Way Too Early NHL Trade Block Big Board for the 2022-23 Season
Now that the 2022 Stanley Cup Final is over, fans and pundits will shift their attention toward the NHL's offseason business. The 2022 draft will be held on July 7 and 8 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, followed by the start of free agency at noon ET on July 13.
Trades have also resumed among non-playoff clubs and those eliminated over the course of the postseason. On June 10, the Dallas Stars shipped the contract of goaltender Ben Bishop and a seventh-round pick to the Buffalo Sabres for future considerations. Six days later, the Montreal Canadiens traded the contract of Shea Weber to the Vegas Golden Knights for winger Evgenii Dadonov.
We can expect activity in the trade market to increase through the draft and leading up to the start of free agency. It will drop off as teams put the bulk of their available cap dollars toward signing free agents.
Once the regular season begins, the trade market will grow quiet as most teams will have limited cap space to invest in adding players. Most teams will hang on to their trade candidates in hope of improving their value leading up to the trade deadline. As the schedule progresses, we can expect activity to slowly increase, building up the usual frenzy of player moves by deadline day.
Which players could become trade candidates over the course of 2022-23 leading up to the deadline?
Most could be those in the final year of their contract eligible for unrestricted free agency next July. They include such notables such as Chicago Blackhawks forwards Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
We'll take our best guess in our way-too-early 2022-23 NHL trade block big board. Feel free to express your views on this topic in the comments section below.
The Selection Process
This list comprises 20 names in no particular order based on players eligible to become unrestricted free agents in 2023. Those players tend to get moved over the course of a season if they and their current teams are unable to reach agreement on new contracts before the trade deadline.
The top 10 are chosen and ranked based on level of talent, potential trade value and the likelihood they'll be moved between the start of the 2022-23 season and the trade deadline usually held in late February. The actual date has yet to be determined by league schedulers.
Our initial listing is as follows:
Evgenii Dadonov, Montreal Canadiens
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks
Sean Monahan, Calgary Flames
J.T. Miller, Vancouver Canucks
Tyler Bertuzzi, Detroit Red Wings
Jonathan Drouin, Montreal Canadiens
James van Riemsdyk, Philadelphia Flyers
Connor Brown, Ottawa Senators
Gustav Nyquist, Columbus Blue Jackets
Shayne Gostisbehere, Arizona Coyotes
Carson Soucy, Seattle Kraken
Jake Allen, Montreal Canadiens
Kevin Shattenkirk, Anaheim Ducks
Semyon Varlamov, New York Islanders
Kyle Okposo, Buffalo Sabres
Jason Zucker, Pittsburgh Penguins
Joonas Donskoi, Seattle Kraken
Max Pacioretty, Vegas Golden Knights
Damon Severson, New Jersey Devils
10. Gustav Nyquist, Columbus Blue Jackets
Gustav Nyquist had a solid bounce-back performance in 2021-22 after missing all of the previous season to shoulder surgery. The 32-year-old forward finished fourth among Columbus Blue Jackets scorers with 53 points.
Nyquist has one season remaining on his contract with a $5.5 million annual cap hit. He also lacks a no-trade clause, making him a potential trade chip for the Jackets before next season's trade deadline.
A versatile forward who can play center or either wing, Nyquist has been a reliable second-line forward with the Red Wings, San Jose Sharks, and Blue Jackets over his previous 10 NHL seasons. He's reached or exceeded 40 points in each of the last eight seasons.
The Jackets have been rebuilding their roster over the past two seasons. If they fall out of the postseason chase in 2022-23, Nyquist could be peddled to playoff contenders for a draft pick and/or a prospect.
9. Jonathan Drouin, Montreal Canadiens
With the Montreal Canadiens rebuilding, players such as defenseman Jeff Petry and winger Josh Anderson have surfaced on Daily Faceoff's list of possible trade targets. With both under contract beyond next season, however, the Canadiens could retain them if they fail to find suitable trade offers.
Jonathan Drouin, however, seems a more likely trade candidate during the course of the 2022-23 season. He has only a year remaining on his contract with a $5.5 million cap hit and a three-team no-trade list.
Drouin has had to deal with heightened expectations since the Canadiens acquired him from the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2017. He put up 46 points in his first season in Montreal and 53 in his second, but injuries and anxiety issues sidelined him for lengthy periods and hampered his effectiveness.
Eligible for UFA status next summer, a healthy and productive performance by Drouin will improve his free-agent value. It could also bolster his stock in the trade market if he and management fail to reach an agreement on a contract extension. He could draw attention from clubs in the market for a playmaking winger.
8. Shayne Gostisbehere, Arizona Coyotes
Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun has been a fixture in NHL trade rumors since midway through the 2021-22 season. He could be a hot topic for media trade chatter through next season if the Coyotes don't move him this summer.
However, there's another Coyotes defenseman who could draw his fair share of interest in next season's trade market. Acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers last summer, Shayne Gostisbehere rediscovered his scoring form in Arizona. The 29-year-old had 14 goals and 51 points to finish fourth on a Coyotes team with a league-worst 2.51 goals-per-game average.
Gostisbehere is entering the final season of his six-year contract with an annual cap hit of $4.5 million. However, he's slated to earn $3.3 million in actual salary, of which $2.3 million will be paid by the Coyotes as a signing bonus on July 1.
A reasonable salary-cap hit combined with $1 million in actual salary will make Gostisbehere an enticing trade target if the Coyotes decide to shop him this season. Another 50-point performance will only boost his stock among clubs in the market for a skilled puck-moving defenseman.
7. Semyon Varlamov, New York Islanders
A topic of trade speculation during this season, Semyon Varlamov could resurface in the rumor mill in 2022-23. With one season remaining on his contract, the New York Islanders might use him as a trade chip if they are out of the postseason hunt by the trade deadline.
Varlamov, 34, has formed a solid goaltending tandem for the Islanders alongside Ilya Sorokin. He took on more of a backup role during 2021-22, and his numbers suffered somewhat, as he sported a 2.91 goals-against average and .911 save percentage. However, he's only a year removed from a sparkling 2.04 GAA and .929 SP with seven shutouts.
Teams in the market for an experienced goaltender to shore up their depth between the pipes will consider Varlamov an attractive trade target. He has a $5 million annual cap hit but will earn $4 million in actual salary for 2022-23.
Varlamov's 16-team no-trade list could complicate things, giving him considerable influence over possible destinations. Still, there could be a club not on his list willing to make use of his services at some point before the trade deadline.
6. James Van Riemsdyk, Philadelphia Flyers
The Philadelphia Flyers' recent hiring of John Tortorella as head coach signals management's hope of retooling its roster rather than rebuilding. However, if they're out of playoff contention again by next season's trade deadline, they could ship out some pending free agents for draft picks and prospects.
James van Riemsdyk could be a leading candidate if he's not moved during the offseason. The 33-year-old left winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July. He carries a $7 million annual cap hit for 2022-23 but will be earning $4 million in actual salary once the Flyers pay his signing bonus. The 6'3”, 208-pounder also lacks no-trade protection.
Entering the final season of his contract, van Riemsdyk's best seasons appear to be behind him. Nevertheless, he tallied 24 goals and 38 points in 82 games last season, marking the seventh time in his 13 NHL seasons he's netted 20-plus goals. He also did this on a team whose 2.56 goals-per-game average was the league's second-worst.
Playoff contenders seeking a big-bodied forward who can generate traffic and scoring chances around an opponent's net could be interested in van Riemsdyk. It might take until later in the season to find a trade partner unless the Flyers take back a comparable salary, retain part of his cap hit or add a sweetener like a draft pick or prospect into the deal.
5. Tyler Bertuzzi, Detroit Red Wings
Tyler Bertuzzi has spent his entire six-year NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings. The 27-year-old winger becomes eligible next summer for unrestricted free-agent status. If the Wings haven't shown any progress in their rebuilding process, he could decide to test the market next summer.
General manager Steve Yzerman could attempt to sign Bertuzzi to a contract extension this summer. If there's any indication the winger could be looking ahead to signing elsewhere, he could attempt a trade during the season if he doesn't ship him out during the offseason.
After missing most of the previous season to a back injury, Bertuzzi enjoyed a career-best performance in 2021-22. Tallying 30 goals and 62 points in 68 games, he finished second among Red Wing scorers. Another healthy season could boost his stats higher, bolstering his stock in next summer's free-agent market, as well as improving his trade value.
Bertuzzi also carries an affordable $4.8 million cap hit for 2022-23 and lacks no-trade protection. His youth and improving production would make him an attractive trade target for clubs seeking a scoring winger for the playoffs.
4. Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks
One of the greatest players in Chicago Blackhawks history, Jonathan Toews could be nearing the end of his tenure with the storied franchise. The 34-year-old center and team captain will be in the final season of his eight-year contract in 2022-23. With the Blackhawks' glory days behind them and new management engaged in rebuilding the roster, he could become a trade candidate.
The last two seasons have been difficult for Toews. He missed all of the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season with chronic immune response syndrome. The Blackhawks captain struggled through the worst performance of his career in 2021-22, managing just 37 points in 71 games.
Age and the rigors of Toews' two-way style through 14 NHL seasons and three Stanley Cups could also be taking their toll. With a $10.5 million cap hit for 2022-23 and a full no-movement clause, he appears to be a fading star with a big contract that could prove challenging to trade.
Toews has a well-earned reputation for leadership and a strong work ethic. A bounce-back effort in 2022-23 will improve his trade value among postseason contenders seeking a two-way center with championship experience. His hefty cap hit could delay a possible trade until deadline day when clubs will have accrued sufficient cap room to acquire him.
3. Max Pacioretty, Vegas Golden Knights
After missing the 2022 playoffs, the Vegas Golden Knights will attempt to shrug off that failure and return to the postseason in 2023. However, they could become a seller at the trade deadline if they're out of contention again. In that case, Max Pacioretty could become their best chip to acquire future assets such as draft picks and prospects.
Injuries limited Pacioretty in 2021-22 to just 39 games and were a contributing factor in the Golden Knights missing the playoffs. Nevertheless, he still tallied 19 goals and 37 points. The 33-year-old winger will be entering the final season of his contract, carrying a $7 million annual salary-cap hit with a 10-team no-trade list.
Injuries have dogged Pacioretty in recent years. Nevertheless, he's been a consistent scoring force, netting 20 or more goals eight times since 2011-12. The 6'2”, 217 winger also has solid stats with the Golden Knights in their past three postseasons, scoring a total of 15 goals and 30 points in 36 playoff games.
That level of production and experience will make Pacioretty an attractive target if the Golden Knights put him on the trade block. His modified no-trade clause will also give him control over potential trade destinations.
2. J.T. Miller, Vancouver Canucks
A fixture in the 2021-22 trade rumor mill, Vancouver Canucks center J.T. Miller is also among Daily Faceoff's list of offseason trade targets. His unrestricted free-agent eligibility next summer is the prime reason. Entering the final year of his contract with an affordable $5.3 million cap hit, he could prove too expensive for the Canucks to retain beyond 2022-23.
Miller, 29, has become a late-blooming NHL scoring star during his three seasons thus far with the Canucks. He netted 72 points in 69 games in 2019-20 before COVID-19 prematurely ended the regular season. The two-way center followed up with 46 points in 53 games during last season's COVID-shortened schedule, then cruised to a career-best 99-point performance in 2021-22.
The Canucks can sign Miller to a contract extension when the free-agent market opens on July 13. However, if his asking price proves too high for too long, they could be forced to shop him, perhaps as early as this summer.
Assuming the Canucks keep Miller for the coming season, he could get shopped if they're out of playoff contention as the trade deadline nears. Another stellar performance on his part will draw plenty of suitors. Given his lack of no-trade protection, the Canucks will have a broad number of potential trade partners to choose from.
1. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
The Chicago Blackhawks are engaged in a long-overdue roster rebuild that could take some time to complete. Whether Patrick Kane will be part of that process beyond 2022-23 remains to be seen. With his contract expiring next summer, he could become an invaluable trade chip for the Blackhawks leading up to the trade deadline.
Kane, 33, remains among the NHL's elite players. He led the Blackhawks in 2021-22 with 92 points in 78 games to finish 15th among the league's leading scorers. What's more impressive is he accomplished that feat on a team whose goals-per-game (2.60) ranked 29th overall.
Playoff contenders seeking an elite-level scorer will have interest in a future Hall of Famer like Kane, especially if he maintains his usual point-per-game level of production. His postseason experience (including three Stanley Cup championships and a Conn Smythe Trophy) and leadership would make him an invaluable addition to any roster.
Kane has a year left on his contract with a $10.5 million cap hit, though his actual salary will be $2.9 million after the Blackhawks pay his $4 million signing bonus on July 1. He has a full no-movement clause but could waive it if the Blackhawks get a bid from a contender. Interested clubs could wait until the trade deadline as most of his cap hit will be paid out by then.