The exciting part of being a team at or near the bottom of the NHL standings this season is the hope you'll be able to win the draft lottery and select Connor Bedard No. 1 in June. But only one team will get to do that, and everyone else will have to find other ways to get better.

To improve a team with a lot of holes, you can hope some of your prospects are ready to make the leap or you seek help in free agency. But the most effective, and most nerve-wracking, way to improve a team is by making trades.

Trades are fun and exciting for us, and for general managers they're the best and most terrifying thing they can do. But what's the harm in making deals when your team spent the season in the basement? Things can't get worse, right?

Wait, no, they can absolutely get worse. But when you're down bad and the future looks bleak, change can make it feel better. And that's why we're going to make deals that could improve life down the road for some of the NHL's worst teams.


Ducks Trade John Gibson

The Anaheim Ducks have had a miserable season. They don't score a lot of goals and they've allowed a lot of them. It would seem like that's goalie John Gibson's fault more than anything else, but Gibson's had to stand on his head to even make it look this good.

The Ducks need help all over the ice at forward and on defense, and oddly enough they have depth in goal. Anthony Stolarz has backed up Gibson the past couple of seasons, and youngster Lukas Dostal has shown some potential in limited action this season. Sure, you could trade Dostal because he's younger and has the potential that teams get excited about, but Gibson has a solid track record as well as a strong reputation.

Gibson has four years left on his contract at a juicy $6.4 million cap hit. It's not an easy contract to move, but if you're the Ducks, you want to get goal scoring in return. They've scored 175 goals this season, third-fewest in the league. Trevor Zegras has 21 goals and Troy Terry and Adam Henrique are tied for second on the team with 19 goals each. It's dire and a team in need of addressing goaltending in a big way (Buffalo? Montréal? Columbus?) can offer up young offensively capable players in return for him.

Gibson's cap hit and injury history make moving him tricky, but a savvy team should kick the tires and see what it might take.


Sharks Trade Erik Karlsson

There was no hotter name at the trade deadline this year than that of San Jose defenseman Erik Karlsson.

Talk swirled about the Edmonton Oilers and even Ottawa Senators having interest in acquiring the Norris Trophy favorite, and for good reason. Karlsson, 32, tapped into the fountain of youth this season and has piled up goals and assists the way he did during his elite seasons with the Senators. He leads all defensemen in scoring this season and has been brilliant all-around.

Karlsson is not an easy player to trade for a few reasons. First off, look how good he is! San Jose is looking to get back to respectability sooner than later, and they've still got Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture playing well and have added 2021 seventh overall pick William Eklund to the mix late this season to show the future has hope. Having Karlsson there to help lead their attack would be a great idea, especially when he's playing this well.

Then there's his contract. Karlsson has four more years left with an $11.5 million cap hit. Trying to trade him almost certainly means bringing a third team into the mix to help spread around his girthy cap hit. Even teams like Buffalo or Arizona, each of whom is hovering just above the salary floor, would require sweeteners to take the full deal, and at that point the deal wouldn't be worth doing from San Jose's end.

That said, there seemed to be too many moving parts to deal Karlsson at the deadline. During the offseason, though? Different story. Not to mention it would allow for a more open market of potential buyers. Trading Karlsson would allow San Jose to add younger players to the mix as part of their rebuild. It's exactly the kind of deal they should be looking for to get out of the briny depths of last place.