NHL Teams Most Likely to Hold Fire Sales at 2023-24 Trade Deadline
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The 2023-24 NHL Trade deadline is March 8, 2024, at 3 pm ET. There’s still a lot of hockey to be played before then, but it’s not too early to speculate over which clubs could become major sellers by that point.
Those teams are typically those out of playoff contention leading up to deadline day. They tend to peddle players slated to become unrestricted free agents by season’s end that they can’t afford to retain or no longer fit into their long-term plans. In return, they’ll seek draft picks, prospects and young NHL players who could help them rebuild their roster.
A glance toward the bottom of the current overall standings provides some obvious candidates, such as the last-place San Jose Sharks. Others could be a team with a veteran roster like the Calgary Flames if they fail to show consistent improvement. Still other teams could join them by midseason depending on where they are in the standings.
The Edmonton Oilers could be on that list given their surprisingly poor start to this season. Given their recent coaching change and the presence of superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on their roster, we’re not ready yet to include them among the potential sellers. That could change if they haven’t improved in the coming weeks.
Here’s a look at the five NHL teams we consider as the most likely to hold fire sales by the March 8 trade deadline. The clubs were chosen from those among the bottom 10 in the standings as of Nov. 17, 2023. The number of potential trade assets on each club and their value are factored into this compilation.
Did we miss a team that belongs on this list? Do you disagree with our selections? Let us know in our app comments section.
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After missing the playoffs following a
disappointing 2022-23, the Calgary Flames entered this season looking
for a bounce-back performance. Instead, they’ve stumbled from the
gate with just six wins and 14 points in their first 16 games.
The Flames did win four out of six games as of Nov. 17. However, general manager Craig
Conroy could become a seller if they fail to rise into playoff
contention by midseason. His club carries prime trade bait in pending
unrestricted free agents such as center Elias Lindholm and defensemen
Noah Hanifin, Chris Tanev and Nikita Zadorov.
Zadorov made headlines on Nov. 10 by
requesting a trade through his agent. His camp hopes for a quick
resolution but management has informed him that they’ll move him on
their timetable. In other words, they’re willing to wait until the trade deadline if necessary to get the best return.
On Nov. 14, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun
reported Conroy was listening to offers for Zadorov as
well as Lindholm, Hanifin and Tanev. He indicated they’re not in a
rush to move them as they have until the trade deadline to find
suitable returns. Darren Dreger speculated veterans with
long-term contracts like Nazem Kadri might not want to be part of a
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Since taking over as general manager in March 2022, Kyle Davidson has been engaged in rebuilding his roster. Now in his second full season, Chicago appears to have a bright future with 2023 first-overall pick Connor Bedard in the lineup along with promising defenseman Kevin Korchinski.
Chicago is off to a better-than-expected start to this season and is a more competitive team compared to last season. Nevertheless, they’re still a rebuilding club looking to stockpile young talent to build around franchise player Bedard.
Veteran goaltender Petr Mrázek and forwards Corey Perry, Nick Foligno and Tyler Johnson are enjoying solid performances thus far this season. They’re also slated to become unrestricted free agents in July. If they continue playing well they’ll become invaluable bargaining chips for Davidson as the March 8 trade deadline approaches.
Taylor Hall could also become a trade candidate. Despite missing some time due to injury he has four points in eight games this season. The 32-year-old proved himself as a strong playoff performer during his tenure with the Boston Bruins. He has a year left on his contract but perhaps Davidson would retain part of his $6 million cap hit to facilitate a deal.
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Predators head coach Barry Trotz succeeded David Poile as general
manager on June 30. He indicated that he preferred to retool the
roster instead of rebuilding, adding veterans Ryan O’Reilly,
Luke Schenn and Gustav Nyquist. Trotz also emphasized
developing youngsters such as Luke Evangelista and Phillip Tomasino.
Trotz may continue
to emphasize retooling over stripping everything down and starting over throughout this season. However, he could end up putting some
players on the trade block if his Predators fail to overcome a 5-10-0 record through their first 15 games which could derail their season.
don’t have any big stars slated to become unrestricted free
agents following this season. However, they do have some serviceable
veterans such as defensemen Tyson Barrie and Alexandre Carrier and
goaltender Kevin Lankinen. They could be of interest to playoff
contenders if Trotz feels they don’t fit into his club’s plans.
forward Thomas Novak is showing promise as a scoring forward. However,
he could end up getting traded if his camp fails to reach an agreement with
Trotz on an extension. Restricted free-agent defenseman Dante Fabbro
has surfaced at times as a trade candidate.
San Jose Sharks
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The worst season in San Jose Sharks’ history was their sophomore campaign of 1992-93 where they managed just 11 wins and 24 points in 84 games. With just three wins and seven points in 17 games as of Nov. 17, they could be on track for their worst season ever.
General manager Mike Grier said he wasn’t looking to completely tear down and rebuild the roster when he took over in July 2022. Trading away core stars such as Erik Karlsson in August and Timo Meier in February indicates a rebuild is underway.
Grier could make other bold moves this season. His primary focus could be on peddling forwards Anthony Duclair, Mike Hoffman and Kevin Labanc as well as goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen by the March 8 trade deadline. All four are slated to become unrestricted free agents in July and might not fit into the Sharks’ long-term plans.
Even veterans under long-term contracts such as Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl could be trade candidates. On Sep. 21, Grier told Bay Area News‘ Curtis Pashelka that if Couture and Hertl wanted out, he’d listen and explore that option if it made sense for the club.
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In just their second NHL season, the Seattle Kraken qualified for the 2023 playoffs. They upset the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche in the first round and pushed the Dallas Stars to the full seven games before being eliminated in the second round.
The Kraken hoped to build on their impressive sophomore campaign but now find themselves with just six wins in their first 18 games. If they don’t reverse their fortunes soon they could end up missing the playoffs. That could force general manager Ron Francis to become a seller at the trade deadline.
Pending UFA forwards Jordan Eberle and Alexander Wennberg could draw interest from contenders. Eberle, 33, reached the 20-goal plateau last season for the eighth time in his 13 previous NHL seasons as well as 40 or more points for the tenth time. The 29-year-old Wennberg has reached or exceeded 35 points five times.
Justin Schultz could also attract some attention from clubs seeking a puck-moving rental defenseman. A two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Pittsburgh Penguins, he exceeded 30 points last season for the fourth time in his 11 previous campaigns. Rugged forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare could also be an affordable checking-line option.