5 NHL Trades That Could Happen Before 2022 Training Camp
NHL training camps for the 2022-23 season open for the 32 teams on Sept. 21 and 22. Their respective general managers and coaches will be evaluating their rosters looking for areas of strength and weakness as they prepare for the start of the regular season in October.
Several teams sitting above the $82.5 million salary cap for the coming season will also be looking to shed salaries. They can remain over the cap by 10 percent during training camp and preseason but must be cap compliant when their respective regular-season schedules begin next month.
Some teams, such as the Toronto Maple Leafs, must get under the cap once they've signed all their remaining restricted free agents. Others, like the New York Rangers, could be looking to move out a player for other reasons.
Here are five NHL trades that could occur before training camp opens later this week based on recent trade rumors. Feel free to express your thoughts on this topic in the comments section below.
Dallas Stars Might Attempt to Move Anton Khudobin
Two years ago, Anton Khudobin had a new three-year contract in hand after backstopping the Dallas Stars to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final. Perhaps before the start of training camp or the start of the coming season, he could be playing for a different team.
The Stars are hoping to get Jason Robertson under contract when training camp opens next week. The 23-year-old winger is a restricted free agent who is coming off a career-best performance of 41 goals and 79 points. He'll be seeking a significant pay raise coming off his entry-level contract.
Matthew DeFranks of The Dallas Morning News speculated on Sept. 13 that Robertson could get a three or four-year deal worth an annual salary-cap hit of $7 million. With $6.3 million in cap space, the Stars could be forced to make a cost-cutting trade to accommodate Robertson's new contract.
DeFranks suggested Khudobin or Radek Faksa as trade options. While the 36-year-old goaltender is returning from offseason hip surgery, he could draw interest from clubs looking for experienced and affordable goaltending depth. He's signed to the end of this season with an average annual value of $3.3 million.
Edmonton Oilers Could Trade Jesse Puljujarvi
Jesse Puljujarvi avoided arbitration with the Edmonton Oilers by signing a one-year, $3 million contract on July 26. Nevertheless, the 24-year-old winger remains the subject of frequent trade speculation. The Oilers must shed salary to make room for a new contract for restricted free agent Ryan McLeod.
Chosen fourth overall by the Oilers in the 2016 NHL draft, Puljujarvi has struggled to meet expectations as a scorer. He's totaled just 46 goals and 98 points in 259 regular-season games and five points in 20 playoff contests.
On Sept. 8, The Athletic's Daniel Nugent-Bowman reported Puljujarvi, winger Warren Foegele and defenseman Tyson Barrie were considered to be trade options. Four days later, TSN's Ryan Rishaug tweeted the Oilers continued to pursue all trade options for Puljujarvi to clear some cap space.
Puljujarvi could be enticing to some teams as a potential reclamation project. His cap hit might prove difficult to move given most clubs have limited cap room but there could be someone willing to take the chance.
Montreal Canadiens Could Shop A Forward For A Defenseman
The Montreal Canadiens have had a busy offseason. Their notable moves included shipping Shea Weber to the Vegas Golden Knights for Evgeni Dadonov, trading two draft picks to the Chicago Blackhawks for Kirby Dach, dealing Alexander Romanov to the New York Islanders for a 2022 first-rounder, and sending Jeff Petry to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Mike Matheson.
General manager Kent Hughes might not be done dealing. On July 29, Montreal Hockey Now's Marco D'Amico cited Hughes expressed a desire to add a right-shot defenseman. Habs executive VP Jeff Gorton also pointed out that his club carries 15 to 16 forwards.
On Sept. 6, D'Amico reported sources claimed Canadiens forwards Christian Dvorak, Mike Hoffman and Joel Armia were receiving some interest in the trade market. Given their depth on the wing, he speculated Hoffman or Armia could become a trade candidate. Hoffman carries an average annual value of $4.5 million while Armia's is $3.4 million.
The Canadiens also sit at $10.2 million above the $82.5 million salary cap but can do so with goaltender Carey Price placed on long-term injury reserve for the coming season. Still, they could be seeking a dollar-in, dollar-out deal to shore up their right side depth.
New York Rangers Trying to Trade Nils Lundkvist
On Sept. 1, the New York Post's Larry Brooks reported the Rangers were attempting to trade Nils Lundkvist. The 22-year-old defenseman is threatening not to report to training camp if he's not moved. He's fallen down their depth chart behind fellow right-side blueliners Adam Fox, Jacob Trouba and Braden Schneider.
This situation is somewhat similar to Vitali Kravtsov refusing to report to the Rangers' AHL affiliate last fall and demanding a trade. The winger was subsequently loaned to KHL team Traktor Chelyabinsk for the season. When a trade failed to materialize, Kravtsov signed a one-year contract with the Rangers and is back trying to garner a roster spot.
Brooks reports Lundkvist wants to play for an NHL club where he'll have a better opportunity to earn top-four minutes and power-play time. On Sept. 16, TSN cited USA Today's Vince Z. Mercogliano reporting the blueliner's agent confirmed they've requested a trade and his client won't be reporting to camp.
Perhaps the Montreal Canadiens will be a trade partner. Montreal Hockey Now's Marco D'Amico reported on Sept. 2 that the Habs were in the market for a right-side defenseman and had previously expressed an interest in some of the Rangers' top prospects.
Toronto Maple Leafs Could Peddle Justin Holl
The Toronto Maple Leafs approach training camp with Rasmus Sandin still unsigned. If they get the 22-year-old defenseman inked to a new contract before or during training camp, they'll have to clear some cap space for him. They currently sit above the $82.5 million cap by $1.5 million.
The Athletic's Jonas Siegel observed on Sept. 8 that defenseman Justin Holl and center Alex Kerfoot have been mentioned as trade candidates. Kerfoot carries a $3.5 million salary-cap hit for the coming season while Holl's is $2 million.
Kerfoot seems like a viable trade option given the Leafs' offseason signing of center Calle Järnkrok and their recent signing of Zach Aston-Reese to a professional tryout offer. However, the Toronto Sun's Terry Koshan believes if the Leafs were going to trade the 28-year-old Kerfoot they would've done it by now.
Siegel felt that Holl is the more likely to be moved. The 30-year-old defenseman has a 10-team no-trade clause that could complicate things. Nevertheless, his affordable cap hit could make him attractive to teams seeking a right-shot blueliner.
Salary info (as of Sept. 18, 2022) via Cap Friendly.