Buyers and sellers, start your engines – the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline is here.
Over the next two months, several forwards, defensemen, and goalies will be changing teams as contenders and pretenders start to separate in the standings. With that being said, let’s take a look at the top 10 players who could be dealt in the coming weeks, plus a few others to keep an eye on.
1. John Klingberg – RD
Earlier this season, defenseman John Klingberg made it known that he wants out of Dallas. And while his counting stats aren’t overly impressive, he has a strong track record of being a power play whiz playing in a top-four role. Additionally, Klingberg lines up on the right side, and all of the other top defensemen on the market this season are lefties.
If the Stars cave to Klingberg’s demands, a first-round pick wouldn’t be out of the question. Dallas could also hold onto the blueliner as their own version of a rental player with a postseason berth still a possibility.
2. Tomas Hertl – C
Like Klingberg, Tomas Hertl is a pending free agent on a team just outside the playoff picture. The San Jose Sharks could opt to retain Hertl and attempt to re-sign him this offseason – or deal him for an absolute haul. They’ll have to navigate his three-team trade list though, meaning the Sharks will need his approval to trade him to any team outside of that list.
Hertl has produced at nearly a point per game pace for the Sharks this season and has respectable possession and expected goals numbers. He’s also a versatile forward – Hertl is comfortable at center and on the wing. He has also been a fixture on San Jose’s power play and penalty kill. Hertl is a perfect second-line acquisition for a playoff-bound team, and will likely cost a first-round pick – if not more.
3. Claude Giroux – C
More of a playmaker these days, Claude Giroux would be an outstanding get for a young contender. However, there’s no guarantee the Philadelphia Flyers will trade him, despite the fact that he’ll be a free agent this summer. Giroux has spent his whole career in Philadelphia and will have a say in where he goes next – if anywhere.
But if Giroux is dealt, a fresh start on a winning team could unlock his all-star skill. He’s been fine for the Flyers this season, and has produced at a similar clip as Hertl (on paper and when looking at his advanced stats). However, the opportunity to play alongside talented players in a positive environment could be a dangerous combo for Giroux.
4. Marc-Andre Fleury – G
The lone goalie on the list, Marc-Andre Fleury has had a tough season backstopping the Chicago Blackhawks. That said, he has managed to produce positive goals-saved above average (GSAA) and goals-saved above expected (GSAx) numbers this year. In addition, Fleury probably has the best playoff track record of any active goalie in the NHL, making him an ideal trade candidate.
But like Hertl and Giroux, Fleury will have a hand in where he’s dealt. He has a 10-team no-trade list, and may not want to uproot his family once again. But the chance at another Stanley Cup might be enough to lure Fleury out of the Windy City, with the Blackhawks likely to miss the playoffs once again.
5. Phil Kessel – RW
Much like Fleury, pending free agent Phil Kessel would surely appreciate another chance to win the Stanley Cup. He won’t get that opportunity with the rebuilding Arizona Coyotes, though.
The right wing has been a playmaker this season in the desert and would fit in as a middle-six wing on a contender. Kessel has respectable possession numbers on a subpar team and can still zip up and down the ice. He does have an eight-team trade list as part of his contract, but could accept a trade elsewhere if the right situation presented itself.
6. Jake DeBrusk – LW
Another player who has requested a trade, Jake DeBrusk is an interesting trade chip. The Boston Bruins could deal him for another player on this list or ship him out as part of a hockey trade for another young skater.
The problem, though, is that DeBrusk hasn’t performed up to expectations this season and is due for a new contract this offseason as a pending restricted free agent (RFA). He does have intriguing potential due to his scoring history and playing style, though. There’s just a big discrepancy between his actual, on-ice value and his potential value, and Boston will have to be strategic about this in their trade discussions.
7. Reilly Smith – LW
At some point, Jack Eichel will make his glorious return to ice. But before he does, the Vegas Golden Knights will need to shed salary, and pending free agent Reilly Smith is a prime candidate to be moved.
It’s not often you see a contender shipping out a rental player for low-cost assets. But that’s just the reality Vegas is facing. Luckily, Smith’s offensive prowess and playoff experience are selling points the Golden Knights could exploit. Like Kessel and DeBrusk, Smith would be a solid add for a playoff-bound team’s middle six.
8. Mark Giordano – LD
Despite the fact that the Seattle Kraken are sitting near the bottom of the NHL’s standings, Mark Giordano has been able to produce positive possession and expected goals numbers so far. Seattle’s inaugural captain will likely be traded before long given his pending free agent status and the Kraken’s need for draft capital.
Giordano does come with a $6.75 million cap hit, so Seattle will likely need to retain some salary as part of a deal. This most certainly will increase the cost to acquire the veteran defenseman.
9. Ben Chiarot – LD
The Montreal Canadiens have been a mess this season and are looking to retool for the future. Trading pending free agent Ben Chiarot should net them a solid asset or two.
The 30-year-old defenseman doesn’t have the most impressive stat line—counting stats or advanced analytics—but was a key cog in Montreal’s run to the Stanley Cup Final last year. Chiarot can play on the second or third pairing, kill penalties, and be a physical presence up and down the ice.
10. Nick Leddy – LD
Another rental defenseman, Nick Leddy’s calling card is his mobility. His puck-transporting skills and agility are fantastic. His possession numbers are not, though.
Interested teams will covet Leddy’s playoff experience more so than anything. He won a Stanley Cup with Chicago and was a valued member of some great New York Islanders teams in recent years. Additionally, Leddy shouldn’t cost too much given the glut of left-handed defensemen available and his down season thus far.
Other Noteworthy Trade Candidates
In addition to the players listed above, there are a few others who will be front and center in the rumor mill over the next couple months.
- Jakob Chychrun – Easily the most talented player reportedly available, I have a feeling that Chychrun will be traded during the offseason and not at the deadline. Arizona is in no rush to ship him out.
- Dylan Strome – Similar to Chychrun, I can see Strome dealt in the offseason after Chicago names a new general manager.
- Calle Jarnkrok & Marcus Johansson – Two versatile forwards on expiring contracts that Seattle will likely trade. Both have solid playoff experience and provide great depth up front.
- Calvin de Haan – The consolation prize for those who miss out on Klingberg, Giordano, Chiarot, and Leddy.
- Vladislav Namestnikov – Namestnikov’s trade value might not outweigh his value to the Red Wings.
Active Trade Deadline
With so many teams competing for playoff spots, we should see a flurry of activity leading up to the 2022 Trade Deadline. Additionally, the ambiguity of an expansion draft won’t be a factor this year.
The question now becomes: which team will strike first?
Tony Wolak is based in the Washington D.C. area and covers the Detroit Red Wings for THW. As a former junior and college hockey player, Tony has a unique perspective on Red Wings topics.