The top-20 NHL trade targets headed into the 2023 deadline

The top-20 NHL trade targets headed into the 2023 deadline

The 2023 NHL trade deadline is fast approaching and many of the top players on the market have already been moved.

Friday, March 3 at 3 p.m. ET marks the end of the NHL trade deadline, one of the busiest times of the hockey calendar. The weekend has come and gone, with quite a number of trades already in the pipe after a busy few days of deals. These last few days alone saw Patrick Kane, Timo Meier, Nino Niederreiter, and Ivan Barbashev change teams as the mad rush to the finish line draws near.

Of course, there are still a lot of big names out there that are waiting to be dealt by Friday’s deadline. Expect quite a bit of noise as the week progresses and teams start to hammer out trades. With that being said, who are the biggest names that have garnered the most chatter headed into the 2023 NHL trade deadline? Let’s take a look!

Cap hit: $4.6 million

Years: Two

The Kings are the frontrunners for Jakob Chychrun after nearly coming together on a deal in mid-February. Of course, things can still change as the deadline approaches, but Los Angeles seems to be in the driver’s seat on acquiring the 24-year-old defenseman. While Chychrun’s health has been a concern, there’s always a market for young, offensive-driving blue liners this time of year.

Plus, Chychrun is on an affordable deal that has two more years remaining after this season ends. Even if buying in on Chychrun now doesn’t help a team win a Stanley Cup this season, he’s a great piece to build upon given his current contract status.

Cap hit: $10.5 million

Years: UFA

The Blackhawks are set to continue the teardown of their core with their biggest departure yet: Patrick Kane. With 16 goals and 45 points in 54 games, Kane has been the talk of the town in the NHL as contenders look to make a play for the big-time point producer. Kane’s cap hit will likely be a deterrent for some, but Chicago has more than enough room to retain salary on his $10.5 million cap hit.

Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Kane’s history, which has soured any joy over a possible acquisition in the eyes of many hockey fans. In 2015, Kane was accused of sexual assault, though he ultimately did not face criminal charges.

Update: The Blackhawks traded Kane to the Rangers on February 28.

Cap hit: $2.8 million

Years: UFA

While stay-at-home defensemen don’t always get the big spotlight during the trade deadline, Vladislav Gavrikov is as steady as they come on the back end. As the Blue Jackets’ second-leading time on ice leader, Gavrikov can absorb big minutes and hold down the fort well as part of a team’s top four. For a contending team looking to add at the deadline, you can hardly go wrong with a solid defensive defenseman.

The Blue Jackets asking price for Gavrikov — who is in his prime at age 27 — is a first rounder plus more, which isn’t cheap. Especially since Gavrikov is set to be a free agent in the summer. Still, if you’re in the market for high quality defensemen, it is the price you have to pay.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Cap hit: $6.65 million

Years: Two

Players with longer term contracts are much harder to sell at the trade deadline unless their salary cap hit is affordable. Unfortunately for Brock Boeser, his cap hit is a bit harder to swallow compared to someone like Chychrun, but a deal could definitely still be made. Boeser out of Vancouver is likely to garner a lot of interest, as he’s a proven 20-goal, 45-point player that could slide into a team’s top-six easily.

With Vancouver likely trying to sell as many assets as possible ahead of a long rebuild, Boeser feels like a prime candidate to move out if a team comes calling.

Cap hit: $7 million

Years: UFA

Hefty cap hit aside, John Klingberg is a player many NHL teams likely have their eye on as the deadline approaches. With 23 points in 49 games, Klingberg is a good depth add who can soak up at least 20 minutes a night as well. Klingberg’s bounced around since leaving Dallas in free agency last year, and any team that acquires him at the deadline likely sees him as just a rental given his UFA status this summer.

While Klingberg’s recent numbers haven’t impressed, he could very well rebound once he’s not on one of the NHL’s worst teams this year. Klingberg likely will have to be sheltered a bit alongside a more defensive defenseman so he can reach his full potential, but he would make a solid add for a team looking for some offense on the back end.

Cap hit: $11.5 million

Years: Four

Erik Karlsson carries the biggest contract baggage on this list by far. But, if he’s back to his Norris-winning self, Karlsson would be worth the cost and then some for a contender. Karlsson has rebounded in a big way in 2022-23, with 18 goals and 76 points in 58 games. And that’s on a dismal Sharks team to boot.

The biggest hiccup in acquiring Karlsson is definitely his contract, as the Sharks will no doubt have to retain some of his salary for a team to bite. That being said, Karlsson is an offensive game-changer on the back end for any contending team and would net quite the haul for San Jose as well.

Cap hit: $850,000

Years: UFA

Luke Schenn just doesn’t fit the Canucks current rebuild timeline and is highly likely to get moved before Friday. Schenn’s affordable contract — the smallest on this list — plus his UFA status headed into the summer is quite the appealing package for a NHL general manager. Not only that, Schenn has won a Stanley Cup as well, meaning his experience will likely be invaluable to a team looking to go all the way.

As a veteran defenseman who eats up minutes and has a bit of an offensive side, Schenn will likely garner a second to fourth round pick from any potential suitor at the deadline.

Update: The Canucks traded Schenn to the Maple Leafs on February 28.

Hearing #Leafs have acquired Luke Schenn from #Canucks.@DailyFaceoff

— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) February 28, 2023

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Cap hit: $7 million

Years: UFA

At this point, you know what you’re getting with James van Riemsdyk. The Flyers forward is a streaky point scorer (nine goals and 23 points in 39 games played) but is effective at camping out at the front of the net and getting those greasy goals. With scoring often hard to come by in the playoffs, it only makes sense that teams would look for a player that grinds out goals like van Riemsdyk does.

Seven million is a lot to pay for a middle-six forward with touch-and-go scoring, but the Flyers very well could retain salary to soften the deal. As an upcoming free agent, van Riemsdyk is an attractive rental piece for any team looking to beef up their offense.

Cap hit: $3 million

Years: UFA

Surprising nearly everyone, Max Domi is the Blackhawks leading scorer as the trade deadline approaches. With 18 goals and 47 points in 58 games, Domi has made himself into a nice trade chip for Chicago to move for a fair asset or two. With a low cap hit and an expiring contract, teams looking for scoring depth might not find a better fit than Domi as long as his 13.3 shooting percentage continues into the playoffs.

Cap hit: $4.5 million

Years: UFA

There were some concerns about Shayne Gostisbehere’s health headed into the trade deadline, but thankfully the Coyotes’ offensive defenseman made it back into Arizona’s lineup. Given the Coyotes are once again sellers at the trade deadline, Gostisbehere is a prime piece to ship out to a contending team looking for offense on the back end. With 30 points in 51 games played this year, Gostisbehere is an effective puck mover and scorer on the blue line who can also work wonders on the power play as well.

Cap hit: $4 million

Years: Two

Jake McCabe is in the next tier of defensemen available at this trade deadline, but is still a solid option for a contender looking to shore up their blue line. On a poor Blackhawks team, McCabe has done well to handle big minutes and tough assignments while being a factor on Chicago’s penalty kill as well. McCabe might not be the flashiest in terms of points — 20 in 55 games — but the veteran gets the job done well and could fit a contending team’s bottom four depending on the price.

Update: The Blackhawks traded McCabe to the Maple Leafs on February 27.

We’ve acquired Jake McCabe, Sam Lafferty, a conditional 5th round pick in 2024 and a conditional 5th round pick in 2025 from Chicago in exchange for a conditional 2025 1st round pick, 2026 2nd round pick, Joey Anderson and Pavel Gogolev

— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) February 27, 2023

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Cap hit: $3 million

Years: UFA

It’s a shame things haven’t really worked out for Jesse Puljujarvi with the Oilers. While Puljujarvi hasn’t lived up to his sky-high expectations of being the No. 4 overall pick in 2016, it’s hard to call him cooked quite yet at age 24. The Oilers aren’t going to be sellers at the trade deadline by a long shot, but Puljujarvi is likely a piece to be moved out if Edmonton is looking at taking a run at a bigger name. A change of scenery will likely do Puljujarvi some good, as he’s posted 51 goals and 112 points in 316 career games played with Edmonton.

Update: The Oilers traded Puljujarvi to the Hurricanes on February 28.

Hearing that Carolina is acquiring Jesse Puljujarvi from the Oilers@TSNHockey @TheAthleticNHL

— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) February 28, 2023

Cap hit: $6 million

Years: UFA

Veteran defensemen are always a coveted resource at the trade deadline and Matt Dumba fits that definition to a T. The 28-year-old has been with the Wild for all 10 years of his career and while he hasn’t performed at his best this year, Dumba still has value as an offensive defenseman. With his $6 million cap hit and a contract that expires at the end of the season, the Wild could very well flip Dumba for cap space at the deadline if they decide to make a bigger move given where they are in the standings.

Cap hit: $6.25 million

Years: Three

Changes are coming to Nashville with the news that Barry Trotz is set to succeed David Poile as general manager this summer. It feels like the Predators are set to turn over a new leaf and begin a much-needed rebuilding process with Trotz at the helm, and Ekholm would be a good player to ship out for future assets and draft picks. As an offensive defenseman, Ekholm would fetch a good price on the market to a team looking for blue line help, though he likely wouldn’t come cheap. Still, as a real solid top-four defenseman, you can bet NHL teams will be looking Ekholm’s way at the deadline.

Update: The Predators traded Ekholm to the Oilers on February 28.

It’s Ekholm and a sixth to EDM

To NASH it’s Tyson Barrie, Reid Schaefer, a first this year and a fourth.

— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) February 28, 2023

Cap hit: $2.25 million

Years: UFA

James Reimer is the only goaltender to make this list due to the thin netminder market this deadline. On a sketchy Sharks team, Reimer has an .895 save percentage in 30 games played. So-so numbers, but this season would be the first time Reimer has posted below a .900 save percentage in his 13-year NHL career. It doesn’t seem like goaltenders are going to be in high demand at this trade deadline, but Reimer is a solid option for a team looking for backup netminding depth for a long playoff run.

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Cap hit: $1.15 million

Years: One

The Blackhawks are well on their way to trading Sam Lafferty it seems, as the 27-year-old has been held out of Chicago’s lineup for trade-related reasons. With 10 goals and 21 points in 51 games, Lafferty is having himself quite the season and has put himself on the trade block because of it. For a depth forward with some scoring upside, Lafferty would be a solid addition to a team’s bottom-six.

Update: The Blackhawks traded Lafferty to the Maple Leafs on February 27.

We’ve acquired Jake McCabe, Sam Lafferty, a conditional 5th round pick in 2024 and a conditional 5th round pick in 2025 from Chicago in exchange for a conditional 2025 1st round pick, 2026 2nd round pick, Joey Anderson and Pavel Gogolev

— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) February 27, 2023

Cap hit: $6.375 million

Years: UFA

Sean Monahan has not played a game since December 5, but is still a likely trade target for teams ahead of the deadline. Before his injury, Monahan was playing quite well on the Canadiens, with six goals and 17 points in 25 games. Teams would likely be taking a bit of a risk on Monahan given he might not play at the same pace he once did before injury, but if he returns to form he makes for a really good bottom-six piece on a top team.

Cap hit: $5.825 million

Years: One

With 19 goals and 33 points in 57 games this year, Adam Henrique is another depth option for teams looking for offense at the trade deadline. What’s really impressive is that Henrique has put up these numbers on a dismal Ducks team looking to sell off what it can by week’s end. While Henrique might get passed over by some teams due to his contract that goes until the end of the 2023-24 season, the Ducks could easily retain salary to sweeten the pot on a deal with a contender.

Cap hit: $4.75 million

Years: UFA

The Red Wings have a decision to make with Tyler Bertuzzi. Do they flip the 28-year-old forward (three goals and 13 points in 27 games) for assets at the deadline or do they keep him to try and push for a playoff spot? Detroit’s playoff odds are quite low heading into the home stretch of the season, so reason dictates trading Bertuzzi for a draft pick or two and regrouping in the offseason. Steve Yzerman is one of the smartest general managers in the NHL, after all, so we’ll see if Bertuzzi moves by Friday afternoon.

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Cap hit: $3.5 million

Years: UFA

Rounding out this list is Lars Eller of the floundering Capitals. Washington has already started to sell ahead of the trade deadline, giving the impression that the team is out on trying to make the playoffs this year. Eller has seven goals and 16 points in 60 games and is on an expiring contract, making him a cheap rental for a team looking for depth in their bottom six.

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