1. Carolina Hurricanes: 87 Points (41-13-5)
The Carolina Hurricanes are coming into the Trade Deadline while flexing their depth. The Canes won three straight games with backup Antti Raanta in the net and without their power-play quarterback in Tony DeAngelo. Jalen Chatfield has proven to be a more than capable defenseman and, in all reality, should have an NHL regular role on a team. He is the eighth defenseman for the Canes. They may want to add another veteran defenseman but that might not matter at all if Rod Brind’Amour prefers Brendan Smith over the new arrival
This forward group will be one of the deepest groups they will be able to have in the near future by the fact that they still have Vincent Trocheck. They could use a middle-six winger, but who on the team would have to sit? It would be great to avoid a situation where an injury gives us a top-line or top-six Jordan Martinook, but that will be inevitable no matter who they bring in to bolster the lineup. Rod hasn’t trusted new arrivals and even in the current set up he has preferred bumping Martinook up the lineup over more skilled players.
The scariest thing for the Canes at this deadline is that they can throw away assets for players that objectively hurt their on-ice product like Ben Chiarot. One of the best-fitting players the Canes could have used in Josh Manson was already traded to the Colorado Avalanche. The Canes may have moves to make this offseason, but it doesn’t look like they benefit from too many tweaks. Sometimes the best action is inaction.
2. New York Rangers: 81 Points (38-17-5)
The New York Rangers have wrapped up a playoff position earlier than they would have planned in their rebuild. They have done this largely on the back of the best goaltender and Hart Trophy candidate Igor Shesterkin. They have also done that in no part due to scoring depth. The Rangers are a very top-heavy lineup that struggles at even strength but produces while on the power play. The Rangers made moves in the offseason to add toughness by acquiring Ryan Reaves, Barclay Goodrow, and Sammy Blais which proved to be beneficial for them in the regular season.
But now they are looking at taking the next step with their scoring depth all being from young inexperienced players who haven’t consistently performed. They have young assets and the draft capital to land a bigger player. Players that would make sense for them are the pending RFAs like Jack Debrusk and Brock Boeser. The Rangers can bring in players with team control that are veterans. The Rangers have the cap to make one of these deals work with extensions in place.
3. Pittsburgh Penguins: 81 Points (36-17-0)
The Pittsburgh Penguins will be a hard buy at the deadline. Not just because they always buy as long as they have Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang, but they also only have 12 players signed for next season. Out of their 11 pending free agents, only two of them are pending restricted free agents. Even if they don’t lose all of those players, it’s a certainty that they will not be able to bring back their full group. It means they have a lot to play for this season and a big reason to go all-in. The Penguins have done a great job of improving depth over the years with their former deadline deals which include players like Jason Zucker and Jeff Carter.
Where they have struggled this season is with their goaltending depth. They have gotten great production out of starter Tristan Jarry, but backup Casey DeSmith has been inconsistent this season. He has a 6-4-3 record with a .904 save percentage and typically plays in back-to-back sets. With the way that Jarry struggled last season in the playoffs, they could look to bolster their goaltending to give them more options when needing to shift gears in a series.
4. Washington Capitals: 76 Points (33-18-10)
The Capitals' age may finally be catching up to them and they have played below their normal level this season. It may appear that their window could be closing, so it could be time to make a big final push. The Caps have been playing better since getting Anthony Mantha back at the beginning of March with a 5-1-0 record. This has also been the first time that their whole top-six has been intact this season. The need for the Caps has been obvious, goaltending.
Their goaltending due of Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanacaek have left a little to be desired in the crease. It is largely rumored that they were in on Marc-Andre Fleury, but Fleury refused to waive his no-trade to go to Washington. Another wrench in their trade plan, they have just $155,000 in deadline cap space which means any move must be one in and one out.
5. Columbus Blue Jackets: 63 Points (30-27-3)
The Columbus Blue Jackets have set themselves up in a great position for the deadline. They have $10 million in cap space that they can and should weaponize and have a few pieces that they can deal. GM Jarmo Kekalainen has always been clever, and we will see Blue Jackets logos pop-up all-over deadline coverage as third parties in trades to help retain salary. The Blue Jackets have pending unrestricted free agents in Joonas Korpisalo and Max Domi.
Korpisalo hasn’t been lighting the world on fire with back-to-back sub .900 sv% seasons but could provide depth goaltending with playoff experience. A good fit here could be Dallas who just lost Anton Khudobin for six months with a hip injury. Domi can provide great middle six depth who can also play center. He hasn’t been the most consistent player, but he has shown flashes over his career of what he can be. At just 27 he is one of the youngest players on the trade block, but it might not come with the risk of his inconsistent play.
6. New York Islanders: 57 Points (24-24-9)
The New York Islanders are at a turning point for their franchise. They are the oldest team in the NHL and their youngest expiring player is Cal Clutterbuck who is 34. Their other pending UFAs are Zach Parise, Zdeno Chara, and Andy Greene none of which really move the needle for the trade market. Even if they do sell each player off, it would be hard to imagine they would bring back more than a handful of late-round picks. Looking at the long-term outlook of the Islanders, they may have to trade a player with term to add flexibility.
Trotz Pregame Availability pic.twitter.com/Kwarn0GrPZ— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) March 15, 2022
Heading into next season they have $13.7 million in cap space with two pieces to re-sign Kieffer Bellows and Noah Dobson and five other positions to sign. That is just an opening act that will be the 2023 off-season which will see Mathew Barzal and Oliver Wahlstrom they will have to re-sign. Their main issue, they don’t have any easy or compelling contracts they can trade easily. They’ve locked up all of their players who all are on diminishing aging curves with significant term.
7. New Jersey Devils: 49 Points (22-32-5)
The New Jersey Devils are trying to get to the next phase of their rebuild going from bottom feeder to contender. They were hoping some of their off-season signings this year would get them to that place but haven’t had such luck, mainly due to their goaltending struggles. Now approaching the deadline, the Devils are still in a place to sell as much as they can. The only issue, is they only have one attractive pending UFA in P.K. Subban who the team has already announced they are moving on from. Subban will still cost a team $4.5 million in cap space even with the Devils retaining half of the salary.
It’s Jack’s world. We’re just living in it. pic.twitter.com/7Ccv46CHwo— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) March 16, 2022
At 32 and past his prime, Subban provides some offensive upside and powerplay depth and still has average possession numbers. The return would likely be a mid-round draft pick and/or B-level prospect coming back to the Devils. It might not be anything that really helps them in the long run, but either could be a piece in a bigger trade. One of the best things the Canes did near the end of the rebuild was stockpiling pieces like this at every turn they could.
8. Philadelphia Flyers: 47 Points (18-30-11)
Sell but, who knows?
The biggest name on the board at the deadline is the captain of the Philadelphia Flyers, Claude Giroux. The good news for fans of the Flyers, the trade is a can’t miss. Giroux has had a very productive year with 18 goals and 24 assists for 42 total points and isn’t showing signs of slowing down. Giroux can play both center or the wing for any team which expands the destination list. The Flyers will also need to retain 50% of his $8.275 mil cap hit to make a deal work. His return should be one of the highest at the deadline and should return a first-round pick and more.
SNEAK PEEK: @28CGiroux reflects on his NHL debut as he approaches the 1,000 games played milestone.— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) March 15, 2022
Stay tuned for more exclusive content leading up to March 17th: https://t.co/VnQ4B7u81K pic.twitter.com/L5IJ9eEi3d
Another name that has been rumored to be moved is Travis Sanheim. Sanheim’s name has come up after the Rasmus Ristolainen re-signing now that the Flyers are already cap-strapped for next season. He carries a $4.64 AAV for one more season and has been one of the best defensemen for the Flyers this season. His 21 points and 48.4% Corsi are the most of any defenseman on the Flyers. Philly won’t be forced to trade him at the deadline, but he will likely be a casualty at the Draft.