NHL trade deadline: Biggest needs, trade chips and targets for all 32 teams

For better or worse, teams are already making big moves ahead of the 2023 NHL trade deadline on March 3. Bo Horvat and Vladimir Tarasenko are already off the board, and that board wasn’t overflowing with big names to begin with.

It’s quite possible that Jakob Chychrun and others could move as soon as this week — maybe even around the time this story is published. Whether those moves happen or they continue to hit a snag, now seems like a perfectly reasonable time to roll through all 32 NHL teams’ trade deadline outlooks.

Before we begin, though. Targeted player lists lean a bit toward what teams should do, rather than what they will do. That said, there’s an effort to be realistic, or every team would be going after Timo Meier, far and away the best player remaining on the trade market.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun (6) and St. Louis Blues center Ryan O'Reilly are two high-profile players who could be on the move by the NHL trade deadline. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Anaheim Ducks

Biggest need(s): Heading into the season, the Ducks had one (webbed) foot in rebuild mode and one closer to at least trying to be competitive. They sank down into the very depths of the NHL cellar, and with that, the trade value of one John Klingberg. Their best bet might be quantity (multiple defensemen on expiring/short contracts) over quality (they probably expected Klingberg would be worth a first-rounder). A savvy team might target Adam Henrique, whose contract expires after next season. The Ducks must be careful about taking on money beyond this season, however, as Troy Terry and Trevor Zegras are slated for big offseason raises.

Trade chips: Ample cap space (about $13 million), John Klingberg, Adam Henrique, Maxime Comtois, Kevin Shattenkirk, Dmitry Kulikov.

Arizona Coyotes

Biggest need(s): Put aside the amateur-hour arena debacle and you can see the bones of a decent rebuild, but there’s a long road ahead. Yes, they need to make the most of a Jakob Chychrun trade, but that’s just the headliner. From Shayne Gostisbehere to Christian Fischer, the Coyotes boast plenty of other semi-interesting options beyond Chychrun. As rare as it is to see goalies move during the trade deadline, Karel Vejmelka could be a worthy exception to the rule.

Trade chips: Ample cap space (close to $18 million), Jakob Chychrun, Christian Fischer, Shayne Gostisbehere, Karel Vejmelka, and anything that’s not nailed down.

Boston Bruins

Biggest need(s): Now we enter “the rich get richer” territory. With uncertainty regarding the future (retirement threat for Patrice Bergeron and/or David Krejci; big money for David Pastrnak), the Bruins may not be able to turn a rental into a keeper again after doing so with Hampus Lindholm and Taylor Hall. With limited cap space and not much in the way of prospects beyond Fabian Lysell, the Bruins face a tight squeeze. Don’t count them out like they were disregarded in most preseason predictions, though.

Players to target: The world is their oyster; could go for depth defensemen (Vladislav Gavrikov) or a more expensive rental forward.

Trade chips: 2023 and 2024 first-round picks, Fabian Lysell

Buffalo Sabres

Biggest need(s): Sabres fans who suffered through a “forever rebuild” may grimace at this, but if you only look at the Kevyn Adams era, it feels like Buffalo’s a bit ahead of schedule. That thought is reflected in the trade deadline situation for the Sabres: they have more than $18 million in salary cap space, plus plenty of draft picks and some solid prospects they may actually be okay with trading for a big name. The Sabres straddle both a present and future-facing outlook, which actually could be a very positive scenario. Theoretically, the Sabres could add any number of trade deadline targets, seeking offense with someone like Meier, more skilled defense in Chychrun, or a power play trigger like Brock Boeser. Fascinatingly, the Sabres’ cap space is robust enough that they could add like a buyer while also taking on some short-term salary for picks and prospects. Overall, the ideal path is pushing nicely for the rest of this run, but most aggressively for the mid-term. Both Rasmus Dahlin and Owen Power are slated for big raises after next (2023-24) season, presenting nice opportunities but also some sense of urgency.

Players to target: Timo Meier, Jakob Chychrun, Brock Boeser.

Trade chips: More than $18 million in salary cap space, not just first-rounders going forward but three second-round picks in 2023, a young player who may not be a “core piece” like Victor Olofsson.

Calgary Flames

Biggest need(s): Do the Flames really want to make major trades after absorbing the aftermath of several painful offseason surgeries? The more sober outlook would be to either stand still and find answers from within, or even take a step back and sell off players like Tyler Toffoli. Brad Treliving is a lame duck general manager, though, so don’t count the Flames out — even though they don’t have the best assets to make a big splash.

Players to target: Tyler Bertuzzi, Ivan Barbashev, Ryan O’Reilly.

Trade chips: Lack much in the way of prospects or depth picks, but have some first-rounders to throw around.

Carolina Hurricanes

Biggest need(s): Ideally, the Hurricanes could land a strong No. 2 center, thus plopping Jesperi Kotkaniemi into a more comfortable spot in the roster. A team that’s long focused on bombarding opponents with a hailstorm of pucks without always having much finishing ability went out and got Max Pacioretty, only for him to be riddled by injuries. So, if they can’t get that second-line center, a top-six sniper would be nice. Like many contenders, the Hurricanes must navigate salary cap snags to make bigger deals.

Players to target: Timo Meier, Brock Boeser, Tyler Bertuzzi, James Van Riemsdyk, Patrick Kane, Ivan Barbashev, Ryan O’Reilly.

Trade chips: They have most of their default picks (including first-rounders for the near future) and also have an extra second-rounder in 2024. Maybe lack high-end prospects, but have the quantity part down.

Chicago Blackhawks

Biggest need(s): The Blackhawks want to be as bad as possible and load up for the future. Ideally, they get the best draft lottery odds and also land assets for both Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Kane and Toews could torpedo trades altogether, though, so Chicago should also try to find homes for the likes of Max Domi and Jake McCabe.

Trade chips: Kane and Toews, of course, but they can call their shot. Jake McCabe, Andreas Athanasiou, Max Domi, and other depth players may draw mild interest, too. Chicago has enough cap space to be creative, including retaining salary for Kane and/or Toews.

Colorado Avalanche

Biggest need(s): How about figuring out how to make video game-style health potions part of our actual reality. Failing that bit of magic, the Avalanche are in a similar spot to Carolina: they could use a second-line center to help an overmatched young one in Alex Newhook, but would benefit from a top-six forward of just about any make or model.

Players to target: Timo Meier, Brock Boeser, James Van Riemsdyk, Adam Henrique, Max Domi, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Ivan Barbashev, Ryan O’Reilly.

Trade chips: While they sold off many second, third, and fourth-rounders already, Colorado still has its first-rounders to trade, if they have the stomach for it.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Biggest need(s): Infomercial voice: “Think you can’t be one of the worst NHL teams and spend up to the salary cap ceiling? Think again!” The Blue Jackets are a giant mess, but when they’re not mortgaging the future for a few months of Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel, they’ve done well to sell high on defensemen such as David Savard and Seth Jones. Vladislav Gavrikov could be the latest inexplicably overpriced trade deadline target. Maybe Columbus could even get something for Joonas Korpisalo? It’s unclear if someone like Gustav Nyquist is healthy enough to be a credible trade target as well.

Trade chips: Gavrikov, Korpisalo, Nyquist if healthy. Blue Jackets differ from other trade deadline sellers because of limited salary cap space (and quite a few trade clauses for depth players such as Sean Kuraly and Erik Gudbranson).

Dallas Stars

Biggest need(s): On one hand, the Stars can relax about things that other teams lose sleep about. They have a strong young goalie, one of the best top lines in hockey, a solid defensive system, and a decent supporting cast. That said, it could be a long time before a Central Division foe like the Avalanche look this vulnerable again. Maybe it’s time to strike, even if the Stars’ version of striking means getting a forward who can play on the second or third line.

Players to target: Tyler Bertuzzi, James Van Riemsdyk, Adam Henrique, Max Domi, Ivan Barbashev, Ryan O’Reilly.

Trade chips: No 2023 first-rounder or third, but most of their other picks. Denis Gurianov, Thomas Harley, Ty Dellandrea, Lian Bichsel.

Detroit Red Wings

Biggest need(s): Imagine if all of us received the same benefit of the doubt as “The Yzerplan.” The Red Wings present the typical array of soon-to-be free agent filler, but there are also some intriguing stories to watch. They’ll probably need to sell low on Tyler Bertuzzi, and likely don’t want to trade pending UFA Dylan Larkin at all. That said, Yzerman pulled off that out-of-nowhere Jakub Vrana-Anthony Mantha trade, so consider Detroit a wild card. Vrana’s future in Detroit seems muddy, too.

Trade chips: Larkin seems unlikely but worth a mention, Bertuzzi, Olli Määttä.

Edmonton Oilers

Biggest Need(s): Apparently, if you ask the Oilers front office, they’d say a puck-moving defenseman. The current rage revolves around drawing up conspiracy boards to wedge Erik Karlsson’s (salary-retained) cap hit onto Edmonton’s roster. Despite Ken Holland’s penchant for making like the Monopoly Man with sad empty wallets, the Oilers might want to show Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl that they’re doing everything they can to win while enjoying their otherworldly play.

Players to target: Erik Karlsson (Sharks), Bertuzzi (Red Wings), Kevin Shattenkirk or John Klingberg (Ducks)

Trade chips: Only lack 2023 fourth-rounder. Rumblings about plenty of trade targets from Evan Bouchard to Tyson Barrie. Jesse Puljujarvi’s future remains uncertain, though trade partners may view him as a net-negative.

Florida Panthers

Biggest Need(s): After crashing and burning as overly aggressive buyers during last year’s deadline, the Panthers might be better off modestly selling. They’ve burned through first-round picks like a thirsty NBA franchise, only without the instant gratification of being a superteam. Salary cap challenges could force one or more of Anthony Duclair, Sam Bennett, or Sam Reinhart out. Actually, look at their roster, and you’ll see a lot of contracts expiring after next season, so it’s plausible that the Panthers do some serious soul-searching as soon as this trade deadline. Radko Gudas may actually be one of the best options for teams that value gritty defensemen too much, as his underlying numbers often shine much more than a hyped player like Luke Schenn.

Trade chips: Duclair, Bennett, Reinhart, Gudas.

Los Angeles Kings

Biggest Need(s): To an extent, the Kings’ pursuit of Jakob Chychrun makes sense. While this is a fairly sturdy defensive team, the Kings mainly cornered the market on right-handed defensemen. The Kings could load up with Chychrun alongside Drew Doughty, or space out the strength by splitting them up. Yet, even though the Kings made a crucial addition in Kevin Fiala, Los Angeles could still use another dynamic forward or two. Oh, and passable goaltending would be nice as well. The Kings don’t want to trade top prospects like Brandt Clarke and Quinton Byfield, but who knows?

Players to target: Chychrun and Vejmelka (Coyotes), Patrick Kane (Blackhawks).

Trade chips: Higher-end prospects if they cave (Clarke, Byfield), “B” prospects if they stand firm (Alex Turcotte). Kings have almost all of their draft picks, plus an extra third-rounder from the Penguins.

Minnesota Wild

Biggest Need(s): Salary cap restrictions or not, it’s not ideal that Sam Steel is regularly centering Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello. Considering those salary cap restrictions, Minnesota’s easiest path might be to finally embrace high-end prospect Marco Rossi. One way or another, the Wild sorely need more offense. It might be too tight to even add a hometown hero like Brock Boeser, but they may want to explore that avenue, especially since their power play could use a boost.

Players to target: Boeser (Canucks), Meier (Sharks), Bertuzzi (Red Wings), O’Reilly (Blues).

Trade chips: Matt Dumba, most of their 2023 draft picks.

Montreal Canadiens

Biggest Need(s): It makes sense to pump up the value of your trade assets, whether you believe what you’re saying or not. I mutter this mantra just about every time a team either publicly or anonymously floats ideas like the Canadiens not wanting to shed Josh Anderson’s headache of a contract. If things go well, the Habs could lure teams into spending too much on an array of players: Anderson, Joel Edmundson, Sean Monahan, and Evgenii Dadonov. You won’t see those names pop up that often because I would strongly advise against other teams taking the bait.

Trade chips: Anderson, Dadonov, Edmundson, Monahan.

Nashville Predators

Biggest Need(s): The Predators aren’t alone in being a team that resisted a rebuild or retool long enough that they’re now pretty much stuck, but they might be the posterchildren for the problem. (OK, they’re hanging out with the Sharks on that poster.) Ideally, they’d find their fabled No. 1 center, but that first-line center isn’t out there, and maybe never was. All of that said, Juuse Saros remains one of the best goalies in the NHL — on a bargain deal to boot — so maybe they should throw up another Hail Mary?

Players to target: Meier (Sharks), Boeser (Canucks), Bertuzzi (Red Wings).

Trade chips: Basically all of their picks, with an extra third and fourth. Yakov Trenin, Philip Tomasino, and Dante Fabbro.

New Jersey Devils

Biggest Need(s): As fearsome as the Devils’ offense has been for most of this season, there are times when you wonder how deadly Jack Hughes would be with a better linemate than Erik Haula. All apologies to Haula, but we’re talking about a Hart Trophy-range performer in Hughes. It would be a lot of fun to see how Hughes (currently out week-to-week) would operate alongside Timo Meier, although some assume Meier would instead line up with Nico Hischier. Sounds like a good problem to have. The Devils join the Sabres as a team on the rise with some relative salary cap advantages, so they should consider throwing down the gauntlet for Meier. Damon Severson is a nice defenseman that New Jersey may want to hold on to, but he’s worth bringing up as a possible lateral move because the franchise could move on from him soon.

Players to target: Meier (Sharks), Boeser (Canucks), Bertuzzi (Red Wings), Dadonov (Canadiens).

Trade chips: Alexander Holtz, Damon Severson, most picks aside from 2023 third-rounder.

New York Islanders

Biggest Need(s): By landing Bo Horvat, the Islanders already pushed maybe too many chips into the middle of the table. Then again, Lou Lamoriello is 80 years old, and much of the Islanders roster is a bit old by NHL standards. Don’t assume they won’t make more bold moves despite, you know, not being in a mathematically comfortable spot to even make the playoffs. Throwing Henrique’s name in the mix because Lamoriello loves remembering guys.

Players to target: Kane (Blackhawks), Bertuzzi (Red Wings), Henrique (Ducks), and Dadonov (Canadiens).

Trade chips: Sure, they haven’t made a first-round pick since 2019 and already sent away their 2023 in the Horvat trade, but they can still burn through 2024 and 2025.

New York Rangers

Biggest Need(s): Last trade deadline, the Rangers addressed big waving red flags about their 5-on-5 play with the likes of Andrew Copp. They already made a splashy move with Vladimir Tarasenko, making you think their most elaborate work is done. Heck, Patrick Kane practically cried about it. But who knows? They love marquee moves on Broadway, and thanks to the magic of salary retention, there’s at least the off-chance the Rangers get back into the Patrick Kane sweepstakes. Honestly, going with Tarasenko and calling it a day (or going for a bargain instead of a name brand with serious warts) seems wiser. The Rangers sometimes get lost in that push to be on the front page of the sports section, though, so stay tuned.

Players to target: Kane (Blackhawks), Bertuzzi (Red Wings), Dadonov (Canadiens).

Trade chips: Brennan Othmann, Vitali Kravtsov, Kaapo Kakko or Alexis Lafrenière if Chris Drury goes wild. Minimal cap space, but they have the Stars’ 2023 first-rounder.

Alexis Lafrenière could move for the right price. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
Alexis Lafrenière could move for the right price. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

Ottawa Senators

Biggest Need(s): With the Senators waiting to find out if they’re diving in the ownership Deadpool or not, major decisions may wait until the offseason (or even later). That’s notable for their trade deadline approach, especially if the wise decision would actually be to trade Alex DeBrincat now, when a team could get an extra playoff run for their trouble. Instead, the focus is on peddling depth players like Austin Watson and Nick Holden. Health issues and limited goalie trade deadline movement make Cam Talbot seem like only a niche consideration.

Trade chips: Depth players like Watson, Holden, maybe Talbot.

Philadelphia Flyers

Biggest Need(s): Normally, this would be prime time to mock a nepo-baby-powered franchise that just admitted it didn’t do its homework on a toxic defenseman they overpaid for. Philadelphia sports fans endured enough grief with that fun-killing holding call in the Super Bowl, though, so let’s just say that the Flyers are an enormous mess and should clean house. That advice spans the trade deadline (sell high, sell low, sell mid) and the front office. Shorter version: the Flyers’ biggest need is “maybe a couple of fresh ideas.”

Trade chips: JVR, Justin Braun, Ivan Provorov. Not much in the way of cap space.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Biggest Need(s): Sometimes, the Penguins actually roll out decent players when Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are resting on the bench. The 2022-23 season doesn’t qualify as one of those times. This team needs a real boost to its bottom-six forward group. Ron Hextall doesn’t seem interested in coughing up a first-rounder for it, though. Is that wise, or “pennywise, dollar foolish?”

Players to target: Bertuzzi (Red Wings), Dadonov (Canadiens).

Trade chips: Plenty of picks, including three in the seventh round. Barren prospect cupboard, negligible cap space.

San Jose Sharks

Biggest Need(s): How much money will the Sharks pay Brent Burns (about $2.7M per year through 2024-25) and Erik Karlsson to not play for their team? All things considered, the Sharks didn’t get much to mildly alleviate the pain of Burns’ contract, so they really need to nail a Karlsson trade. His contract goes through 2026-27, so salary retention could be agonizing, even for a team in for a lengthy rebuild. The Sharks should’ve developed a bidding war for Tomas Hertl instead of extending him, so they need to make the most of a Timo Meier trade. As much as teams are whining and dining the Sharks right now, it all feels very, very grim.

Trade chips: Meier, Karlsson, James Reimer, Aaron Dell, Nick Bonino, limited salary cap space.

Seattle Kraken

Biggest Need(s): Maybe it’s a divisional thing, but it’s mildly surprising that the Kraken aren’t mentioned as a bidder for Timo Meier. For all they have going for them, the Kraken lack that true star presence. Perhaps Matty Beniers ascends to that level eventually, but either way it would be nice to have a one-two punch there. True long-term star potential really starts and stops with Meier during this deadline, though, unless the Senators have a change of heart with DeBrincat. (Some will quibble with DeBrincat, wondering like they did with Artemi Panarin, if it was mostly Kane’s passing that made him look like a star.) Improving on the fringes is fine and well for the Kraken in year two, yet if they really want to be sea monsters instead of C-level threats, they’d best seek Meier.

Players to target: Meier (Sharks), Boeser (Canucks).

Trade chips: Most of their 2023 picks, including three second-rounders. The Kraken are already building a respectable prospect pool, which includes the exceptionally named Jagger Firkus.

St. Louis Blues

Biggest Need(s): More than anything else, the Blues need 2022-23 to be an aberration, or for this to be a brief lull. They must hope this won’t linger like their post-lockout haze. After trading Vladimir Tarasenko, the Blues seem to be gearing up for a Ryan O’Reilly deal as well. This remains a team with a lot of long-term commitments, some that look dicey. That said, they fueled their return to the top largely off of savvy instead of lottery picks (Alex Pietrangelo the main exception), so maybe this trade deadline pushes them back on path again.

Trade chips: Ryan O’Reilly, minimal cap space.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Biggest Need(s): How many times will the Lightning unearth another Blake Coleman, Barclay Goodrow, Nick Paul, and Brandon Hagel? That front office is savvy, including rolling with a different trade deadline strategy than anyone else, but it’s unclear if that option is out there once more. Maybe it just hinges on which players their pro scouts prefer. The Lightning may see value in a deeper Ducks prospect like Max Jones, or maybe they convince Vancouver to retain quite a bit of Conor Garland’s salary. It’s difficult to say, and tough to fathom a specific fit, yet who are we to doubt the mighty Lightning?

Players to target: The next Brandon Hagel, Schenn if they actually liked him, maybe just a typical depth deadline rental for a change.

Trade chips: Not much. Their nearest first-rounder is for 2025, and they lack their second-rounder in 2023 as well. As usual, the Lightning lack much in the way of cap space.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Biggest Need(s): Despite what various potentially self-serving executives will tell you, the Maple Leafs’ biggest need doesn’t revolve around defense. Yes, it would be nice to have a more defensively sound No. 1 than Morgan Rielly, but it’s unclear when Toronto can fix that issue. Instead, the Maple Leafs could really use scoring beyond Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, John Tavares, and a select few who can put the puck in the net. The Maple Leafs have spent at previous trade deadlines, but often for sturdy veterans who didn’t work out, like Nick Foligno. Should they roll the dice with a bigger upgrade, or even just a more skilled improvement? Here’s a vote for that approach instead of getting their thousandth grinder.

Players to target: Meier (Sharks), Bertuzzi (Red Wings) Dadonov (Canadiens), O’Reilly or Barbashev (Blues), a stray Soo Greyhound. Schenn or Gavrikov if you’re forcing defense.

Trade chips: Matthew Knies, most draft picks including first-rounders, minimal cap space.

Vancouver Canucks

Biggest Need(s): Um, a clue? OK, maybe the Canucks are just pumping up Luke Schenn’s trade value. With a team that’s bumbled even the most basic of human interactions lately, it’s tough to give them much benefit of the doubt about possibly being “coy.” At this point, the Canucks should keep it simple. If that means hoping that Thatcher Demko and Brock Boeser rebound — even if it’s just to pump up their trade value next trade deadline — then so be it. Getting too bold could just mean allowing the fire to spread more rapidly.

Trade chips: Luke Schenn, Tyler Myers, Thatcher Demko?

Vegas Golden Knights

Biggest Need(s): Leave it to the Vegas team to lead the league in impulse control issues. The Golden Knights keep going all-in, then finding more things to wager and roll the dice again. Much like someone with a gambling problem, there seems to be little mind paid to the diminishing returns. All things considered, is there a more logical destination for Patrick Kane, then?

Players to target: Kane (Blackhawks), O’Reilly (Blues), Bertuzzi (Red Wings), John Gibson (Ducks), basically anyone with name recognition and inevitable injury issues.

Trade chips: Literal chips at a casino perhaps? They have their first-rounders for the next three years, no second-rounder in 2023, but two thirds this year.

Washington Capitals

Biggest Need(s): A time machine, but don’t we all need that? The Capitals made a gesture toward youth by extending Dylan Strome and Sonny Milano, but this all seems to be about Alex Ovechkin chasing Wayne Gretzky’s record, then hoping for respectability. That doesn’t seem like a situation you’d risk a first-rounder on, but maybe tweak around the margins? Reports indicate the Capitals’ status as a buyer or seller could come down to the wire.

Players to target: Cheaper help, depending upon the market on Domi (Blackhawks), Bertuzzi (Red Wings), Dadonov (Canadiens), and so on.

Trade chips: If the Capitals slip out of the playoff race, plenty of rentals, including: Lars Eller, Dmitry Orlov, Conor Sheary, Marcus Johansson, Nick Jensen, Erik Gustaffon, and Trevor van Riemsdyk.

Winnipeg Jets

Biggest Need(s): Check another “depth” box for a contender. That said, thinking aloud here: they’d be an interesting spot for Chychrun. The Jets don’t always have an easy time attracting talent to Winnipeg, but a Chychrun trade would lock him there for a bit. Maybe the logic of trading for term could apply to other good-if-distressed assets, such as Garland with the Canucks?

Players to target: Chychrun (Coyotes), Garland with retention (Canucks), depth options.

Trade chips: Most upcoming draft picks, though no 2023 second or fourth-rounder.

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