The 2023 NHL Trade Deadline is gearing up to be very eventful. We have already seen two stars moved to new teams in Bo Horvat (New York Islanders) and Vladimir Tarasenko (New York Rangers), and other big-name players like Patrick Kane, Timo Meier, Jakob Chychrun, Ryan O’Reilly, and Jonathan Toews are likely to be next. However, there are also six dark horse trade candidates that we could very well end up seeing moved at the deadline. Let’s discuss them now.
The Arizona Coyotes are heading into the deadline with the expectation of being major sellers. Besides Chychrun, other players like Shayne Gostisbehere, Nick Ritchie, Karel Vejmelka, and Nick Bjugstad have all emerged as trade candidates, too. Yet, I also would not be surprised if the Coyotes end up listening to offers for power forward Lawson Crouse. With the team in a full-on rebuild, they could look to take advantage of Crouse’s very high trade value and land a big return for him because of it.
Crouse carries an affordable $4.3 million cap hit until the end of the 2026-27 season, so he would be far more than just a rental if he’s moved somewhere. There’s no question that most teams in the NHL would love to land him, as he has emerged as an effective top-six winger due to his solid scoring ability. However, his immense physicality also makes him even more appealing. If the Coyotes moved him, they could easily land a first-round pick and a notable prospect in return.
After winning the Presidents’ Trophy in 2021-22, the Florida Panthers came into this season with the expectation of being one of the league’s top contenders. Yet, they have been far from that in 2022-23, as they currently trail the Pittsburgh Penguins by one point for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. Yet, Florida has also played four more games than Pittsburgh, so things aren’t looking amazing for them right now. As a result of this and their salary cap trouble, there have been some rumblings over the possibility of Sam Bennett being moved.
Similar to Crouse, Bennett would be more than a rental if he is acquired by another team, as he has a $4.425 million cap hit until the end of the 2024-25 season. Overall, there certainly should be teams calling about him at the deadline, as he is a quality second-line forward who also plays a gritty game. In 55 games on the year, he has 14 goals to go along with 35 points and a plus-1 rating. If Florida does move him, they should be able to score a first-round pick for him at a minimum.
The Montreal Canadiens are currently in the bottom portion of the NHL standings, so they are naturally set to be sellers at the 2023 Trade Deadline. Players like Joel Edmundson, Mike Hoffman, Jonathan Drouin, and Evgeni Dadonov have become trade candidates because of this. Yet, Josh Anderson is another player who fans should be keeping a close eye on as we inch closer to March 3.
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Although the Canadiens’ preference is to keep him, there has been interest around the league for his services. If a team is willing to trade a first-round pick and notable prospect, perhaps Montreal would be open to the idea of moving him. Playoff teams would love to land Anderson, as he is a solid goal scorer while playing at his best but more importantly makes a significant impact with his physicality. One specific team that he has been linked to is the New Jersey Devils.
The Anaheim Ducks are going to be major sellers at the 2023 Trade Deadline. John Klingberg, Adam Henrique, and Kevin Shattenkirk stand out as some trade candidates from them, but could the Ducks end up making a major splash and trade away star netminder John Gibson? I think it is possible if the right offer comes along.
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Gibson has had a rough 2022-23 season, as he has a 10-22-5 record, a 4.05 goals-against average (GAA), and a .897 save percentage (SV%). Although these numbers are not impressive, one could argue that a major reason behind them is the Ducks’ poor play as a collective unit. Fans know that Gibson is an elite goaltender while playing at his best, so we should not rule out the possibility of some teams looking to acquire him at the deadline. Some who stand out include the Pittsburgh Penguins, Buffalo Sabres, and Los Angeles Kings.
Before the start of this season, the Vancouver Canucks signed J.T. Miller to a seven-year, $56 million contract extension. From there, it seemed guaranteed that he would be a part of their core for years to come. Yet, due to the Canucks’ immense struggles this season, there has been speculation over the prospect that the Canucks could look to trade Miller at the deadline before his extension kicks in next season.
If the Canucks do not envision Miller as a long-term part of their core, now is the time for them to move him. Starting next season, he will have a full no-movement clause (NMC) and an $8 million cap hit until 2029-30, so it will be far more difficult for them to trade him then. There definitely could be some interest for him if he is officially made available, as he is a legitimate top-six forward and is having another strong season offensively. In 54 games, the 29-year-old has 18 goals and 48 points.
Will Erik Karlsson be traded by the San Jose Sharks? Although it has been established that they are willing to move him for the right price, his $11.5 million cap hit until 2026-27 and full NMC will certainly make it challenging for the Sharks to move him before the deadline passes. However, if the Sharks retain a decent portion of his salary, a deadline blockbuster centering around him is a bit more possible.
The Edmonton Oilers have emerged as the big team looking to acquire the superstar defenseman, but it would take a plethora of creativity for it to come to fruition due to their very limited cap space. Other teams that I could personally see as a fit for Karlsson are the Ottawa Senators, Buffalo Sabres, and Detroit Red Wings. However, it seems that a Karlsson blockbuster would be easier to complete this offseason.
Nevertheless, it will be intriguing to see if any of these six dark horse trade candidates end up being moved before the 2023 Trade Deadline from here. It certainly would make the deadline far more entertaining, but time will tell what happens on that front.