Every NHL Team's Dream Trade Deadline Target
The NHL trade deadline is one of the most entertaining times to be a hockey fan. Only the opening day of free agency and the draft offer as much room for speculation on player movement, and the 2021-22 edition is shaping up to be special.
Usually, contenders only have a small handful of needle-movers to pick from. This leads to some pretty gnarly overpays as top teams look for that last player who will put the Stanley Cup within reach. Still, moves at or approaching the deadline did wonders for the Tampa Bay Lightning the past two seasons.
This season, however, there are some big names available, ranging from Claude Giroux to Filip Forsberg to Jakob Chychrun. It's difficult to think of a more loaded trade big board than the one developing as the March 21 deadline approaches.
It's one thing to look at realistic trade possibilities, but here we're going to try and cook up the biggest, most dream-worthy deals for each organization in the NHL. We'll try to make the ideas make at least a little sense, but keep in mind that these aren't the most likely of moves.
It's a fun exercise that helps identify the biggest need for each team. If we can pinpoint that and figure out who the best fit would be, then we can easily work backward to trades that might be more realistic.
We're only going to be looking at players who are reportedly available. Otherwise, this would just be 32 slides of Connor McDavid deals.
Anaheim Ducks: Filip Forsberg
Let's start things off with a doozie: Filip Forsberg to the Anaheim Ducks. This is a team in the thick of the playoff race in the Pacific Division, with MoneyPuck.com giving them roughly a 16.2 percent chance to make the cut.
It would probably make more sense for new general manager Pat Verbeek to trade away pending UFAs such as Ryan Getzlaf and Hampus Lindholm if a new deal can't be reached, but where's the fun in that? As a freshman GM, we don't know what Verbeek's tendencies are.
So let's pretend for one second that he wants to give this version of the Ducks every chance to make the playoffs in 2021-22. Anaheim has the 17th-ranked offense in the league in terms of average goals scored per game. Adding a finisher of Forsberg's caliber would make them considerably more dangerous.
Imagine adding the 27-year-old sniper to a young core that already includes electric offensive talents like Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry. This deal would be even sweeter for the Ducks if Forsberg would consider a sign-and-trade.
Pie in the sky? You bet, but like any good hockey player, we're setting the tone for what is to come.
Arizona Coyotes: Owen Tippett
Not the biggest name we'll see on this list, but when the Arizona Coyotes are actively trying to move a player like Chychrun, it's clear that they're trying to take this rebuild all the way down to the floorboards. General manager Bill Armstrong has rightfully received praise for how he's weaponized his team's cap space, and he'll likely continue to do that as the deadline approaches.
That doesn't mean that the Coyotes can't afford to take some swings on reclamation projects, however. For instance, we saw Armstrong take this approach with Shayne Gostisbehere, and that gamble has paid off.
The Florida Panthers don't seem to have room in their top-nine for Owen Tippett, as they recently demoted him to the AHL. He's a former 10th-overall selection that just hasn't been able to put the pieces together in the NHL.
Florida is one of the most loaded offensive teams in the league, and Tippett has only averaged 12:32 of ice time through 42 games this season. He just turned 23, though, and would have every opportunity to stick in Arizona's top six moving forward.
It wouldn't be the biggest piece of business for the Coyotes, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't be worthwhile.
Boston Bruins: Jakob Chychrun
Chychrun is a player who will make multiple appearances on this list. He would fit in differently with most teams that he's been connected to, but the Boston Bruins might be the best match for him. In Arizona this season, it's become pretty clear that the 23-year-old defenseman shouldn't be asked to carry a pair alone.
That doesn't mean he's not an effective blueliner; the number of skaters who can carry a top defensive unit alone is few and far between. In Boston, Chychrun wouldn't be asked to do as much heavy lifting. That top spot happens to belong to one of the defenders who actually can single-handedly anchor a line in Charlie McAvoy.
With that kind of dynamic defenseman already in place, the B's would be able to shelter Chychrun to some degree on their second pairing. That'd really round out the team's top-four and would make their blue line a source of strength for years to come.
Some wise analysts argue that he wouldn't be worth the acquisition cost, but this is still a player the Bruins covet, and for good reason.
Buffalo Sabres: Max Domi
The Buffalo Sabres have taken successful swings on players like Max Domi recently. Tage Thompson needed a few seasons to settle in after coming over from the St. Louis Blues in the massive Ryan O'Reilly trade but has emerged as a solid top-line center in 2021-22.
Alex Tuch is now playing almost 20 minutes a night after being a part of the Jack Eichel deal, and he's scoring at a point-per-game clip for the Sabres. Back in 2019, the Chicago Blackhawks didn't have room for Henri Jokiharju on their blue line, and now he's playing more than 21 minutes a night on the back end for Buffalo.
Domi hasn't worked out with the Columbus Blue Jackets, and his $5.3 million cap hit might make it tough for a contender to take him on. That's why this could be the perfect opportunity for the Sabres to swoop in and take a shot in the dark on Domi.
He's on pace for 15 goals this year and would fit in nicely in Buffalo's middle-six group. Adding a young talent like this seems to be a goal for the Sabres, and the asking price wouldn't likely be more than a second-round pick or prospect of that caliber.
Calgary Flames: Already Got Their Guy
Trading for Tyler Toffoli will likely be the only big move we see the Calgary Flames make—at least in terms of adding players. He's a perfect fit for this hardworking, goal-scoring club, and it was a hockey deal in that it made sense for both teams involved.
He played for head coach Darryl Sutter when the L.A. Kings won the Stanley Cup in 2014 and figures to be an important part of whatever kind of run the Flames have in the tank this season. He has another two years left on his deal, too, so this wasn't just a rental for the top team in the Pacific Division.
The most important thing for Calgary to accomplish now is re-signing leading scorer Johnny Gaudreau to a contract that will keep him in town for the foreseeable future. Reports from sources such as TheFourthPeriod.com indicate that a deal is close to being finished, and that would wrap up a pretty productive week for general manager Brad Treliving.
Matthew Tkachuk is slated to become an RFA as well, so the GM has more work to do. Still, acquiring Toffoli weeks ahead of the deadline was a slick move that should pay dividends for the Flames.
Carolina Hurricanes: John Klingberg
Ever since John Klingberg openly expressed dissatisfaction with how the Dallas Stars have treated him during contract negotiations, the Carolina Hurricanes have been connected to him. The need for depth on the blue line has existed all season long, and the injury to puck-moving defenseman Tony DeAngelo only exaggerated that issue.
He'll only be out a month, but the Hurricanes were looking around for defensive help before their leading scorer among defensemen hurt his midsection. Now adding a player like Klingberg is even more important to a team eyeing their second Stanley Cup in club history.
Reports indicate that Carolina is also in on Chychrun, so it appears that general manager Don Waddell is intent on adding a higher-end blueliner as opposed to someone like Calvin de Haan or Colin Miller. This is also an interesting dream scenario because it's one that actually might unfold for the Hurricanes.
Carolina already has a fantastic top pairing in Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce. The change of scenery would allow Klingberg to grip his stick a little less tightly, and he wouldn't need to be the defenseman that he was in 2017-18 when he scored 67 points.
Chicago Blackhawks: A New General Manager
We probably won't see the Chicago Blackhawks make any moves until a permanent general manager is named. Scott Powers and Mark Lazerus of The Athletic recently indicated that an announcement could come any day now, at which point roster evaluations will presumably take place.
At that juncture, we will likely see a rebuilding plan unfold in the Windy City. They attempted to reload this past offseason, acquiring Seth Jones from the Blue Jackets and adding goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for the equivalent of a bag of fried pickles. Those moves didn't materialize into a playoff run, however, and the Blackhawks have been on the outside of the playoff picture since November.
They have played better under Derek King, but the Stanley Cup window is closed for this group. Patrick Kane is on pace for 80-plus points, but Jonathan Toews hasn't been able to match that level of production.
Once it's clear just what kind of rebuild is happening in Chicago, it would be easier to pinpoint the dream target for them ahead of the trade deadline. With no one at the reins just yet and no clear plan indicated, finding the right GM is paramount for the Blackhawks at this time.
Colorado Avalanche: Claude Giroux
First off, it's worth noting that Claude Giroux has total control of his future, as he has a full no-move clause. In the past, Giroux has said that he wants to be a member of the Philadelphia Flyers for life—a right he's certainly earned throughout his storied career with the franchise.
Yet the fact remains that the veteran of 991 regular-season games has yet to win a championship, and at the age of 34, might be running out of time to do so. If the Colorado Avalanche came knocking with an offer that interested Philadelphia, would Giroux be able to resist the chance to join one of the NHL's most stacked rosters?
He's a UFA at the end of this season and would be able to re-sign with the Flyers this summer if he wishes. Giroux would also be a fantastic fit in Colorado. He can play center or wing and is a stellar faceoff man—an area where the Avalanche could certainly use some help. Only the Sabres win draws less frequently than the Stanley Cup hopeful.
Giroux would slot in on the second or third line, depending on which position he was playing, and would help insulate Colorado against the possibility of Nazem Kadri coming back down to earth.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Rickard Rakell
Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen has been adamant that he isn't trying to guide this organization through another rebuild. He made that quite clear when speaking with Aaron Portzline of The Athletic recently, stating, "[we] called it a 'reset' for a reason."
As such, don't expect to see the Blue Jackets offloading players like Patrik Laine for draft picks and prospects. They already moved on from players like Seth Jones last summer and don't seem particularly intent on doing it again as the deadline looms.
Instead, Kekalainen might be interested in the kind of hockey deal like the one made between Montreal and Calgary for Toffoli. This isn't a team gearing up for a run like Calgary, but with numerous high-end prospects on the way and skaters like Cole Sillinger already in place, this could be a playoff team in a few years.
This is why someone like Rickard Rakell might be of interest to Kekalainen. They have a handful of young forwards on the way, including Olympic standout Kent Johnson, but competition is a good thing when it comes to prospects cracking an NHL roster. It fosters the kind of environment they want in Columbus, and Rakell could be a useful middle-six forward as this team develops.
Dallas Stars: J.T. Miller
Here's a team that finds itself in an odd spot. They have a ton of cap space (more than $19 million annually) committed to declining veterans in Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, which will make it tough for them to be big spenders anytime in the near future.
Still, with the emergence of Jason Robertson as a legit star and a strong blue line that features some excellent playmakers, the Stars aren't doomed to become a bottom feeder just yet. J.T. Miller would be a brilliant add as Dallas tries to make the playoffs this season.
MoneyPuck.com has them at roughly a coin flip to make the cut, and with Seguin, Benn and Joe Pavelski landing on the wrong side of the aging curve, the time to make a postseason push is now. They won't be able to offload these anchor-esque contracts, so if they are going to do any damage, it'll have to be soon.
Miller would be an automatic upgrade to the team's top-six, perhaps allowing Seguin to take on a role more suited to his level of play these days. He's an engine of a hockey player, one that will do whatever is asked of him to win. And he's got another year on his deal after this one, meaning that Dallas would get one more crack at it if this season goes sideways.
Detroit Red Wings: Calvin de Haan
Another not-so-flashy name, but there aren't many options where the Detroit Red Wings need help. All three of their rostered left-shot defensemen are coming off of the books this offseason, meaning that the team will be in dire need of players who can skate on that side.
General manager Steve Yzerman might look to trade Nick Leddy as a rental, while Marc Staal and Danny DeKeyser are on expiring deals. The right side is set with rookie sensation Moritz Seider emerging as a Calder Trophy favorite and Filip Hronek settling in on the second pair behind him.
Calvin de Haan isn't a needle mover like a Klingberg would be, but those aren't the kinds of trades Yzerman has typically made throughout his career as an NHL executive. The Blackhawks blueliner has been solid in Chicago this year and has averaged just over 19 minutes a night.
He's on an expiring contract, so Detroit would likely want this to be a sign-and-trade of some sort, and it's not clear if the 30-year-old would want to go from a team that is getting ready to rebuild to one that is just now coming out of it.
There's an opportunity there for de Haan to play a major role alongside Seider, though, and that might be enough to entice the Ontario native to stick around in Hockeytown.
Edmonton Oilers: James Reimer
There might not be a tougher team to figure out than the Edmonton Oilers. They began 2021-22 as one of the NHL's hottest clubs, jumping out to a 16-5 start and then badly fading as the season progressed. It looks like they've stopped the bleeding that occurred through December and some of January, and Jay Woodcroft seems to have his finger on the pulse of this club.
Still, when you're rostering two of the most gifted offensive players on the planet, expectations are reasonably high. They made the morally questionable choice to add Evander Kane for pennies on the dollar, and he's worked out well on the ice.
Edmonton has needs to fill, however, the most glaring of which seems to be in net. Allan Mitchell of The Athletic recently opined that the Oilers could possibly target Sharks goalie James Reimer, and it's an idea that seems to make a lot of sense.
He's outperforming his cap hit of $2.25 million significantly, at least significantly enough that he would be an upgrade over Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith. Reimer isn't elite, but it's a bit of a dream scenario because San Jose simply might not want to trade him.
And after 207 games in the pressure cooker that is Toronto, is there a chance that Edmonton would be included on Reimer's five-team no-trade list?
Florida Panthers: Jakob Chychrun
Chychrun will thrive in an environment where he can play a bit off the leash, with a partner capable of covering up his shortcomings. Aaron Ekblad is that kind of counterpart. In Boston, Chychrun would be playing behind a dynamic defenseman. In Florida, he'd be playing with one.
The idea of these two patrolling the blue line during a playoff series should be enough to strike fear into the heart of just about every contender. The unheralded MacKenzie Weegar would then be able to slide down to the second pairing alongside Radko Gudas, giving the Panthers an imposing, offensively capable top four.
This is the kind of trade that could shift the championship landscape, not only this season but for the next three as Chychrun plays out the remainder of his contract. The Panthers would need to get creative to make this work under the cap, but reports have indicated that the organization is interested in adding the All-Star defender.
It'd be the most talented team that Chychrun has been a part of as a pro, and it'd be fascinating to see what he could do with a partner like Ekblad.
Los Angeles Kings: Jakob Chychrun
Chychrun is popping up a lot here, but each team that's been listed so far would be utilizing him in a different capacity. The Los Angeles Kings have been one of the league's more surprising teams, outperforming their "rebuilder" moniker to the point where, if the playoffs started today, they'd be one of the three Pacific Division teams making the cut outright.
MoneyPuck.com gives them a 93.3 percent chance to make the postseason, which is about as locked up as it can get outside of the league's true powerhouses.
General manager Rob Blake has done a fantastic job of guiding the Kings through this process, but there are still some pieces that he believes his team needs to succeed. Over the summer, the indispensable John Hoven of MayorsManor.com wrote the following:
"The team's top priority remains finding a young, offensive-minded defenseman who can play the left side. Overall, they really like their mix of defensemen, they just feel that one additional player would really solidify the entire group."
Chychrun checks all those boxes, and L.A. might be one of the few teams that could offer up with the Coyotes are asking for without totally selling the farm.
Montreal Canadians: John Klingberg
The Montreal Canadiens are the clearest seller in the league right now. They already traded Toffoli to the Flames and have two other trade chips in Jeff Petry (whom the team is open to moving) and the stunningly overvalued Ben Chiarot.
Let's assume both of these defensemen get traded ahead of the deadline. That would leave Chris Wideman as the team's top right-shot blueliner. That is far from ideal. If both Petry and Chiarot are moved, they'd have the cap space needed to re-sign Klingberg to the kind of deal he would be looking to sign as a free agent.
Whether or not that'd be a wise use of cap space is up for debate, but Klingberg would at least be an upgrade over crosscheck machine Chiarot and an aging Petry. Ideally, the Habs can improve their blue line over the next two or three seasons, allowing Klingberg to take on a more secondary role as he ages.
It's tough to find a dream acquisition for a team that is actively looking to sell off a lot of loose parts, but a deal for Klingberg might make sense for Montreal as they begin to restructure their roster.
Minnesota Wild: Tomas Hertl
During a recent B/R roundtable, the Minnesota Wild were identified as a team that really, really needs to make an impactful trade ahead of the deadline. General manager Bill Guerin put the team in a bit of a salary cap pickle by buying out Zach Parise and Ryan Suter this past summer and won't have the opportunity to add a high-end talent for the foreseeable future.
Enter Tomas Hertl, who would be a rental in the truest sense of the phrase for the Wild. Even if he was the perfect fit, barring serious roster restructuring, Minnesota simply wouldn't have the cap space needed to re-sign him.
Instead, this would represent Guerin pushing a lot of chips to the center of the table and banking on this team being deep enough to make a Stanley Cup run. There's no denying that Ryan Hartman has developed remarkable chemistry with linemates Mats Zuccarello and Kirill Kaprizov.
There's also no denying that you probably don't want to take a run at a championship with him as your No. 1 pivot. Adding Hertl would give Minnesota a top-nine capable of at least hanging with the likes of the Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning.
The ask will be high, and Minnesota probably won't want to trade someone like Matt Boldy. If they can figure something out with the Sharks, though, Hertl would be a real game-changer for a Wild offense that already ranks third in the NHL in average goals scored per game.
Nashville Predators: Phil Kessel
It's hard to get a pulse on exactly what the Predators are thinking heading into the trade deadline. The news that they're open to trading Forsberg was somewhat shocking, given that they're in a playoff position and have a legit chance of making the tournament.
General manager David Poile has been through just about everything during his career navigating Nashville. He's been on the job since 1997, after all. This is a difficult call for him to make, however, and if he doesn't believe that Forsberg intends to re-sign with the Predators, then moving him is the right (albeit tough) decision.
If it's possible to buy and sell at the same time, that's a line we'll probably see Poile try to walk here. Even with Forsberg in the fold, Nashville needs more goal-scoring. And if you need pure goal-scoring, who better to bring it than Phil "The Thrill" Kessel?
He's still atrocious on defense but can still contribute in a second-line role while adding some pop on the power play. Odds are good that he could be had for cheap, making him even more attractive to a Predators team that doesn't usually swing for the fences via trades.
New Jersey Devils: Jake DeBrusk
This is another example of trying to find a noteworthy addition for a team that is clearly a seller. The New Jersey Devils might be one of the most active teams ahead of the deadline in terms of moving players out. P.K. Subban could have a new home by March 21. So could Jimmy Vesey, Pavel Zacha and possibly Damon Severson as well.
It'll probably be mostly picks and prospects coming back to New Jersey, even as their young core of Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes and Jesper Bratt take steps forward. General manager Tom Fitzgerald could look to add to that group, however, if the right young reclamation project makes itself available.
Bruins wing Jake DeBrusk requested a trade back in late November, and Boston hasn't been able to find a partner. He's on pace for nearly 18 goals and just a tick over 30 points and will require a $4.41 million qualifying offer if the acquiring team plans to hang onto his rights.
The Devils are one of the few teams that could stomach that kind of commitment, especially with Dawson Mercer and Bratt already taking up space in the top six. Still, it might be worth a shot in the dark for New Jersey to add this kind of young talent to see if they can come up with a contributor.
New York Islanders: Filip Forsberg
The 2021-22 campaign hasn't been particularly kind to the New York Islanders, a team that some pundits had slotted in as potential Stanley Cup contenders during the preseason. A season-opening 13-game road trip put the Isles behind the eight ball immediately, and they were never really able to recover from that tough first month.
The pieces that made folks believe that New York can contend are still mostly in place, and while we could see them trade pending UFAs like Parise and Zdeno Chara, there's still a solid core in place. That is what they'd be selling Forsberg on if they acquired him and then subsequently tried to sign him.
The Islanders are thin on the left side and need help scoring goals. They have the 29th ranked offense in the NHL, after all. Forsberg would immediately slot onto their top line and would be a prime target for Mathew Barzal's stellar passes.
On paper, it's the dynamic kind of top line that teams dream about piecing together, and how strong of a message would this be to a disgruntled Islanders fan base that was expecting a run this season?
New York Rangers: J.T. Miller
There's been talk out of Vancouver lately that the preference might just be to hang onto J.T. Miller. With new general manager Patrik Allvin choosing his words carefully when discussing his biggest trade chip, there is no guarantee that the forward is moved ahead of the trade deadline.
That makes this an even bigger dream for the New York Rangers, who have been connected to just about every major player believed to be available between now and March 21. Tab Bamford of EliteSportsNY.com thinks that the Blueshirts could be "dangerous" over the next few weeks, adding to a team that is already contending for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division.
It's clear that the Rangers are going to do something. Acquiring Miller might be the most desirable move for the club that drafted him in the first round back in 2011. It'd be a homecoming of sorts for one of the most dependable forwards in the NHL, and he'd become a Swiss Army knife-type component as New York tries to win its first Stanley Cup since 1994.
Ottawa Senators: Phil Kessel
The Ottawa Senators are another clear-cut seller likely to move out more assets than they bring back in over the next few weeks. They need draft capital and prospects above most things, but they'll also need to bring in some veterans to help bridge the gap between now and when those young players are viable NHL options.
Kessel is a veteran who has seen his fair share of rebuilding and is, by all accounts, an awesome player to have in the locker room. Sidney Crosby is on record saying that he misses playing with The Thrill, and he's been an important part of Arizona's developing culture.
He's got the sense of humor to help dampen the dark days that almost certainly await the Senators, but he also has a championship pedigree that he could instill in the organization's many up-and-coming skaters. Kessel is slated to become a UFA this offseason, and it's unclear whether or not he'd willingly sign on in Ottawa.
However, if he's looking to take home as big a bag as possible, there might be a fit here for the next few seasons.
Philadelphia Flyers: Tomas Hertl
It's almost entirely up to him, but if the Philadelphia Flyers can, odds are good they'll end up trading away Giroux for futures in the coming weeks. That will leave a massive hole in the lineup and in the locker room. So why not replace him with an equally versatile, albeit younger, top-line center?
It'd be close to the perfect scenario for the Flyers, even though they will likely be selling off more than just the team captain between now and March 21. Hertl is just 28 and could help usher in a new era of hockey in Philadelphia.
The organization is pretty short on centers, especially if they end up moving Giroux. It's tough to win in the NHL without solid pivots, and they are generally the toughest piece to come by during any rebuild. Take a look at the rosters of the Sabres and Red Wings for proof of that.
Hertl would allow the Flyers to essentially skip that step as they aim to become a playoff team in the next season or two, and he's aged similarly enough to the team's core veterans that he'd fit in with their window nicely.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Mark Giordano
Mark Giordano would be one of, if not the top rental defenseman available during most other NHL trade deadlines. This is an odd one, however, with the likes of Chychrun and Klingberg available. Both of those options are younger, and as discussed previously, the former is cost-controlled for the next few seasons.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are trying to win another Stanley Cup with an aging core that includes Crosby, Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin. They've quietly had a strong campaign in the Metropolitan Division, but have slowed down recently.
It's still likely that they'll make the postseason, and when they get there, they could certainly use someone of Giordano's caliber. He's not the puck mover that he once was, but Letang has those duties locked down for the Penguins.
Where he really thrives these days is in his own end, and few in the NHL are better at preventing clean zone entries than the 38-year-old. It's a storyline that gets overblown sometimes, but "Win it for Gio" would quickly become a mantra for a team that already has a Thanos-like fistful of rings in the locker room. That little emotional push could make all the difference as the playoffs wear on.
San Jose Sharks: J.T. Miller
If the Sharks do end up trading Hertl because he isn't willing to re-sign in San Jose, then they'd ideally be able to replace him in the lineup quickly. Going out and acquiring Miller from the Canucks would certainly check that box.
(Remember, these are dream scenarios and not the most likely outcomes.)
With Hertl on the roster, the Sharks flirted with playoff contention during the first few months of the regular season before slowly devolving into the team pundits thought they'd be during the offseason. This is a tight-knight group, however, one that is chock full of proud veterans who are doing their best to keep their heads above water in a wide-open Pacific Division.
Miller's hard-working style would fit in wonderfully at San Jose and would help fill the void left by Hertl's departure. He has one more year left on his contract after this one, so the Sharks would have all the time needed to try and convince the Ohio native to play out the remainder of his career in California.
As mentioned before, it's unclear whether or not the Canucks are truly looking to move Miller. If they are open to the idea still, though, the Sharks could be in the mix as a possible landing spot.
Seattle Kraken: Draft Picks Galore
For some of the clear-cut sellers, there are a few question marks as to how exactly they'll approach the deadline. The developing Miller situation in Vancouver, for instance. That isn't the case for the Seattle Kraken, who've reminded fans around the NHL exactly what an expansion team is supposed to look like.
There are some solid pieces in place on this roster, but what the organization desperately needs is to add to its prospect pipeline. There won't be opportunities to swipe players like Mark Stone for general manager Ron Francis. At least not opportunities he can count on.
Instead, he'll need to build the Kraken the old-fashioned way: through diligent drafting, slick trades and stockpiling draft picks. He has plenty of NHL-caliber players who could be of interest to contending teams. From Giordano to Calle Jarnkrok, Seattle ought to be able to improve its standing in both the 2022 and 2023 drafts.
This is also a team that we could see use its cap space to help facilitate a trade or two. It was surprising to see the Kraken fail to do this over the offseason, so maybe they'll make up for that lack of an action at the deadline.
St Louis Blues: Ben Chiarot
Chiarot isn't going to anchor a pairing by himself, and one could make the argument that he shouldn't be used on the top pairing at all. Among the 65 defensive pairings that have spent more than 300 minutes together this season, his unit alongside David Savard has the 63rd-ranked expected goals-for percentage, according to Money Puck.
The St. Louis Blues wouldn't be adding Chiarot to save their blue line, however. What he actually brings to the table—a boatload of pain-to-play-against and grit—would address a real need that the Blues have. Justin Faulk and Torey Krug are solid puck movers, but they aren't known for leaning on the opposition.
Both are listed and under 6'0", and according to StatMuse.com, the Blues are the 26th-most physical team in the NHL. Hits aren't everything, but it pays to be tough to play against in the postseason. Chiarot would bring that needed dimension to a team that is looking to do some damage in the playoffs this season.
He'd just be a rental here, so selling off the farm for him wouldn't be wise. Assuming there isn't some massive bidding war for the rough-and-tumble blueliner, however, he could be a strong add for a Blues team that could use the muscle.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Zdeno Chara
You know that one friend who has everything and is impossible to go birthday shopping for? Yeah, that's the Tampa Bay Lightning ahead of this year's trade deadline. General manager Julien BriseBois already made his moves during the offseason, bringing in the likes of Zach Bogosian and Brian Elliott to shore up the team's perceived weaknesses.
If Tampa Bay does need anything, though, it's a bit more depth on the blue line. They don't have the space to take a run at any of the bigger names on the market, but Zdeno Chara is literally the biggest dream target they could add.
After all, having a 6'9", 250-pound Stanley Cup-winning grizzly bear as your No. 7 defenseman isn't a bad spot to be in. Chara has been asked to do a bit too much for the Islanders this season, but Tampa Bay wouldn't be asking him to skate top-four minutes.
With the physical Bogosian going in and out of the lineup due to injuries this season, Chara would be a solid backup plan. And if the Lightning were actually fully healthy, well, he's someone the coaching staff could tag in if a playoff series was getting a bit too rough for their liking.
Chara as a depth defenseman would be a very Lightning thing to do.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Mark Giordano
It'll be tricky for the Toronto Maple Leafs to do something impactful ahead of the trade deadline given their cap situation. Moving Nick Ritchie to the Coyotes has been called a "heist" in the media, and it cleared up just enough space for general manager Kyle Dubas to go big-game hunting between now and March 21 if he so desires.
And it seems like he does, given how they've been working their cap lately. Adding anyone with term would be difficult, which is why Giordano is a dream addition that also makes sense. He'd be a clear upgrade over Travis Dermott on the left side, which should be the low bar for any defender that Toronto looks to add in the coming weeks.
It'd be strange to see Giordano in a Maple Leafs sweater to be certain, but he'd check a lot of boxes for this team as they try to get out of the first round for the first time since 2004. They've been bounced in round one if four of the last five years—failing to make the cut in 2020—and adding a steady veteran who's made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final before could pay dividends in multiple ways.
Vancouver Canucks: J.T. Miller
We're cheating a bit on this one, but that's because keeping Miller makes more sense than acquiring anyone that could be available on the market. The Canucks aren't going to make the playoffs this season, so adding a rental wouldn't do them much good.
They'd probably prefer to add players with term, and that's exactly what Miller already has in place. Reports indicate that trade talk surrounding the forward may be cooling down, with the new management group identifying core members of the roster before attacking the deadline head on.
This is the kind of player you keep around, especially as you attempt to rebuild a winning culture like they are trying to do in Vancouver. Contending teams are all over Miller for a reason. He competes hard and sets a wonderful example for younger players on the roster.
The Canucks need veterans like Miller on the roster as they begin digging out of the Jim Benning era, and unless they're offered a Jack Eichel-like package—which is highly unlikely—then we think the best course of action would be to dream big and try to re-sign the 28-year-old to an extension.
Vegas Golden Knights: Alexander Georgiev
In Eichel, the Vegas Golden Knights already made their big splash. So much so that if the whole team was healthy at the same time, they'd be around $10 million over the NHL's salary cap. Good thing the salary cap doesn't exist in the playoffs, right?
Vegas has Stone and Alec Martinez on LTIR now, keeping them under the cap for the time being. That doesn't mean that general manager Kelly McCrimmon will shy away from adding if he thinks that he can maintain compliance while improving Vegas.
One area that the Golden Knights could use some stability is in goal, where Robin Lehner has been just OK. And now that he's injured, the pressure to make a move here might be even higher. Even when Lehner hasn't been able to play or needs the night off, the drop-off has been pretty steep. Among the 51 goalies who have played in at least 15 games this season, Lehner's GSAA of minus-2.407 is ranked 30th.
Backup Laurent Brossoit is just a shade under that, with his GSAA ranking 32nd. So goaltending hasn't tanked Vegas this season—not like it has in Seattle, at least—but this duo hasn't exactly been stealing games either.
This is why adding a cheap(ish), talented goalie like Alexander Georgiev might make some sense for the Golden Knights. The earlier they could bring him in and see what they have in him, the better too. If he goes on a hot streak after being stuck behind Vezina Trophy front runner Igor Shesterkin in New York, it would be a stellar add for Vegas.
Washington Capitals: Marc-Andre Fleury
This might be the most clear-cut need out of all the likely playoff-bound teams in the NHL. The Washington Capitals are trying to make the most of Alex Ovechkin's seemingly endless prime. We joke about his longevity all the time, but the reality is that, at age 36, he'll slow down eventually.
The time to win with this core—which also includes T.J. Oshie (35) and Nicklas Backstrom (34)—is now, and the Capitals don't have a season or two to figure out whether Vitek Vanecek or Ilya Samsonov can step up come playoff time.
Neither has exactly given the Capitals reason to believe they could crush it as a postseason starter, which is why we've seen them connected to Marc-Andre Fleury since the end of January. He's the best netminder available and would represent a pretty clear upgrade over the tandem that is already in place in Washington.
Fleury hasn't played like a Vezina Trophy winner in Chicago this year, but that's not what the Capitals would need from him. They'd simply need a steady presence in the crease, and that's precisely why "Flower" would be for them. He has 162 playoff games under his belt—which is more postseason games (162) than Samsonov and Vanecek have regular-season games combined (136)—and it'd be fun to see him play in Washington.
Winnipeg Jets: Tomas Hertl
The line of thinking here is similar to why the Flyers would want to add Hertl. There has been speculation that the Winnipeg Jets may need to trade Mark Scheifele in the name of a soft reset of sorts. This has come about because the pivot has been, in the words of Mike McIntyre of The Winnipeg Free Press, a "shell of his former self."
In general, the Jets have struggled to find consistency or identity in 2021-22. Hertl is the kind of heart-and-soul player an organization can build around. To reiterate: Hertl will be able to choose to play for anyone who can fit him in under the cap as a UFA this offseason. And joining the Jets might not interest him.
Yet if Winnipeg is serious about undergoing a restructuring of sorts, Hertl is a player who could be right in the middle of that. Jets fans are some of the most passionate in the NHL, and they'd embrace the loveable forward as the team built around him.
Maybe Hertl would prefer to join a contender, but Stanley Cup hopefuls aren't exactly swimming in cap space. This might be the best of both worlds if he decides to leave San Jose. And it'd be one of the biggest roster moves in the team's history. Dream big, indeed.