5 Early Bold Predictions for the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline
The 2023 NHL trade deadline is at 3 p.m. ET on March 3. Several notable stars who feature prominently in our January NHL Trade Block Big Board, such as Vancouver Canucks center Bo Horvat and Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun, could be playing with other clubs by then.
So far, there's only been one trade since Dec. 19. That's likely due to the high number of teams with limited salary-cap space.
As of Jan. 20, there are 23 carrying less than $4 million. Many of them are playoff contenders potentially waiting until the trade deadline approaches to accrue sufficient cap room in order to acquire the players they seek.
Activity in the trade market will resume at some point between now and March 3. Until then, fans and pundits are left to speculate where the best potential trade bait will end up.
We've decided to take a stab at it by making five bold predictions about what will happen to some noteworthy trade candidates by the deadline. Tell us what you think in the comments section below, and feel free to chime in with your own predictions.
New York Islanders Acquire Vladimir Tarasenko
New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello was shopping for scoring depth last summer. He reportedly looked into signing Johnny Gaudreau before the winger went to Columbus, was rumored to have talked with the Vancouver Canucks about J.T. Miller and had an interest in Nazem Kadri before the center signed with Calgary.
The Islanders are fighting to remain in playoff contention in the Eastern Conference. Sitting 24th overall with a 2.96 goals-per-game average, they need a top-line scorer. St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko seems like the best fit to skate alongside playmaking center Mathew Barzal. He is sidelined with an injured hand but should return to action in February.
Since 2013-14, the 31-year-old Tarasenko sits fourth among active right wingers with 254 goals, including six seasons with 30-plus. He's slated to become an unrestricted free agent and carries a $7.5 million cap hit for this season. He also has a no-trade clause but could accept a deal to the Islanders.
The Islanders have $8.6 million in projected deadline cap space to take on the remainder of Tarasenko's cap hit. They could request the Blues retain part of his cap hit in return for a high-end prospect or a first-round pick. They could also offer winger Anthony Beauvillier ($4.2 million cap hit through 2023-24) and either the prospect or draft pick.
Ottawa Senators Land Jakob Chychrun
Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun has been the subject of trade speculation stretching back to last season. A skilled puck-mover, the 24-year-old blueliner has been tearing it up since his season debut in November from offseason wrist surgery, with 23 points in 29 games. He's also signed through 2024-25 with an affordable $4.6 million cap hit.
On Jan. 12, the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reported the Ottawa Senators had an interest in Chychrun but balked at the Coyotes' asking price of two first-round picks and a high-end prospect. However, with the Senators on the brink of missing the playoffs again, management should pull the trigger for the Coyotes defenseman.
Acquiring Chychrun could provide a big boost to the Senators' blue-line depth for this season and the next two. It will also show their players and fans that management remains committed to building a winner even if the team misses the cut again this campaign.
The addition of Chychrun's salary shouldn't affect the Senators' efforts to re-sign restricted free-agent winger Alex DeBrincat this summer. As for the trade package to the Coyotes, they could offer a promising young player like Shane Pinto, 2020 first-round pick Ridly Greig and their first-round selection for 2023 or 2024.
Ryan O'Reilly to the Colorado Avalanche
St. Louis Blues captain Ryan O'Reilly began his NHL career with the Colorado Avalanche. Chosen in the second round of the 2009 draft, the skilled two-way center spent six seasons in Colorado until he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres in 2015.
Nearly eight years later, O'Reilly is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. He's sidelined with a broken foot and will be reevaluated in February. On Jan. 3, The Athletic's Jeremy Rutherford speculated that management could hope to have O'Reilly back before the deadline in order to showcase him to potential trade partners.
Should that come to pass, O'Reilly's career will come full circle as he returns to Colorado. The Avalanche needs a skilled, experienced second-line center. They have a projected $5.6 million in trade-deadline cap space to absorb the remainder of O'Reilly's $7.5 million cap hit. However, the Blues could retain some of it for the right return.
O'Reilly, 31, struggled before his recent injury with 10 goals and 16 points in 37 games this season. Nevertheless, the Avalanche will bet on him regaining his form in a second-line role. They could be willing to part with their 2024 first-rounder plus a promising young player as they attempt to defend their Stanley Cup crown.
Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews Stay with the Chicago Blackhawks
Longtime Chicago stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews have regularly surfaced in trade speculation this campaign. They're each in the final season of their identical eight-year, $84 million contracts and carry full no-movement clauses.
On Jan. 14, The Athletic's Mark Lazerus reported Chicago general manager Kyle Davidson said things have been quiet on the trade front, with some teams doing "due diligence." He expected to hold meetings with Kane and Toews within the next two or three weeks.
The outcome of those meetings should disappoint clubs interested in acquiring Kane and Toews as they announce their intention to finish this season in Chicago. While both players might find it difficult to endure the rebuilding club's on-ice struggles this season, their loyalty to the organization and the city will trump any desire to request or approve a trade.
That doesn't mean one or both won't move on in the offseason as free agents. Like Hall of Famer Mats Sundin in 2008, Kane and Toews could find the notion of being a playoff rental unacceptable. If they're to leave Chicago, they'll finish their contracts first and then consider their options.
Bo Horvat to the Carolina Hurricanes
The Carolina Hurricanes have tried Paul Stastny and Jesperi Kotkaniemi in their second-line center role this season. To become a serious Stanley Cup contender this year, they need a significant upgrade at that position. That's where Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat comes in.
A skilled two-way center on pace to reach 50 goals this season, Horvat is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. He could be moved before the deadline if he and the Canucks fail to an agreement on a contract extension. He lacks no-trade protection and carries a $5.5 million cap hit.
On Tuesday, TSN's Pierre LeBrun reported the Hurricanes were among the clubs interested in Horvat. The Canucks want a young center as part of the return, but LeBrun indicated Carolina won't part with Martin Necas.
The Hurricanes have $3.1 million in projected trade-deadline cap space. They could create space by bundling Kotkaniemi and his $4.8 million cap hit with a first-round pick and a prospect. That would satisfy Canucks president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford, who has indicated he's in the market for young players in need of a fresh start.