As the NHL creeps closer to the midway point of the season and teams begin to find themselves in either the unenviable position of a non-playoff club or a postseason contender , names of available players begin to become more clear for the teams who are in the mix. Some clubs might still be working to make the postseason, but aren’t going to be big buyers, while other teams don’t even have the executives in place to make the moves most insiders believe they’ll inevitably make.
Still, there are players to watch, and below are the top-ten names most likely to move before this year’s NHL Trade Deadline.
#10. Max Domi
The Columbus Blue Jackets are eager to move Max Domi before the deadline. The question is, will there be any takers? Finding a suitor for Domi’s expiring contract might not be easy unless the Blue Jackets are willing to retain salary. In that case, Domi could be a good fit in a middle-six role on a contending team that has around $3 million in cap space to spare.
The jury is out on Domi and what production he can provide and there are many who believe he’s too far removed from his 72-point campaign in Montreal to be a trusted option. He’s been fairly productive this season but it’s hard to know if 16 points in 25 games are enough to pique a team’s interest. Elliotte Friedman “wonders if Max Domi makes any sense for the Bruins.”
#9. Jake DeBrusk
Speaking of the Bruins, a pending RFA with a $3.675 million AAV ($4.41 mil. minimum qualifying offer), Jake DeBrusk is a player with a high ceiling, but there’s risk associated with adding him. The Boston Bruins are going to make a run for the Stanley Cup and they’re not about to give DeBrusk away. If you’re moving assets for the player, you’ll likely be doing so with the plan to re-sign him and that won’t be cheap.
DeBrusk has five goals and 10 points in 29 games. There were rumored to be a number of teams interested when it was reported he’d asked for a trade. That said, being interested and willing to pay Boston’s asking price are two very different things. He’s been helping the team win games. Until someone else comes along that can help the Bruins more, they won’t be eager to move him.
#8. Phil Kessel
The Arizona Coyotes are open to moving Phil Kessel and Kessel would likely be open to joining a contender before he hits free agency. The actual money paid out is attractive for a team but the cap hit is an issue. How bad the Coyotes want to move Kessel will factor into whether or not he gets moved and that’s not entirely clear. The more they’re willing to retain in terms of salary or the less a team has to give to land the winger the more likely he moves.
#7. Lawson Crouse
Another Coyote that could be on the move is Lawson Crouse who is the ideal depth forward for a number of teams. He’s big and skilled and should provide a presence while a team tries to physically battle through numerous rigorous playoff series.
He’s only 24 and as a pending RFA, his $1.53 million AAV ($2.25 mil. minimum qualifying offer) is extremely attractive for a number of NHL clubs. Crouse is really thriving this season on a very poor Coyotes’ team. That will make him even more attractive at his price point.
#6. Mark Giordano
Of the many players the Seattle Kraken will likely move before the deadline, their captain is probably among them. There’s been lots of chatter about Mark Giordano going back to the Calgary Flames, but any team that has sufficient cap space and a need for a veteran blueliner with great leadership skills might be interested.
Giordano has a 19-team list of which he’d accept a trade, but you can imagine it’s probably actually smaller than that based on conversations he’s had with GM Ron Francis about his future.
#5. Reilly Smith
Reilly Smith’s situation in Vegas is different than most of the names on this list. The reason he’ll be moved (if he’s moved) is to create cap space for a returning Jack Eichel. If the Golden Knights don’t get fully healthy and the team doesn’t have to trade a player prior to the playoffs and someone coming off of LTIR, they won’t. That said, if the roster is whole and names like Max Pacioretty and Eichel are available, someone has to be moved.
Smith is a pending UFA making $5 million per season. Moving that contract off the books could go a long way. So too, Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff writes, “If Nick Foligno fetched one first- and two fourth-round picks, Smith should net a better return.”
There are a few other Golden Knights names to watch when it comes to the team trying to clear space. Brayden McNabb might be a player teams call about.
#4. Ben Chiarot
The Montreal Canadiens might move a few pieces depending on the long-term plans for the organization after they hire their new general manager. But, regardless of a rebuild or a re-tuning, Ben Chiarot is probably going to be on the move. There are too many teams willing to pay a handsome price to acquire the player as a rental and the Canadiens are likely to lose him if they don’t move him.
Chiarot is experienced, affordable, and can eat a ton of minutes for a team looking for a left-shot option.
#3. Joonas Korpisalo
At his cost of $2.8 million, his status as a pending UFA and the fact that goaltenders are dropping like flies in certain organizations, the Blue Jackets’ willingness to move Joonas Korpisalo has to mean the goaltender gets traded. The Edmonton Oilers have been mentioned in connection with him, but it doesn’t look like the Oilers are all that interested.
If a team feels like they badly need someone, Korpisalo’s name will continually pop up as someone teams are looking at.
#2. Jakob Chycrhun
There’s a lot of chatter surrounding Jakob Chychrun, but there’s no guarantee the Coyotes move him. Unlike pending UFAs, the Coyotes have no good reason to jump the blueliner unless the offer is so strong that the organization feels it would be irresponsible to pass it up. That could theoretically happen.
Considering the amount of minutes he can play, the production he posted last season and his contract cost for the next three seasons ($4.6 million) a number of teams are interested in Chychrun and while he’s out with an injury — there are injury concerns — the ask is as many as three or four solid pieces. Who is willing to pay that? Whoever is might get the player.
#1. Tomas Hertl
The big question in San Jose is, will the Sharks try their best to retain Tomas Hertl this season or will they trade him for a huge return knowing he’s just as likely to leave as he might be to stay. Hertl has been non-committal about sticking with the Sharks and he’s been a machine this season for the team, posting 31 points in 38 games.
If he becomes available, he’s easily the top rental on the trade market this season. There will be a ton of teams inquiring about his services and there will be a handsome reward going to the Sharks if Hertl is traded.
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