Next year is already underway for the 31 NHL teams that will try to unseat the 2022 Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche. The champions, and the runner-up Lightning, may wait a day or two to nurse hangovers before they ponder what comes next, but the rest of the league is already working on their plans for 2022-23.
With that in mind, here is our next trade board, ahead of the 2022 NHL Draft and the start of free agency. As much as hockey fans hope and anticipate a lot of action in and around the draft, frequently, not that much ever happens.
The only immediate pressure GMs face ahead of the draft are to complete deals involving actual draft choices.
Otherwise, they can wait until free agency comes and goes because only then will teams have a clear idea of the necessary path forward.
Still, all that notwithstanding, the trade chatter has started, and there will be teams singularly motivated to make changes to improve on last year’s results.
So, let’s look at the names of some players who could be on the move this summer.
1. Kevin Fiala, Wild
Minnesota’s financial challenges going forward have been well-documented. In 2022-23, they will carry a $12.74 million buyout charge for Ryan Suter and Zach Parise (in the next two years following, it jumps to $14.74 million). So, it’s effectively a three-year problem for GM Bill Guerin and will force him to make some sacrifices. Fiala is a restricted free agent, with arbitration rights, and so will likely command a salary higher than the Wild can afford. They also have $6 million committed to defenseman Matt Dumba, who is UFA in a year. The Wild will need to make some hard choices, operating with a de facto $70 million cap — which will oblige them to walk a tight budgetary line over the next 36 months. Watch for them to fill in with a lot of Connor Dewar-type signings (two years, $800,000 per season) and in the meantime, move on from Fiala.
Miller and Canucks captain Bo Horvat are in almost exactly the same contractual boat. Miller earns $5.25 million, heading into his final year before becoming UFA, while Horvat makes $5.5 million, heading into his final year before becoming UFA. The difference is, Horvat is the captain and considered far more likely to sign a long-term extension. Miller would be amenable to that too, but he would also likely command a significant package in a trade if an extension can’t get done. He’s been linked in the past to the Rangers, though New Jersey and the Islanders might make sense, too.
Chychrun was near or at the top of most trade boards ahead of the 2022 deadline, but Arizona’s asking price for the 24-year-old left-shot defenseman with the team-friendly contract (three more years at an AAV of $4.6 million) was too high for all would-be suitors. But in the summer, with time to get cap situations in hand, the courtship is expected to be renewed. Any number of teams (Los Angeles, St. Louis, etc.) could use a top-four presence on the left side, capable of playing a lot of minutes (Chychrun averaged 23:00 in an injury-shortened 47-game campaign for the Coyotes last year).
Barrie is an excellent power-play quarterback who usually plays protected five-on-five minutes on the third pair but can be an important offensive contributor to any team that hasn’t been satisfied with its man-advantage play. And at $4.5 million per season for the next two years, without any trade protection, Barrie would seem like the most cost-effective available player in that category, if Edmonton is confident enough in Evan Bouchard and Darnell Nurse to handle PP duties in Barrie’s place.
Petry had a tough year in Montreal, though it got better after Martin St. Louis took over as coach. Like Barrie, he is a right-shot defenseman who can anchor a team’s PP1. Petry’s 34, with three years to go on a $6.25 million contract, and has a 15-team no-trade list. Back in March, we had him going to Dallas as a possible replacement for John Klingberg, if Klingberg had been traded at the deadline (which he wasn’t). But if Klingberg moves this summer as a free agent, Petry would seem like a natural replacement.
Why would a 24-year-old player with two 41-goal seasons in the past four years be on the block? According to one NHL source, Chicago is listening on DeBrincat in the same way they were listening on Branden Hagel at the trade deadline. In other words, they were not interested in dealing the player unless the offer coming their way was too good to be true. For Hagel, they got two first-rounders and two roster players. Translation: Any team genuinely interested in adding DeBrincat (who makes a $6.4 million salary in 2022-23 and becomes RFA with arbitration rights in 2023-24) had better be prepared to step up with a significant package. Otherwise, he isn’t moving.
Karlsson has never been able to match his breakout first season with the Golden Knights, in which he scored 43 goals. Vegas eventually rewarded Karlsson with an eight-year, $47 million contract extension that began in the 2019-20 season and has five years to go at an AAV of $5.9 million. The problem is that Karlsson is basically slotted in as the No. 3 center on the team behind Jack Eichel and Chandler Stephenson and if they succeed in getting Reilly Smith to forgo free agency and re-sign with the team, something has to give. Karlsson would be a pricey add for any team and at 29, the contract probably won’t age well. On the plus side, he is a reliable two-way center and would have value to any team that’s thin down the middle. To get their payroll under control for next season, it may come down to which of Karlsson or defenseman Alec Martinez is the easiest contract to move out.
8. Samuel Girard, Avalanche
As with any team that recently won a championship, Colorado can’t keep everybody and if someone has to go, then Girard is the most logical candidate. For starters, they managed reasonably well without him when he missed 15 regular-season games and most of the last three rounds in the postseason. Bowen Byram’s emergence behind Devon Toews gives them a strong one-two punch on the left side and at $5 million per season for the next five seasons, Girard is going to be a luxury they can’t afford there. Moreover, Girard will have value on the trade market — another player who demonstrated during Cale Makar’s various absences that he can run a power play. If the Avs want to retain any of pending unrestricted free agents Darcy Kuemper, Nazem Kadri or Valeri Nichushkin, or get a head start on Nathan MacKinnon’s extension (he’s UFA in the summer of 2023), then Girard seems to be the odd man out.
9. Jesse Puljujarvi, Oilers
GM Ken Holland was quite honest when asked about Puljujarvi’s progress and future during his postseason wrapup, essentially saying he needed to sort out where and how Puljujarvi might fit with the Oilers going forward. The example everyone uses is Nichushkin — how a big power forward can flounder, as Nichushkin did earlier in his career, and then finally have everything click. Both Nichushkin and Puljujarvi returned to play in Europe one season before resuming their NHL careers and Puljujarvi was improved upon his return. But it may well be that also like Nichushkin, he needs a fresh start and a fresh opportunity elsewhere to meet his full potential.
Already this year, we’ve seen the contracts of Ben Bishop (Dallas to Buffalo) and Shea Weber (Montreal to Vegas) traded away — two players that are effectively retired, but still have their contracts on the books. In a flat-cap world, that’s only the start of a summer where moving money can be as important as acquiring viable player assets. Florida is trying to sign Claude Giroux to an extension and they’ll need someone to take Hornqvist’s contract off their hands ($5.3 million for one more year). Last year, it was Arizona they did business with (for Anton Stralman). Seattle might be another possibility.
Is Connor Brown the next Zach Hyman? Or Andrew Copp? In other words, the sort of versatile forward who can help you five-on-five, on the power play, killing penalties? He’s the classic example of a middle-of-the-lineup player who can help you in many different areas. His versatility and competitiveness are potent attractive qualities. Brown is 28, will earn $3.6 million in 2022-23 and then become UFA in the summer of 2023. The question is simply, does he have more value as a trade chip this offseason, or as a possible rental at the deadline? At that point, Ottawa might be out of playoff contention and in a position to create a bidding war for his services from teams looking for a Copp or an Artturi Lehkonen type of add.
Trying to figure out what’s next for Winnipeg is complicated by many factors, including the fact that they’re out there hunting for a new head coach after Barry Trotz turned them down. If Pierre-Luc Dubois is serious about testing free agency when eligible in the summer of 2024, he might not be the only big name exiting, given that both Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler’s contracts expire at that point too. The Jets have been forced to make big moves before by players who weren’t necessarily committed to the market (Patrik Laine, Jacob Trouba for two), and probably won’t hesitate to do so again if it becomes necessary. But they have also shown a willingness to walk players to free agency as well (Tyler Myers). In the short term, the Jets have two left-side defensemen (Dylan Samberg and Ville Heinola) that eventually are going to need to get NHL minutes. Dillon, at 31, with two years to go at $3.9 million, could be a useful add for a team looking for a player capable of playing efficient top-four minutes.
If the Penguins succeed in bringing back pending UFA Kris Letang, then Pettersson becomes a costly luxury — essentially the No. 5 defenseman behind Brian Dumoulin, Mike Matheson and John Marino, and signed for three more years at an AAV of $4.025 million. Pettersson’s average time on ice dropped to 15:39 last year, but he’s only 26, and as recently as 2019-20, averaged 19:24 for the Penguins. So, some risk, some reward attached to him. A little expensive at this price point, but someone capable of playing up the depth chart as necessary. Marino is another player who could potentially be dealt — and likely command a higher return.
14. Brock Boeser, Canucks
Boeser is 25, a restricted free agent with arbitration rights, coming off a season in which he had an AAV of $5.85 million, but earned an actual salary of $7.5 million, which is the number that Vancouver will need to use to issue him his qualifying offer. So, expensive, if it comes to that. Boeser had 46 points in 71 games and has had a number of good NHL seasons, but really no great NHL seasons. What is his true value? If the Canucks find a taker for his services, we will know soon enough.
15. Ivan Barbashev, Blues
This would be a sell-high move by the Blues, given that Barbashev had a quietly effective 60-point season, the best of his career by far, and did so with an average TOI of only 16:26 per night. He’s 26, and is signed for one more year at $2.25 million.
If Calgary can get both or either UFA Johnny Gaudreau and RFA Matthew Tkachuk to sign extensions, then they’ll need to get creative with their finances. Monahan was a good player for the Flames for a long time but has had two hip surgeries in the past two years. The last one put him on the sidelines back in early April. Monahan has only a year left at $6.375 million before becoming UFA and has a modified no-trade clause. A buyout is only possible if he passes a physical and is deemed healthy enough to play. They could also move his contract, with a sweetener attached, which would pose an interesting scenario for the acquiring team. Because if the latest surgery gives Monahan back half a step in his stride, he might have a chance to be a contributing player again. There’d be risk involved in a team acquiring Monahan, but also a possible reward as well. With all that money coming off the books in Arizona this year (Phil Kessel, Loui Eriksson, Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel, Stralman, others), there’d be room to add either a Monahan or a Karlsson.
17. Jake DeBrusk, Bruins
DeBrusk has been on practically a two-year mission to get out of Boston, but with the departure of Bruce Cassidy, may stay after all. He signed a two-year contract extension back in March with a $4 million AAV. Stay tuned.
18. Pavel Zacha, Devils
As with DeBrusk, Zacha could be looking for — and benefit from — a change of scenery. A high draft choice (sixth in 2015), who has never lived up to the billing and will forever be remembered as the player chosen just ahead of Ivan Provorov, Zach Werenski, Timo Meier and Mikko Rantanen. If the Devils and Canucks eventually do business, Zacha could be the player heading Vancouver’s way.
19. Martin Necas, Hurricanes
Carolina is delightfully unpredictable. That’s one thing we like about the Hurricanes: Not afraid to make bold moves. And listening on Necas would be bold, given his draft pedigree (12th in 2017) and the way he teases you sometimes with his offensive skills. But he has been inconsistent and at his age (23), he would command a lot of interest if the Hurricanes were to put him in play. The down side: Necas is only just coming off his entry-level contract, which slid twice, so while he’s RFA, he doesn’t have arbitration rights and is cost-controlled on a team that really values that. Could Necas and Puljujarvi be a fit in a possible swap between Edmonton and Carolina? Maybe. It looks as if the Oilers and Hurricanes have other pieces (Barrie, Ethan Bear) that also make sense in a swap.
20. Anthony Beauvillier, Islanders
Beauvillier was the 28th selection in the 2015 draft and like Zacha, hasn’t quite found an NHL level of consistency. Perhaps under Lane Lambert, he’ll find his stride. But the Islanders could be in listening mode too.
21. Tanner Pearson, Canucks
Pearson is 29, won a Stanley Cup with Los Angeles back in 2014, and is signed for a modest $3.25 million for two more years, with a modified no-trade clause. He’s the sort of player who can bounce from the third to the second line and had an OK season this past year (34 points in 68 games).
The Blue Jackets potentially are in a mood to make a splash. How big a splash remains to be seen. Ideally, they need to add size on the blue line and possibly move up in the draft from their current positions at No. 6 (from Chicago, in the Seth Jones trade) and No. 12. They have a surplus of NHL forwards, some of whom will need to be moved out to create a greater role for the prospects coming down the pipeline. Bemstrom would produce only a modest return. To make a greater impact, they’d likely have to consider anteing up an Oliver Bjorkstrand, a Gus Nyquist or a Jack Roslovic. Unlike some teams, the Blue Jackets are generally not afraid to go big in the trade market.
Depending upon how aggressively the Flyers want to approach the offseason, they’ll almost certainly need to unload money. Van Riemsdyk, at $7 million for one more year, would be the most likely candidate heading out the door. There’s been conjecture about moving on from Travis Konecny in a hockey deal but Konecny is a domino that likely won’t fall until after the annual free-agent shuffle. Calgary has long had an interest.
24. Ethan Bear, Hurricanes
Bear, acquired from Edmonton for Warren Foegele, just wasn’t a fit in Carolina, but he’s just 25, is an RFA with arbitration rights, and could be a useful third-pairing guy for any team looking for depth on the right side.
25. Jonathan Quick, Kings
Quick is interesting. He basically won back the starter’s job in LA this past season, but Cal Petersen’s contract extension that pays him like a No. 1 goalie ($5 million per season for three years) starts in the fall and will likely be given every opportunity to show that last year’s struggles (.895 save percentage, 2.89 GAA) were an aberration. Quick on the other hand is going into the final year of a contract that counts $5.8 million against the cap. If the Kings want to be aggressive in free agency or the trade market (Fiala would be a good fit there), then almost $11 million is too much to tie up in two goaltenders. Buffalo is seeking a new No. 1. Quick might be a good fit there. Or if not Buffalo, then Washington.
Gibson’s wish to stay in Anaheim has been stated for the record, but he only has limited control over that (a 10-team no-trade list). Anaheim aggressively moved out players at the deadline, but instructively, only those on expiring contracts. Gibson is signed for five more years at $6.4 million — pricey, but worth it if your evaluation is he can be a top five-to-seven goalie in the NHL again after faltering the last couple of years. With new GM Pat Verbeek in place and an operating philosophy modeled after mentor Steve Yzerman, there’s no genuine way of knowing if the trade chatter is real or imagined. It feels real. Doesn’t mean anything will necessarily come of it.
Washington is in the market for a true No. 1 after dividing the job between Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek last year. Gibson and Quick have both been previously linked to the Caps. If the Caps can pull a deal off, then Samsonov likely heads the other way.
28. Mackenzie Blackwood, Devils
See Samsonov (above). If the Devils legitimately make a deal for a more experienced starter, then it’s a signal they’re likely moving on from Blackwood, who would probably be going the other way in a potential deal.
29. Semyon Varlamov, Islanders
Varlamov is another intriguing case. Like Quick, he’s got a year left on his contract and earns too much ($5 million) to be cast as a back-up, which is what he is now, with Ilya Sorokin’s ascendancy into the starter’s job. And while he makes a good insurance policy on the Island, and had a genuine off year last year, he had a 2.04 GAA and a .929 save percentage the season before and in those two Islander runs to the Stanley Cup semi-final, won 18 playoff games. He could be the sort of short-term fix for a contender in the same way Darcy Kuemper was for the Avalanche this past year.
If the Sharks go with Adin Hill and Kaapo Kahkonen as their goalie tandem next year, then Reimer will have value to any team looking for a reliable back-up. Reimer had a .911 save percentage in 48 appearances for the Sharks last season and demonstrated he could carry a heavier workload if necessary. He’s 34 and signed for one more year at $2.25 million.
(Top photo of Kevin Fiala: Nick Wosika / USA Today)
#NHL #offseason #trade #board #players #moved #summer