5 Players to Avoid at the 2023 Trade Deadline

With the trade deadline quickly approaching, we have been hearing plenty about players who are likely to be on the move, as well as the possible destinations they may end up. In fact, some of the premier names discussed have already been moved, as Bo Horvat was shipped to the New York Islanders as was Vladimir Tarasenko to the New York Rangers. That said, many players remain up for grabs, but for how much longer remains to be seen.

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Several prominent names still remain on the board, led by the likes of Timo Meier, Patrick Kane and Jakob Chychrun. While it goes without saying, all three of those players will help teams in a major way, regardless of the cost it takes to pry them out of their respective organizations. However, that may not be the case for all players available, as some reportedly have rather ridiculous price tags for teams that may be interested. Here are five in particular that are said to be on the move and could end up being regrettable for the acquiring team.

Ryan O’Reilly

When first creating this list, Jonathan Toews nearly took this spot. However, after consideration, I instead chose to put Ryan O’Reilly, for the sole fact that many realize the former isn’t the same player he once was. For the latter, however, many still seem to believe that he will bring in a boatload come the deadline.

Ryan O'Reilly St. Louis Blues
Ryan O’Reilly, St. Louis Blues (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Given that the St. Louis Blues have already begun to sell, O’Reilly is a prime candidate to be moved ahead of the deadline, and reportedly has plenty of suitors. In fact, many believe he can bring in a significant package, perhaps as much as a first-round pick and a good prospect. If this were prime O’Reilly we were talking about, that would be a price worth paying. For the player he is now, however, that simply isn’t worth it.

O’Reilly has struggled in a big way this season, with just 12 goals and 18 points through 39 games. This comes after a down 2021-22 campaign in which he had 58 points in 78 outings. By all accounts, he has always been a player who has elevated his game come the playoffs, but his lack of foot speed combined with his struggling production in each of the past two regular seasons may suggest he is on the decline rather than in a rut.

Vladislav Gavrikov

On Tuesday night (Feb. 14), the Columbus Blue Jackets made Vladislav Gavrikov a healthy scratch due to trade-related reasons, and one imagines that will continue until he gets moved. The 27-year-old has been discussed as a likely trade candidate all season long, as he is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and is reportedly not interested in re-signing in Columbus.

Related: NHL Trade Bait List for the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline

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By all accounts, Gavrikov is an everyday NHL defenseman who for many teams can be used in a second-pairing, shut-down role. His offensive game isn’t one to marvel at, however, as he has just 10 points in 52 games this season. That said, he is still a valuable player, though not as valuable as the reported price on him at this time.

There are a number of teams in on Gavrikov at this point, though none have yet to feel comfortable paying the Blue Jackets’ high asking price, which is believed to be a first, third, and fourth-round pick. That is a lot to pay for a defenseman who is by no means elite and has no term left on his deal, though at some point, it is likely a desperate team will bite.

Ivan Barbashev

As mentioned with O’Reilly, the Blues will continue to be sellers as the deadline approaches, and another player in the final year of his deal that they will likely be moving on from is Ivan Barbashev. Not too long ago, I wrote about why he might be a good fit for the Calgary Flames given his inexpensive contract and likely low acquisition cost, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Ivan Barbashev St. Louis Blues
Ivan Barbashev, St. Louis Blues (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Despite posting only 27 points through 53 games thus far, Barbashev has generated a fair bit of interest. It is expected he will be moved, which is rather shocking given that the asking price is reportedly a second-round pick along with a prospect.

That asking price likely stems from the 2021-22 season, one in which Barbashev scored 26 goals and 60 points in 81 games. That may be a bit of an outlier, however, as he had never topped the 30-point mark in any of his prior five seasons. While he is certainly useful as a physical presence that can provide depth scoring, any team who parts with a second and a prospect may be left disappointed.

Joel Edmundson

Another defenseman who is on the market and is reported to have a high asking price is Joel Edmundson. The difference between himself and Gavrikov is that he does have term remaining, as he is currently in the third year of a four-year deal that carries a $3.5 million cap hit. The problem, however, is that his play in recent seasons has been extremely inconsistent.

That inconsistent play makes the Montreal Canadiens’ asking price a tough one to pay. It was reported roughly a month ago that they were asking the Edmonton Oilers for one of a first-round pick or prospect Xavier Bourgault, along with another piece. Given the fact he has term on his deal, the Habs aren’t in a rush to trade him, meaning that price will likely remain.

Similar to Gavrikov, a desperate team is likely to pony up and pay that price if the Habs do indeed choose to part ways with him. If that does indeed prove to be the case, they will likely regret it given the struggles he has shown when used in a top-four role.

Jake McCabe

Another defenseman with term on his deal who could be moved ahead of the deadline is Jake McCabe, and if he is, the team acquiring his services will be forced to give up a very valuable asset in return. In fact, that return at this point is believed to be a first-round pick plus, that plus likely being a prospect.

As mentioned, McCabe has term left on his deal, with two additional seasons remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $4 million. That is a relatively lucrative contract for many teams to take on by the deadline, which is why the Chicago Blackhawks are reportedly willing to retain up to 50 percent of it, though the cost for that would be another mid-round pick.

Jake McCabe Chicago Blackhawks
Jake McCabe, Chicago Blackhawks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

It is worth noting that McCabe is a pretty reliable NHL defenseman, and has had himself a solid 2022-23 campaign despite playing on a poor Blackhawks team. That said, he is best suited for a third-pairing role on a contending team, making the asking price very hard to accept.

Plenty Expected to Move

While every trade deadline brings excitement, it seems this one in particular has plenty of big names that are expected to be on the move. It will make the coming weeks very fun to keep an eye on all the latest news and rumors, though with that said, it could be a cause for concern if your favorite team makes a move for one of the five listed above.