Summertime in the NHL is an interesting time. The NHL Entry Draft and free agency open the floodgates for moves and transactions that could change the landscape in some NHL cities. With plenty of rumors circulating around the league, many fans can’t wait for the playoffs to end so the real action can begin. Which big names will move this year? Who might get shopped but ultimately stay put?

Here are some of the names most likely to be talked about throughout the offseason and many who are sure to find themselves new homes come the start of the NHL 2018-19 season.

John Tavares

John Tavares is the name to watch heading into the summer. Both the New York Islanders and Tavares have said they’d like to make something work in respect to getting a new deal done but there’s an underlying feeling that at any moment this could go south. If that happens, the NHL will be in full game-on mode as a number of teams try to snag one of the best centres in the league.

The Islanders would have to scramble to try and replace someone who likely can’t be replaced by any one single player in free agency and teams like the St. Louis Blues, San Jose Sharks and Detroit Red Wings would whatever needs to be moved around to get Tavares into the fold.

Regardless of where he ends up, Tavares will make big money this summer and any team will have to move pieces around. If he stays with the Islanders expect them to move a couple players. If he doesn’t, expect them to add multiple peices to try and make up for the loss.

Rick Nash

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Rick Nash was traded to the Boston Bruins at the 2017-18 trade deadline and his time with the Bruins could best be described as “meh.” He was ok but potentially not worth bringing back and while he’s said he’s open to returning to Boston, there are also rumors he’s looking to go back to the New York Rangers where he was most comfortable.

His game isn’t where it used to be so any team that picks him up will have to be leery of the term and salary they hand out. He could be ok, but could also not live up to whatever he gets paid.

If he stays or goes in Boston, he’s not really the type of contact that will shake a team to the core but he will be a piece that a team puts a lot of faith and responsibility in.

James van Riemsdyk

James van Riemsdyk will be salary cap casualty in Toronto and because the Maple Leafs have to lock up other pieces to long-term deals, likely have to let their leading goal scorer leave the organization. Some team will give him big money to score 25-35 goals over the next six or seven years and while he may not be the biggest name available ove the summer, could be one of the biggest impact signings for the most money.

There are plenty of teams who could use a left winger who can play top-line minutes. It will be interesting to see which teams are willing to pony up to get him and if he’s Plan A or Plan B.

He could quietly be a game-changer for an organization.

Joe Thornton

Will Joe Thornton really be back with the San Jose Sharks next season? That’s an intriguing question considering what he cost the team last summer for one more year and what he brought to them this season, which was slower play and more injury issues that need to be addressed this summer.

San Jose will be going after some big-name players in free agency and that may not leave a lot of room for Jumbo Joe. He says he’s willing to take a pay cut, but how much exactly of a pay cut are we talking about here?

This could come down to decision by the Sharks that signified they’re staying the course or moving in anothe direction and finding a new philosophy. This isn’t Joe’s team anymore and he’ll have to be comfortable in that role if he’s going to stay.