10 NHL Teams That Need to Make a Bold Trade in the Offseason
As the second round of the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs progress, the teams eliminated from the opening round will begin laying the groundwork for their offseason plans. Meanwhile, clubs that failed to qualify for the postseason are well into their preparations for the draft on July 7 and 8, the start of free agency on July 13 and the eventual resumption of activity in the trade market.
The salary cap will increase by only $1 million to $82.5 million for 2022-23. That could force cap-strapped teams into making cost-cutting trades while those with salary-cap space could hit the market seeking to bolster their rosters for next season.
Rebuilding teams, such as the Arizona Coyotes, could consider shipping out a key asset as they load up on draft picks and prospects for their long-term future. Meanwhile, a team that was eliminated from the that were eliminated from the first round, like the Minnesota Wild, could shop around for a deal that can keep them in the playoff hunt next season.
Here's our take on 10 NHL teams that should consider making a bold trade this summer. As always, you can express your opinions in the comments section below.
Pat Verbeek didn't waste time showing a willingness to wheel and deal. Within weeks after being named general manager of the Anaheim Ducks on Feb. 3, he traded pending free agents Josh Manson, Hampus Lindholm and Rickard Rakell for draft picks and prospects.
It's clear Verbeek intends to rebuild the Ducks' roster with young talent, that includes notables such as Jamie Drysdale, Troy Terry, promising Mason McTavish and 2022 Calder Memorial Trophy Finalist Trevor Zegras. He might not be done shopping some veterans to add to his stockpile of prospects and draft picks for this year and beyond.
On May 13, The Athletic's Eric Stephens reported there was speculation over whether John Gibson is willing to ride out Verbeek's rebuild. The 28-year-old goaltender is completing the third year of an eight-year deal with an annual average value of $6.4 million plus a 10-team no-trade list. He might not be keen to spend the remainder of his playing prime on a club that could be several years from playoff contention.
Verbeek might want to look into Gibson's value in this summer's trade market. There could be clubs willing to bet his goaltending stats will improve on a deeper roster with a better defense. If there's a chance he'll fetch a first-round pick, a highly-touted prospect or a promising young NHL player, it may be worth pulling the trigger.
Since taking over as general manager of the Arizona Coyotes in September 2020, Bill Armstrong has been overhauling the long-struggling franchise. Last summer, he shipped out core players such as Darcy Kuemper, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Conor Garland and Christian Dvorak for draft picks and prospects.
Armstrong's handiwork left the Coyotes with the league's second-worst record this season. However, those moves also gave him seven picks in the first two rounds of this year's draft, including three in the first round. He also has just $49.3 million invested in 17 players for 2022-23, leaving the Coyotes well-positioned to use some of those picks and his cap space to his advantage in the trade market.
Jakob Chychrun was a fixture in NHL trade rumors this season. Armstrong is expected to try again to peddle the 24-year-old defenseman, whose puck-moving skills and affordable $4.6 million salary-cap hit through 2024-25 should make him an enticing trade target this summer. He could seek at least a first-round pick, a top prospect and a promising young NHL player in return.
Armstrong should get a solid return for Chychrun to add to his deep pool of draft picks for this year and perhaps beyond. Meanwhile, he can use his plentiful cap space to target teams seeking to shed salary. He could acquire an expensive contract of an aging player provided a quality draft pick is included. He could also use that space to add young players who can be part of the Coyotes' future.
The Boston Bruins could be facing the end of an era if captain Patrice Bergeron opts for retirement. It could also lead to the potential departure of linemate David Pastrnak next summer via free agency. On May 18, The Athletic's Fluto Shinzawa recommended trading the 25-year-old right winger this summer if he seems uncertain about signing a contract extension.
Pastrnak is earning an annual average value of $6.7 million and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Putting the high-scoring winger on the trade block this summer would certainly be a bold move but necessary if he's thinking about testing the market next year. Questions about his future with the club could be an unnecessary distraction.
Since 2016-17, Pastrnak's tallied 34-or more goals and 70-plus points five times in the last six seasons. He sits fifth in total goals (215) among all NHL skaters. The Bruins won't have any difficulty drawing trade offers for his services.
Pastrnak could be swapped for a return that includes a young center with first-line potential if the Bruins are thinking of retooling their roster. If a rebuild is in order, he would easily fetch a package of futures. That could include a high draft pick plus a top prospect or a promising young NHL player.
Big changes could be coming for the Chicago Blackhawks this summer. On March 1, new general manager Kyle Davidson indicated a long-overdue rebuild is coming and could take time to complete.
One of the changes could involve long-time stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. The duo has one season remaining on their identical contracts, each carrying a $10.5 million salary-cap hit and full no-movement clauses. Moving either player would involve retaining a big chunk of their cap hit if they agree to be traded. However, they could fetch a return of draft picks and prospects.
On May 3, Davidson told reporters there's definitely a place for Toews and Kane in the club's rebuild. However, they could be reluctant to be part of a lengthy process. On April 26, both players indicated their belief that a quick turnaround comparable to that of the Los Angeles Kings could be done. However, on May 14, the Chicago Sun-Times' Ben Pope reported Davidson cautioned it could take a little longer.
Davidson could explore the trade value of Kane and Toews this summer if they're ready to move on. Kane would draw more interest as the 33-year-old winger remains a high-scoring forward. Toews could be enticing to clubs seeking a two-way center with postseason experience.
Detroit Red Wings
Under general manager Steve Yzerman, the Detroit Red Wings have been rebuilding with youth over the past three seasons. They showed some improvement this season but fell out of playoff contention over the second half of the schedule. It's been six years since the Wings last made the playoffs, which could force Yzerman to make a significant move or two this summer.
The Red Wings need experienced depth on defense and a skilled second-line center. With $46 million invested in 14 players for 2022-23 and all his core players under contract, Yzerman has plenty of cap room to address those needs via free agency or trades.
If Yzerman can't coax a top-four defenseman or a second-line center via free agency, perhaps he'll consider using Tyler Bertuzzi as a trade chip. The 27-year-old winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. He could be interested in joining a playoff club after spending his entire NHL career with the rebuilding Red Wings.
Yzerman should shop Bertuzzi if the winger becomes reluctant to ink a contract extension this summer. He's coming off a career-high season of 30 goals and 62 points plus his affordable $4.75 million cap hit could make him enticing in the trade market. Bertuzzi's value might never be higher than it is this summer. He could bring in a player that addresses one of the Wings' critical roster needs.
This season was a disaster for the Montreal Canadiens. After reaching the 2021 Stanley Cup Final, they finished last in this season's overall standings. At least they won the 2022 NHL draft lottery and the rights to the first-overall pick. Nevertheless, first-year general manager Kent Hughes and executive VP of hockey operations Jeff Gorton have a lot of work ahead of them to rebuild this franchise.
Part of that work could involve one or two significant offseason trades. They've already made good use of this season's trade market, shipping out veterans such as Tyler Toffoli, Ben Chiarot, Artturi Lehkonen and Brett Kulak for draft picks and prospects before the March trade deadline.
One move could involve shopping the contract of defenseman Shea Weber. The 36-year-old Canadiens captain spent the season on long-term injury reserve amid speculation his career could be over. He's signed through 2025-26 with an annual cap hit of $7.9 million. However, they could attempt to trade his contract to a budget team seeking to reach next season's cap minimum by packaging him with one or two draft picks.
Another could be shopping Jeff Petry. On March 21, Hughes said he attempted to move the 34-year-old defenseman before the trade deadline. He's under contract for three more seasons with a $6.25 million cap hit. Petry could be enticing to playoff contenders in the market for a puck-moving blueliner. Moving him would shed salary and bring more young assets to the Canadiens' rebuilding process.
This season saw the Minnesota Wild set franchise records with 53 wins and 113 points. However, they once again suffered another early playoff exit as they were eliminated from the first round by the St. Louis Blues.
General manager Bill Guerin could consider making a move or two, perhaps by bolstering his goaltending if Marc-Andre Fleury departs via free agency. He could also seek a game-breaking winger if he's forced to trade Kevin Fiala this summer.
Fiala, 25, is coming off a career-best 85-point performance this season. He's also a restricted free agent with arbitration rights after completing a one-year, $5.1 million contract. The Wild facing a cap crunch with $12.7 million of dead cap space from buying out Zach Parise and Ryan Suter last summer. Fiala could prove too expensive to re-sign.
Unless Guerin makes a cost-cutting move elsewhere, it might be worthwhile to peddle Fiala while his trade value is high this summer. He could fetch a promising young goaltender as part of the return, or maybe an affordable young forward with scoring potential.
San Jose Sharks
For the third straight season, the San Jose Sharks finished outside the NHL playoff picture. With Doug Wilson stepping down earlier this season as general manager and the club searching for his replacement, it could be time for this club to shake things up with a bold move this summer.
On May 11, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported the Sharks had some “very preliminary” trade talks with a couple of teams earlier this season regarding Erik Karlsson. The 31-year-old defenseman is signed through 2026-27 with an $11.5 million salary-cap hit and a full no-movement clause.
A better option could be Brent Burns. On May 2, NBC Sports Bay Area's Sheng Peng reported there were rumors last summer suggesting the 37-year-old blueliner might be open to a trade to a contender. Peng observed Burns did little to dispel that speculation during his end-of-season media conference. He carries an $8 million cap hit for three more seasons with a three-team trade list.
Burns may be older but he doesn't have Karlsson's hefty contract, full no-trade restrictions or injury history. It still won't be easy to move him but there could be a playoff contender willing to part with draft picks and prospects if the Sharks retain part of his cap hit.
Jim Rutherford, the Vancouver Canucks' president of hockey operations, and general manager Patrik Allvin face some big decisions entering their first offseason with the club. The most notable is whether to sign J.T. Miller to a contract extension or trade him this summer for a return of affordable talent.
Miller, 29, has a year left on his contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $5.25 million and can become an unrestricted free agent the next summer. The versatile two-way forward reached a personal best this season with a team-leading 32 goals and 99 points in 80 games. His performance played a key role in the Canucks' second-half resurgence that nearly got them into the 2022 playoffs.
That performance will put Miller in line for a hefty raise, perhaps as much as $9 million annually on his next contract. However, they have $46.8 million invested in just eight players for 2023-24 ($36.7 million in projected cap space), with team captain Bo Horvat also slated for UFA status. There's also the uncertainty over the status of winger Brock Boeser, who is a restricted free agent this summer.
The Canucks need good young players with affordable contracts going forward. If Miller's next contract promises to be too expensive, they should shop him this summer as he lacks no-trade protection. His stats this season ensure he'll bring them a quality return of young talent, such as a top-four defenseman or a promising center, to put toward building their roster for long-term success.
Missing the playoffs was the inevitable outcome of this season for the Winnipeg Jets. They've been steadily declining since their franchise-best 114-point campaign in 2017-18 that saw them reach the Western Conference Final.
Even though general manager Ken Cheveldayoff's efforts to return his club to Stanley Cup contender status failed to pan out, the organization signed him to a three-year contract extension May 2. Cheveldayoff must now justify ownership's faith in him, perhaps by shaking things up this summer with a major trade involving one of his core players.
Mark Scheifele could become a prime candidate. Sportsnet's Ken Wiebe reported the 29-year-old Jets center sounded uncertain about his future with the Jets during his end-of-season press conference. He has two years remaining on his contract with an annual cap hit of $6.1 million and a 10-team no-trade clause. Wiebe speculated the Jets could entertain trade offers for Scheifele.
The Jets have been spinning their wheels for too long. They must bolster their blue-line depth to take pressure off overworked goalie Connor Hellebuyck. Cheveldayoff could peddle Scheifele for some much-needed defensive help and then re-sign restricted free agent Pierre-Luc Dubois and promote him as Scheifele's replacement as their first-line center.