Every NHL Team's Best Bargaining Chip to Use at the Trade DeadlineJanuary 27, 2023
Every NHL Team's Best Bargaining Chip to Use at the Trade Deadline
Whether your favorite NHL team is a Stanley Cup contender, a fringe playoff club or a rebuilding bottom-feeder, you can be sure its general manager is working the phones in advance of the NHL trade deadline.
Most teams will make some sort of a deal between now and the March 3 trade deadline, and they all have a player or prospect who is going to be their best asset to dangle.
For contenders, it will be a top prospect or young NHL player. For the rebuilding teams or teams looking ahead to next season, it will be veterans who might be in the final year of a contract.
No matter the situation, let's take a look at every team's top trade chip ahead of the NHL trade deadline.
Anaheim Ducks: Adam Henrique
Pending unrestricted free agent John Klingberg is the player most likely to be dealt out of Anaheim . But how good of a trade chip is he going to be? Every team in the NHL had a chance to sign him in free agency and passed on it until the Ducksagreed to a one-year, $7 million deal, and Klingberg has followed that up with a very down year.
The Ducks should get something for him, but it won't be a ton.
And they certainly are not going to trade young core players like Trevor Zegras or Troy Terry.
That means a veteran like Adam Henrique might be the best asset they could dangle. Henrique still has term beyond this season on his contract, which carries a reasonable $5.825 million cap hit, and he is still very productive. Over the past two years he has scored 29 goals per 82 games, he plays a premium position and he might even have more to give with better offensive players around him.
The Ducks are not going anywhere this season, and Henrique probably does not fit into the team's long-term outlook beyond next season. This might be a good team to cash in and get something back.
Arizona Coyotes: Jakob Chychrun
The Coyotes figure to be big-time sellers, and they have a few intriguing pieces. Shayne Gostisbehere seemed like the most likely trade candidate, but his recent injury might hurt that cause with him potentially not back before the deadline.
Even if he does move, the best trade chip here has been—and will continue to be—fellow defenseman Jakob Chychrun.
Chychrun has been mentioned in trade rumors and speculation for more than a year now, and it only seems to be a matter of when, not if, he gets moved.
He is a very good player, but maybe a little overrated based on that big season a couple of years ago when he scored 18 goals in 56 games. Still, he is 24 years old, he has the size NHL GMs love in a defenseman and he also has the benefit of having a wildly team-friendly contract with a $4.6 million cap hit for another two full seasons.
Arizona could easily get a first-round pick, a top prospect and maybe another asset for him. That sort of return could really help the rebuild.
Boston Bruins: Fabian Lysell
The Bruins are the NHL's best team, and they should absolutely be buyers. Not only because they look like legit Stanley Cup contenders, but there is no telling what their future will look like after this season with Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and David Pastrnak all playing on expiring contracts.
Will Pastrnak re-sign? Will Bergeron and Krejci play another year? Who knows!? So you better try to win now while you have the chance.
The Bruins are one of the teams considered likely to be in on Vancouver Canucks forward Bo Horvat, and he will not come cheaply. The Bruins farm system is not particularly deep, but 2021 first-rounder Fabian Lysell should be a very attractive target for a rebuilding team.
And the Bruins should not hesitate to pay that price if it can get them a difference-maker.
Lysell is a good prospect, but he is not so good that it will hurt the inevitable rebuild that has to come in a few years. Banners hang forever. Try everything you can to win them when the opportunity is there.
Buffalo Sabres: Victor Olofsson
The Buffalo Sabres are one of the more interesting teams to watch at the trade deadline.
They are a joy to watch play because of their offense, and they have taken a massive leap forward to jump right into playoff contention in the Eastern Conference, knocking on the door of ending a decade-plus playoff drought.
But they are also far from a postseason lock, so they might not want to dive head-first into the buyer's pool. They should not deal any of their key young players, and trading their first-round pick could be risky because the playoffs are not a lock.
Veteran forward Victor Olofsson, signed through next season at $4.75 million, could help them boost their defense or add some better forward depth to their middle-six lines.
Olofsson is great on the power play, but he struggles 5-on-5 and is a luxury Buffalo might not need. He would be a great player to put on the market and see what he can bring back.
Calgary Flames: Jakob Pelletier
The Calgary Flames need another goal scorer, and they might need to part with a key prospect to get one.
Jakob Pelletier is one of those top prospects and recently made his NHL debut.
He was the Flames' first-round pick in 2019 and has spent the past couple of years dominating in the American Hockey League. Given that performance, the Flames might be wise to give him a bigger look in the NHL, but he could also be an attractive trade chip to land them a more proven scorer.
The Flames should still fancy themselves as contenders given their roster, and with the right move (not to mention a bounce-back from Jonathan Huberdeau and Jacob Markström) could still be a force in the Western Conference playoffs.
Carolina Hurricanes: Seth Jarvis
When the Carolina Hurricanes acquired Max Pacioretty this past offseason, he was supposed to be a key part of a contending roster and maybe the final piece of a Stanley Cup-winning puzzle.
But injuries have completely sabotaged his season, and it has created another big need for the Hurricanes.
That is the bad news.
The good news is that Pacioretty's injury gives them a ton of salary-cap flexibility to add another significant piece before the trade deadline.
If they decide to go that route, Seth Jarvis might be a trade chip. That might seem like a surprise since he figures to be such a big part of their future, but the Hurricanes have some big contract decisions to make in the coming years with Jarvis, Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teräväinen among several key players up for renewals in the next two years.
Chicago Blackhawks: Patrick Kane
Even if they will not publicly admit it, the Chicago Blackhawks have one objective this season: Finish as poorly as possible to best position themselves to land Connor Bedard.
They already kick-started that rebuild this offseason by dumping Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome and Dominik Kubalik. That process should continue with pending free agents Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Max Domi.
Kane will bring back the most value because he still has the ability to be an impact scorer on the wing. Especially on a team where he can be more of a complementary piece at this stage of his career.
It will be hard for the Blackhawks to trade core players who were such a big part of three Stanley Cup-winning teams, but Kane and Toews are shells of what they were in their prime years and should not be a part of the next chapter of Blackhawks hockey.
It is time.
Kane will have control over where he goes, but the Blackhawks should still be able to get a deal similar to the first-round pick and a prospect Philadelphia got a year ago for Claude Giroux.
Colorado Avalanche: Alex Newhook
The Colorado Avalanche have two primary needs.
They need to get healthy, and they need a better No. 2 center to help fill the void left by Nazem Kadri in free agency.
Alex Newhook could help them acquire such a player. He is 21 years old and still on his entry-level contract—he's set for restricted free agency this summer—and even though he has not yet established himself as a top-line player, he has shown flashes of success in the NHL.
Entering play on Friday, Newhook has 24 goals and 55 total points in 123 career regular-season games.
If the Avalanche can get a bona fide second-line center to play behind Nathan MacKinnon, the desire to retain a promising young player like Newhook should not stand in the way of such a deal.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Vladislav Gavrikov
After a dream offseason that saw them land Johnny Gaudreau, the 2022-23 season has turned into a nightmare for the Columbus Blue Jackets. They have one of the league's worst records and have seen their lineup sabotaged by significant injuries.
They are going to be sellers, and Vladislav Gavrikov is by far their best chip.
In recent years, we have seen players like David Savard and Ben Chiarot go for first-round picks, and Gavrikov is arguably better than both of them. Especially when it comes to his ability to help generate offense.
Dallas Stars: Mavrik Bourque
The Dallas Stars have pretty much every ingredient you could hope for in a Stanley Cup contender.
An elite top line? That box is checked with Jason Robertson, Joe Pavelski, and Roope Hintz,
A top-tier defenseman? Say hello to Miro Heiskanen.
A franchise goalie that can steal games and mask flaws? Jake Oettinger has that covered.
They just need a little help in the depth department to push them over the top. And given how wide open the Western Conference is this season there is no prospect in the farm system that should be off the table if they can land a difference-maker (like, say, a Bo Horvat).
The Stars have prospects to deal, and Mavrik Bourque is at the top of that list.
Bourque is currently playing in his first year of pro hockey with seven goals and 13 assists in his first 37 games in the American Hockey League. He has top-line potential and should interest any rebuilding team that has something the Stars would want.
Detroit Red Wings: Olli Määttä
It looks like the Detroit Red Wings are going to have to wait at least another year to end their playoff drought, and they should be sellers once again.
Their two biggest pending free agents are Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi. But they should be doing everything in their power to re-sign Larkin, while Bertuzzi has been limited this season by injury and has not produced at his normal level.
Offseason pickup Olli Määttä might be an attractive target for teams. He has Stanley Cup pedigree on his resume, has an expiring $2.3 million cap hit, is very capable in his own end and plays a valuable position on defense.
Defensemen can have big price tags at the trade deadline, and Määttä might return more than you think.
Edmonton Oilers: Jesse Puljujärvi
At this point, a trade is probably the best for both Puljujärvi and the Oilers.
Even though Puljujärvi has 10 points in 48 games this season and has largely failed to justify his status as the 2016 fourth overall draft pick, NHL teams should still have hopes that a change of scenery can improve things for him.
Edmonton might have better prospects in its farm system, as well as its own first-round pick, but general manager Ken Holland once again seems reluctant to deal from that cupboard.
That could seriously limit the Oilers' trade options.
Dealing Puljujärvi might not only give everybody the fresh start they need, it might bring back something that can help Edmonton this season and in the playoffs.
Florida Panthers: Sam Reinhart
The Florida Panthers are going to be a fascinating team to watch over the next month.
They have been one of the biggest disappointments in the NHL this season and are not even a lock to make the playoffs after winning the Presidents' Trophy a year ago. Are they going to sell? Are they going to buy in a desperate effort to get back in the playoffs?
Complicating things is the fact that they have a mess of a salary-cap situation and almost no wiggle room to work with, especially with the return of Anthony Duclair and some of their injured players.
Somebody has to go.
Reinhart has one year remaining on his current deal with a $6.5 million salary-cap hit, and a trade involving him could help solve a lot of problems.
Not only would it clear some much needed cap space, it also might help them bring in some defensive help.
They should consider it.
Los Angeles Kings: Alex Turcotte
The Los Angeles Kings have two things going for them right now.
They have a good team that is very close to contending for a championship with one or two tweaks needed, and they still have a pretty deep farm system.
They should utilize the latter to help fix the former.
Los Angeles is not going to trade players like Quinton Byfield or Arthur Kaliyev, but Alex Turcotte could be dangled for some much-needed goaltending help. His career has not really taken off as hoped after being a top-five pick, but he is also not worth giving up on.
He could benefit from a fresh start in a different organization that can give him a better opportunity right now.
Minnesota Wild: Matt Dumba
Matt Dumba can still help the Minnesota Wild right now, but they have to be realistic about things.
He is a pending unrestricted free agent after this season, and there is virtually no chance they can afford to re-sign him with more than $14 million in dead money going to the buyouts for Zach Parise and Ryan Suter over the next two years.
So, why not see if you can get something back? Especially when Dumba is not going to be the difference between being a Stanley Cup contender and not.
The Wild still have a very good chance to be a playoff team, but they are probably not one of the league's top tier contenders. Strategically selling might be the ticket here.
Montreal Canadiens: Sean Monahan
The Montreal Canadiens took a nice gamble on a Sean Monahan bounce-back before the season, and he has provided one. It has been enough to make him an attractive trade chip at the deadline for a team in need of some additional forward depth.
The Canadiens should be happy to oblige.
Monahan is a pending unrestricted free agent, and given the current nature of Montreal's rebuild there really should not be any need to re-sign him.
Monahan has been sidelined since early December due to injury, but he was off to a strong start with six goals and 17 total points in 25 games. If he can get back on the ice and have a good showing before the deadline, he could bring back a nice pick or prospect for the Canadiens' rebuild.
Nashville Predators: Mattias Ekholm
The Predators need to make a decision on their future, because this is team has reached its ceiling as a good but not great team.
The middle is never a good place to be. It might be time to start selling off pieces and going through an actual rebuild.
That could start with a Mattias Ekholm trade, and it might bring them back a substantial return.
Ekholm is in the first year of a four-year, $25 million contract and he is still a very capable top-pairing NHL defenseman. His age (32) might be a little bit of a concern for some teams, but he still plays at a high enough level that teams in need of defensive help should be willing to take on that contract and pay the price to acquire him.
He is still a good possession-driver, defends well and can chip in enough offense to be a threat during 5-on-5 play. The Predators do not have a lot of great trade chips to bring in a big return, but Ekholm is one they should definitely explore.
New Jersey Devils: Alexander Holtz
The New Jersey Devils have been the biggest surprise in the NHL this season, making the gigantic leap from Metropolitan Division bottom-feeder to bona fide Stanley Cup contender.
Having a couple of young studs like Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt all come into their own at the same time certainly helps.
Now they just need a little something to help get them over the top.
Any trade offers they make might start with Alexander Holtz. While he has not yet made a huge impact at the NHL level, he has been a point-per-game player in the American Hockey League the past two years.
If the Devils want to land somebody like Bo Horvat to help balance out their lineup, they are going to have to give up something of value. Holtz might be a good piece to start with.
New York Islanders: Semyon Varlamov
It is becoming increasingly clear that the New York Islanders' problems went far deeper than Barry Trotz.
They need help in a lot of areas, and it looks like they will fall short of the playoffs for the second year in a row.
The one strength they have had in recent years has been the goaltending duo of Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov, who have done a masterful job masking a lot of the Islanders' flaws.
But with Sorokin locked in as the franchise goalie for the foreseeable future and Varlamov a pending unrestricted free agent after this season, the Islanders should tap into that depth and try to bring in something—whether a prospect, a young NHL player or a draft pick—that can help them add more offense to a lineup that desperately needs it.
New York Rangers: Vitali Kravtsov
The New York Rangers have done a lot of things very well in recent years, but developing their young forwards has not been high on that list.
Nobody is a better example of that struggle than Vitali Kravtsov.
Everything about his situation just screams "trade bait."
Even though things have not worked out well for him with the Rangers, rebuilding NHL teams should be willing to roll the dice on his potential. There is a high boom-or-bust factor, but that boom could be game-changing for somebody.
The Rangers need to improve their 5-on-5 depth (much like they did a year ago), and if they are not going to let Kravtsov shine on Broadway, he should be the asset at the top of their trade board.
Ottawa Senators: Cam Talbot
The Senators had one of the busiest offseason in the NHL, adding Alex DeBrincat, Claude Girouox and Cam Talbot to their roster in the hopes of jumpstarting their rebuild and closing the gap on the playoff teams in the Eastern Conference.
That has not necessarily happened.
The Senators built a great top six at forward, but their lack of depth and flaws on defense have seen them remain stagnant in their rebuild.
They seem to be well beyond the point of tearing the roster down in a fire sale, but they should still be sellers at the deadline.
Talbot, a pending unrestricted free agent, might be enticing to teams looking to improve their goaltending depth (Los Angeles? Pittsburgh? Buffalo? Vegas?). He probably won't bring back much more than a second- or third-round pick, but that would be a fine asset for the Senators to acquire in another lost season without breaking up any of their promising young core.
Philadelphia Flyers: Travis Konecny
The Philadelphia Flyers seem to be in denial about where they are as an organization. Everything about their roster and play on the ice indicates that they need a significant retool. But nothing in the way they operate suggests they realize that.
They have committed big money to veteran players, brought in John Tortorella to coach the team and the front office still talks like they want to win.
But the winning is not there.
Pending unrestricted free agent James van Riemsdyk seems like a strong candidate to go, but the Flyers should go well beyond that.
Trading Travis Konecny would definitely signal the start of a rebuild, but that is probably what this team needs. Not only that, he would bring back a significant return.
He still has two more full seasons remaining on his contract after this season at a very manageable $5.5 million salary cap hit. That contract combined with his point-per-game production would make him an impact player on any contender.
At his best he is probably a 25-goal, 60-point player over 82 games. That is a very good first-line player but not somebody a rebuilding team is going to start its franchise with.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Pierre-Olivier Joseph
The Pittsburgh Penguins should probably give Pierre-Olivier Joseph more ice time instead of trading him, but they also need a lot of help with their current roster.
Making matters worse, their farm system is pretty barren and they do not have a lot of attractive trade chips to help add that depth they need.
As much as they should want to have Joseph be a part of their future, he might be the most attractive trade option they have.
The Penguins' biggest need is more depth scoring, especially when it comes to a third-line center. The Penguins should not deal Joseph for a rental, but if there is an opportunity to get a player with term remaining on their contract, he might be the guy they have to start with to get a deal made.
San Jose Sharks: Erik Karlsson
There is perhaps no team in the NHL that could do more to alter its long-term outlook at the trade deadline than the San Jose Sharks.
They have two of the biggest potential trade chips in the league in forward Timo Meier and defenseman Erik Karlsson.
Meier, a pending restricted free agent with a $10 million qualifying offer looming this summer, would seem to be the most likely player to go. But that potential qualifying offer and unsettled contract situation might reduce his return in a trade.
Karlsson, on the other hand, could bring back a king's ransom in assets.
Even though that trade would not be easy given Karlsson's price tag and his no-trade clause, he has reestablished himself as one of the league's best players and is having a historically great season for a defenseman.
He is also at a point in his career where he is going to want to add to his legacy with a Stanley Cup, and that is probably not going to happen for him in San Jose. If he OKs a deal, the Sharks could bring back a major haul of picks and prospects to get their inevitable rebuild started off right.
Seattle Kraken: Their 1st-Round Pick
The Seattle Kraken are a playoff team, and they might be an under-the-radar Stanley Cup contender. But they are also a second-year franchise still trying to build something long-term.
That puts them in a very unique situation of potentially wanting to add something to help without sacrificing too much long-term.
That makes the Kraken's first-round pick the best trade asset at their disposal.
Given where Seattle is in the standings, that pick is likely to fall anywhere between 17 and 32, and probably somewhere in the 20s. That will have value to a rebuilding team hoping to stockpile picks, but a player picked in that range likely only has a 50-50 shot to be an NHL regular and probably less than a 15 percent chance of being a star.
Seattle should be aggressively shopping that pick over any prospect for immediate short-term help.
St. Louis Blues: Vladimir Tarasenko
The St. Louis Blues have rapidly regressed and are now in position to be a significant seller.
The playoffs are slipping away, while Ryan O'Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko are both pending unrestricted free agents. They have dealt with recent injuries, but Tarasenko returned to the lineup on Tuesday, and O'Reilly should be back before the deadline. Both could bring back first-round picks in trades.
O'Reilly should be the more attractive player as a center who can play a lockdown game defensively, but he has had a down year by his standards. Tarasenko, though, is still a top-line scorer with 29 points in his first 35 games this season. That is a 67-point pace over 82 games.
Injuries have been a concern for him in recent years, but he came back strong a year ago and has still performed at a high level thisseason. As a rental, there is little risk, and he could be a top-line scorer on almost any playoff team.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Isaac Howard
If recent history is any indicator, the Tampa Bay Lightning are going to make a significant addition at the NHL trade deadline. It is what they do, no matter what their roster looks like or what their salary-cap situation is.
They always find a way.
They are not afraid to deal future first-round draft picks or prospects.
When it comes to the latter, Isaac Howard is at the top of their list. He was the Lightning's first-round pick (No. 31 overall) in 2022 and is currently in his freshman year at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
The Lightning are set for top-line players, but they always seem to have something cooking for depth. Especially if they have term remaining on their contract at a cheap cap price (Blake Coleman, Barclay Goodrow and Brandon Hagel all being recent deadline additions).
The Lightning still have a chance to go to a fourth consecutive Stanley Cup Final, and no prospect will make them think twice about adding somebody to help them get there.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Matthew Knies
No team is under more pressure to win this season than the Toronto Maple Leafs.
They once again have a great regular-season team, their superstars are performing and they are trying to erase the bad taste of six consecutive first-round exits.
They do not have a ton of holes, but the pressure to win could put them into a major buyer mode, especially in a playoff bracket that would have to see them get through Tampa Bay and Boston in the first two rounds.
Matthew Knies is the top prospect in the Maple Leafs' system, and they might be willing to deal him for the right player.
Could they be after a player like Jakob Chychrun to help bolster an already strong defense? Or maybe another impact forward like Patrick Kane, Travis Konecny or Ryan O'Reilly to help add depth and balance at the forward lines?
Knies has been a point-per-game player throughout his first two years at the University of Minnesota.
Vancouver Canucks: Bo Horvat
The Vancouver Canucks are a total mess, and there is no telling what president of hokcey operations Jim Rutherford and general manager Patrik Allvin will do to try to fix it.
The recent re-signing of Andre Kuzmenko makes it seem even more certain that Bo Horvat is going to be traded, especially given the team's salary-cap situation.
Horvat will be the top player available at the deadline when it comes to potential rentals, and every playoff team in the league should want to add him.
He has already scored 30 goals for the second year in a row and is currently on pace for 52 goals this season. Yeah, a small shooting-percentage spike has helped push him to that level, but he has blossomed into a great top-line player.
Any deal should start with a first-round pick, a good prospect and go from there. Anything less than that would be a nightmare for the Canucks.
Vegas Golden Knights: Lukas Cormier
The Vegas Golden Knights have never met a blockbuster trade they did not love. They adore big names, trades and free-agent signings, and they should again be in the market for some additional help now that they are back near the top of the Western Conference.
The Knights do not have a great farm system, but some of their young players could help land additional help.
Lukas Cormier is a very intriguing defense prospect and is having a great debut season in the American Hockey League, already tallying 22 points in 37 games for the Henderson Silver Knights.
Washington Capitals: Anthony Mantha
The Anthony Mantha-Jakub Vrana trade from a couple of years ago is the rare blockbuster trade that looked like a potential win for everybody at the time but has in fact turned into a loss for everybody.
Mantha seems to be running out of time with the Capitals. He has found himself as a healthy scratch this season and has not played the way anybody hoped he would when he was acquired.
He is still a very good player and has a ton of attributes NHL teams should love. He drives possession, has great size, can play a physical game and has shown 25-goal ability in the past.
It just has not clicked in Washington, and his salary-cap space could be put to better use.
Winnipeg Jets: Chaz Lucius
Everything is working for the Winnipeg Jets this season, and it has put them back in a playoff position in the Western Conference.
Connor Hellebuyck is stealing games in goal, Josh Morrissey is having a Norris-caliber season on defense and their top-line forwards are excelling.
They could still use some depth across the board to really make some noise in the playoffs.
Cole Perfetti is probably their best young player, but it would be a shock if they decided to trade him. Chaz Lucius, the Jets' first-round pick from 2021, might be next on the list in terms of trade bait. He has played at both the WHL and AHL level this season and has potential first-line talent.
The Jets should not just give him away or trade him for the sake of making a move, but adding a player like Jakob Chychrun would be worth considering, even if it does mean giving up Lucas, as it not only helps in the short-term, but in the long-term as well.