In this week’s NHL Power Rankings we turn our attention to the potential summer trade market and the players who could be on the move.
The Chicago Blackhawks figure to be big sellers again as they try to overhaul their roster, but just how bold they are willing to be remains to be seen. The Montreal Canadiens could find themselves in a similar situation as they not only try to rebuild following a bitterly disappointing season, but try to work their way through a salary cap crunch.
Speaking of salary cap crunches, no team is feeling that more than the Minnesota Wild as they have more than $12 million in empty cap space complicating their attempts to re-sign forward Kevin Fiala.
We look at those situations and more in this week’s rankings.
To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!
1. Alex DeBrincat, Chicago Blackhawks. DeBrincat is one of the NHL’s best goal scorers, but he is going to be due a major extension after this season and the Blackhawks seemed destined to stink for at least the next two-three years. Is he somebody you rebuild your entire organization around or do you cash in for a big return? Keep in mind, the return here is probably not going to be as massive as you expect. It never is.
2. Kevin Fiala, Minnesota Wild. Ideally the Wild would never even consider trading Fiala. He is one of their best players, still in the prime of his career, and Minnesota should intend to be contenders. But their salary cap situation is a mess after the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter buyouts, while Fiala is due for a significant raise as a restricted free agent. Every team that needs a top-line scorer should be calling Bill Guerin right now.
[NHL Power Rankings: Most intriguing restricted free agents]
3. Chicago’s other core players. Basically, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Yeah, they were franchise players here for more than a decade, but if the Blackhawks are rebuilding there is no sense in keeping them other than sentimental reasons. The next time this team is good these guys will not be major contributors. An argument can be made that Toews is no longer a major contributor now. The problem with trading them: Their salary cap hits are massive, they have some control over where they go, and there is probably a limited market on who can take them. Chicago would probably have to retain significant salary to move Toews’ remaining contract this season.
4. JT Miller, Vancouver Canucks. Miller has blossomed into one of the NHL’s most productive players since arriving in Vancouver, but the Canucks have a new front office, a new direction, and Miller is an unrestricted free agent this summer while the team’s vision remains a mystery. His name was mentioned in trade speculation leading up to the deadline but nothing ever happened. The offseason seems like a real possibility.
5. Jakub Chychrun, Arizona Coyotes. Chychrun has expressed a desire to play on a playoff team, and the Coyotes are not even close to that right now. He still has multiple years remaining on a very team-friendly contract. Any team that needs a top-pairing defender in their prime should be in on this. He may not be a superstar, but he can play at the top of most team’s bluelines.
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6. Jesse Puljujarvi, Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers should not trade Puljujarvi, but given their salary cap situation, his contract status, and the fact he does not seem to score enough goals for the coaching staff’s liking might make him a candidate to be moved. If the Oilers foolishly go in that direction some team is going to get a helluva player that still has very high ceiling.
7. Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks. Like Miller, the mystery here is nobody is really sure what direction the Canucks are going to go in. Do they see this roster as a potential playoff team? Or a struggling team that needs a change? More importantly here, do they see Boeser as a player that is going to be worth the contract commitment he will require?
8. Josh Anderson, Montreal Canadiens. Anderson’s contract is massive in term, but the salary cap hit is manageable if he performs to his potential. Montreal probably is not under any immense pressure to trade him, but there is no way they would turn down a competitive offer to get out of that long-term deal.
9. Matt Dumba, Minnesota Wild. Dumba has a limited no-trade clause so that could limit his availability here a little bit, but he has a $6 million salary cap hit for this season and the Wild have some major salary cap constraints. If they want to re-sign Fiala they are going to have to move somebody out. Dumba is a logical candidate for that.
[Related: Wild can survive salary cap crunch but can they thrive?]
10. John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks. Gibson’s play has fallen off drastically over the past few seasons. Is that the result of a decline in his play? Or the situation around him? He has a big contract for somebody to take that gamble. The Ducks finally have a good young core in place and would probably like to take a step back toward the playoffs this season (in a division where there is a path for that), could they find a better goalie than Gibson if they traded him?
11. Jeff Petry, Montreal Canadiens. Petry’s contract gives him a lot of say over where he can go if Montreal decides to move him. He had a bit of a down year and has three years remaining on a contract that has a salary cap hit of $6.25 million per season, which is a significant investment. But he is still a pretty good player and would help any contender in the short-term.
[NHL Power Rankings: Top potential 2022 unrestricted free agents]
12. John Marino, Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins have an abundance of players on the left side of their defense, would still like to re-sign Kris Letang and Evgeni Malklin, and still make some improvements elsewhere on the roster. Marino is probably the most marketable of their potential trade candidates on defense (moreso than Marcus Pettersson and Mike Matheson) and could still be seen as a good addition if a team thinks he can return to his rookie season form.
13. Tyson Barrie, Edmonton Oilers. Barrie is really good on the power play but he is a luxury the Oilers really do not need. They could probably get a fair return for him and not really miss much. That power play is going to run like a well-oiled machine with or without him.
14. Jordan Eberle, Seattle Kraken. My thinking here is the Kraken are not close to competing after making some regrettable mistakes in the expansion draft, Eberle is 32 years old and one of the few tradable assets they have, and could probably bring them a nice return to help stock the cupboards. It should at least be explored.
15. Alexander Georgiev, New York Rangers. The Rangers have their franchise goalie in Igor Shesterkin, and he is a monster. Georgiev’s development has stalled a little bit in New York, he is due for a raise as a restricted free agent on a team that still has a lot of improvements to make, and he could use a fresh start. Does a rebuilding team see him as a potential starter?
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Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.
NHL Power Rankings: Offseason trade candidates originally appeared on NBCSports.com