8 NHL Players Who Would Be Revitalized with a Trade in 2022

Franklin Steele@SteeleOnIceFeatured Columnist IIIJanuary 19, 2022

8 NHL Players Who Would Be Revitalized with a Trade in 2022

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    The new year supposedly ushers in new beginnings. It's an opportunity to cut ties with everything that you didn't like about the 365 days prior and begin anew. Of course, simply making a resolution won't change anything; one has to put in the work to see the desired change.

    Yet there's still a feeling of renewal that comes with tearing down the old calendar and replacing it with a new one. With this in mind, which NHL players could be revitalized by a trade in 2022? Much in the same way some of us could be recharged by a change of scenery, be it on the home front, in the office or elsewhere.

    It's easy to forget sometimes that hockey players are people first. Fans see the names and numbers night in and night out and occasionally fail to remember the human aspect of the game. Locker rooms are essentially their office cubicles, with the head coaches representing their version of bosses. 

    Periodically, it's simply best for all parties concerned to part ways. It doesn't mean that there was never anything positive there. Just that it's time for a new chapter. And blank pages aren't any more plentiful than they are at the start of a new year.

    As such, we're going to look around the league and find a handful of skaters who could see their respective games brought back to life by trades to different cities and teams.

Kailer Yamamoto to a Mid-Rebuild Team

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    Kailer Yamamoto's time with the Edmonton Oilers could be over soon.

    General manager Ken Holland is expected to add a talented wing or two ahead of the NHL trade deadline, set for the afternoon of March 21. This, according to Mark Spector of Sportsnet, who wrote the following in late December:

    "He has stayed at second line right wing this season largely because the Oilers don't have anyone better. That should change at the trade deadline, and the wings will get crowded as left wing Dylan Holloway eventually arrives and Ryan McLeod (we predict) gets employed on left wing, perhaps pushing [Zach] Hyman to the right side."

    Spector reasons that the 5'8", 153-pound right wing is simply too small to be effective in a bottom-six role while also noting that Yamamoto has only managed five assists while skating alongside Leon Draisaitl for a majority of the season.

    He might not be a fit in Edmonton anymore, but the former first-round pick (22nd overall) is only in his age-23 season. Yamamoto might not evolve into a game-breaking scorer at this point, but his 11 goals in 72 contests in 2019-20 suggest that he could still be a solid finisher.

    He fell off last season, scoring eight times in 52 games before settling into a near-20-goal pace this year. This is the kind of player mid-range rebuilding teams can stand to take a swing on. Yamamoto is a restricted free agent at the end of 2022 but shouldn't command too much more than his current $1.2 million cap hit to retain.

    An organization like the Seattle Kraken could take a chance on him given how thin their prospect pool is following just one draft.

Evgenii Dadonov to the Detroit Red Wings

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    There's no need to force fits where they might not be there just for the sake of it, but the idea of the Detroit Red Wings acquiring Evgenii Dadonov from the Vegas Golden Knights makes sense on a few levels.

    We know that the Golden Knights are going to have to do some cap gymnastics whenever Jack Eichel is ready to return from neck surgery. He's been skating for a month, but it's unclear when he'll be ready for a full-speed NHL contest.

    Meanwhile, Max Pacioretty underwent a procedure on his wrist on Dec. 30 and the team's Twitter account said that he would be "out indefinitely." Maybe that ends up creating enough cap space down the line, but Jesse Granger of The Athletic reported that the injury isn't expected to prevent Pacioretty from returning during the regular season.

    This is all to say that Vegas will need to create some cap room before Eichel suits up for them. That isn't news, but there are a few different ways the team could go about it. The leading trade candidate seems to be Dadonov. 

    Granger opined that trading the right wing would affect Vegas the least if it intends to trade one of its trio of $5 million forwards (the other two being Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith). Owen Krepps of Vegas Hockey Now also sees Dadonov as being a possible odd man out once Eichel comes back while mentioning Detroit as a possible landing spot.

    The Red Wings need to start adding pieces around their budding young core eventually, and the 32-year-old forward would give them more offensive depth, something they're in desperate need of, as they are 24th in the NHL in goals scored per 60 and have the 24th-worst power play to boot.

    Dadonov is allowed to submit a 10-team list he won't accept a trade to. If Detroit is on that list, this is all a moot point. However, if he would be open to joining a team that appears to be on the rise with two years left on his contract, there could be a trade to be made here.

    He'd get a ton of playing time in Detroit's top six while forcing its younger players to compete for playing time.

Mark Giordano Returns to the Calgary Flames

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    Mark Giordano doesn't need a fresh start out on the ice. He received exactly that, for better or for worse, when the Seattle Kraken selected him in the expansion draft this past offseason. No, his reuniting with the Calgary Flames would be more of an emotional revitalization.

    It's increasingly unlikely that Seattle will be able to battle into a playoff spot—MoneyPuck.com gives them a 0 percent chance to make it to the dance. This means that the team could well be open to trading the first captain in Kraken history if the return is right.

    Given that Giordano is an impact veteran defenseman with a puck-moving pedigree, the bidding war would likely reach noteworthy heights for Seattle as it tries to stock the cupboards with promising prospects. Toward the end of December, Sportsnet scribe Eric Francis predicted that the Flames would bring in a more offensive-minded blueliner and pointed out Giordano as a possible fit.

    The cost for him would be high, however. Francis notes that Seattle asked Calgary for a first-round pick and either another second- or third-round selection to not select him in the expansion draft. That's steep, especially for a team that might not be turning the corner into true contenders just yet.

    If the Flames believe they can take a run at it this season, though, and are only missing a piece or two to make that happen, maybe they are more willing to deal that first-rounder now than they were this past summer. 

    There also aren't a lot of defenders in this mold who could be available. Samuel Girard, Ben Chiarot and John Klingberg all made Lyle Richardson's December trade block big board, but the ask for those younger options would likely be considerably higher.

    And none of those blueliners spent 949 regular-season games skating for Calgary as Giordano did, either. There's not a lot of room for sentimentality in professional sports, but this makes a good deal of sense for both sides as long as the Flames aren't being asked to give up a piece of their young core.

John Klingberg Joins the Florida Panthers

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    It seems like only a matter of time before the Dallas Stars trade defenseman John Klingberg. His name has been a staple of the rumor mill since he spoke up about how he felt unappreciated by the team earlier this season, and odds are good that the 29-year-old will be moved ahead of the March 21 trade deadline.

    During the 32 Thoughts segment on Hockey Night in Canada on Jan. 15, Jeff Marek stated the following about the situation that is unfolding in Texas: "We can report today that the Dallas Stars have stepped up their efforts to trade John Klingberg. We believe very much he is getting dealt. Hard to say exactly when, but Dallas does seem aggressive in wanting to get something done soonish."

    Defensemen with offensive acumen are always in demand at the trade deadline, and even though Klingberg isn't having a great season with the Stars, it stands to reason that a change of scenery would do him some good. He's been dropped to Dallas' third pairing now, and it's clear that he isn't a part of this organization's future plans.

    Which is where the Florida Panthers come in.

    B/R's own Lyle Richardson recently wrote that there could be a fit here, and we love the idea of the Swede joining one of the league's most electric offenses. In Florida, players are encouraged to take risks and do what is necessary to generate chances.

    It's an environment that Klingberg could thrive in, perhaps even returning to the form that saw him push 70 points back in 2017-18. George Richards of Florida Hockey Now has reported that the Panthers will look to add a top defenseman ahead of the deadline.

    Klingberg fits that bill and would slot in nicely on the team's second pairing. There might not be a long-term fit here, what with the defender looking for max term and more than $60 million on his next contract. But for a few months, this could be a fantastic match.

Marc-Andre Fleury to the Washington Capitals

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    If you thought seeing Marc-Andre Fleury in a Chicago Blackhawks uniform was weird, get a load of this idea from Tarik El-Bashir of The Athletic: Flower heading to D.C. to try to win a championship with the Washington Capitals.

    The Caps are fighting to keep their Stanley Cup window open as core pieces such as Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie age. They'll have to slow down eventually, right?

    And right now, the biggest question mark for the team has been in goal, where Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov haven't been particularly good or consistent. Among the 56 goalies who have appeared in at least 10 games this season, Vanecek's goals saved above average ranks 26th (0.7) while Samsonov's ranks 43rd (minus-3.9), per Hockey Reference.

    That kind of goaltending isn't going to take the Capitals far come playoff time, and things have gotten so shaky in Washington's crease that head coach Peter Laviolette has tapped Zach Fucale to see whether he could be the answer as the season unfolds.

    There doesn't seem to be a lights-out starter among this trio, which could force general manager Brian MacLellan to make a move. MoneyPuck.com gives the Chicago Blackhawks a 2 percent chance of making the postseason this year, and it's looking like it's time for the franchise to at least reboot.

    Scott Wheeler recently ranked Chicago's prospect pool 25th, indicating that the team could use help in that department—especially after unloading a treasure trove of futures to land Seth Jones this past summer. If the Capitals dangled a pick and/or prospect for a few months' worth of Fleury's services, it might behoove the Blackhawks to pull the trigger on the deal.

    The veteran hasn't been his usual self in the Windy City, but the team in front of him gives up almost 32 shots against a night. Washington's defense is way more stingy in that regard, surrendering the second-fewest chances against on a nightly basis.

    It would be strange to see, for sure, but bringing in Fleury would make a lot of sense for the Capitals.

Tomas Hertl to the Colorado Avalanche

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    A glance at the standings might make the idea of the San Jose Sharks trading away Tomas Hertl seem like a strange one, considering they are sitting in the second wild-card spot. The reality, however, is that they're the only team in the Pacific Division that has played 40 games to this point, with the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers having five games in hand each.

    Their .550 points percentage is a much better indicator of where the Sharks actually are, and it seems unlikely that they will finish the season as one of the two wild-card teams. With Hertl's contract expiring at the end of this season and it unclear if he wants to stick around for a rebuild, San Jose would be wise to move the pivot for the best bundle of assets available.

    The Colorado Avalanche seems like a splendid landing spot for the center for a handful of reasons. It might seem somewhat counterintuitive for the team since they are already so proficient at scoring goals. They have the best offense in the league in terms of goals scored per game (4.25) and only three teams generate more shots per contest.

    Hertl would be a boost there for sure, but he would also help the Avalanche in two other areas. Most notably, he would be an asset to the team's so-so penalty kill, which has quietly been a sore spot for the Stanley Cup contenders all season long. Their PK ranks 28th in the league with a 74.1 percent kill rate, which simply isn't good enough for a contending team.

    In San Jose, Hertl has consistently been a part of a generally good penalty kill—it's ranked ninth this season—and he could be a boon for the Avalanche while down a man.

    He would also be a fantastic backup option should Nazem Kadri ever come back down to earth. He's on a 112-point pace this season. That would be 51 points higher than his best season to date, which came in 2016-17. There's no denying that he's been stellar for Colorado, but he's also outperforming his usual levels by a tremendous amount.

    A one-two-three punch of Nathan MacKinnon, Hertl and Kadri at center would give opposing coaches nightmares come postseason time, and he would be a huge pickup for the Avalanche.

Phil Kessel to the New York Rangers

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    Phil Kessel is on pace to score just 11 goals this season, which would represent his lowest total since he was a rookie with the Boston Bruins back in 2006-07. He's found the back of the net just twice in his past 20 games, and with the Arizona Coyotes looking to move out as much talent as possible, there isn't any outside help coming for the Thrill.

    The New York Rangers have struggled to score all season long and have been propelled to a possible playoff berth in large part because of stellar goaltending from Igor Shesterkin. They average 2.85 goals per game, which is good for 19th in the league.

    As Arthur Staple of The Athletic recently wrote:

    "They need more NHL depth at forward. They need more from the forwards who aren’t considered the big stars in the Rangers' constellation. And they need a more perfect alignment of their top nine, which almost certainly means adding someone from outside in the coming two months before the March 21 trade deadline — if they want more out of this surprisingly good season."

    If the Rangers want to do damage come playoff time, they'll need to add some forward depth. Kessel could skate on either of the team's top two lines and be an immediate upgrade if he can find the form he had even one season ago, when he scored 20 times in 56 games.

    The idea of him skating on a line with Artemi Panarin is particularly intriguing since Kessel generally tends to click well with high IQ playmakers. That was the case when he was at the peak of his powers with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and landing even a shade of that kind of player would make the Blueshirts considerably harder to contain in a seven-game playoff series.

    Unlike a handful of other options who could be available, Kessel probably wouldn't cost New York a first-round selection or A-tier prospect, either.

Jakob Chychrun to the Los Angeles Kings

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    Unlike Kessel, who would likely be viewed as a rental for a contending team, Jakob Chychrun would be a long-term add. At 23, he would fit in with an organization that is looking to turn the corner on its rebuilding efforts, which is why the Los Angeles Kings make so much sense as a landing spot.

    The defenseman has three more years left on his contract after this season and has a remarkably reasonable cap hit sitting at just $4.6 million, per CapFriendly. He's the kind of blueliner teams generally try to build around, but the Coyotes are intent on starting all the way back over at square one.

    There's no question that the ask for Chychrun would be astronomical given his draft pedigree, history of high-end play and the fact that he's cost-controlled for another few campaigns. So much so, in fact, that it might be hard for a rebuilder to part with the futures it would take to land him.

    Los Angeles has one of, if not, the deepest prospect system in the NHL, however, which could make them a front-runner of sorts for Chychrun. He's had a tough year to this point, even spending some time as a healthy scratch, but that can reasonably be chalked up to the lack of talent that is in place in Arizona.

    Landing with an up-and-coming squad like the Kings—and in one of the league's biggest markets—could be a huge boost for the Florida native. He would immediately upgrade their top four and could be a Drew Doughty-type staple on the back end for years to come.

    Even if he didn't quite hit that mark, Chychrun has shown the capability of being a borderline elite-level defenseman, and he would move the needle in a big way for the Kings. They could possibly acquire him without giving up a piece of their roster too, which should make the move even more enticing for them.