We’re one week away from the NHL Entry Draft, which will take place on July 7-8 in Montreal. In the lead-up to the draft, there’s usually quite a bit of trade activity with teams trying to clear cap space or starting a retool that they have very much been needing. With that, we decided we’d bring you a trade bait board for the 2022 offseason.
This board is not from inside information obtained by The Hockey Writers. Instead, it’s based on reports from the major insiders such as Elliotte Friedman, Frank Seravalli, etc., and what they’ve reported on podcast and TV segments, radio or wherever they’re putting out information. Here are ten players that could be on the move via a trade over the next few weeks.
1. Kevin Fiala, Left Wing
*Traded to the Los Angeles Kings for a 2022 first-round pick and Brock Faber
The player most likely to get traded this offseason is Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala. Due to the buyouts of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise last summer, the Wild’s dead cap hit will increase to just above $12.7 million for this coming season and another $2 million for the two following seasons. Fiala is coming off an 85-point campaign and is a restricted free agent this offseason, so it will be more than difficult for the Wild to re-sign him.
Per Michael Russo of The Athletic, the math doesn’t work for the Wild, and Fiala will be on the move this summer (From ‘What could the Wild get for Kevin Fiala? A look at his trade value and potential suitors’ – The Athletic, 5/25/2022). He will be a significant boost to any team that acquires him, and the price of a trade might not be exorbitant due to the Wild’s cap situation. The New Jersey Devils are one team with interest, along with the Ottawa Senators.
2. Alex DeBrincat, Right Wing
*Traded to the Ottawa Senators for the 7th and 39th overall picks in the 2022 draft, plus a 2024 third-round pick
The Chicago Blackhawks are going full rebuild. Alex DeBrincat, who’s a consistent 40-50 goal scorer, has one year left on his deal at $6.4 million before becoming an RFA with arbitration rights next summer. It’ll take a king’s ransom for general manager Kyle Davidson to trade DeBrincat. But they might not hesitate to pull the trigger if the right package comes along to speed up a rebuild, especially if they don’t think he fits the team’s timeline once they’ve finished rebuilding. The Devils, Philadelphia Flyers, New York Islanders and Los Angeles Kings are among teams with interest, per The Fourth Period.
3. J.T. Miller, Forward
On a recent episode of 32 Thoughts, Friedman reported that the Vancouver Canucks are listening to offers for J.T. Miller, who has one year left on his contract before becoming an unrestricted free agent. Per Friedman, it seems unlikely an extension comes with the Canucks after Miller put up 99 points in 80 games this season. The reason for that is the Canucks are looking for ways to give themselves more cap flexibility, and signing Miller to an extension that may pay him over $9 million a season would not help them find that cap space. Friedman says quite a few teams will have interest in Miller, with the Washington Capitals potentially being one after Nicklas Backstrom underwent major hip surgery.
4. Blake Wheeler, Right Wing
On Friday’s episode of 32 Thoughts, Friedman and Jeff Marek spoke about the Winnipeg Jets and how significant changes could be coming. Friedman confirmed Seravalli’s report that Wheeler might be on the trade block, though Friedman said it might be mutual.
Wheeler has been with the Jets since they relocated from Atlanta and has put up 740 points in 802 games since the move. While he might not be the player he used to be, he still had 60 points in 65 games this season. He has two years left on his deal at a cap hit of $8.25 million. If the Jets are willing to retain some money, a contender might have some interest if they’re looking for a veteran who can boost their top-six.
5. Jesse Puljujärvi, Right Wing
On a TSN radio segment earlier this month, Ryan Rishaug reported that while he’s not sure, Jesse Puljujärvi may have played his last game with the Edmonton Oilers. Puljujärvi is an RFA this summer, and with the Edmonton Oilers only having $7.1 million in cap space, they could move him to re-sign Kailer Yamamoto and Evander Kane. Plus, they have other offseason needs to address, like shoring up their defense and finding a goaltender if Mike Smith retires. If the Oilers make Puljujärvi available, there’ll likely be plenty of suitors for the 24-year-old winger, especially if teams think he can turn into the next Valeri Nichushkin.
6. Jeff Petry, Defenseman
*Traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins, along with Ryan Poehling, for Mike Matheson and a 2023 fourth-round pick
On a segment of TSN Insider Trading 11 days ago, Pierre Lebrun said the Montreal Canadiens are still working on a deal for Jeff Petry, who requested a trade months ago to be closer to family in the United States. Petry had a tough 2021-22 season, but that may be more a product of playing on the worst team in the league. In his three previous seasons, he averaged 50 points per 82 games. He has three years left on his deal at a cap hit of $6.25 million, so the Canadiens might have to retain a bit of salary, but they should still have suitors for him. The Detroit Red Wings and Dallas Stars are among interested teams, and there’ll likely be more clubs looking to add a right-handed, veteran defender to their lineup.
7. Sergei Bobrovsky, Goaltender
On a recent episode of Real Kyper and Bourne, Nick Kypreos reported the Florida Panthers are pushing hard to trade Sergei Bobrovsky. Friedman had also hinted on previous episodes of 32 Thoughts that the Panthers had been laying the groundwork to trade Bobrovsky throughout the season.
Though Bobrovsky has rebounded the last couple of seasons, posting a .910 save percentage (SV%) in 83 starts, he has four years left on his contract at a cap hit of $10 million. The Panthers would have to retain 50 percent on his deal, which they may be willing to do, to find a suitor for the 34-year-old netminder. But trading him could still prove easier said than done.
8. Brock Boeser, Right Wing
On a different segment of Insider Trading, Darren Dreger reported the Canucks are also listening to offers on Brock Boeser, who’s an RFA this offseason. Dreger stated there’s strong interest in Boeser and that the Canucks are looking for good young players in return, not just draft picks. Boeser is coming off a down season by his standards, finishing with 23 goals and 46 points in 71 games. But he has the track record of being able to produce at a 30-goal pace.
The stumbling block that the Canucks may have in trading Boeser is he has a qualifying offer of $7.5 million, which may turn some teams off. But if organizations don’t find that to be problematic, there’s no doubt he’s a fit for a club looking to add a scorer in his mid-20s who still has team control moving forward.
9. John Gibson, Goaltender
Rumors of John Gibson being open to a trade from the Anaheim Ducks emerged a few weeks ago via Nick Alberga. The wording here is key. Gibson never requested a trade, only that he’d be open to a move, per Alberga’s reporting. He was once among the elite goaltenders in the league, but his numbers have dropped off significantly over the last three years. His .904 SV% over that stretch is just about league-average, and he still has five years left on his deal at a cap hit of $6.4 million.
The Ducks would probably have to retain some salary to make a deal work, but there will be teams interested in the hopes of a bounce-back from Gibson. Friedman’s mentioned on 32 Thoughts before that the Toronto Maple Leafs have had interest in Gibson in the past. Teams like the Devils and Oilers looking for goaltending upgrades could at the very least consider Gibson too.
10. Pavel Zacha, Forward
*Traded to the Boston Bruins for Erik Haula
A former sixth overall pick of the Devils in 2015, Pavel Zacha hasn’t lived up to the billing. However, he has improved a bit over the last two seasons, averaging 49 points per 82 games. His output regressed in 2021-22, but he still produced at an 18-goal, 42-point pace this season. He can play either wing or center, though I imagine interested teams would be looking at him to play down the middle.
Zacha is an RFA with arbitration rights this summer. The Devils have plenty of cap space, but if they’re planning on targeting Fiala or someone like Johnny Gaudreau in free agency, they will have to move contracts. That makes Zacha a likely candidate to get dealt this summer. The Canucks and Canadiens were teams rumored to have interest around the trade deadline, but there’s no word if that remains true heading into the draft.
Alex Chauvancy is a New Jersey Devils writer for The Hockey Writers who has a penchant for advanced stats, prospects, signings and trades. He previously wrote for Devils Army Blog, a New Jersey Devils fan blog, from 2015-2017