With this year’s trade deadline fast approaching, and teams starting to distance themselves in the standings, it is becoming clearer which ones will be buyers and sellers on deadline day. The trade deadline will take place on March 22, 2022, and teams are beginning to do their due diligence and check in with teams to acquire players to help them for a playoff push. Make sure to check out The Hockey Writers’ own Trade Deadline Big Board for the top players available ahead of the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline.
This article will be the first of a series of articles leading up to the trade deadline, highlighting three players that are expected to be available via trade. It will predict potential teams who could be interested in acquiring their services to help them in making a run at the Stanley Cup.
Claude Giroux – Center – Philadelphia Flyers
Claude Giroux is ranked third on The Hockey Writer’s “Trade Deadline Big Board” and one of the biggest pending unrestricted free agents on the market ahead of the 2022 offseason. The only caveat is that he has full reign in deciding if he’s moved and where it could be.
He raised his trade value even more after winning the MVP in the 2022 NHL All-Star Game. If Giroux does decide he wants to be moved and take a run at winning his first Stanley Cup, he would be a welcomed addition to any team looking to make a big splash to bolster their top six.
Landing Spot 1: Boston Bruins
There is definitely a fit from the Boston Bruins’ point of view as they are in desperate need of adding a capable center to help captain Patrice Bergeron. The Bruins are operating with a combination of Charlie Coyle and Erik Haula down the middle on the second line and while neither are bad players, they would be more suitable lower in the lineup. Adding a player like Giroux would allow players like Coyle and Haula to provide depth to the team’s bottom-six forward group and provide secondary scoring help to the team’s big three up front.
Two key pieces in making amove like this happen are the Flyers’ willingness to retool significantly and the Jake DeBrusk trade request. DeBrusk could be an enticing piece for the Flyers to want to add to their roster while allowing the Bruins to shed some cap space to accommodate Giroux’s $8.275 million cap hit. The Bruins are a team with experience and made a big splash a year ago when they acquired Taylor Hall. They still have the ability to win now and the pieces for another deadline blockbuster this year with Giroux.
Landing Spot 2: Minnesota Wild
The Wild are a team that is on the rise, and general manager Bill Guerin is not shy to make bold moves since taking over the team. He freed up cap space after buying out Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, and the team is in a prime position to make a big move prior to the deadline. The Wild have $3.012 million of cap space at their disposal with a fully healthy roster, which is unusual for a team that is high up in the NHL standings. Having that amount of cap space to work with makes fitting in a contract like Giroux’s much easier from a trade standpoint.
Minnesota turned heads last year in the playoffs after taking the Vegas Golden Knights to seven games before being bounced in the first round. The Wild need to take advantage of the available cap space to improve the roster to win now. While players like Ryan Hartman and Joel Eriksson Ek are key pieces to the team’s success this year, neither of them is the number one center Giroux is (at least not yet). Getting a legit number one center to play with Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello on the teams’ top line is exactly what a strong defensive team like the Wild needs come playoff time.
Calle Jarnkrok – Center/Left Wing/Right Wing – Seattle Kraken
The Kraken selected Calle Jarnkrok from the Nashville Predators in the expansion draft and despite taking a step back offensively, he is still a forward that teams would love to acquire come playoff time. The Swede comes with 63 games of playoff experience all with the Predators and also scored 30 points or more in four of his eight seasons in the league.
His affordable $2 million cap hit is also very enticing from a buyer’s perspective, considering that many of the top teams looking to acquire players are at or close to the cap ceiling. It would be a big miss for Seattle not to move him and try and get something in return for a pending unrestricted free agent.
Landing Spot 1: New York Rangers
There is no doubt that the Rangers are a contender this year after going through an accelerated rebuild. They are a team with lots of firepower upfront, but it dissipates rather quickly in the bottom half of the lineup. A player like Jarnkrok would be able to slide into the bottom half of the Rangers lineup and be a reliable defensive forward with the ability to provide some scoring depth in the bottom-six. Young players like Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere are struggling offensively again this season and if the team is not getting consistent contributions from these types of players, it is important for others below them in the lineup to chip in.
Jarnkrok also can be used on the penalty kill and give star players like Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider who currently kill penalties more rest to be more dynamic offensively. Jarnkrok won’t come in and score a bunch of points, but the playoff experience he provides to a young Rangers team and his versatility to play all three forward positions makes him a forward who can help out wherever the team needs him the most.
Landing Spot 2: Washington Capitals
The Capitals are having a solid season this year but held the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference at the All-Star break. The Metropolitan Division is very competitive this year, which means adding pieces to help them along the way will be crucial especially after losing Anthony Mantha to a lengthy injury earlier this season.
The team battled significant injuries to several key players including starting the season without center Niklas Backstrom and forward T.J. Oshie being limited to only 18 games so far this season. These absences forced younger players into prominent roles including players like Aliaksei Protas, and Brett Leason who both featured in 33 games prior to the NHL All-Star break. The Capitals are also relying heavily on 21-year-old Connor McMichael, who featured in 42 games this season posting 14 points.
With Mantha out indefinitely and on LTIR, there is some flexibility for the Capitals to make some moves to help provide versatile forward depth in the form of a player like Jarnkrok. His playoff experience and position versatility will give the Capitals multiple deployment options for their forward group and not be so dependent on their young players.
Calle Jarnkrok can slot in on the teams’ second line if needed, especially with the concerns regarding Mantha and Oshie’s health, or be pushed into the bottom-six and be a reliable forward that plays a shutdown role with players like Lars Eller, and Conor Sheary. He is an easy player to trust and find a spot for in the lineup in virtually any capacity, making him a great deadline target.
Jaroslav Halak – Goaltender – Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks have a lot of ground to make up in the standings, and are looking like sellers ahead of the deadline. With Jim Rutherford and Patrik Allvin taking over management positions, they will look to put their stamp on the team.
Changes in the organization are inevitable, and an unrestricted free agent goaltender like Halak looks like a prime candidate to be moved. The Slovakian goaltender only appeared in nine games so far this season, and Halak holds the final say in any trade with a full no-movement clause in his contract making a potential trade even tougher to navigate.
Landing Spot 1: Edmonton Oilers
There is no secret the Edmonton Oilers are in search of a goaltender after not being able to address that position during the last offseason. The team opted to keep a tandem of Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith heading into the season, but several injuries to Smith forced Stuart Skinner into a larger role. Inconsistency is the main concern with Edmonton’s goalie situation and the ongoing injury concerns with Smith give the Oilers reason to want to have depth at the position.
Despite Halak being 36 years old, he is on a cheap contract, and one that would be easy for a cap-strapped team like the Oilers to make room to add. He proved in the past he can be a consistent goaltender when given starting duties boasting a .916 save percentage and a 2.48 goals-against average over his 16 year NHL career.
The Edmonton Oilers are fully expecting to be a playoff team this season and the main concern is the status of the goaltending, especially considering the limited playoff experience of their current goaltenders. Smith entered this season with 29 games of playoff experience and if Smith out come playoff time, Koskinen and Skinner will only have four games of playoff experience combined. If Halak is brought in, he could provide an answer to the Oilers’ goaltending inconsistencies for the time being and give them a reliable option in the playoffs.
Landing Spot 2: Florida Panthers
The Panthers are legit contenders this season, and will surely be aggressive at the deadline. Despite limited cap space, they will look to add depth at all positions in order to make a deep playoff run. With Sergei Bobrovsky enjoying a resurgent season as the teams’ number one goaltender, the team’s backup goaltender position is raising some question marks. Spencer Knight, the Panthers’ former first-round selection, started the year as the team’s backup but is struggling to be effective in that role with a below .900 SV% and over 3.00 GAA.
After Knight, the team still has Jonas Johansson who they claimed off waivers back in December. With two younger goaltenders on the roster, both with no playoff experience, bringing in a legit backup like Halak is something that the Panthers should consider.
If Bobrovsky does get injured at some point along the way, Halak would be able to step in and provide starting caliber minutes without having to trust a young and inexperienced goaltender. The low cap hit associated with Halak makes it easier for Florida to be involved with adding some much-needed goaltender depth and make sure that an injury to their starter doesn’t derail the stellar season the Panthers put together thus far.
Low Cap Hit Additions at a Premium
Among the three players listed above two of them are on team-friendly deals that would make them easy to acquire at the trade deadline. It will take a creative general manager to be able to work out trades for much bigger named players like Giroux because of the large-cap hits associated. Players on the low cap hit deals like Jarnkrok and Halak will be at a premium, as many of the buying teams are up against the cap ceiling and they can provide depth without causing cap concerns.
I am a graduate of Seneca Colleges Civil Engineering Technology Program and have turned my obsession for sports into a lifestyle. I have been covering the Edmonton Oilers here on The Hockey Writers since 2019. I love fantasy sports, collecting sports memorabilia and listening to classic rock with a cold one or a coffee in my hand.