8 NHL Players on Bad Teams Who Could Help Contenders at the Trade Deadline
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Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane (Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
On Sept. 16, The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reported the NHL’s annual trade deadline will be held on March 3. In the weeks leading up to that date, playoff-bound teams will attempt to boost their rosters while non-contenders will attempt to move unrestricted free agents they can’t or won’t be able to re-sign.
The 2023 crop of UFAs contains plenty of noteworthy talent. Some could extend their contracts with their current clubs before March. Those playing on postseason contenders likely won’t be shopped as those clubs will wish to retain them for the playoffs.
But there will likely be several projected 2023 UFAs on bad clubs becoming trade candidates before March 3. A scorer forward such as the Chicago Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane or a puck-moving defenseman like the Anaheim Ducks’ John Klingberg could be available to the highest bidder .
Here are eight players who could help contenders at the 2023 trade deadline. As we don’t have any NHL standings yet for the coming season, we’re using our Sept. 21 power rankings to determine which teams those players could come from.
Do you agree or disagree with our list? Feel free to let us know in the comments section below.
Jake Allen, Montreal Canadiens
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Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen (Gavin Napier/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
With Carey Price on long-term injury reserve and expected to miss the coming season, the Montreal Canadiens will turn to Jake Allen and Sam Montembeault as their goaltending tandem. Should the Canadiens be out of the playoff race by March 3, the 32-year-old Allen could become a trade candidate.
On Sept. 12, TSN’s John Lu reported
Allen confirmed his camp has “had communication” with Canadiens management about a contract extension but offered no further comment. He’s in the final season of a two-year deal with an average annual value of $2.9 million.
The Canadiens could reach an agreement with Allen on a new contract, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’d be unavailable at the trade deadline. The odds he’ll be moved on deadline day will increase if he remains unsigned by March 3.
An experienced goaltender with 29 postseason games on his resume, Allen was part of the St. Louis Blues’ march to the 2019 Stanley Cup. He could provide invaluable and affordable goaltending depth for a contend as a starter or backup.
Vladislav Gavrikov, Columbus Blue Jackets
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Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov (Kirk Irwin/Getty Images).
Entering his fourth NHL season, Vladislav Gavrikov has become an important player with the retooling Columbus Blue Jackets. Turning 27 on Nov. 21, the 6’3”, 213-pound defenseman put up a career-best 33 points last season while logging 22:14 of time on ice per game.
Gavrikov’s value to the Blue Jackets should earn him a contract extension before his UFA eligibility next July. However, he could also turn into a valuable trade chip if the Jackets’ season goes sideways and he’s still unsigned before the March 3 deadline.
The Blue Jackets have $68.7 million invested in 17 players for 2023-24. A second-pairing defenseman, Gavrikov is in the final season of a three-year contract with an average annual value of $2.8 million. His asking price could reach over $5 million on a long-term deal depending on his performance this season.
Gavrikov’s size and all-around defense skills would provide a welcome boost to any playoff team’s blue line. While it’s likely he and the Jackets will reach an agreement on a contract extension, his status could be worth monitoring the longer it takes to reach that agreement.
Shayne Gostisbehere, Arizona Coyotes
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Arizona Coyotes defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere (Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images).
On Sept. 21, Jakob Chychrun confirmed he requested a trade from the Arizona Coyotes. However, general manager Bill Armstrong’s asking price of at least one established player and multiple draft picks could keep him in Arizona past the March 3 trade deadline.
Shayne Gostisbehere, on the other hand, is a more likely trade candidate. He’s entering the final season of his contract with an affordable $4.5 million cap hit. Better still for bargain-hunting contenders, the 29-year-old defenseman’s current salary is $3.25 million, of which $2.25 million has already been paid by the Coyotes as a signing bonus.
Gostisbehere had seven inconsistent seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers before getting shipped to Arizona last summer for future considerations. He enjoyed a bounce-back performance in 2021-22 on the low-scoring Coyotes with 51 points in 82 games.
A talented offensive defenseman with strong skating ability, Gostisbehere should draw the interest of teams in the market for affordable blue-line offense. Paired with a reliable stay-at-home rearguard, he could prove to be a worthwhile addition to a contender.
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
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Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane (Harry How/Getty Images)
With the Chicago Blackhawks rebuilding, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews face uncertain futures. The longtime franchise players are entering the final seasons of their contracts. They must decide if they want to be part of the rebuild or chase another Stanley Cup with a new club.
While injuries and illness have affected the 34-year-old Toews’ performance, the 33-year-old Kane remains among the NHL’s elite stars. He led the Blackhawks with 92 points in 78 games to finish tied for 14th among the league’s top scorers.
Kane also has an impressive postseason record with 52 goals and 132 points in 136 contests. Eleven of those goals were game-winners with five coming in overtime. He took home the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 2013 as part of three Stanley Cup runs with the Blackhawks.
Teams will be lining up to acquire Kane if he waives his no-movement clause before the trade deadline. However, his $10.5 million salary-cap hit will be difficult to move. Interested clubs could request the Blackhawks to retain half of it and perhaps take back some additional salary as well.
John Klingberg, Anaheim Ducks
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Anaheim Ducks defenseman John Klingberg (Derek Leung/Getty Images)
John Klingberg was the subject of media gossip leading up to last season’s trade deadline. At the time, he was in the final season of his contract with the Dallas Stars, which sparked speculation about his future. With the Stars jockeying for playoff position, they retained the puck-moving defenseman for the remainder of the season.
Klingberg became an unrestricted free agent on July 13 and signed a one-year, $7 million contract with the Anaheim Ducks on July 29. On Aug. 3, The Hockey News‘ Mike Stephens suggested the defenseman’s camp misread the market for their client, resulting in his inability to land a profitable long-term deal.
Stephens felt Klingberg could improve his chances for a better deal next summer with a strong performance in Anaheim. The 30-year-old remains a talented mobile defenseman who can boost any team’s blue-line production. Klingberg still managed to reach 40 points in 2021-22, marking the sixth time in eight seasons he’s reached that plateau.
The Ducks are a rebuilding team that’s not expected to qualify for the 2023 playoffs. If they’re unable to re-sign Klingberg, they could peddle him by the March trade deadline. His offensive skills plus his 35 points in 59 playoff games could prove encouraging to contenders.
Kyle Okposo, Buffalo Sabers
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Buffalo Sabers right wing Kyle Okposo (Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
The improvement of Tage Thompson and Rasmus Dahlin plus the addition of 2021 first overall pick Owen Power goats well for the rebuilding Buffalo Sabers. However, they could still miss the playoffs next spring, putting them on a path toward shopping for their unrestricted free agents before March 3.
Craig Anderson, Vinnie Hinostroza, Zemgus Girgensons and Kyle Okposo could become available by the March trade deadline. Of this group, Okposo could attract the most interest from contenders seeking experienced depth and leadership on the right wing.
The 34-year-old Okposo’s best seasons came during his tenure with the New York Islanders. A concussion suffered in 2017 led to physical and mental issues that hampered his performance and threatened to end his career.
Okposo rallied last season with 21 goals and 45 points in 74 games with the low-scoring Sabres. Another effort like that in 2022-23 will boost his value in the trade market. He carries a 15-team no-trade list. His cap his is $6 million, but his current salary is $4 million.
James Reimer, San Jose Sharks
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San Jose Sharks goaltender James Reimer (Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Having missed the playoffs over the past three seasons, the San Jose Sharks could face rebuilding if they’re out of contention by March 3. That will mean first-year general manager Mike Grier could gauge the trade market to determine any interest in his unrestricted free agents.
James Reimer could become his best trade chip as the deadline nears. The 34-year-old goaltender is in the final season of a two-year deal with an average annual value of $2.25 million and a five-team no-trade list.
Entering his 13th NHL season, Reimer will share the goaltending duties with 26-year-old Kaapo Kahkonen this season. He might not fit into the Sharks’ plans beyond this season, plus there’s a possibility he could test next summer’s free-agent market.
Reimer has spent years putting up decent numbers on good and bad teams in Toronto, Florida, Carolina and San Jose. He’s seen action in just 11 playoff games but sports a career .925 save percentage in postseason action. That could draw interest from contenders in need of a reliable backup.
James van Riemsdyk, Philadelphia Flyers
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Philadelphia Flyers winger James van Riemsdyk (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
The Philadelphia Flyers hired John Tortorella as their new head coach this summer with the hope that he’ll change the club’s culture. What didn’t change, however, was a roster that finished with one of the NHL’s worst records last season.
If Tortorella can’t get the Flyers back on a winning track, they could become sellers at the trade deadline. Of their pending unrestricted free agents, James van Riemsdyk might draw the most attention from teams seeking a big, experienced scoring winger.
The 33-year-old van Riemsdyk has reached or exceeded 40 points eight times in his 13 previous NHL seasons. He’s also tallied 20-or-more goals seven times, including a 24-goal output on the offensively anemic Flyers last season. The 6’3”, 208-pounder also has 71 postseason games under his belt.
While van Riemsdyk is earning a current salary of $4 million for this season, his salary-cap hit of $7 million could make him difficult to trade. The Flyers might have to retain a portion of it or take back a high-salaried player to facilitate a deal.
Stats via NHL.com with contract and depth chart info via Cap Friendly.