NHL Trade Deadline Primer: Is there a surprise trade to be made this year?
The 2022 NHL Trade Deadline is Monday, March 21 at 3 p.m. ET. As we get closer to the deadline we will take a look at some individual players who could be on the move. We continue today with some players that you might not be expecting to move but could if the right offer presents itself, similar to what we saw a year ago with the Anthony Mantha for Jakub Vrana trade.
Every year there are typically three types of trades that happen at the NHL Trade Deadline. The most common of these trades is the rental, where a non-playoff team that has given up on the season trades a pending unrestricted free agent to a playoff team to help fill an area of weakness for whatever they can get. This is usually what we see.
The second type of trade involves the rebuilding team that deals a player with term on their contract to really kickstart their rebuild, hoping a team that wants to get multiple playoff runs out of that player will pay a premium price.
Then there is the “hockey trade.” This is is the least common trade involving players under contract, maybe even players on playoff teams or playoff hopeful teams. Maybe somebody has a glut at one position and is thin at another and they find a team that complements that. Maybe a team outside the playoffs has hopes of competing next season and jumps at a opportunity. It is players you did not expect to be traded.
The Anthony Mantha-for-Jakub Vrana trade a year ago fits the latter two categories quite well.
Is there anybody that could be involved in such a deal this season?
Some potential candidates and the possible returns
Travis Sanheim, Philadelphia Flyers. Honestly it is really difficult to understand what, exactly the Flyers are doing here. The team is lousy, is probably going to trade Claude Giroux after his 1,000th game on Thursday, and they are not even close to competing, meaning anybody could be on the table. But they also just re-signed Rasmus Ristolainen for five years for some reason. Could that make Sanheim expendable? It should not because he is the one that has driven that defense pairing this season, but Sanheim carries a reasonable salary cap hit for another season after this and if some team is going to give up a nice pick for pending free agent Ben Chiarot, you have to imagine Philadelphia could do well here.
John Marino or Marcus Pettersson, Pittsburgh Penguins. The deal here is the Penguins need another top-six winger to play next to Evgeni Malkin because Kasperi Kapanen is just not getting the job done. The Penguins do not have many tradable assets that other teams are going to covet and general manager Ron Hextall wants to add a player that has term left on their deal (perhaps as insurance for a seemingly inevitable Bryan Rust departure this offseason in free agency). That means some money has to go out.
Marino and Pettersson are mid-level players with fairly significant contracts for a few more years so trading one of them makes sense. They are good enough to have some trade value, but are expendable within the Penguins’ lineup. Especially since Pettersson has been the odd man out lately due to the recent emergence of Mark Friedman. You do not want to give away too much of your depth, but this is a situation where the Penguins have a lot of options on the blue line and need forward help. This is classic hockey trade territory. Is this is a potential match for Jim Rutherford (who acquired and signed both players in Pittsburgh) and one of his forwards (Brock Boeser or Conor Garland?).
Clayton Keller, Arizona Coyotes. There has not been any indication of this happening, but consider this: If Arizona is willing to trade Jakob Chychrun, and has already traded Garland, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and Christian Dvorak, and Darcy Kuemper, and will almost certainly sell off any pending free agent it can (Phil Kessel, etc.) then what purpose does Keller serve in Arizona? Yeah, you have to keep somebody. Yeah, you have to pay somebody. But if you are going so deep into a rebuild that not even Chychrun is safe from trade talks, then nobody is off the table.
[Related: NHL Trade Deadline: Primer: This is not the time for a Jakob Chychrun trade]
Keller has a massive contract that might be difficult for teams to take on, but he is also having an outstanding year and averaging a point per game. Would Arizona really turn down a first-round pick, a top prospect, and some other filler right now? Can not hurt to put it out there.
Tyler Bertuzzi, Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings are in an interesting spot here. They are reaching a point in their rebuild where it is time to take a big step toward the playoffs next season. They have two cornerstone players in place in Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider, a heckuva veteran in Dylan Larkin, and a healthy Jakub Vrana now healthy and coming back. They also have gobs of salary cap space this offseason and can be very aggressive.
[Related: 2021-22 NHL Trade Deadline Tracker]
Bertuzzi is having a great year offensively, but he is going to be an unrestricted free agent after next season and be 29 when his new contract kicks in. Will he repeat this performance? How much is he worth in the future as he gets into his 30, and is his trade value right now worth more than than that hypothetical value to the Red Wings as a player? If you could get similar value to the Mantha trade here, it might be worth exploring.
Brock Boeser or Conor Garland, Vancouver Canucks. J.T. Miller’s name also surfaced in trade speculation for a while but there seems to be little chance of that happening. Nobody is going to pay the justifiably high price Vancouver will almost certainly set for him, and there is also the fact the Canucks are not out of this thing. They have been great under Bruce Boudreau, while the Vegas Golden Knights are self destructing and I am not sure how much you should trust the Edmonton Oilers.
[Related: NHL Trade Deadline Primer: J.T. Miller should carry high price for Vancouver Canucks]
They are in this. For that reason they should be very cautious when it comes to selling at the trade deadline. Boeser is due for a new contract as a restricted free agent after this season, and the salary cap is tough for the Canucks, but maybe you see what these guys can do and worry about the offseason and salary cap in the offseason when you need to. Maybe this is where Pittsburgh is a match with one of their defenders (Marino or Pettersson) for a good hockey trade.
Artturi Lehkonen, Montreal Canadiens. This could be this year’s Blake Coleman. Lehkonen is an outstanding possession driver and having a really good year offensively and on pace for close to 20 goals and 40 points over 82 games. With his two-way play and possession ability that is an incredibly valuable player, and he is still only a restricted free agent after this season. The Canadiens could aboslutely get a strong return here if they wanted. Almost certainly a first-round pick at minimum.
Trade Deadline Predictions
These types of trades are pretty rare, which is why the Mantha trade a year ago was so surprising. So anything along those lines happening again this season seems like a pretty significant stretch. Those types of trades tend to happen more in the offseason when more teams are involved.
Arizona is not trading Keller, the Flyers are going to keep Sanheim, and a Bertuzzi trade really seems like a stretch to imagine, even if general manager Steve Yzerman is willing to listen to offers for all of his players outside of Raymond and Seider.
But maybe there is a match with Pittsburgh and Vancouver (most likely Garland?) where both teams can address a need, and it would not be a surprise to see Montreal get a strong deal for Lehkonen.