The 5 players most likely to switch teams at the NHL Trade Deadline
The NHL trade deadline approaches. On Monday, March 21, 2022, players, agents, GMs, coaches, and fans will be glued to their social media feeds to try and stay abreast of what could be one of the most active trading days in recent NHL history. Why? Well, with less than a third of the season to play, metrics already show that some 15 teams are virtually out of the postseason mix. That means the other 17 are likely to make it.
That being the case, those 17 are already starting to lean heavily on their in-house capologists to free up budget and acquire some coveted, soon-to-be free agents to try and make deep runs into the finals.
So, who are these skating treasures this year? Let’s look at the top five players with targets on their backs right now.
Ready. Aim. Trade. Who’s moving on out?
5. Marc-Andre Fleury, Chicago Blackhawks
At 37, Fleury’s getting up there. However, his puck-stopping pedigree is insane. A three-time Stanley Cup winner, he’s also only one year removed from winning the Vezina Trophy at the tender age of 36! Currently, he’s holding down a 2.80 goals against average with a .912 save percentage. The latter is only .001 off his career average. He’s also playing behind a porous Chicago defense this year, with the team sitting near the basement in the Central Division. His poise, experience, and still-solid ability to stop pucks when it counts all shine like a beacon to teams in need of reliable netminding. Interested teams could include the Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota Wild, and Toronto Maple Leafs.
4. Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers
Rumors have swirled around Captain Giroux leaving the Philly nest for a couple of seasons now. Problem is, he has a full no-move clause baked into his contract. However, if the right team were to come along for the 34-year-old, this year he could very well waive that line item in his contract. That’s because the talented forward is the last of an eight-year contract while playing for a Flyers team that’s stuck so far down the Metropolitan Division, they can see how the sewer system works in the City of Brotherly Love. So he may really want out while he’s still young enough to go win somewhere else
Oh, and lest you think there’s no real reason any team should want his services, consider: he leads the Flyers with 38 points (16 goals, 22 assists) in 48 games. Interested teams include the Colorado Avalanche, and New York Rangers.
3. Tomas Hertl, San Jose Sharks
This could be a tricky one for all parties concerned. At age 28, Hertl’s in his prime, and playing like it too. After 50 games, the strapping 6’3" power center has racked up 40 points (22 goals, 18 assists). He’s a UFA come summertime and has a modified no-trade clause where he can submit a list of three teams he’d approve a trade to. And at an annual cap hit of $5.625 AAV, there are likely some playoff-bound teams who will move heaven and Earth (and budget) to land him. This is in contrast to the Sharks, who are absolutely up against the cap and are 99% certain to miss the postseason. Still, losing a player like Hertl will hurt. Interested teams include the Rangers, Avalanche, and Flames.
2. Ben Chiarot, Montreal Canadiens
On the surface of it, this may seem a strange player to lust after for contending teams. The 30-year-old D-man has played 47 games and has a massively underwhelming stat line of six goals, five assists and a -22 plus/minus rating. Ouch. BUT... the Canadiens have had a historically bad season, compounded by a raft of injuries to all their star players, COVID setbacks and a discombobulated coaching staff for most of the year. That is, until new coach Martin St. Louis took over just two weeks ago.
Under new management, Chiarot’s on-ice game has once again flourished. And though it’s a small sample size, Ben’s play over the past seven games has been solid. As such, a defenseman of his experience, size (6’3", 234lbs), and willingness to play as tough as nails, could add a huge boost to any contending club’s blue line. Interested teams include the St. Louis Blues, Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Calgary Flames.
1. Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues
Blues GM Doug Armstrong keeps deflecting the question in public and asserts that Vlad’s still a happy camper in St. Louis, but the fact remains that this past offseason, a disgruntled Tarasenko requested a trade out of the city. Now, the Blues are in the thick of the Western division playoff race, and the man from Vlad has returned to All-Star form this year after missing much of the last two seasons due to a shoulder injury and subsequent surgery. Through 45 games, the 30-year-old star has posted 19 goals and 46 points.
Much as the Blues likely don’t want to see him leave, if a trade scenario materializes, the return for him would likely be quite a haul. Also, should the Blues decide to wait until the off-season to entertain any trade talk, they’ll waste the high-water mark of his current value. It’s anyone’s guess what the Blues will do, but reports out of St. Louis indicate that Vlad still wants out of the city. Interested teams include pretty much everyone.