Fans eagerly await the deadline for roster moves. What will it be? Will a big trade happen? Who are some targets and what do they bring to the ice? Learn more about this week in hockey with answers from our most trusted source of information, Ben Kerr
The “nhl trade tracker” is a website that provides information on the current NHL trade deadline. The site allows users to track all of the trades that have been made, and their status.
The NHL trade deadline is coming up in three days, and things are heating up. Most clubs are waiting until the last minute to make changes — after all, every dollar counts in this salary-cap world — but a pair of transactions on Wednesday should get things moving. You’re undoubtedly curious about the events over the following three days. I did as well. So I dialed the numbers, and here’s what I learned.
What is the most pressing issue that has still to be answered before the deadline?
What happens to Claude Giroux and Marc-Andre Fleury? This trade deadline round, they’ve been the two biggest names.
Let’s start with Giroux, the Flyers captain who has played in Philadelphia for his entire 15-year career. When you talk to individuals who know Giroux, you can see how difficult the previous several weeks have been for him. I had the impression that Giroux does not want to go. He has grown in love with Philadelphia, which he refers to as his “second home,” and is proud to be a Flyer. But he’s 34, he understands his chances of winning a Stanley Cup are limited, and pursuing the Cup with a contender this spring is too enticing to pass up.
On Thursday night in Philadelphia, Giroux focused on playing his 1,000th game. Now that the traumatic night is over, Giroux will turn his attention to deciding where he will go next. The Florida Panthers are said to be the front-runner, however there may have been a hiccup in negotiations this week, around the same time the Panthers traded for Ben Chiarot. The Panthers, who are seeking to make a splash, feel Giroux, who would presumably start as Aleksander Barkov’s top line winger, can make it work. On Thursday, the Florida Panthers pulled Owen Tippett out of their AHL lineup, indicating that he may be part of a trade. The Colorado Avalanche are also interested in Giroux, and at least one more club might be hiding in the wings.
What about Fleury? This summer, the Blackhawks made a handshake deal with the goalkeeper that he would only be moved if he signed off on it. They intend to keep it. This, along with a 10-team no-trade provision, gives Fleury complete control over the situation. Despite the fact that the season hasn’t gone as planned in Chicago, I’m told Fleury like the city and believes he’s been treated well by everyone in the organization. He doesn’t want to uproot his family for a few months — the kids are busy with school and sports — so he’ll only support a club that he believes has a realistic chance of winning the Cup.
The only issue? I’m not sure whether such a group exists for him. There was some early speculation about Fleury moving to Edmonton, but I don’t believe he was interested, and it seems the Oilers have decided goaltender costs are too high for them, so they’ll stay with Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith. With Robin Lehner’s injury, the Golden Knights could use a goalkeeper, but a reunion between Vegas and their Day 1 netminder doesn’t seem likely, no matter how romantic it would be. Colorado makes sense, but the Avs seem to be seeking to go all-in on other fronts.
At this moment, the most probable destination seems to be Toronto, which would have to sell itself hard to Fleury. It all depends on how desperate Toronto is.
Despite this, I believe Fleury will stay in Chicago for the remainder of the season. He hasn’t had a lengthy break in a long time. He intends to play the next season. Taking advantage of the lengthy summer to re-set could be just what the 37-year-old needs.
Which market is the most competitive?
Defensemen. Boston, Carolina, Los Angeles, New York Rangers, St. Louis, and Toronto are among the clubs looking to improve their blueline. Florida was also on that list, but it was able to fill its void by signing Ben Chiarot for an exorbitant fee. Bill Zito, the Panthers’ general manager, has been hunting for an experienced defender all season. Some may argue that Chiarot was overpaid, but I believe it was wise to have the player who helped shut down Auston Matthews in last year’s playoffs, regardless of the cost.
Because of Chiarot’s transfer to Florida, the other team’s emphasis turned elsewhere.
We know Seattle captain Mark Giordano will play, despite the fact that he recently celebrated his 1,000th game as a healthy scratch for trade protection. Even if they keep his contract, I don’t believe the Kraken expected to earn a first-round pick for the 37-year-old. Given the cost of Chariot, they should at the very least get a second-rounder and something else.
Because Jakob Chychrun’s injury isn’t as bad as first thought, he’ll still be available for Boston and Los Angeles, the two clubs with which I believe Arizona has had the most contact. I’m aware that Boston has had substantial discussions with Arizona; Fabian Lysell is a prospect in Boston’s system who the Coyotes are really interested in, but the Bruins don’t seem to want to part with their first-round selection in 2021. Carolina, I believe, at the very least, kicked Chychrun’s tires. Arizona, on the other hand, isn’t in a rush to move Chychrun if their asking price isn’t reached; the Yotes are aware that there may be a larger market this summer.
The Ducks have attempted to reach an agreement with Hampus Lindholm on a contract extension, but no progress has been made as of Thursday. They’re asking for a huge deal, and several clubs are interested, including Boston and Toronto. However, those suitors may be waiting to see if the price decreases.
Justin Braun, Calvin de Haan, Robert Hagg, Nick Leddy, and Colin Miller, on the lower tier, are all strong experienced possibilities who should find new homes before March 22. After missing 23 games due to an unknown procedure, Miller returned to the lineup barely in time to make himself eligible for the deadline. Miller will be very thrilled to get picked up by a club.
What are the most important names that you predict to be traded?
Aside from the players I’ve previously highlighted, I believe Anaheim will trade Rickard Rakell, a prospective UFA. I haven’t heard anything about Rakell’s contract negotiations progressing, and as new general manager Pat Verbeek told me earlier this month, “we can’t let someone walk out the door for free.”
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Phil Kessel may only have six goals on the season, but he’s still Phil Kessel, a skilled scorer with 96 playoff games (and 34 postseason goals) who could provide any team’s third line an added dimension. He’s been on the market for the most of the season, but no club has come close to matching Arizona’s asking price, which I think was a third-round selection. I’ve heard the Rangers are one of the clubs that has done some homework on Kessel.
Any players whose names have been circulating in the “rumor mill” who you don’t think will be dealt before Monday?
Quite a bit, in fact! Let’s start with Vancouver’s JT Miller, whose name has been trending on Twitter for months. Miller has been in such good form recently that he has effectively played himself out of a move. At this point, the asking price for Miller is so high that I can’t fathom any club really paying it. Brock Boeser’s name has likewise been surrounded by a lot of smoke. Pavel Zacha was engaged in a prospective deal that would have sent Boeser to the New Jersey Devils. Those conversations, however, were said to have broken down because neither party could make it work. Boeser is still a possibility, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Vancouver waits until the summer to make a choice.
The names of Filip Forsberg and Patrik Laine were mentioned briefly, but both players are safe bets to stay with their respective clubs (Nashville and Columbus, respectively).
Artturi Lehkonen was once one of the most talked-about players, with rumors that the dynamic forward would fetch a first-round selection. I believe he is now based in Montreal.
Alexandar Georgiev never begged the Rangers for a trade, but he made it clear that he wanted to be the No. 1 goalie, which he won’t be able to do on Broadway since he’s the same age as Igor Shesterkin. Georgiev is a restricted free agent this summer, and I don’t see him staying in New York after this season. Last week, Georgiev changed agencies and is now represented by Gerry Johannson. That might assist smooth a trade, but it seems that the Rangers would rather have Georgiev play backup for the remainder of the season (since they’d need to find a senior goalkeeper to replace him) and wait until the summer to complete the transaction.
What about a few “under-the-radar” names who may be relocated and have a significant impact?
Keep a look out for Anton Forsberg, who has been playing well in Ottawa recently. The Senators attempted to re-sign him, but I’m not sure how far they went, and I believe a few clubs feel the 29-year-old may be a steal. It’s funny since he was claimed off waivers three times last season, giving everyone a chance to snag him for free.
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I’ve been touting Hagg as a gamer and ideal stay-at-home 6th or 7th defender for a contending team. He’s a fierce competitor. He’s on a lot of teams’ lists, I’m sure.
Centers are always in demand, and the fact that Ottawa doesn’t look to be re-signing Nick Paul (who has a low budget hit of $1.35 million) means he’ll be a desirable item come Monday.
Teams that are going to be more active than you expect?
The Panthers and Avs are both known for going all out. The Rangers have a cap space of more than $30 million.
However, because this is a subject about the unexpected, I’ll introduce you to the St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings. GM Doug Armstrong of the St. Louis Rams has been claiming that he doesn’t have any cap room and that he can’t get anything done. However, based on what I’ve heard about the amount of work that group has been doing behind the scenes, it seems like they’re planning something — especially on the blueline. That’s a GM who isn’t afraid to take risks.
And what about Detroit? Outside of Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond, a few individuals have encouraged me to keep an eye on them, and there’s a sense that everyone on the roster is in play (though I have a hard time seeing them part with captain Dylan Larkin, either). “Steve Y is up to something,” a text I got from an NHL official should alert the rest of the league. Those are dangerous words.
Teams who aren’t going to be as active as you think?
Carolina. Yes, the Hurricanes are one of the greatest teams in the league, and they’ve had talks with some of the finest players available. I get the impression the Canes are happy with their current roster. They definitely want to acquire a depth defender, and they won’t have to worry about sides since their eight NHL-caliber defensemen are divided between four righties and four lefties. However, after giving up a first-round pick earlier this year in the Jesperi Kotkaniemi offer sheet, I don’t believe the Canes are eager to trade with another.
Which clubs will make the most of their cap room?
The Arizona Coyotes have been using their space throughout the season as they try to rebuild their team via the draft and development process. Don’t be surprised if the Yotes sign a dormant senior deal (like Shea Weber in Montreal) only to get under the cap.
Kevyn Adams, the general manager of the Buffalo Sabres, has made it obvious to the rest of the league that he is open for business and prepared to assist broker deals. The Sabres are seeking to sell, but they’re also eager to acquire long-term players, like as a potential partner for 2021 No. 1 pick Owen Power, who is expected to join the club after his season at Michigan ends.
In this area, keep an eye on the Blue Jackets and Red Wings.
In the Kraken’s first deadline, what can we expect from Ron Francis?
Francis has maintained a tight encirclement. A few agents and other league officials have told me that they are having trouble figuring out what the Kraken are up to. They secured a fair deal for Calle Jarnkrok, one of their expansion draft selections, and aim to trade Giordano as well. It’s anyone’s guess what happens after that. Colin Blackwell (UFA this summer), Carson Soucy (UFA in 2023) and Haydn Fleury (RFA in 2022) are all possible candidates. I wouldn’t be shocked if they weren’t, either.
What kind of pattern do you think we’ll see this trade deadline?
Teams will likely look for 2023 draft selections rather than 2022 picks. It’s a more powerful class. Because many clubs have lottery protection, this won’t be particularly significant around the trade deadline, but be aware that although Shane Wright, the consensus No. 1 selection this year, is terrific, he isn’t regarded as outstanding as 2023’s Connor Bedard or Matvei Michkov.
In the West, who will make the playoffs?
It’s the Wild, Wild West! While the East playoff scenario has been set for weeks, with the eight teams just jockeying for placement, the West is still up in the air. Vegas’ free fall seems to open the field for a few lingering clubs, including the Stars, Canucks, and Jets (I’m excluding the Ducks due to their post-All-Star slump). Vegas, along with a resurgent Dallas, will likely overcome obstacles and make the playoffs as a wild card. Then, from the Central, Colorado, St. Louis, and Minnesota, and from the Pacific, Calgary, Los Angeles, and Edmonton.
Which clubs are the most confident in their goaltending?
Both the Oilers and the Wild looked at goaltender possibilities, but I think both were put off by the costs and are staying with their current tandems. That indicates they’re no longer on the list.
Toronto has to be towards the top of the list. Petr Mrazek has had a forgettable season, while Jack Campbell has lost his way and is now out with a rib injury. The Maple Leafs’ confidence in their goaltending is based on what they know about Campbell’s injury severity. The main concern in Toronto is their defense, thus bolstering the blueline seems to be a higher priority.
However, Vegas is the solution. Their recent performance has been concerning, and injuries are mounting. The latest word around the league is that Robin Lehner (who is now dealing with a lower body issue in addition to the upper body injury that has plagued him this season) might miss the remainder of the regular season. That should be cause for concern for Vegas, which has reached the playoffs in each of its first four seasons despite seldom playing important games late in the season. Peter DeBoer stated his displeasure with Laurent Brossoit and Logan Thompson’s temporary pairing: “It was just a matter of not getting in front of enough pucks. It’s rather straightforward. I’m not an experienced goalkeeper, but you need to get in front of a few.”
You completed this little over a month ago; have your predictions for the Cup finals changed?
I’m sticking to my prediction of the Avs vs. Lightning in the Final. If I do another one of these, I’ll be able to make it a three-peat!
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