The 2022 NHL trade deadline is March 21, and front offices are working overtime. It’s not just an influx of scouts at games — general managers and assistant general managers are populating the press boxes, too.
Calls are picking up in frequency and discussions are intensifying. Here’s some scuttle I’ve been hearing after working the phones the past few weeks.
Giordano on the move?
The Kraken named Giordano captain knowing it could be a short-term role. The 38-year-old was still experiencing some shock after being exposed by the Calgary Flames, for whom he captained and played 949 games. He entered Seattle with an open mind, but things haven’t gone according to plan for the franchise this season, and there are quite a few players not so happy with their situations. Giordano met with general manager Ron Francis last month, and it was determined the best course of action would be the Kraken recouping some value while allowing Giordano to chase a Stanley Cup this spring.
Giordano technically has a 10-team no trade list, but I heard he has not even bothered giving it to the Kraken, knowing the team that trades for him will be one that views itself as a contender. So far, teams that have showed the most interest include the New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers, St. Louis Blues and Carolina Hurricanes. However, it seems unlikely Francis would deal to the Hurricanes, his former team, to help them get better.
One thing to keep in mind: The Kraken can retain up to 50% of Giordano’s $6.75 million cap hit, which could drive up the trade components coming back to Seattle.
Latest on Forsberg
Media reports surfaced last week saying the Predators were “actively shopping” Filip Forsberg. That came as news to Forsberg’s representatives. They’ll admit, contract talks were only in very preliminary phases, but they expected to continue the dialogue with Predators management. Forsberg will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. I do think GM David Poile might have done some due diligence to see what the market would be. But I would be surprised if Forsberg is traded this month.
Remember, the deadline for Forsberg to sign an extension isn’t March 21 but rather July when the 27-year-old hits free agency. The Predators will likely keep Forsberg for the rest of the season as they still push for the playoffs. If contract talks break down over the summer, then they’ll reexamine a trade.
Minnesota could get wild this trade season
I asked a GM to give me one wild-card team at the trade deadline, a team that he didn’t know what it was going to do but had the potential to shake things up. He thought about it for a minute, then answered: “Minnesota.” The reasoning? GM Bill Guerin has showed serious patience so far in building this roster, though he did make one extremely bold move in the twin buyouts of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise.
“It takes a lot of courage for a first-time manager to do that,” the rival GM said. “That opened eyes around the league.”
So while Guerin has exercised patience — which has steered him out of serious talks on players like Jack Eichel in the past — those buyouts still loom over the team. While it cleared up $10 million in cap space this season, the savings decrease significantly next season, and the Wild will be handicapped by those buyouts until 2028-29.
When I talked to Guerin in December, he gushed about how much he loved his team — “It’s a team I’d want to play on” — and he told me he felt they could win a Stanley Cup as is. But they have hit some ups and downs and could use an injection of energy for the playoff push. So maybe this is the time to strike.
New team for Big Z?
Could Zdeno Chara be heading to another team? The 44-year-old just broke the record for most games ever played by a defenseman, but he also has 200 career playoff games on his resume. Though it hasn’t been a stellar season for Chara in Long Island, the former Boston Bruins captain has valuable experience winning in the playoffs, the time of year we begin putting premium on physicality.
New York is likely missing the postseason, but I’m told Chara isn’t asking out. He views it as having signed a one-year commitment to the organization, and he plans to see it through. If a team goes to GM Lou Lamoriello with a trade proposal, Lamoriello has enough respect for Chara that he will bring it to the player and his representatives and they’ll talk it out. Chara will have some family considerations — his wife and kids are still in Boston.
Reading the tea leaves on Laine
Shut down the Patrik Laine trade rumors. It doesn’t seem like the Finnish sniper is going anywhere before March 21. He finally is looking like his most dangerous self again for Columbus, a team playing extremely hard, trying to sneak into the playoffs.
The Blue Jackets likely have not approached Laine with any meaningful contract talks yet, but that doesn’t mean they don’t see a future with him. This is something that is expected to be resolved over the summer; the team seems happy with what it has seen from Laine — who struggled to begin the season, mourning the death of his father while dealing with an abdominal injury — and is expected to have talks with him to find a solution for a new deal, though there doesn’t seem to be a rush right now.
The Blue Jackets forward more likely to move is Alexandre Texier, whose value has never been higher.
Decision looms on Boeser
There have been plenty of Vancouver Canucks names bandied about in the rumor mill, especially J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser. It has been difficult for those guys not knowing how much of it is true and how much of it is a byproduct of being in an aggressive media market.
The Canucks have staffed up their new management team, and they’re trying to figure out where Boeser figures into their long-term plans. He’s a restricted free agent this summer. There’s a belief around the league that the Canucks are wary of paying Boeser big for a long-term commitment, which is why they’ve dangled his name to see what a return could be. If a team blows Vancouver away with a trade package, I think they’d move Boeser this year, but this easily could be a situation that will come to a head this summer.
Flyers players to watch
All eyes are on Claude Giroux in Philadelphia, but in general, the Flyers will be an interesting team to watch.
Veteran Nate Thompson is coming off injury and might be a sneaky depth add. Teams are always looking for centers. Rasmus Ristolainen wants badly to get his first playoff experience, but Philadelphia has upped its efforts to re-sign the defenseman — for whom the team gave up a decent amount in a trade last offseason — so keep an eye on how that plays out.
Meanwhile, the goaltending market is so thirsty, a guy such as Martin Jones — who has quietly started 20 games with Philadelphia after floundering out in San Jose — is a viable option for a few teams.
Keep an eye on the Panthers
The Florida Panthers have been looking for a veteran defenseman for the better part of this season but haven’t been able to pull off a move. I expect GM Bill Zito will be able to get something done once teams pick up activity over the next three weeks.
The Panthers could potentially make a big splash; they hope guys around the league are starting to view them as a “destination” in the same way they view Tampa Bay. Same great situation with weather and taxes, plus now the Panthers have a winning culture to boast about, too.
Kings adding reinforcements?
After subtracting players over the past two deadlines, which was a frustrating experience for the veteran group, expect the Los Angeles Kings to add this season. It’s most likely to be a depth defenseman, but it might be more.
Keep an eye on the Blueshirts, too
The New York Rangers have about $32 million in cap space, one of the best prospect systems in the league and a legitimate chance to win this season thanks to a their likely Vezina Trophy-winning goalie, Igor Shesterkin. Look for them to add.
I’ve heard they’re in on some veteran defenseman (they have an extremely young blue line) but have also done significant scouting on forwards, too.
The two prospects I’ve heard teams have honed in on the most with the Rangers are Vitali Kravtsov and Nils Lundqvist.
An under-the-radar D-man to keep in mind
One underrated player to keep an eye on: Robert Hagg in Buffalo. He’s the perfect sixth-seventh defenseman pickup, like Luke Schenn was for the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2021 playoffs. Hagg, 27, is ultracompetitive and should rise to the intensity of a playoff series.
What can Columbus get for Korpisalo?
Joonas Korpisalo, a pending unrestricted free agent who counts for less than $3 million against the cap, was once viewed as the hot commodity in this season’s trade deadline class. But the 27-year-old has struggled, and he continues to cope with nagging injuries. The Blue Jackets will still try to move him, but he won’t bring in a huge return.
Latest buzz on ‘Flower’
Marc-Andre Fleury is the name everyone is eyeing now. When the Blackhawks traded for Fleury this past summer, then-GM Stan Bowman gave the goaltender a handshake agreement that they would move him only if they had his full approval. It was part of the process to convince Fleury to uproot his family yet again and go to Chicago. Bowman’s successor, Kyle Davidson, plans to honor the agreement.
Fleury says he has been treated extremely well by everyone in Chicago, despite it being a challenging season. Fleury has told people around him that he will only go to a team this spring that he feels has a “very legitimate chance” of winning the Stanley Cup. He’s not moving his family out of Chicago, as the kids are settled in school and soccer teams and other commitments, so it really depends on what offers come on the table to Chicago.
I’m told that Fleury would be comfortable staying in Chicago for the rest of the season — and, in fact, that’s a strong possibility at this point.
He is expected to play next season. He hasn’t had a long offseason in a while. He could finish the campaign in Chicago, spend a few months off to get right, then sign a new deal this offseason and take his whole family with him.
How the trade winds are blowing in Chicago
When I talked to Davidson in November, when he still had the interim tag but full autonomy to make moves, I asked if he projected to be busy with trades this season. He said the Blackhawks would be active one way or the other — that it would just depend on how the season went.
We know how the season has gone: not great. And with Davidson now in the full-time role, telling reporters at his introductory news conference that he views the team in a multiyear rebuild, it’s safe to assume the team will be dealing players away for future assets before March 21.
Calvin de Haan would be a good depth pickup, and he should have a new home next month. Ryan Carpenter has also garnered some interest. Don’t expect Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews to go anywhere; neither have asked out. Perhaps they’ll have a change of heart depending on how this rebuild takes shape, but those conversations would happen over the summer.
Perhaps Davidson’s biggest decision this year will be on Brandon Hagel. Plenty of teams are interested in the high-energy forward, who rarely takes a night off. I’ve heard one team has already put in a decent trade proposal to the Blackhawks that involves a high draft pick and “A” prospect. If a trade package knocks the Blackhawks’ socks off, I think they’re amenable to moving Hagel. If not, Davidson will be happy to have him as part of the team’s future.
Don’t sleep on Holtby
It’s still unclear what direction Dallas is going in, but I’ve been told that goalie Braden Holtby is in play.
Speaking of goalies …
Outside Fleury, the best goaltender available might be Alexandar Georgiev. He’s very much in play. The 26-year-old is a pending restricted free agent, and it seems like a forgone conclusion that he’d welcome a fresh start next season — seeing as he’ll be blocked by Shesterkin, also 26, in New York.
Georgiev is intriguing to teams because he’s not just a one-year solution; he’ll be under team control with the possibility to work out something longer term. The Rangers could wait until the summer to deal Georgiev; if they do trade him this season, they’ll need to acquire a veteran to serve as backup for Shesterkin.
How the Blues could add
I don’t get the sense that St. Louis is willing to part with Ville Husso (though plenty of teams are interested). But I do think Blues GM Doug Armstrong is plotting something to add to his group. Armstrong will claim he has no cap space, but I’ve heard the Blues are lurking around some big names, like Claude Giroux, and are potentially in the market for blue-line help.
This is a general manager unafraid to do something bold or creative — just like Tampa Bay GM Julien BriseBois, who is in a similar cap situation. Any coincidence that these are the two most recent Stanley Cup winners?
Canadiens looking for more picks?
The Montreal Canadiens already have two first-round picks for the 2022 NHL draft — which is set to be held July 7-8 in Montreal — but could be amassing more.
It’s expected that defenseman Ben Chiarot will garner a first-round pick as a return, though they haven’t received any such offers yet. Teams are waiting to see how the rest of the defenseman market (including potential trade candidates John Klingberg, Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson) shake out. If the Canadiens decide to move forward Artturi Lehkonen (who is an RFA this summer), he too could bring in a first-rounder. Lehkonen, 26, has generated a ton of interest for his versatility, and he’s attractive to teams because he’ll still have restricted free-agent status this summer.
The Canadiens could move defenseman Jeff Petry too, but they’ve made it clear to teams they’re not giving him away for nothing, even amid a challenging season.
DeBrusk in a holding pattern?
Jake DeBrusk hasn’t changed his mind. He’d still like to be traded from Boston. The 25-year-old has indicated that he hoped he would have been moved by now, but so far it’s believed no teams have brought the Bruins serious offers.
Many teams are spooked by the $4.4 million qualifying offer he’ll be due at the end of the season, though DeBrusk’s agent has made it clear to teams that the winger is open to signing an extension, with term, to help avoid that. DeBrusk’s improved play of late could help the Bruins get something going on the trade front — or help the Bruins for the rest of this season.
The goaltending question for Washington
The team is higher right now on Vanecek, who was on a good roll but then got hurt. Now that he is back, the Capitals want to see how he does stringing together a few starts.
If the Caps were to get a goalie, they’d want it to be a veteran who is a “clear upgrade” over what they have. Assessing the market, Washington management isn’t so sure that guy is out there.