NHL Trade Deadline: Predicting Where Each Top Target Will Land

The 2023 NHL Trade Deadline is less than a month away (March 3), so the trading season is officially upon us. As we gear up to the deadline, we naturally are expected to see several moves. In this piece, I will be predicting where each of the top trade targets will end up being moved to before the deadline passes. Let’s get started.

Jonathan Toews: Colorado Avalanche

Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews is a player to watch very closely at the trade deadline. The 34-year-old center should certainly get attention from contenders looking for more leadership and depth at the center position. In 46 games this season, he has been productive, as he has 14 goals to go along with 28 points. Yet, for him to be traded, he of course will need to waive his full no-movement clause (NMC).

Jonathan Toews Chicago Blackhawks
Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

When looking at a potential fit for Toews, I could see the Colorado Avalanche making a big push for him. After losing Nazem Kadri through free agency to the Calgary Flames last season, the Avalanche have had trouble finding a legitimate replacement for him at the second-line center position. As a result, they could certainly look to bring in the three-time Stanley Cup winner to their already-strong roster. To acquire Toews, the Avalanche would need to part ways with their 2025 second-round pick and a promising young player like Ben Meyers.

Ryan O’Reilly: Carolina Hurricanes

The 2022-23 season has been a bit of a rough one for St. Louis Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly. In 38 games, he has 11 goals and 17 points, and he has dealt with injury trouble. However, even with this being the case, his immensely strong resume, excellent leadership, and impressive two-way play will still lead teams to make a push for him at the deadline.

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

When thinking of a landing spot for O’Reilly, the Carolina Hurricanes truly stand out. The Hurricanes are having a truly fantastic season, but it is also apparent that they could use an upgrade at the second-line center position. Players like Paul Stastny and Jesperi Kotkaniemi have not worked in the role, so bringing in O’Reilly could be a way to help remedy this issue. Furthermore, with the Hurricanes aiming to win the Stanley Cup, it wouldn’t hurt to bring in a veteran who has won a Conn Smythe Trophy. To acquire O’Reilly, the Hurricanes would likely need to trade their 2023 first-round pick and a prospect like Jack Drury.

Jakob Chychrun: Boston Bruins

Jakob Chychrun has been on the trading block since last season, but the Arizona Coyotes have yet to move him. However, that is finally expected to change, as he was scratched for trade purposes on Saturday (Feb. 11). He has been getting a ton of interest around the league, and this is entirely understandable when noting that he is a top-pairing defenseman who carries an affordable $4.6 million cap hit until the end of the 2024-25 campaign. However, teams like the Maple Leafs and Oilers have now been ruled out by NHL insider Jeff Marek.

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With the Bruins going all in this season, I could see them being the lucky team to acquire the star defenseman. It was recently confirmed by NHL insider Pierre LeBrun have once again entered the Chychrun sweepstakes. It makes sense, as he would make a major upgrade over Matt Grzelcyk on the team’s top pairing. However, they would need to give up their 2023 first-round pick, 2025 second-round pick, Grzelcyk, and one of Fabian Lysell or Mason Lohrei to get this deal finalized. Another team to watch very closely here is the Los Angeles Kings.

Timo Meier: Toronto Maple Leafs

The San Jose Sharks have made it known that they are ready to make serious changes to their group. As a result, star winger Timo Meier is available, and he is understandably receiving a plethora of interest on the trade market because of it. He has been one of the few bright spots for the Sharks this campaign, as he has an impressive 30 goals and 51 points in 52 games. When noting that he also provides plays a very physical game (109 hits), he is exactly the kind of star that playoff teams need.

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I could very well see the Toronto Maple Leafs make a major push for Meier and be the lucky team to acquire him. On paper, he is exactly the kind of star that they need as they gear up for the postseason. If the Sharks retain half of his salary, the Maple Leafs would easily be able to fit him in if they send another player the other way. To acquire him, Toronto would need to part ways with their 2023 first-round pick, top prospect Matthew Knies, and a roster player like Alex Kerfoot.

Patrick Kane: Vegas Golden Knights

Patrick Kane is going to be the biggest player to watch at the 2023 Trade Deadline. The future Hall of Famer has spent the entirety of his career as a Blackhawk, but now there is a legitimate chance that this will change in less than a month. Although he has had a bit of a down year for his standards, he is still receiving plenty of interest because he is an elite talent with three Stanley Cups on his resume.

Patrick Kane Chicago Blackhawks
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

With Mark Stone being out indefinitely due to undergoing back surgery, the Vegas Golden Knights have a major hole in their lineup. Vegas has never been shy to make a blockbuster trade, so I could certainly see them going all-in for Kane if Stone’s injury keeps him out for the remainder of the regular season. Although Kane does not offer the same elite defensive play as Stone, he would give the Golden Knights another star in their top six as they gear up for the postseason. For a Kane trade to go through, Vegas would need to give up their 2023 first-round pick and a notable prospect like Brendan Brisson. With that, Kane would of course need to waive his NMC.

Nevertheless, it will be fun to see if these predictions end up coming to fruition. On paper, there seem to be some great matches here, but time will tell if they do in fact occur from here.