that includes promising center David Gustafsson or winger Kristian Vesalainen.
Andre Burakovsky to the Columbus Blue Jackets
A lack of scoring depth contributed to the Columbus Blue Jackets tumbling to the bottom of the Discover Central Division. Their anemic 2.33 goals-per-game average ranked 29th overall.
The Blue Jackets need a top-line center, but such players are rarely found in the trade market. If they're unable to land a suitable center via trade or free agency, they should bring in some wingers to provide more punch to their offense.
Perhaps the Jackets should target a team like the Colorado Avalanche for trade discussions. They could end up losing a forward to the Seattle Kraken in this summer's expansion draft.