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An early look on potential 23 trade-deadline acquisitions composed into irrational NHL roster
There will only be more lists like these as the time moves forward to the NHL trade deadline, set in early March 2023. But it's never too soon to have some fun on potential trades that could happen.
This year's trade deadline in the National Hockey League has the potential to be one of the flashiest in recent years, mostly thanks to one name – Patrick Kane. While it's somewhat expected he will be traded, there is also an option he will stay in Chicago to further cement his legacy in Windy City along with fellow teammate and captain, Jonathan Toews, another unrestricted free agent from the Blackhawks team.
The season is already three weeks old (four if you count the NHL start in Prague) so let's have an early look at some of the potential trade deadline acquisitions and possible fits around the league.
A rather important factor in the trade negotiations will be the price. Not only the price paid for the given player but also the price of the contract that the team acquires. Unfortunately for GM and their well-known creativity and thinking outside-of-the-box (that is a joke, to be clear) we still appear to be stuck in an almost flat-cap environment, which hinders their options quite a bit. For example, Patrick Kane counts for 10.5 million against the cap and even with full retention by Chicago (50%), you need to have at least 5.25 million of deadline space available to consume and accommodate such a large cap hit.
Yes, you can do a double-retention and use the cap space of the third team, which usually costs about a mid-round pick to trigger, but that complicates things a bit. While it's still a valid option, in this scenario we'll look solely on the trades that could happen between the two teams involved only, taking their cap space into consideration.
Let's jump right to the thick of things. The trade deadline is set on March 3rd, 2023, 3:00 PM ET. That means we're still almost a full four months before that date actually comes. A lot of things can change, especially in the standings and the division between buyers and sellers but there are few things that will stay as they are. Players who are likely to be moved. We will not talk about potential RFAs like Jesper Bratt or Roope Hintz, players who are most likely to stay with their current team and it's really only about the size of the contract they agree to.
Neither we will mention a player like David Pastrnak, who albeit still is set to become unrestricted free agent, Boston Bruins are nowhere near seller mode after they started the season 10-2 and still await the return of arguably their MVP – Charlie McAvoy. This list also does not contain players like Joe Pavelski, Phil Kessel or Paul Stastny, integral parts of the potential contender who are set to be UFAs by the end of the season. There are also multiple guys I have surelly omissed, like Pius Suter for Detroit Red Wings who could be a candidate for an extension with his current team in my opinon rather than Adam Erne, who made this list.
We'll look for potential unrestricted free agents only and only those, who are somewhat expected to be traded away given their respective team's position in standings or expectations around that team. I've come up with a full 23-man roster of potential UFAs who are in my opinion likely to be moved to other contending teams, if the price is right. I'll also try this as simplistic as possible in potential prices. Here is the UFA team in question.
Patrick Kane, Vladimir Tarasenko, Jason Zucker, Max Domi, Andreas Athanasiou, Sean Monahan, Evgeni Dadonov, Tyler Bertuzzi, Tomas Tatar, James van Riemsdyk, Ivan Barbashev, Nick Ritchie, Adam Erne, Conor Sheary
John Klingberg, Kevin Shattenkirk, Dmitry Kulikov, Carson Soucy, Shayne Gostisbehere, Artem Zub, Oli Määttä
James Reimer, Semyon Varlamov, Joonas Korpisalo
I won't mention a specific team which I think the player is going to be traded in every case, as that would be really opportunistic at best during this point of season, however I'll try to come up with a somewhat reasonable ask for that given soon-to-be unrestricted free agent from the selling team and a little bit of explanation behind.
So let's go nice and neatly, one by one, position by position.
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks, Current Cap Hit: 10.5 million
If you noticed, I didn't include Jonathan Toews in the UFA roster as I think he stays in Chicago as Captain Responsible for the rebuild to set an example for younger players. Maybe Kane returns to Blackhawks too, but he will be traded to a contender before. This is just too good of an opportunity for the Blackhawks to capitalize on assembling assets to pass on. Team? Rangers is the obvious pick. My sneaky pick is Boston. Imagine the chaos.
Possible price? A first-round pick in 2023 or 2024, highly touted prospect and a younger established roster player (if there isn't one, then possibly another high draft pick in 2023 or 2024). A full retention is a must as Kane carries a 10.5 million cap hit.
Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues, Current Cap Hit: 7.5 million
The writing has been on the wall for Blues to regress and maybe it's not for the worst to capitalize on a down season by selling one of their prized assets in Tarasenko. I think they'll extend the captain, Ryan O'Reilly to a reasonable deal so this is their guy to move.
Possible price? A first round pick in 2023 or 2024 and a prospect. A full retention is also in order here, Tarasenko carries a 7.5 million cap hit. If that happens, maybe throw in another asset, being a roster player, prospect or a mid-round pick.
Jason Zucker, Pittsburgh Penguins, Current Cap Hit: 5.5 million
Penguins are not the same this year. They will very likely be looking on the outside of the playoff picture and might wanna recoup some assets to what is a very dire prospect pool. Zucker could be a fine middle six addition for a contending team and also not that pricey.
Possible price? A second round pick and a prospect.
Max Domi, Chicago Blackhawks, Current Cap Hit: 3.0 million
This contract was only signed to be moved during the season and there's nothing wrong with that. Domi is in the same category as Zucker and might provide a boost to strengthen the depth of a contending team. Watch him go to the Leafs or Lightning to tear it up.
Possible price? A second round pick or a highly touted prospect.
Andreas Athanasiou, Chicago Blackhawks, Current Cap Hit: 3.0 million
The same goes for Athanasiou here. Signed only to be potentially moved at the deadline. The price will not be that high but the impact will be lower.
Possible price? A third round pick.
Sean Monahan, Montreal Canadiens, Current Cap Hit: 6.375 million
Monahan should be a very good quality addition to a contending team and he's still only 28 years old. There is an argument for him to stay in Montreal but I feel they'd rather move him instead. Maybe return to Calgary for good-times sake?
Possible price? A conditional first round pick based on playoff success or a second round pick. Maybe add a prospect in there, too.
Evgeni Dadonov, Montreal Canadiens, Current Cap Hit, 5.0 million
Another piece acquired just to be moved on from, but gotta respect the strategy from Kent Hughes here. Dadonov could genuinely help a contending team in more than just one area in contrast to say Mike Hoffman and the price will probably be lower also due to higher cap hit, I guess?
Possible price? A conditional second round pick or a mid-prospect.
Tyler Bertuzzi, Detroit Red Wings, Current Cap Hit: 4.75 million
Bertuzzi could fetch some great assets for Steve Y as I don't really foresee him long-term as a Red Wing. He is still fairly young for a unrestricted free agent at only 28 so an mid-term extension at around 5 or 6 million could be in play here, too. That obviously changes to price but this could genuinely be a long-term acquisition as well.
Possible price? A second-round pick or a conditional first-round pick, if he re-signs with the team.
Tomas Tatar, New Jersey Devils, Current Cap Hit: 4.5 million
This is a tricky one. If the Devis continue to dominate teams in possession, they are very likely to make the playoffs as I predicted in a season preview here. But they're not really true contenders by any means so moving Tatar could fetch them a pick in a deep draft year or a younger player for the future. But he could definitely stay as well and help the young team in the postseason, too.
Possible price? A second round pick or a highly-touted prospect.
James van Riemsdyk, Philadelphia Flyers, Current Cap Hit: 7.0 million
Philadelphia has tried to move JVR on a couple of occasions already but without success. This is their last chance to capitalize on having him as an asset and they should take any offer higher than a third round pick without thinking twice. With full retention, of course.
Possible price? A second round pick.
Ivan Barbashev, St. Louis Blues, Current Cap Hit: 2.25 million
A somewhat surprising entry here, but if the Blues continue to struggle I can see them moving from Barbashev as well. Look no further than for a reunion with his former coach, Jim Montgomery in Boston, with whom Barbashev formed a rather strong relationship.
Possible price? A second round pick.
Nick Ritchie, Arizona Coyotes, Current Cap Hit: 2.5 million
This is almost a JVR territory, where Arizona should just take any offer from a contending team that is guaranteed to pick above 65th place in the 2023 draft. Luckily for them, Ritchie has found his offensive touch and could attract potential suitors.
Possible price? A second round pick.
Adam Erne, Detroit Red Wings, Current Cap Hit: 2.1 million
This is your typical under-the-radar trade deadline acquisition that won't cost a fortune but could become a very good trade for a contender in hindsight. Playoff is all about the depth and Adam Erne is just that.
Possible price? A third round pick at best. Possibly conditional fourth round pick.
Conor Sheary, Washington Capitals, Current Cap Hit: 1.5 million
Another Adam Erne type of acquisition with more experience in playoffs but also more miles on the body. The price is the same. But could be an effective pickup. I can already see Sheary scoring an OT winning goal in the first round.
Possible price? A third round pick at best.
John Klingberg, Anaheim Ducks, Current Cap Hit: 7.0 million
Another example of being acquired just to be moved. Don't believe anything that Pat Verbeek says, Klingberg is going to move at the trade deadline as will some of his mates on defense as well. Anaheim is tanking hard and apart from being part of Bedard sweepstakes they should capitalize on having some nice assets on their D ready to be moved. Klingberg's price has fallen recently but I can see him being a factor, as he's a good playoff performer historically. Could he come to Toronto? For you Stars fans, I don't really think a reunion is in place, although it would be quite funny. Number 3 is still there to re-take, still.
Possible price? A conditional first round pick and a prospect.
Kevin Shattenkirk, Anaheim Ducks, Current Cap Hit: 3.9 million
This is going to be Ducks territory for a while, here. Shattenkirk is another unrestricted free agent on the Ducks defensive core and could be available for a much more palatable price than Klingberg. Also his contributions could be very similar, making him a slightly desirable option for a team looking to add a bit of experience and power-play ability on the right side of their defense.
Possible price? A second round pick.
Dmitry Kulikov, Anaheim Ducks, Current Cap Hit: 2.25 million
Finally, another Duck. I wonder who will be left to play in Southern California for the Ducks considering Jamie Drysdale is out long-term, as well. Maybe they keep one of the D just to have actual bodies to play for them. Maybe they go full mental and sell everybody. But there is a limited number of teams in the league and much less buyers, too. So consider value for money here, as Kulikov won't attract much assets himself, so maybe it could be better for the team if at least he sticks around.
Possible price? Fourth round pick.
Carson Soucy, Seattle Kraken, Current Cap Hit: 2.75 million
Soucy should be highly coveted on the trade deadline even though his actual salary is higher than cap hit. That shouldn't matter at that point of the season, as the salary is prorated and the cap hit is actually very team friendly. Seattle is also far from being considered a contender, despite their promising start.
Possible price? A conditional second round pick.
Shayne Gostisbehere, Arizona Coyotes, Current Cap Hit: 4.5 million
This defender should fetch possibly the highest return for the selling team from the soon to be unrestricted bunch of players. His play is very good to start the year and could immediately jump on a top four role on any contending team. The Coyotes should also be happy about his production as his stock has definitely risen.
Possible price? A conditional first round pick.
Artem Zub, Ottawa Senators, Current Cap Hit: 2.5 million
My favourite available player here. He can play tough and huge minutes every game, be very responsible defensively as a right-handed D while also having a very modest cap hit and is at an age where a possible extension could be very much considered. If he's not moved at the trade deadline and not re-signed until free agency by the Senators, he could be a very interesting free agent in July.
Possible price? Realistically a second rounder, but I'd pay even a first round pick for him if the extension is in place.
Oli Määttä, Detroit Red Wings, Current Cap Hit: 2.25 million
This could be a low-key signing for a contending team, Michal Kempný for Capitals in 2018 which definitely helped them to win a cup that year and cost only a mid-round pick. Dealing with Red Wings and acquiring Määttä and Erne from them sounds very reasonable for risk-averse GMs out there.
Possible price? A third-round pick.
James Reimer, San Jose Sharks, Current Cap Hit: 2.25 million
Out of the three goalies that made our UFA roster, this is the guy who is the most probable to move. His body of work is excellent, has a great demeanor and the team is really eager to capitalize on having such a good trade bait on their hands. There are teams who will move heaven and earth just to stabilize their goalie situation with a proven performer like Reimer definitely is. Hello Toronto once again.
Possible price? Conditional first round pick and a prospect.
Semyon Varlamov, New York Islanders, Current Cap Hit: 5.0 million
It's questionable whether Lou Lamoriello will want to trade Varlamov if the Islanders are in the playoff mix but he has an undisputed starter in Ilya Sorokin at his disposal. They could also use an influx of younger talent to the roster and this is the time to capitalize on having two very good goalies capable of performing in playoffs, because let's be honest. Islanders are not winning a cup and are nowhere near to make a big push, either. They are just, sort of, there.
Possible price? A conditional first round pick or a second round pick and a prospect.
Joonas Korpisalo, Columbus Blue Jackets, Current Cap Hit: 1.3 million
Korpisalo's stock and his overall game has dropped in the recent year but if the team, say Minnesota, is searching for a good and experienced back-up in case their number one falters, this could be their guy. A price won't be very steep either, given the dip in performances.
Possible price? A third-round pick.
I have a strong feeling that at least 20 out of 23 mentioned players who made our irrational roster of unrestricted free agents will be moved by March 3rd. It will be very intriguing to monitor if the price was indeed projected right for many of them. Let me know in the comments here or in Twitter replies under this article later, whether you agree or disagree with the selections of players or rather more importantly, the price attached to it.
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