B/R NHL Roundtable: Ridiculous Trade Proposals That Could Actually Work

BR NHL StaffFeatured Columnist IDecember 14, 2022

B/R NHL Roundtable: Ridiculous Trade Proposals That Could Actually Work

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    SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 07: Erik Karlsson #65 of the San Jose Sharks takes a shot against the Vancouver Canucks at SAP Center on December 07, 2022 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    NHL fans love to speculate about trades.

    What's a better way to kill time than to think of deals to make your favorite team better? Whether it's finding a missing piece in your top-six forwards or the extra defenseman who'll put you over the top, armchair GMs have their ideas to improve their squads.

    Guess what? We here at Bleacher Report also love trades, and in this week's B/R NHL Staff Roundtable, we're looking at ridiculous trades that could actually work. At first glance, you might cringe, but when you think about it, they make total sense for both parties.

    We're sort of expecting you to comment on this one, and we're all for it. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section of the app.

Erik Karlsson to the Maple Leafs

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    TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 30: Erik Karlsson #65 of the San Jose Sharks skates against Mitchell Marner #16 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during the third period at the Scotiabank Arena on November 30, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)
    Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

    Following the Nov. 15 general managers meeting, San Jose Sharks GM Mike Grier told reporters he's willing to entertain trade offers for Erik Karlsson. The 32-year-old Swede is enjoying his best season in years, leading all defensemen with 37 points in 30 games.

    Grier's comments ensured Karlsson would become the subject of speculation by NHL pundits such as the Toronto Star's Nick Kypreos. He wondered if the Maple Leafs could get the Sharks to retain part of Karlsson's $11.5 million cap hit, take on Jake Muzzin's contract and build a deal around Leafs prospect Matthew Knies.

    At first glance, there appear to be too many factors that would sink Kypreos' trade suggestion.

    Assuming the Sharks retain half of Karlsson's cap hit, it would still be a hefty $5.8 million annually through 2026-27. He also has a full no-movement clause and might not be keen to go to Toronto given the nine seasons he played for the rival Ottawa Senators.

    Muzzin is sidelined indefinitely with a cervical spine injury and has another season left on his contract with an annual cap hit of $5.6 million. As for Knies, the Leafs could be reluctant to part with their top prospect.

    However, the Leafs are in win-now mode, and general manager Kyle Dubas has a flair for creative moves. Witness his three-team deal at the 2021 trade deadline that brought Nick Foligno to Toronto. He could try to spread out Karlsson's cap hit by getting a third team involved.

    Dubas might be willing to part with Knies for an impact defenseman, especially one with more than a year remaining on his contract.

    Trading Karlsson would signal Grier's intent to rebuild. It would shed a big chunk of Karlsson's contract from San Jose's payroll. If Muzzin's career is over, his cap hit will remain on long-term injured reserve and give the Sharks additional cap room. Acquiring Knies, meanwhile, would bolster their prospect pipeline.

    — Lyle Richardson

J.T. Miller to the Devils

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    NEWARK, NJ - OCTOBER 19:  Mackenzie Blackwood #29 of the New Jersey Devils tends the net as J.T. Miller #9 of the Vancouver Canucks sets a screen at the Prudential Center on October 19, 2019 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
    Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images

    The Vancouver Canucks had one of the biggest offseason decisions. The team was clearly headed for a rebuild. The 29-year-old J.T. Miller, coming off a 99-point season, was set to reach free agency in 2023. Would the Canucks extend him or trade him?

    They elected to re-sign him to a seven-year contract worth $56 million. Miller is playing appropriately, but the Canucks are floundering. They rank 11th in the Western Conference, and The Athletic projects them to have a less than 20 percent chance to make the playoffs.

    This is a team that needs to strip it bare—Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson aside—and start over. Miller's new contract doesn't even take effect until next season. Yet general manager Jim Rutherford may already have buyer's remorse.

    The New Jersey Devils are one of the best teams in the NHL, if not the best. But as the league gears up for the playoffs, they will almost certainly wish to make multiple additions prior to the March 3 trade deadline.

    The Devils have a brilliant one-two combo at center in Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier. While head coach Lindy Ruff has a bevy of quality wingers available up and down the depth chart, only Jesper Bratt qualifies as a true difference-maker. This roster is in need of a standout talent on the wing, particularly on the left side.

    So why not J.T. Miller? The Devils would need to move some money to make it work, but that's going to be the case no matter what type of trade they attempt.

    That's a good starting point for figuring out a return for Miller. The Devils waived winger Andreas Johnsson to start the season. His $3.4 million cap hit is dead weight. The Canucks would happily take him on as a cost of business given that his contract expires at the end of the campaign.

    From there, New Jersey will need to give up a combination of future assets. At least one will have to be a matured young player or prospect. Perhaps fitting the bill is 2022 second-round pick Seamus Casey. The offensive defenseman is thriving in his freshman season at Michigan, with 16 points in 20 games.

    While his loss wouldn't be painless, the Devils are already booked on defense long-term once top prospects Šimon Nemec and Luke Hughes join the ranks. The Canucks, meanwhile, are desperate for any capable defensemen.

    Finally, draft-pick compensation is inevitable. The 2023 first-round pick is a lock. Let's add a conditional 2024 second-round pick that turns into a first-round pick if the Devils make the Stanley Cup Final this season.

    Full trade: Vancouver sends J.T. Miller to New Jersey in return for Andreas Johnsson, Seamus Casey, a 2023 first-round pick, and a conditional 2024 second-round pick.

    — Adam Herman

Bo Horvat to the Red Wings

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    VANCOUVER, CANADA - DECEMBER 10: Bo Horvat #53 of the Vancouver Canucks steps onto the ice during their NHL game against the Minnesota Wild at Rogers Arena December 10, 2022 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)
    Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

    Bo Horvat is so hot right now. Is he, or isn't he going to re-sign with Vancouver? Who knows?! All we do know is he won't discuss it for the rest of the season, which leads to wild speculation. So let's help that out by plotting a course for him to join the Detroit Red Wings.

    The Red Wings are on the precipice of breaking out and returning to the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2016, and their group of young forwards and defensemen are growing together through it all. But a look at their roster shows they're not quite there, and having Horvat join Dylan Larkin up the middle would make their top two lines a lot nastier.

    But Vancouver isn't just going to let him go for nothing. Fortunately, the Red Wings and GM Steve Yzerman have built up their system and array of draft picks greatly since he took over in 2019. You have to give to get, and if the Canucks are going to trade their captain, they're committing to an actual honest-to-goodness rebuild.

    Vancouver has a handful of aging defensemen and not a lot to write home about in the prospect pipeline. Detroit has bruising Swedish defenseman—and the No. 6 pick in the 2021 draft—Simon Edvinsson as its No. 1 prospect. He'd join the NHL immediately in Vancouver should the organization bring him in.

    A package that starts with Edvinsson and 22-year-old forward Jonatan Berggren would give the Canucks two hot prospects, and adding Michael Rasmussen, Detroit's No. 2 center, to the deal would help divvy up cap-hit costs and give Vancouver another young player who's already in the NHL to build with.

    Detroit isn't eager to make a monster deal involving top prospects, and Vancouver isn't eager to move on from Horvat, making this a highly unlikely proposal that everyone will hate. It's perfect!

    — Joe Yerdon

Jonathan Toews to the Oilers

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    CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - NOVEMBER 30: Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks reaches for the puck ahead of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins #93 of the Edmonton Oilers in the first period at United Center on November 30, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images)
    Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images

    It wouldn't be difficult to find an Edmonton fan willing to sign off on Jonathan Toews.

    After all, he's captained three Stanley Cup-winning teams while filling a personal trophy case with a Conn Smythe, a Selke, and a Mark Messier leadership award. And he's scored 14 points in his first 25 games this season—which, if he maintained pace, would yield his highest goal total (25) since 2018-19.

    So, the prospect of bolstering the third line with a player of that caliber—on a team that was just four wins from the Cup Final last summer—is a heady one.

    Then there's the paycheck. And that's when things go sideways.

    Toews is in the final season of an eight-year, $84 million deal that he signed in 2014 and carries a 2022-23 cap hit of $10.5 million. Lest anyone forget, the Oilers are among the league's most cap-confounded teams, with barely enough room to accommodate a borderline NHLer, let alone a future Hall of Famer.

    But that's why we're here, right? To make the ridiculous seem, well…less ridiculous.

    With that as a prompt, how about Toews heading to Alberta as part of a three-team deal in which the Blackhawks get enigmatic forward Jesse Puljujärvi and—as a bonus for retaining a slice of Toews' salary—Edmonton's first-round pick from the 2022 draft (Reid Schaefer) and 2020 pick Carter Savoie?

    And in order to accommodate the remaining cash on the books, we'll place a call to GM Bill Armstrong at Mullett Arena and offer Edmonton's first-round pick in the 2023 draft to the Arizona Coyotes.

    Put it all together and the Oilers get a Cup-credentialed center who'll add defensive responsibility and crunch-time street cred to the top nine; Chicago gets two blue-chip prospects and the 2016 No. 4 overall pick eager for a change of scenery; and the Coyotes get another premium building block for the future.

    Game. Set. Match. And don't worry, Ken Holland, you don't even have to thank me.

    Just send over a Cup ring, and we'll call it even.

    — Lyle Fitzsimmons