The NHL trade deadline is Friday at 3 p.m. ET. It’s already been an active trade season, with players such as Bo Horvat, Ryan O’Reilly, Vladimir Tarasenko, Dmitry Orlov and Timo Meier joining new teams.
Get caught up on the players and picks in play, as well as the restrictions and potential moves for every NHL team ahead of the deadline, with this comprehensive guide. Who stays? Who goes? Find out below.
Note: Kristen Shilton provided the guide for the Atlantic and Metropolitan teams, while Ryan S. Clark handled the Central and Pacific clubs.
What they should do: Boston has to capitalize on this incredible season.
They’ve been atop the NHL standings nearly all season, an unexpected powerhouse with good depth up front and on the back end (not to mention a Vezina Trophy-worthy starting goaltender in Linus Ullmark and excellent backup in Jeremy Swayman). The Bruins are front-runners to win the Stanley Cup. General manager Don Sweeney’s job is ensuring Boston acquires all the support it can to succeed come playoff time.
The Bruins were linked to all the big names out there; a deal for Columbus’ Vladislav Gavrikov was heavily in the works at one point. But Sweeney scooped up Dmitry Orlov and Garnet Hathaway from Washington instead, parting with three draft picks (including a 2023 first-round choice) and veteran Craig Smith to bring on playoff reinforcements.
It was a smart transaction, too. The gritty Hathaway addresses Boston’s need for bottom-six forward depth, and Orlov will add Stanley Cup-winning experience in a second- or third-pairing slot. All good things for Boston.
Sweeney went hard acquiring Hampus Lindholm at last season’s deadline and it continues to pay off beautifully. These latest moves maybe aren’t so flashy, but they are what the Bruins need now to be at their best. Whomever else the Bruins chase should be ready to play a key role right now and keep Boston from being another sad chapter in (probable) President’s Trophy winner history.
What they should do: Buffalo boasts an enviable amount of cap space — and that’s with most of the team’s key players signed to long-term deals. The Sabres should wield that at the deadline.
What Buffalo needs is top-nine forward help. GM Kevyn Adams has holes to fill there on the wing and at center. The Sabres’ drivers up front are its young stars such as Tage Thompson and Dylan Cozens, both of whom are locked in for the future. Buffalo’s target now should be veterans to complement its youth.
The Sabres might not be ready to swing for the fences, but a player like Brock Boeser (two years left on his deal) could slide right in now. Columbus’ Boone Jenner has a contract term, is good on faceoffs and would boost the penalty kill. Nick Bjugstad is a low-risk rental option who could be extended.
On the back end, Buffalo should eye veteran NHL-caliber talent to balance its stable of 20-somethings. Much like with their current forward group, the Sabres have enough defensive finesse. It’s the physical grit and punch that’s more lacking, and what the Sabres should be looking for from a new addition to the depth chart.
What they should do: The Red Wings qualified as sellers in January. Then came a five-game win streak through February that could — and should — alter Detroit’s deadline plans.
The Red Wings aren’t actively rebuilding, nor do they project to add rental players. The right recipe involves assets helping the team now and into the short- or long-term future (to potentially make sticking around with Detroit all the more appealing to pending unrestricted free agents like Dylan Larkin).
Would GM Steve Yzerman go full-tilt on bringing in Jakob Chychrun to boost the Red Wings’ back end, or would he check on Brock Boeser for more options up front? Yzerman surprised some with how active he was in the offseason. Those moves ultimately didn’t turn Detroit into an immediate, outright playoff contender. If Yzerman believes the postseason is still a possibility, then standing pat shouldn’t be an option; there’s ways to make Detroit better without mortgaging any part of the future.
But if that run through early February can’t create enough momentum, then riding with the Red Wings as is — and eyeing another round of upgrades this summer after Larkin’s next contract is decided — would be the most prudent decision.
What they should do: Florida is in a logjam of Eastern Conference teams fighting for two wild-card playoff spots. Fine-tuning at the deadline is in the Panthers’ best interest, but after aggressively adding pieces recently, Florida doesn’t hold a first-round pick again until 2026.
If GM Bill Zito believes a playoff spot is attainable, the roster tweaks start on defense. The Panthers are No. 22 in goals against due to a combination of inconsistent goaltending and some blue-line deficiencies. Going after back-end help boosts Florida’s chances of gaining ground in the playoff race, and given the recent injury to Gudas, depth is at an even higher premium. Low-cost choices could be a Nick Seeler type who steps onto a second or third pairing.
Ultimately, Zito & Co. have to be realistic about how much more capital they want to part with in the short term. Even if Florida earned a postseason berth, could it beat Boston or Carolina in the first round? If selling assets rather than acquiring them gives the Panthers a better chance next season — and beyond — that path might be the one to pursue.
What they should do: Montreal remains in rebuild mode and should be sellers at the deadline. What matters is acquiring picks and prospects to build a contending team of the future.
Impacting that plan, though, is the Canadiens’ crush of injury problems to key players they’d like to move. Monahan and Edmundson are players that Montreal could look to collect an early-round pick (or comparable young player) for in return. But with the health of those veterans in question, that scenario becomes less likely. Meanwhile, skaters such as Gallagher and Armia carry hefty contracts that continue to be a tough sell for other clubs to take on.
The Canadiens’ best course of attack could be freeing up salary cap space with the best deals they can find for players who won’t be in the mix long term (Monahan and Drouin are UFAs this summer). Something is still preferable to nothing.
There’s also the question of goaltender Cayden Primeau, who has garnered trade interest before and just signed a three-year extension in September. An up-and-coming goaltender is a valuable chip for GM Kent Hughes to wield as a sweetener in a larger transaction that sets Montreal on a path toward success.
What they should do: Ottawa GM Pierre Dorion hasn’t committed to being a buyer or seller at the deadline — at least until the Senators are done playing through early March. Dorion says he believes his team is playing “meaningful games” despite slim postseason odds. We also know Dorion won’t be trading Alex DeBrincat or Travis Hamonic. So, what will the Senators do?
If Dorion decides to add, it should be defensive players and a goaltender. Ottawa’s back end won’t cut it as is even with Jake Sanderson‘s continued growth. But if adding a top-four defenseman would be the ideal move, the market might not yield many satisfying options. The Senators aren’t the only ones needing blue-line help, and being on the playoff bubble makes offering a top asset in return less attractive.
Then there’s the netminding issue. Anton Forsberg is out for two to three months. Talbot is dealing with his share of ailments, too. Going after Joonas Korpisalo or James Reimer (both pending UFAs) could stabilize Ottawa’s goaltending now and present a potential fit for an extension into the future.
Ottawa’s best option might be staying patient now with an eye toward the summer. Dorion made waves acquiring DeBrincat in July, and there’s still a chance the Senators could extend him (and others). There’s no harm in standing pat and riding the season out with a plan to do more in the offseason.
Deadline status: Full steam ahead
Cap space: $769,967
Players, picks in play: F Isaac Howard, D Philippe Myers
What they should do: Tampa Bay finds a way. On the ice, and at the deadline. So what if the Lightning don’t have a first-round pick for the next three years or any real grade-A prospects to play ball with? Or that their available cap space is miniscule? GM Julien BriseBois is as capable of improving his club as the team itself is of chasing down another Cup title.
Case in point: Tampa grabbed Tanner Jeannot from Nashville on Sunday. The Predators’ haul in return? Defenseman Cal Foote, third-, fourth- and fifth-round picks in 2023, a second-round pick in 2024 and a protected first-round pick in 2025.
Why would the Lightning overpay and give up all that for a second-year skater like Jeannot? Because Tampa Bay believes it can win another Stanley Cup. And with multiple Eastern Conference teams loading up around them, the Lightning knew they had to address their depth scoring that’s perennially been a great complement to an elite top-six group of forwards come playoff time. Past deals for Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman set the precedent.
Tampa Bay doesn’t have a great deal of draft capital — or cap space — to broker deals with now. However, if BriseBois wants to keep tinkering, he should target a more offensive-minded, puck-moving defender who could play throughout the second and third pairings and pitch in on special teams. But again, that’s a player on most teams’ wish lists, and the market bears only a few. Some transactions are easier identified than completed.
There’s no question the Lighting are all-in on another Cup run. Tampa Bay is one team not afraid to put money where its mouth is.
Deadline status: Win-now mode
Cap space: $2,770,833
Players, picks in play: F Dryden Hunt, F Pierre Engvall, F Pontus Holmberg
What they should do: Toronto has already gone all-in. There’s not much more they can — or should — do before Friday.
It was obvious the Leafs were motivated buyers when they acquired Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari from St. Louis for, among other assets, a 2023 first-round pick. Then GM Kyle Dubas went out and grabbed Jake McCabe and Sam Lafferty from Chicago. The McCabe addition is exactly what Toronto needed to bolster its blue line (and getting the Blackhawks to retain half of McCabe’s salary made it worth giving up another first-round draft choice).
Somehow, Dubas pulled off both those deals without giving up a top prospect or roster player. He maintains familiarity with those guys is critical for Toronto’s long-term success. While the Leafs are adding more bodies to the mix, it also creates internal competition — especially among the bottom-six forward group and second- and third-pairing defensemen — that can benefit the team as a whole.
Toronto has to hope that’s the case, anyway. Dubas has admitted concerns over how many draft picks the Leafs have shipped out to this point (Toronto holds only one first-round choice — and zero second-round selections — in the next three drafts). However, this is not a Leafs team building for the future. It must win now. Dubas — on an expiring contract himself — knows that better than anyone. He’s done everything possible to give Toronto a chance.
Deadline status: Intelligent shoppers
Cap space: $10,106,667
Players, picks in play: 2024 second-round pick, C Jack Drury, F Ryan Suzuki, D Dylan Coghlan, D Scott Morrow
What they should do: Carolina has the luxury of available cap space. Now how to take advantage of it?
The logical answer is forward depth. Max Pacioretty was expected to play a major role in Carolina’s offense after the team acquired him from Vegas in July, but the veteran appeared in just five games between Achilles tendon injuries and won’t be back this season. That leaves money on the table.
Carolina looks solid defensively, its penalty kill trends in the top 10 and the Hurricanes have excellent overall offensive numbers. The team has dealt with injuries to starting goaltender Frederik Andersen, but rookie Pyotr Kochetkov is waiting in the wings and, frankly, acquiring a goalie at the deadline can be a hit-or-miss experiment.
Carolina’s most glaring issue is its 23rd-ranked power play. The Hurricanes can address that through targeting the right top-six forward who brings physical punch and moves the puck well on special teams. Brock Boeser comes to mind as a non-rental option.
The Hurricanes shouldn’t shy away from spending on the right player. Historically, the franchise also knows when to say when and not make moves just to make them. Carolina is already in great shape for a postseason run; whatever it does must only enhance the chemistry in place.
Deadline status: Looking ahead to better days
Cap space: $8,858,333
Players, picks in play: F Emil Bemstrom, F Liam Foudy, F Boone Jenner, F Gustav Nyquist, D Vladislav Gavrikov, D Andrew Peeke, G Joonas Korpisalo
What they should do: Columbus’ focus is on its future. The deadline is step one in building a firmer foundation. It’s time to acquire picks and/or top prospects.
That said, the Blue Jackets have some difficult decisions to make about whom to keep and whom to trade. Gavrikov is basically gone already, having been a healthy scratch for weeks while trade discussions play out, but Columbus wants a comparable return (think a first-round pick and prospect/additional high draft choice) to what he offers on the ice.
Korpisalo — a pending UFA — might stick around in Columbus if not for the long-term deal already tendered to Elvis Merzlikins and Daniil Tarasov being on the radar for next season. Expect the Blue Jackets to dangle Korpisalo in front of any club looking to upgrade its goaltending for the short (and potentially long) term.
Columbus has other assets, too, on the roster and in their system to toss into the fray. The Blue Jackets need a fresh start after this frustrating season, and roster turnover is a good place to start on that frontier.
Deadline status: Ready to rumble
Cap space: $1,360,834
Players, picks in play: G Nico Daws, G Akira Schmid, F Alexander Holtz
What they should do: New Jersey’s biggest need was a top-six winger. Its second-biggest need? Keeping pace with its Metropolitan Division — and geographic — rival.
Hello, Timo Meier.
The Devils landed one of the trade deadline’s top prizes in Meier, pulling him from San Jose in a blockbuster on Sunday night. That was New Jersey’s counterpunch to the Rangers landing Vladimir Tarasenko (and potentially Patrick Kane, too) and the Islanders reeling in Bo Horvat. There’s no doubt the Devils are a great team already. But seeing those around them loading up only incentivized New Jersey to do the same.
In Meier, the Devils have a game-changing offensive playmaker whom New Jersey could potentially wrap up with a longer deal before he becomes a restricted free agent this summer. The important thing is to see how Meier fits in to complement the team’s established contributors such as Jack Hughes, Jesper Bratt and Nico Hischier, who’ve been driving the offense all season.
Now that Meier is in the mix, the Devils can fill in any remaining gaps with smaller adds. New Jersey could stand to improve its defense with a puck-moving second- or third-pairing blueliner. Goal scoring will be at a premium come the playoffs, and no team can have too many contributors on the ice. Fortunately, New Jersey has assets to wield in order to improve.
What the Devils won’t be offering are top prospects Luke Hughes or Simon Nemec. Young NHL forward Dawson Mercer is also unlikely to be included in any transactions.
New Jersey is in a good spot to compete this season. Its remaining deadline moves should only serve to support those chances further — whether that’s by doing a lot, or a little.
What they should do: New York stood pat at last season’s trade deadline. Ditto in the offseason.
So, naturally, GM Lou Lamoriello beat everyone to the punch by trading for — and then extending — Bo Horvat before the All-Star break. There’s really no predicting where Lamoriello goes from here. But we can try anyway.
The Islanders could keep adding — specifically a top-six forward and depth defenseman — and give themselves the best chance at a postseason berth. Mathew Barzal suffering a lower-body injury and joining Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Cal Clutterbuck and Josh Bailey on the sidelines only highlights the Islanders’ need for more help up front to truly contend. Max Domi might be an appealing target in that case, in a low-risk, high-reward scenario.
In terms of assets to part with, the Islanders have Varlamov and Mayfield as pending UFAs who could fetch a solid return. The rental goalie market — or, frankly, the goalie market in general — has been whisper quiet, though. And moving Varlamov would put the Islanders in a precarious position if starter Ilya Sorokin were to be injured.
Lamoriello is notoriously tight-lipped and won’t be tipping his hand anytime soon. What the Islanders should do to stay in contention, though, is keep buying, or find other creative means (aka waiver wire pickups) to improve their offensive chances.
Deadline status: Not done yet?
Cap space: $2,744,385
Players, picks in play: F Ryan Carpenter, D Libor Hajek, D Zac Jones
What they should do: New York wasn’t waiting around for March 3. And the Rangers are as all-in as it gets.
The Rangers pulled off a blockbuster move in grabbing Vladimir Tarasenko from St. Louis earlier this month to give Artemi Panarin a new top-line teammate. New York followed that up by acquiring Tyler Motte from Ottawa to bolster its bottom-six depth. Motte was with the Rangers last season but couldn’t agree on an extension in free agency; now he’s back in the fold and should slide nicely into a useful role for them.
All that to say, what’s next for New York? And will it involve Patrick Kane? It’s no secret the Chicago Blackhawks star is interested in being a Ranger. New York started making space to acquire Kane — a pending UFA — by trading disgruntled Vitali Kravtsov to Vancouver on Saturday and putting forward Jake Leschyshyn on waivers. Then they dressed waiver-exempt Braden Schneider and Ryan Carpenter on Sunday without actually playing them in order to protect their health; the club’s intention is freeing up cap space by sending them both to the American Hockey League this week.
New York wouldn’t do all that (would they?) without knowing a deal for Kane can come to fruition.
GM Chris Drury has to believe Kane would be a real difference-maker for the Rangers. Brokering that deal with the Blackhawks would be Drury’s last big swing and give coach Gerard Gallant a hefty amount of talent to play with ahead of the postseason. Given what New York has done up to this point, why stop now?
What they should do: Philadelphia must be highly motivated to make moves by March 3.
It’s a no-brainer for the Flyers to be sellers. What’s intriguing will be who ends up out the door. John Tortorella is an exacting coach who likes a certain mentality in his players (and isn’t shy about sharing criticism). If GM Chuck Fletcher is committed to Tortorella and his view of the team’s future, it should be reflected in Philadelphia’s deadline decisions.
The Flyers’ best return will likely come by van Riemsdyk, a veteran scorer who can add depth to a contender’s middle six. Seeler and Braun might also become appealing to clubs that don’t have enough capital to get in on the market’s more coveted defensive options. Tony DeAngelo hasn’t panned out as expected this season, but the Flyers invested a lot (with a two-year, $10 million deal) after grabbing DeAngelo from Carolina last summer. It would take the right offer to move on so quickly from the blueliner.
Fletcher’s priority will be starting to set Philadelphia up for a bounce-back season in 2023-24. The appetite for a long rebuild is minimal — hence why trading Travis Konecny, for example, might not make sense — and the Flyers have a strong pool of prospects who can start filling roles sooner than later. That gives them flexibility on trading current roster players, which should be the focus of their business over the next few days.
What they should do: Pittsburgh needs one thing in a big way: depth scoring.
The Penguins’ bottom-six group has been in disarray for much of the season and that won’t do if Pittsburgh expects to a) make the playoffs and b) compete there well into the spring. The team’s third line — specifically Jeff Carter, Kasperi Kapanen and Brock McGinn — has underachieved, and an infusion of new life would do wonders. Clearly GM Ron Hextall felt the same when Kapanen was placed on waivers Friday afternoon; St. Louis subsequently claimed the winger.
But the primary impetus for Pittsburgh will be money. The Penguins’ lack of available cap space makes dollars-in, dollars-out moves their only real option. Vancouver’s Brock Boeser has term and would boost Pittsburgh’s middle-six group immediately, but the Penguins would have to make room for his $6.6 million cap hit. That’s not always easy.
Beyond just forward help, the Penguins could target defensive depth (same as most clubs), specifically with a team that might be willing to retain some salary.
It’s clear what the Penguins’ priorities should be. How creative Hextall can get in fulfilling his requirements will prove fascinating.
What they should do: Washington’s season is slowly slipping away. The Capitals have skidded more than they’ve soared recently, and it has put their playoff hopes into question.
It’s not like Washington is out of the hunt. But after moving Dmitry Orlov and Garnet Hathaway to Boston last week, the Capitals aren’t hanging their hats on another playoff run, either. Staying in that position would require aggressively adding roster players. Instead, GM Brian MacLellan picked up high draft choices — including a 2023 first-round pick, 2025 second-rounder and 2024 third-rounder — from the Bruins. Washington’s focus then appears more on the future. And it’s not often during MacLellan’s tenure that the Capitals have so obviously been in such a position.
But let’s not forget: The Capitals have Alex Ovechkin on the edge of his prime, and that’s not something to waste.
Beefing up the team’s defense would be key for it to at least stay in the postseason mix. John Carlson‘s absence since suffering a head injury in December has left the Capitals’ back end reeling. But blue-line help won’t come cheap and how the Capitals navigate this next week will be revealing. The club should at least take into consideration how many more years it has to cash in on its best talents (Ovechkin, Nick Backstrom, Carlson, T.J. Oshie, etc.) and plan accordingly. It just might not be feasible for MacLellan to do enough with what he has available right now to keep the Capitals in contention.
What they should do: Working toward what they believe can become a bright future has long been the focal point for the Coyotes. This trade deadline gives them a chance to do that, and it started Feb. 22 when they moved defenseman Dysin Mayo for a 2023 fifth-rounder and Shea Weber‘s contract from the Vegas Golden Knights. It’s a move that allowed them to gain draft capital while also being potential insurance to reach the cap floor should they need it once the deadline passes.
The expectation is Chychrun will potentially generate the sort of return that could be among the largest commanded by a player at this deadline. If so, it’s possible the Coyotes could receive both draft picks and at least a prospect. Whatever they receive for Chychrun would only just be one piece of their overall haul.
Players such as Bjugstad and Gostisbehere are veteran pending UFAs who give the Coyotes a chance to parlay their talents into draft capital. Another item to consider is the possibility they could pick up additional draft capital by virtue of being a third-party broker, a tactic that teams are starting to use over the past few years. But with the reports that Nick Schmaltz might also be available, it could further amplify an already pivotal deadline for the Coyotes.
Deadline status: Building for the future
Cap space: $18,066,126
Players, picks in play: F Andreas Athanasiou, F Max Domi, F Patrick Kane
What they should do: With Kane on the verge of joining the Rangers, there are still moves the Blackhawks can make. Trading Athanasiou and Domi are options. So is the notion they could potentially use their cap space to be a third-party broker in a bid to gain more draft capital.
Even then, the Blackhawks did exactly what they sought out to do at this deadline, which was accruing the necessary capital to build for the future. What they have done ahead of this year’s deadline is position themselves to have 10 draft picks in 2023, nine picks in 2024 and seven picks in 2025. They will have two first-round picks in three consecutive drafts while having multiple selections in the first three rounds of this year’s and next year’s drafts.
It’s possible they could add to that total depending upon what happens with Kane, Athanasiou and Domi. And if that happens, it only reinforces what has a chance to be a crucial next few months. The Blackhawks have one of the three lowest point totals, which places them in a position to win the draft lottery and have the chance to select the presumed No. 1 pick in Bedard in their attempt to create the next long-term period of sustained success.
Deadline status: Win-again mode
Cap space: $5,338,333
Players, picks in play: 2023 first-round pick, 2024 first-round pick, D Sean Behrens, F Sampo Ranta
What they should do: Try to strike a deal for a No. 2 center … or is it possible they might already have one and could look to address another area? So far, the activity ahead of the deadline has seen a significant shift in the top-six center market with Horvat going to the Islanders, O’Reilly being moved to the Maple Leafs and Jonathan Toews staying with the Blackhawks as he continues to recover from COVID-19 and chronic immune response syndrome.
Yet what J.T. Compher has done of late has created questions about if the Avs already have a No. 2 center and could potentially look to improve elsewhere. Compher’s profile is one of a top-nine forward who can play on either special teams unit. This season he has made a jump to career highs in assists, points and a surge in ice time to the tune of more than 20 minutes per game. He’s on pace to finish with 18 goals and 59 points, which is similar to the projections of the current No. 2 center options believed to be available.
Moving either Gabriel Landeskog and/or Erik Johnson to LTIR will create cap space. But the Avs also face a dilemma when it comes to what they can use in a potential trade. All the moves they have made over the past few years led to them winning a Cup. But they also altered the depth of their prospect pool in a way that could see them be at a disadvantage compared to other teams. The Avs have their first-round picks for this year and the next two years. Will it be enough?
Deadline status: Wait and see?
Cap space: $1,211,853
Players, picks in play: D Lian Bichsel, F Matej Blumel, F Riley Damiani
What they should do: Strengthening their top-six forward group appears to be the move for a team that sits around the middle of the league in goals per game. The Stars exchanged Denis Gurianov in order to receive Evgenii Dadonov. They could go after more options, but it also comes down to this rather important set of questions: What’s the cost, and will that help be worth the price?
The Stars have a number of prospects they could use as potential trade chips. But is that the most prudent move for an organization that has continually found ways to develop homegrown talent into key players within its lineup? Miro Heiskanen, Roope Hintz, Jake Oettinger and Jason Robertson are the strongest current examples of that approach.
It’s also something the Stars are seeing again this season with the contributions made by Ty Dellandrea and Wyatt Johnston. And while they got Nils Lundkvist in a trade, he’s still another young player who has become a contributor. That’s what makes the discussion around even trading draft picks challenging. Because it’s entirely possible that a draft pick the Stars could trade for a rental could have also been one of their future farm-to-table contributors.
What they should do: Winning six of their past 10 games has seen the Wild go from being in the wild-card race to being three points out of the Central lead. Wild general manager Bill Guerin told The Athletic that he would like to be active at the deadline, before adding whatever they can or cannot do is “another story.”
A year ago, the Wild were one of the NHL’s most prolific teams as they were fifth in goals per game. Losing Kevin Fiala, among other reasons, has led to a decline, and they entered Sunday ranked 26th in goals. Or to say it another way: Of all the teams currently in a playoff spot, the Wild have the least prolific attack.
But where it gets complicated is that the Wild are not exactly swimming in the sort of cap space that makes a deal to get a top-nine scorer easy. CapFriendly projects the Wild have $2.605 million to use by season’s end. It’s the type of space that allowed them to be third-party brokers as a way to gain draft capital. However, it’s also the type of space that could make it challenging for them to add another forward compared to teams with more cap space.
And while they could potentially facilitate a deal for a rental, anything long-term could come with complications. The Wild already have to shed contracts this offseason as the combined total from the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter buyouts will increase from $12.743 million to $14.743 million for both the 2023-24 and the 2024-25 seasons.
Deadline status: Building for the future
Cap space: $11,024,623
Players, picks in play: D Mattias Ekholm
What they should do: Practically every question about the Predators’ direction was answered over the weekend. They traded Nino Niederreiter to the Winnipeg Jets. They announced that GM David Poile was going to step down at the end of the season. Then, they traded Tanner Jeannot for Cal Foote and five draft picks from the Lightning.
The decision to trade Jeannot and Niederreiter comes as the Preds entered Tuesday just six points out of the final wild-card spot. There is still a chance the Preds could reach the playoffs for a ninth straight season. They also could miss the postseason entirely.
If the trades signal that the Predators are willing to make more deals, the question is: Do they start moving players en masse now, or could the offseason be a more realistic window? A number of their most coveted players are on deals that are longer than two years and come with sizable cap hits.
Deadline status: Building for the future
Cap space: $6,103,758
Players, picks in play: D Colton Parayko
What they should do: Blues GM Doug Armstrong’s decision to trade Ivan Barbashev, Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko before the trade deadline has made it clear that the Blues are sellers who are concentrating on their future.
As for how quickly the Blues see that future starting? With less than a week left until the deadline, they claimed Penguins winger Kasperi Kapanen on waivers. Picking him up gives them a top-nine forward who is in the first year of a two-year contract carrying a $3.2 million annual cap hit.
But there is still a possibility the Blues might not be done. Daily Faceoff reported that teams have also asked about Parayko, who is in the first of an eight-year extension carrying a $6.5 million AAV cap hit. It could amount to the Blues adding to a haul that has already seen them pick up two first-rounders for a total of three first-round picks in this year’s draft.
Deadline status: Time to strike
Cap space: $5,042,089
Players, picks in play: 2023 first-round pick, F Jansen Harkins, F Karson Kuhlman, F Danny Zhilkin
What they should do: Enough was in place to suggest the Jets needed to trade for a top-nine forward, which is exactly what they did when they acquired Niederreiter. For one, they are in a position to potentially win the Central and the Western regular-season crowns. They were also a team that came into the weekend ranked 18th in goals while having the NHL’s No. 14 power-play unit.
Then came the news Jets coach Rick Bowness delivered with a week left before the deadline that rookie forward Cole Perfetti would miss eight weeks with an upper-body injury. Scoring has been a season-long issue for the Jets, which is what makes losing Perfetti even more difficult because he was fifth in assists and sixth in points.
Niederreiter’s arrival means the Jets have strengthened a top-six winger situation that already featured Kyle Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers, Blake Wheeler and Perfetti once he returns. He gives them a five-time, 20-goal scorer who already has 18 goals in a bid for what would be his sixth 20-goal campaign. He also gives the Jets a player who has scored 15 goals and 30 points over 82 postseason games.
What they should do: The Ducks are in a position to come away with the type of haul that could help them attain the sort of franchise-altering draft capital they seek. In fact, what they do at the deadline coupled with the reality they could win the draft lottery and potentially draft Bedard could make this one of the most pivotal times in franchise history.
Having three pending UFA defensemen in Klingberg, Kulikov and Shattenkirk could help them achieve that goal. Klingberg and Shattenkirk present playoff hopefuls with puck-moving options who can facilitate scoring chances at 5-on-5 and in power-play sequences, while Kulikov, who leads the Ducks in short-handed minutes, could strengthen a penalty kill.
The most intriguing situation is what could happen with Henrique. Horvat and O’Reilly going earlier in the deadline window along with Monahan’s injury significantly altered the top-six center market. Thus, it made Henrique one of the strongest options for a team trying to fill that need. But he was recently moved to injured reserve and is considered week-to-week. So a team trading for him would keep that in mind in addition to the results of his physical. Still, it could result in a team adding a center with one year left on his contract at $5.825 million who has scored 19 goals and 33 points through 55 games.
Deadline status: Wait and see
Cap space: $3,184,298
Players, picks in play: D Connor Mackey, F Kevin Rooney, G Arseni Sergeyev
What they should do: You might have noticed a pattern with a number of Western Conference teams. The ones that are vying for the wild-card spot are facing a decision: Do they make a move? Or do they hold firm with the hope that what they have is enough to make it into the postseason?
The Flames are among those teams. Finding ways to consistently generate more goals has factored into why they are 17th in goals scored. It’s why they could use another forward. But they could also try to add another defenseman who would bolster their blue line with the aim of finding more cohesion on that end of the ice.
Figuring how to address those needs with little cap space appears to be the challenge. But it also is part of a cat-and-mouse game similar to that of a number of Western Conference teams trying to reach the playoffs. The Flames are six points out of third in the Pacific and four points behind the Kraken for the first wild-card spot. But they are three points behind the Avalanche — with the realization the Avs have played fewer games.
What they should do: Pick a top-four defenseman who is expected to be moved before or on trade deadline day. Chances are, a number of them have been linked with the Oilers or would serve as an option for a team that has struggled with allowing a high number of goals at various points of the season.
Getting one of those top-four defensemen is a plan that would feature a number of moving parts. The first and most crucial step is finding the cap space. Currently, the Oilers don’t have the space to add someone of this caliber, and that’s with three players on LTIR. They must either find a way to create space by trading someone away and/or be willing to pay a premium to enlist the help of a third-party broker in order to facilitate a deal.
Then there’s the second piece of the plan: Fielding a competitive enough offer that will give the Oilers the edge over other teams. The Oilers have first-round picks they can use in addition to forwards like Foegele or Puljujarvi. But will it be enough? There could be teams that ask the Oilers for one of their top prospects, forcing Edmonton’s front office into making a decision that could impact the team for years to come.
Deadline status: Selective shoppers
Cap space: $3,282,541
Players, picks in play: 2023 first-round pick, D Helge Grans, F Alex Laferriere
What they should do: Going after a top-four defenseman who can help reinforce their defensive zone play appears to be the objective. Determining what might be the most feasible asking price in a market that has seen sellers collect hefty bounties to this point looks like the most notable challenge facing the Kings.
There was a time when it appeared they were going to get Chychrun, and perhaps that can still happen. But one of the reported issues with any deal was the asking price. Namely, the Kings were reluctant to give up two prospects whom they feel can be of great value in their future plans in Quinton Byfield and Brandt Clarke.
But there are other options the Kings could pursue. For example, they could decide to go after one of the pending UFA defensemen who they believe could fill their needs for what they deem to be a more reasonable price without severely impacting their future plans.
Deadline status: Building for the future
Cap space: $2,194,167
Players, picks in play: D Erik Karlsson, G James Reimer
What they should do: With less than a week left before the deadline, the Sharks moved their most coveted player in Timo Meier to the Devils, and shaped part of their future in the process. It led to them receiving a conditional 2023 first-round pick, a conditional 2024 second-round pick, a 2024 seventh-round pick, a pair of prospect defensemen in Shakir Mukhamadaullin and Nikita Okhotiuk and NHL forwards in Andreas Johnsson and Fabian Zetterlund.
Maybe the Sharks are able to make another trade. Maybe trading Meier is the only move they can make. Either way, what Sharks GM Mike Grier was able to do with the Meier trade alone has the potential to make this one of the more instrumental periods in recent franchise history.
Just know this: The Sharks have one of the lowest point totals in the NHL. They have not had a top-three pick since 1998. But now? They are in position to potentially win the draft lottery and have the chance to draft presumed No. 1 pick Connor Bedard in a draft that will see them have 11 picks, including two in the first round.
Deadline status: Selective shoppers
Cap space: $3,687,576
Players, picks in play: D Carson Soucy, one of their three 2023 second-round picks
What they should do: Kraken GM Ron Francis told ESPN that the team is “not afraid to make a move.” As for what move Seattle will make? That is where the mystery lies with the Kraken, especially with Francis stating they want to add depth without specifying what areas they would like to address.
The rumors continue to persist that they could be interested in potentially moving on from Soucy. He is set to hit unrestricted free agency in an offseason that will also require the Kraken to present defensemen Will Borgen and Vince Dunn with new contracts. Furthermore, the Kraken might believe Soucy is expendable, having just traded for Jaycob Megna.
ESPN’s Emily Kaplan also reported the Kraken were monitoring Jonathan Toews before that no longer became an option. The Kraken are one of the most prolific goal-scoring teams in the league, but they have struggled to convert that into consistent power-play success with a unit that ranks 20th in the NHL; adding a top-nine forward with some offensive flash would help solve that problem.
Deadline status: Building for the future
Cap space: $7,294,583
Players, picks in play: F Brock Boeser, D Luke Schenn
What they should do: Everything surrounding the Canucks’ current status suggests they are a franchise that is looking toward the future. Their record means they’re in position to get a lottery pick. Meanwhile, the haul they received in trading Horvat to the Islanders — which included a first-round pick and a prospect forward in Aatu Raty — was just the start.
The Rangers’ need to clear cap space for an impending Kane trade means the Canucks received another forward in Vitali Kravtsov, who was a first-round pick back in 2018. He gives them one more promising young player who projects as a top-nine forward.
So what could Boeser and Schenn bring back in return? Let’s start with Boeser. The Canucks gave his agent permission to speak with the Wild. But another team could present something more enticing for a top-six forward who is a proven 20-goal scorer with two more years left on his current contract.
Schenn is one of the more attractive defensive options. For one, he would provide his new team with a two-time Stanley Cup champion who is having the strongest offensive campaign of his career, in addition to someone who can be trusted to eat minutes on the penalty kill … all for the price of being a pending UFA with an $850,000 cap hit.
Between a classic pending UFA rental in Schenn and a proven goal scorer with term remaining in Boeser, the Canucks can add some franchise-altering futures ahead of March 3.
Deadline status: Pushing all the chips in
Cap space: $6,504,166
Players, picks in play: 2023 first-round pick, one of their two 2023 third-round picks, D Lukas Cormier, F Pavel Dorofeyev
What they should do: Last week, the Knights moved Mark Stone to LTIR to free up cap space, only to then trade the Shea Weber contract. That gave the club the needed financial flexibility for years to come. But all of this suggests the Knights are in a position to make the type of move they feel can help them win the Stanley Cup this year — while also adding help for the future.
Finding another top-six forward became the priority for the Golden Knights once Stone was ruled out indefinitely after having his second back surgery since last May. They added one versatile option in Ivan Barbashev, sending prospect Zach Dean to St. Louis.
Is another major trade even worth it? At some point, the Knights will have to rely on their farm system to supplement their lineup, as opposed to using free agency or the trade market to find answers. The Knights do have prospects. But could moving those prospects help them or hurt them going forward? It’s a philosophical question for the front office to ponder in the days ahead.