Buyers And Sellers Report: NHL Team’s Trade Status Tiers Approaching The 2023 Trade Deadline

Photo: Nucks Misconduct

With the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline just six weeks away from Friday, teams are in very different positions of approach. Some will be adding some big-name players to their mix to reach the next level of Stanley Cup contenders while others do not need much help, and a few need a fresh start entirely. NoVa Caps looks at where each team stands as they try to figure out their plans ahead of March 3. 

“All-In”: teams that would most likely benefit from high-profile or numerous moves

Seattle Kraken – Seattle has had an incredible bounce back season as they are just two points back of the Pacific Division title race with a game in hand. However, their offense has overperformed with many unproven players (left-wing Eeli Tolvanen, right-wing Daniel Sprong, center Jarred McCann among them) having career years. In addition, they will likely be exposed with rookie Matty Beniers as their top-line center, no clear No. 1 defenseman, and a goalie tandem ranked with the fifth-worst overall save percentage (.8886) this season. Their penalty-killing percentage of 70.1% this season is better than just the Vancouver Canucks (66.9%) Seattle should look to address all these holes. Players such as Vancouver center Bo Horvat, Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jacob Chychrun, and New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov are all names that come to mind who would take this team to the next level. Seattle has three second-round picks this summer and two third-round picks next, so they have the assets to pull off such a move.

Edmonton Oilers – Edmonton has had a bit of an inconsistent season but have a five-point cushion for a wild-card spot, which means they should be expected to make the postseason. However, they need more scoring depth (centers Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in addition to left-wing Zach Hyman have combined for 110 of their league-high 174 – 63.22% – goals this season), help on the backend as their average of 3.26 goals-against per game ranks 20th, and in goal as the addition of Jack Campbell (.887 save percentage, 3.35 goals-against average in 24 games), who has lost the starting job, over the offseason has backfired.

Winnipeg Jets – Winnipeg has a deep blueline (sixth with a 2.65 goals-against per game, second with an 84.4% penalty-killing rate) but a weak bottom-six forward group with 69 of their 149 goals this season (46.31%) coming from center Mark Schiefele, left-wing Kyle Connor, and center Pierre-Luc Dubois. That number grows to 53.69% when you include right-wing Blake Wheeler. No other forward on Winnipeg has more than eight goals. To compete with the top contenders in the West like Seattle, the Dallas Stars, and Los Angeles Kings, they will need some more fire power.

Minnesota Wild – Minnesota has strong goaltending, defense, and a few lethal forwards. However, they will continue to fall below the top tier of team without a top-line center. Minnesota should absolutely be in on Horvat, Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks, and Ryan O’Reilly of the St. Louis Blues to take the next step. Their offense is just below the league average with 3.11 goals-per-game and the addition of a center should help in that area. Their penalty kill is also around average, though slightly above (79.5%), and average may not be good enough against a team like Dallas or the Colorado Avalanche in a seven-game series.

Vegas Golden Knights – Vegas is just a point behind first place in the Western Conference and have a very strong blueline, which may have had a disappointing season (2.87 goals-against per game, 12th; 78.5% penalty-killing rate, league-average). They lack finishers as their average of 3.17 goals-per-game ranks 16th and their leading goal-scorer (right-wing Reilly Smith) has 18 goals, which is tied for 37th overall. Right-wing Mark Stone is also out week-to-week with an upper-body injury, further reinforcement for a need of more scoring. Vegas’ goalie tandem of rookie Logan Thompson and back-up Adin Hill have combined for a save percentage (.9155) below league-average (17th) and the two entered the season with only 92 games of NHL experience. Perhaps, adding more reliable goaltending would be a smart decision. O’Reilly, Chicago right-wing Patrick Kane, St. Louis center Ivan Barbashev could all make sense for Vegas. Varlamov, Cam Talbot of the Ottawa Senators, or Frederik Andersen of the Carolina Hurricanes could be possible fits to provide some veteran insurance in net.

Los Angeles Kings – Los Angeles has gone 10-4-1 (.700 points percentage – tied for second) since a 1-2-1 Northeastern road trip (which included an overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets and getting outscored 11-0 by the Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres) to get within two points of Vegas for the division lead. While their offense (3.19 goals-per-game, 14th; 24.4% power-play efficiency, 11th) has improved and their defense (87.56 expected goals-against, seventh) are solid, Los Angeles’ .9039 five-on-five save percentage is the worst by a team currently in postseason position and fourth-worst overall. Pheonix Copley has gained the No. 1 job, but he has just an .898 save percentage in 15 games. Like Vegas, Los Angeles should be in line for Varlamov, Talbot, and Andersen.

Dallas Stars – Left-wing Jason Robertson has at least 12 more goals and 18 more points than anyone else on the team and there is a big drop off on the scoring leaderboard as center Tyler Seguin (34) has a 12-point cushion for sixth on the team leaderboard. Kane, Horvat, and Kuzmenko could all make sense for Dallas.

Conservative Buyers: buyers who are already in strong shape but could benefit from adding

New Jersey Devils – New Jersey has a deep forward group that is averaging 3.51 goals-per-game (sixth) and one of the deepest, stingiest defensive units (2.64 goals-against per game, fifth). They need to determine whether they are satisfied with goaltender Vitek Vanecek, who gave up the starting job with the Washington Capitals three times last season but has had a solid season with a .914 save percentage and 2.37 goals-against average in 29 games. Though, the 27-year-old has just 108 games of NHL experience and not finished two of his three career postseason starts. Previous candidates mentioned earlier could work for New Jersey, though they would have a hard time acquiring Andersen as they are just one point behind Carolina for the Metropolitan Division lead.

New York Rangers – New York could add to its forward group as right-wing Kaapo Kakko, center Filip Chytil, and left-wing Alexis Lafreniere have all put up respectable stats but short of what the team, who averages a 3.11 goals-per-game (tied for 17th), wants, and needs from them. Horvat, Kane, St. Louis left-wing Vladimir Tarasenko, and Vancouver left-wing Andrei Kuzmenko could be among possible fits. They are among the stingiest teams defensively backed by one of the best goaltenders in Igor Shesterkin.

Tampa Bay Lightning – The three-time defending Eastern Conference champions, who rank fifth with a 3.61 goals-per-game average, are looking deep offensively. However, Tampa Bay has disappointed defensively a little bit with a 2.91 goals-against per game average (13th) and could use another right-handed blueliner. John Klingberg of the Anaheim Ducks (if they can make the money work), Luke Schenn of Vancouver, Radko Gudas of the Florida Panthers, and Scott Mayfield of the New York Islanders could be good fits for Tampa.

Calgary Flames – Calgary’s average of 3.04 goals-per-game (23rd) is a bit underwhelming after the team added left-wing Jonathan Huberdeau and center Nazem Kadri over the offseason. The team has a hole at left-wing. Candidates for them include Kuzmenko, James Van Riemsdyk of the Philadelphia Flyers, and Gustav Nyquist of Columbus.

Colorado Avalanche – Colorado, who is currently three points out of a postseason spot with three games in hand, has been rattled with injuries this season. The defending Stanley Cup Champions could use a second-line center after Kadri left and Horvat, Dylan Larkin of the Detroit Red Wings, Toews and Max Domi of Chicago could be among potential fits.

Washington Capitals – With John Carlson out until at least late in the regular season, the team, who occupies the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference by four points (but teams behind them have games in hand), could use another right-handed blueliner. Montreal’s David Savard, Arizona’s Shayne Gostisbehere, and Detroit’s Jake Walman could be among possibilities for the team. In addition, Washington’s forward group has been overflowing since center Nicklas Backstrom and right-wing Tom Wilson made their season debuts as one regular has sat out each game and center Aliaksei Protas was assigned to the AHL’s Hershey Bears. Center Lars Eller and left-wing Anthony Mantha are among the most likely to go, which would also clear salary cap space to add a defenseman or use it another way that Washington would prefer.

Pittsburgh Penguins – Pittsburgh, who is 4-7-3 (.393) since December 17, 12th with an average of 3.23 goals-per-game, and 18th with a 20.9 power-play efficiency, is tied for the final wild-card spot with three games in hand on the two closest teams to them. They could use another top-six forward, especially left-wing, as just four players have more than 15 goals. Kuzmenko, Nyquist, and Evgenii Dadonov of Montreal could be possible fits.

Carolina Hurricanes – Carolina is 18-3-4 since Thanksgiving but would improve with a more natural goal scorer up front, especially at center, as their 3.18 goals-per-gave average is just 15th but their 59.67% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage leads the league. They are also tied for 25th with a 18.8% power-play efficiency. The word is that they are not willing to meet Vancouver’s demands for Horvat, but could Larkin, Toews, or O’Reilly be on the table?

Somewhat Cautious Buyers: teams that could add but for minimal cost

Nashville Predators – Nashville, who is three points behind the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference with a game in hand and ranks 27th with an average of 2.71 goals-per-game and 30th with a 15.9% power-play efficiency, could use some more firepower offensively. Kuzmenko and Van Riemsdyk could be among their possible options if they decide to add as both should not cost the moon to acquire.

New York Islanders – New York ranks 24th with an average of 2.96 goals-per-game and 27th with a 16.9% power-play conversion rate. Like Nashville, New York could benefit from adding Kuzmenko or Van Riemsdyk as well as Barbashev or Domi.

Likely Don’t Need Much, If Anything: teams that have everything they need already

Boston Bruins – Boston leads the Eastern Conference by 12 points and have the best offense, defense, and penalty-kill in addition to fourth-best power play. They also have the league-leader in wins, save percentage, and goals-against average. So, yeah, they’re pretty much set.

Toronto Maple Leafs – Toronto is once again among the class of the East but doing it with an emphasis on defense as they are tied for third with an average of 2.63 goals-against per game. They rank eighth with an average of 3.39 goals-per-game, though almost 64% of their offense have come from their big four and left-wing Michael Bunting. Barbashev, Nyquist, and Detroit right-wing Oskar Sundqvist could make sense if they decide that more offensive depth is needed. They also need to determine if they are content with a goalie tandem of Ilya Samsonov and Matt Murray in the postseason, though the two are holding up just fine.

Conservative Sellers: teams who could trade off a few expiring contracts but not a ton

St. Louis Blues – They have climbed to two points behind the final wild-card spot but Colorado, who is tied with St. Louis, has three games in hand. Tarasenko, Barbashev, and O’Reilly are among their pending unrestricted free agents.

Florida Panthers – Florida has risen to just two points behind a postseason spot but five teams ahead of them in the wild-card race have a better points percentage and most of them have as many as three games in hand on them. However, they do not have many trade chips with right-wing Patric Hornqvist and Gudas as their top ones if they want to only put expiring contracts this summer up for grabs.

Buffalo Sabres – Even though Buffalo has gone an impressive 15-8-3 since November 21, they are still four points back of Pittsburgh and nine of Washington for wild-card spots. Though they have three games in hand on Washington, they don’t have any on Pittsburgh. Buffalo could be ready to make another big step next season and the goal should be the postseason so they will likely avoid trading players with term left unless they get a tempting offer. Right-wing Kyle Okposo and goaltender Craig Anderson are on expiring deals, though neither will likely fetch much of a return. They could even look to add should the opportunity to build for 2023-24 comes in the right opportunity/ies.

Detroit Red Wings – Detroit has gone 6-10-3 (.395, 26th) since December 8 to fall out of the Eastern Conference postseason picture. Like Buffalo, Detroit is an up-and-coming team likely with the mindset of competing as soon as next season and will not sacrifice that unless it makes them better. Larkin, Sundqvist, left-wing Tyler Bertuzzi, and center Pius Suter in addition to defensemen Walman, Maatta, and Jordan Oesterle can all become unrestricted free agents in July.

Ottawa Senators – The story in Buffalo and Detroit applies in Ottawa as well as they are another team building but are still eight points out of a postseason spot. They have been looking for a defenseman throughout the season and could trade for one who has term remaining on his contract as soon as by March 3. Talbot, right-wing Austin Watson, center Derick Brassard, left-wing Tyler Motte, and defensemen Travis Hamonic and Nick Holden are all without work beyond this season.

Somewhat Cautious Sellers: teams that should be sellers but do not have much to offer

Philadelphia Flyers – Philadelphia is six points behind the line in the East and Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Buffalo all have two games in hand on them. Besides Van Riemsdyk, the only players on expiring contract who could provide value is defenseman Justin Braun. Though, could defenseman Anthony DeAngelo (who can become an unrestricted free agent after next season) be in play?

Anaheim Ducks – Anaheim has had a dreadful campaign but have a very young core full of players who are years away from unrestricted free agency. Defensemen Shattenkirk, Klingberg, Dmitry Kulikov, and Nathan Beaulieu will likely all be wearing new jerseys in March, but Anaheim will not likely get any significant pieces by trading any of them.

“For Sale” Sign Here: teams that should pursue fresh starts

Vancouver Canucks – Horvat, Kuzmenko, and Schenn are among Vancouver’s players on expiring contracts, but most bet they would listen on almost anybody (besides center Elias Pettersson and defenseman Quinn Hughes) with the way their season has unfolded.

Montreal Canadiens – Dadonov, center Sean Monahan, and center Jonathan Drouin are among their pending unrestricted free agents.

Columbus Blue Jackets – Nyquist, Gavrikov, and goaltender Joonas Korpisalo are pending unrestricted free agents.

Arizona Coyotes – Left-wing Nick Ritchie, center Nick Bjugstad, and defensemen Troy Stecher and Gostisbehere can all become unrestricted free agents in July. Then there’s what Arizona will do with Chychrun…

San Jose Sharks – Center Nick Bonino and goaltender James Reimer are up for new contracts this summer and right-wing Kevin Labanc will be next summer.

Chicago Blackhawks – Toews and Kane are the big fish on the market and then there’s Domi.

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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13 Responses to Buyers And Sellers Report: NHL Team’s Trade Status Tiers Approaching The 2023 Trade Deadline

  1. novafyre says:

    Bolts: Their fans have been speculating about Luke Schenn coming back. Still a fan favorite.

    Caps: I’m still waiting for the Caps to make Jagr an offer.

  2. dwgie26 says:

    Question is, who can afford to take on Mantha. That isn’t an easy number for most contending clubs to take on. Probably requires a third party broker who can take on Cap. Some teams above like Seattle and Winnipeg or even Edmonton would be good landing spots. We get frustrated with him but Mantha puts up points!

    I also like Luke Schenn. Tampa would be a logical landing spot for him. I’m surprised he hasn’t been moved yet, but I think sellers are waiting for market to rise which will happen closer to the deadline.

    It’s going to be quiet until close to the deadline.

    • hockeydruid says:

      The GM should cut his losses and sell both Mantha and Eller for a mid round pick and a minor league blue-liner. They need to keep their draft capital AND the young guys in Hershey and on the team. IF that means no trade then that is just fine as this team is not a legitimate Cup contender. Making the playoffs just puts a few more bucks in the owners pocket but actually does nothing for the team next year or in the future except give them another mid 20’s pick. There is no use in making the playoffs as they will only get a lower pick and they guys who are UFA/RFA will want a larger salary. This team needs to pare down salary and players of age. No one would want Carlson at this point but Orlov who is currently making $5.1M and a UFA after this season might fetch a good haul and the same with Jensen. So my question is does the GM feed the ego of the owner and make a silly trade and lose capital and assets just to make the playoffs or do they either sit tight or become sellers to start the rebuild over the summer?

      • dwgie26 says:

        My main point is that it isn’t just that easy. Mantha carries a big cap this year and next and most teams are strapped against the cap. Eller cap isn’t easy to digest for a contender either.

        It has often been reported that BMac is a very active GM. Always working the phones and trying to find the right pieces at the right price. He is surely having a lot of those conversations this year, even if we don’t hear it reported.

        We are in playoff contention and I like our punchers choice this year. We could also be out in the first round, but I’d rather throw a punch than surrender and take a knee. As such, I don’t suspect (nor do I want them) to move more than one player before the deadline.

        • hockeydruid says:

          I agree that it wont be easy however it is better to get something than get nothing for some of thee UFA’s and to be honest it is better to get rid of Mantha for a bag of pucks than to keep him here and eventually become unhappy and possible a malcontent. I’m an truly sorry that you are one of those who, it appears, is happy to be in playoff contention and just make the playoffs and lose in the first round. Answer this for me please….what does it achieve to just make the playoffs and lose in the 1st round every year? IF you are not a legitimate Cup team, and the Caps are not, then you should be a seller and gathering picks and younger players. There is no need to trade picks or young players in hopes of satisfying the bloated ego of the owner when you do not have a team that is a Cup contender. This team as it is built with older high salaried players needs to face the facts that with 14 UFA’s and RFA’a on the team they are going to have to start a rebuild this summer so might as well sell some of the older players to not only reduce salary but bring in picks or younger players and then you can ” rather throw a punch than surrender and take a knee.” in about 3-5 years but this is not the year that is worth loosing assets and picks over. It is nice to think well of your team and want it to succeed but at what cost?

          • dwgie26 says:

            Sure… I’ll answer your questions. You should first understand my lens which is that of a season ticket holder since 2001, have a kid who has grown through USA hockey playing at highest levels and now playing college hockey. I am also a business person who prioritizes performance, shareholder value, and culture. So it is a pragmatic view of both winning and building an organization for sustained value.

            Yes, I am one who would rather see us make the playoffs and be in the hunt. I don’t want to see us lose in the first round. I expect to make the playoffs and win and I believe we can. But don’t feel sorry for me. I don’t.

            If I believed/knew we would lose in the first round, maybe I would trade some people away. But winners don’t think that way. If everyone quits because they aren’t guaranteed champions, we would live in a socialist state and the American spirit would be dead.

            Mantha, Hathaway, Eller, Orlov, JC74, Jensen, Gus, TVR, etc are all really good players and we need most of them if we are going to move beyond the first round. We could maybe trade one but any more than that, you might as well quit. You would be telling the team you don’t believe in them and that kills culture. Just look at Vancouver and Chicago and you can see what that looks like.

            I am not one of the folks who have said trade CMM, Lapierre, or other prospects. I have also said don’t trade away our first round pick. This year I think the best move for the organization is the win with the team they have.

            GMBM has done a world class job of assembling talent that fits within our cap parameters. NAK, Milano, Gus, Strome are all players others wished they grabbed. We have a lot of talent in hershey that MAY be able to play in the NHL but they either aren’t ready yet, or aren’t better than those on the Caps roster TODAY.

            I think we should move Mantha. He doesn’t fit and his Cap hit is high, and he is not a Caps culture carrier. He will also have value elsewhere. How easy it will be to trade him, I don’t know because I don’t talk to all of the GM’s. Hathaway fits. So does Eller. And they both have unique value that isn’t easily replaced. That said, I would move on from both in the offseason and take nothing for them. Why? Because I want to try and win this year and they help. But we can get younger and cheaper without them. And I think Orlov is our best defenseman and I want him to play here.

            So here is to fighting to win, punching above your class, and doing something special without mortgaging the future.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Good teams needing goalie help. Wonder if we could move DK and roll with Charlie.

    • Anonymous says:

      He’s one of the best goalies in the league. Why do you want to deal him?

    • dwgie26 says:

      I could see them moving one of the goalies at deadline NEXT year or in the offseason for the right package. We have great depth but nobody i am ready to have as number 2 in washington given injury history of DK. Give Shepherd next year to be a true number 1 in AHL and get some call ups. I love our goalie situation right now!

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