Welcome to our new series at The Hockey Writers where I’ll be showcasing some trade candidates from around the league. The series will cover each of the four divisions, along with a breakdown of forwards, defensemen and goaltenders. Trades are one of the most entertaining aspects of the NHL and after a wild and wacky summer, let’s hope the 2022-23 season brings us some more wheeling and dealing.
For our first piece, we head west to the Pacific Division and examine a few forwards who are expected to be changing teams this season. While it may not be until minutes before the trade deadline in the spring of 2023, keep an eye on these three forwards:
Nick Bonino, San Jose Sharks
After signing a two-year contract with the San Jose Sharks, Nick Bonino scored 16 goals in 80 games. The 34-year-old veteran has a wealth of Stanley Cup Playoff experience under his belt, with over 100 games played in the postseason. The Sharks showed with the Brent Burns trade that they are in full rebuild mode and are likely going to move the pending free-agent forward.
Bonino is able to play down the middle and on the wing, and his resume is laced with leadership and experience, which could be very beneficial for playoff-bound teams. Back in 2016, as part of the ‘HBK’ line along with Phil Kessel and Carl Hagelin in Pittsburgh, Bonino helped the Penguins win back-to-back Stanley Cups. He can bring a calming presence to any dressing room when it matters most.
While it’s hard to specifically name suitors at this point, look for Bonino to receive interest from contending teams who are looking to fill out their bottom six. He’s battled tested and is a prime trade candidate heading into this season.
Joonas Donskoi, Seattle Kraken
Year two isn’t expected to be much different for the Seattle Kraken, and look for general manager (GM) Ron Francis to sell off some assets at or before the trade deadline. Kraken forward Joonas Donskoi is a pending unrestricted free agent who severely struggled in his first season in Seattle, recording only two goals and 22 points in 75 games.
Donskoi makes sense as a trade candidate, as he’ll be one of the more experienced rentals on the market. The Kraken are looking to build from the ground up, and the 30-year-old forward isn’t likely in their plans moving forward. He’s shown in the past with his Stanley Cup Playoff performances with the Colorado Avalanche that he’s able to impact games when they matter most. Certainly an attractive piece for any contending teams next season.
Look for the Kraken to move Donskoi and the remaining salary of his $3 million cap hit in 2022-23. Contending teams will be hopeful that he’s able to recapture his production from his Avalanche days, specifically the 2020-21 season when he posted 31 points in 51 games.
Donskoi isn’t a top-six forward and projects perfectly on a contending team’s third line. There are a number of Western Conference teams that are familiar with his game and look for the trade chatter to pick up early 2023, as the Kraken are likely going to move the veteran forward.
Jesse Puljujarvi, Edmonton Oilers
A player his GM can’t seem to figure out, Jesse Puljujarvi of the Edmonton Oilers makes the list. He signed a one-year contract worth $3 million and a lot of his trade potential is going to come down to his success early on this season.
If Puljujarvi can find some consistent success in the Oilers’ top six, look for the team to commit long-term. If the 24-year-old can’t produce on a regular basis, expect to see Edmonton GM Ken Holland shop the 6-foot-4 winger before the trade deadline.
Last season Puljujarvi played second power-play minutes and finished the season appearing in 65 games, tallying 36 points. He basically disappeared during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, only registering three points in 16 contests. Not good enough for someone who was a top-four draft pick and supposed to be a cornerstone piece for the franchise.
The Oilers would have a number of different suitors, and it’s likely we would see a deal to an Eastern Conference team. It’s all going to come down to those first 25 games next season as Holland and company will have a giant spotlight shining down from the press box on their polarizing winger.
There we have it folks, the first installment of a 12-piece series that will cover forwards, defensemen and goaltenders who are expected to be traded this season. The NHL’s summer has been entertaining to this point, and this upcoming season is setting up to be one of the best in recent memory. Get your popcorn ready, as the show begins in a matter of weeks.
Shane’s been a part of The Hockey Writers team since 2020, covering the Toronto Maple Leafs & Pittsburgh Penguins. A constant contributor, his versatile perspective on game results and everything off the ice produces diverse content. You can also find him on the Maple Leafs Lounge podcast with Peter Baracchini and Alex Hobson. Follow along on Twitter @ShugMcSween