5 Bold Trade Predictions Ahead of the 2022-23 NHL Season
While we wait for NHL prospects' games to be played and for training camp to open, we've all got a lot of idle time, and idle time for the hockey fan means scheming up ideas for trades.
Everyone loves to play armchair general manager for their favorite team and come up with their favorite totally-not-at-all lopsided trade ideas that instantly make their team the winner and the other team look like they traded Filip Forsberg for Martin Erat. And you know what? We're not any different.
Trades and trade ideas are the fuel that makes the internet run. It's the rocket fuel that sends comment sections on blogs soaring out of the galaxy and into the realm of the galaxy-brained. We love the proposed trades, we hate that the person that came up with the latest one dared put it online, and we love to hate all of it.
That's why we've put together a few ideas for trades that, on paper or in video game form, would be fascinating to see happen. Sure, it would be easy to just come up with wild stuff like Connor McDavid for a bunch of draft picks and then have all of you throw your computer or phone in the garbage in disgust. Instead, we came up with these ideas that might make you do the same thing, just not quite as fast.
You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll yell at me online for putting these ideas into the ether, but most of all you can't wait to see what's next.
Blackhawks Send Toews Home to Jets for Dubois
It's no secret that the good times are over in Chicago. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, free agents after the 2022-23 season, are more likely than not to be traded, so if you're going to trade Toews, sending the Winnipeg native home would make sense.
The Jets have had an offseason filled with rumors of angst within the locker room. Players are frustrated at missing the playoffs, and forward Pierre-Luc Dubois went so far as to go to Montreal during the NHL draft this summer, anticipating a trade to the Canadiens going down during the event. You swap the two players, and it makes sense for both teams, although Chicago might want a little extra.
Winnipeg's 2017 first-round pick Kristian Vesalainen is set to play in Sweden after up-and-down times with the Jets. He was a restricted free agent this summer and was qualified by the team, but most times when something like this happens, if or when that player comes back to the NHL, it's usually with another team. Perhaps a new situation would do him well. With Chicago in full rebuild mode, playing time would be easy to get.
Toews' production was down last season, as he put up a career-low 37 points. He's 34, and there's always the possibility he hangs it up after this season. Chicago is getting the better player right now in Dubois, so a swap of picks by round gives the Jets an actual second-round pick and Chicago moves one of its two seconds to add a third third-round pick.
Blackhawks Trade Kane to Maple Leafs
As we mentioned regarding Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane is likely going to wind up somewhere else before the season is over. We also know the Toronto Maple Leafs are this close to desperate to win a Stanley Cup. They're closer than they've been in some time, and they're perpetually one piece away. So, if you have Auston Matthews on the roster and you can score a ton of goals, why not score a ton more and have Matthews play with one of the best American players in NHL history?
The main problem here is the money. Kane has a $10.5 million cap hit, and the Maple Leafs are currently a bit over the cap, so making sure the money balances out or comes as close as possible is needed. With that in mind and knowing full well that younger players are needed for Chicago to be good with a deal, let's give this a go.
Alexander Kerfoot ($3.5 million cap hit), T.J. Brodie ($5 million) and former Blackhawk David Kämpf ($1.5 million) can make this potentially doable. Their combined cap hits are $10 million, which puts it a half million off Kane's cap number. Nick Abruzzese, at 23 and essentially already developed through college, can play in the NHL immediately. Dmitry Ovchinnikov has been playing in Russia since he was drafted in 2020, and smaller-sized skilled wingers seem to do well in Chicago.
Ian Mitchell gives Toronto a little extra depth on its blue line. Kerfoot and Kämpf are both UFAs after this season, and Brodie has another year after this one, so Chicago's current commitments wouldn't be too heavy. But Toronto would land the Buffalo native in Kane and add a guy who's been there and won it all a few times before.
Rangers Send Kakko, Lundkvist to Calgary for Hanifin
One of the biggest issues with the New York Rangers is how loosely they play defense. Goalie Igor Shesterkin is perpetually under fire, and it showed in the Eastern Conference playoffs how much that can wear on even the Vezina Trophy winner. Their defensive depth is not ideal, particularly for a team that was so close to the Stanley Cup Final last year, and now according to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, they are looking to move prospect defenseman Nils Lundkvist, who is frustrated with his lack of role. That's a problem.
The Rangers need to not just improve their defense but also trade one of their best–yet still unproven at the NHL level–defensive prospects. This is where adding Kaapo Kakko would help the cause. Kakko would get a change of scenery with the Calgary Flames, who, while they've done outstanding to make up for losing Johnny Gaudreau in free agency and trading Matthew Tkachuk, could still use some juice up front on offense.
The Flames have a lot of depth on defense, and while Noah Hanifin is one of their top-four defensemen, the addition of Lundkvist would more than soften that blow. Calgary could then slide Juuso Välimäki up the depth chart and try to replicate the puck-control and puck-moving ability Hanifin provides.
Moving Kakko and Lundkvist to acquire a solid puck-possession player such as Hanifin would deepen their top four on the blue line in a big way. Having Hanifin join the likes of Adam Fox, Jacob Trouba, K'Andre Miller and Ryan Lindgren would give New York a dynamite defense corps that would lessen the stress on Shesterkin. That alone makes pulling off a deal worthwhile.
Golden Knights Add Nedeljkovic from Red Wings
Vegas should be worried about its goaltending after double hip surgery will cause Robin Lehner to miss the entire season. The Knights acquired depth goalies Adin Hill from San Jose and Michael Hutchinson as a free agent. Those two go along with Logan Thompson and Laurent Brossoit. That's a lot of goalies, and the one with the most experience in the NHL is Hutchinson, and he's presumed to play in the AHL with Henderson. Vegas will be desperate to return to the playoffs after missing for the first time in franchise history last season, and Detroit has a viable option in Alex Nedeljkovic.
Nedeljkovic is in the final year of his contract with Detroit, and the Red Wings signed Ville Husso to a three-year, $14.25 million contract this summer. Detroit also has 2021 first-round pick Sebastian Cossa in the pipeline to be the eventual No. 1 goalie. He's 19 years old, so it'll be two or three years before that could happen.
With Ned on an expiring contract with a $3 million cap hit, it's a digestible deal for the cap-strapped Golden Knights. That contract status and Husso's presence on a new contract eliminates some of the leverage to really hold Vegas' feet to the fire. That would mean first-round picks are off the table, which is a good thing because Vegas doesn't need to cough up any more of those. A second-round pick is a great idea; however, Vegas doesn't have one in the draft next summer. Let's make it next year's second-round pick and give Detroit a capable goalie to back up Husso.
Canadiens Send Allen to Avalanche for Francouz
All right, so this one lacks the pizazz of our other deals, but hear us out and climb down the rabbit hole with us.
After the Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup, it became clear immediately that goalie Darcy Kuemper was going to sign elsewhere in free agency, meaning the defending champs were going to head into the season with a new No. 1 and a lot more questions. They landed Alexandar Georgiev from the Rangers to be that guy, but it didn't exactly make the picture any less foggy. Georgiev has shown flashes of brilliance with the Rangers but lacked consistency.
Pavel Francouz was Kuemper's backup last season and very well might be the backup again to Georgiev. He's played well in limited action, making him the ideal guy to be a backup, but it also hasn't afforded him a real opportunity to be the No. 1. A trade with the Canadiens for Jake Allen would settle a lot of issues.
Allen has been a No. 1 in the past and can still play well between the pipes and is set to be Montréal's starter this season. Montréal is also set on paper to not be very good this season. Allen would provide a veteran safety net for Georgiev and someone who can step in and keep things steady in case of injury or less-than-average play.