5 2023 offseason trade ideas for some of the NHL’s worst teams
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The exciting part about being a team in or near the bottom of the NHL standings this season is the hope that you can win the draft lottery and select Connor Bedard No. 1 in June. But only one team will be able to do that and everyone else will have to find other ways to get better.
To improve a team with a lot of holes, you can hope that some of your prospects are ready to make the jump or seek help in free agency. But the most effective and scariest way to improve a team is to trade.
Trading is fun and exciting for us, and for general managers it’s the best and scariest thing they can do. But what’s the harm in making deals when your team has spent the season in the basement? Things can’t get any worse, right?
Wait, no, it could get worse. But when you’re down and the future looks bleak, change can make it feel better. And that’s why we’re going to make deals that could make life better for some of the NHL’s worst teams.
Ducks Trade John Gibson
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The Anaheim Ducks have had a miserable season. They don’t score many goals and they have allowed it very from them. It seems to be the fault of goaltender John Gibson more than anything else, but Gibson had to stand on his head to make it look this good.
The Ducks need help all over the ice at forward and defense, and surprisingly have depth at goal. Anthony Stolarz has backed up Gibson the past two seasons and junior Lukas Dostal has shown some potential in limited action this season. Sure, you could trade Dostal because he’s younger and has the potential that teams are excited about, but Gibson has a solid track record as well as a strong reputation.
Gibson has four years left on his $6.4 million contract. It’s not an easy contract to move, but if you’re the Ducks, you want to get goals in return. They have scored 175 goals this season, the third fewest in the league. Trevor Zegras has 21 goals and Troy Terry and Adam Henrique are tied for second on the team with 19 goals each. It’s terrible, and a team that needs to deal with goaltending in a big way (Buffalo? Montréal? Columbus?) can offer young offensively capable players in exchange for him.
Gibson’s cap hit and injury history make him tough to move, but an experienced team should kick the tires and see what it might take.
Shark Trading Erik Karlsson
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There was no hotter name at the deadline this year than San Jose defenseman Erik Karlsson.
Talk has swirled about the Edmonton Oilers and even the Ottawa Senators being interested in landing the Norris Trophy favorite, and for good reason. Karlsson, 32, has tapped into the fountain of youth this season and has racked up goals and assists just as he did during his elite seasons with the Senators. He leads all defensemen in scoring this season and has been brilliant across the board.
Karlsson is not an easy player to trade for a few reasons. First of all, look how good he is! San Jose is looking to return to respectability sooner rather than later, and they still have Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture playing well and have added 2021 seventh overall pick William Eklund to the mix late in the season to show that the future holds hope. Having Karlsson there to help lead their offense would be a very good idea, especially when he’s playing so well.
Then there’s his contract. Karlsson has four more years at an $11.5 million cap hit. Trying to trade him almost certainly means bringing a third team into the mix to help spread around the perimeter. Even teams like Buffalo or Arizona, each hovering just above the salary cap, would require sweeteners to get the full deal, and at that point the deal wouldn’t be worth doing on San Jose’s end .
That said, there seemed to be too many moving parts for Karlsson to deal with at the deadline. During the offseason, though? Different story. Not to mention it would allow for a more open market of potential buyers. Trading Karlsson would allow San Jose to add younger players to the mix as part of their rebuild. It’s exactly the kind of deal they should be looking for to escape the depths of last place.
Canucks Trade Brock Boeser
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Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: The Vancouver Canucks are in a bit of a weird spot these days.
After the Canucks fired Bruce Boudreau and brought in Rick Toshe as head coach, they made a slight turnaround in the standings. From hovering at the bottom of the league, to suddenly being within touching distance of the wild card in the Western Conference. That said, the team has a lot of flaws themselves and not a lot of good ways to deal with them and make changes.
The players they would want to trade aren’t overly attractive to other teams, and the ones they would be are the ones the Canucks wouldn’t want to give up. It is a classic trading land. After all, Vancouver wouldn’t want to move Elias Pettersson or Quinn Hughes, and asking too much for players like Tyler Myers or Conor Garland won’t cut it.
That’s what makes forward Brock Boeser an ideal trade candidate. The two years remaining on his contract at a cap hit of $6.65 million is sweet for teams to take on, particularly when it means giving up players or picks to make it happen. Boeser is a good scorer and by all accounts a very good person in the room. He would be an ideal attacking middle six for any team, particularly one with scoring depth that helps spread the football. Although his goals are down this season (12 in 59 games vs. 23 in 71 games and 56 games respectively the previous two seasons), the points still come with assists (33).
Boeser would give the Canucks the best chance to improve their team, especially since they wouldn’t take him while he’s in a slump. Whether it’s teams like Minnesota, Carolina, or even Pittsburgh, he’d be a great fit anywhere.
Blues Trade Jordan Binnington
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If there was ever a player who looked like he could really turn the tables, it’s St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington. The fiery, if not reckless, netminder has struggled over the past two seasons with the Blues and this season has been an adventure that hasn’t always been much fun for him or the team.
While Binnington has struggled to keep pucks out of the net, he has also recently tried to keep his composure on the ice. There’s a fine line between using an advantage to motivate yourself and your teammates and another thing entirely to just make everyone love Marc-André Fleury even more.
Over the past two seasons, Binnington has been below league average in save percentage and has been downright brutal this season with an .892 mark. Considering their league average is .905, it’s no wonder the Blues fell out of the playoff conversation earlier this season.
St. Louis has prospect Joel Hofer with a .920 AHL save percentage, third best in the league. The problem for the Blues is that Binnington has been so bad of late that they would have a hard time finding teams interested in signing him. The fact that he has four years left on his contract with a $6 million cap hit makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible.
Binnington has a Stanley Cup title in his back pocket, though, and he was instrumental in helping the Blues win it all in 2019. That track record could be enough to win over a GM looking for an answer to their problems between of the pipes , except the Blues ate part of the contract, too.
Canadiens Trade for Juuse Saros
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We’re picking the Canadiens to pursue Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros this summer, but the truth is, they’re one of four or five teams that should be ringing Barry Trotz’s phone.
There’s no real reason for the Predators to trade Saros, but they have 2020 first-round pick Yaroslav Askarov playing well in the AHL, and teams generally don’t draft a goaltender in the first round just to let them hang out in the development for years and years.
Montreal knows this all too well (Carey Price), and it also means they should have a good idea when a team will be ready to give that player a chance to take over the NHL. Saros has been outstanding for Nashville for a few years now and has put the Predators back in playoff contention this season. But the Habs, who have struggled all season in goal, have the options and prospects to make Nashville an offer they should strongly consider with Askarov ready to wait.
The Canadians already have Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, Jordan Harris, Kaiden Guhle and Kirby Dach crushing it at their young age and are poised to make a run at the standings in the coming years. However, the only area where they do not have a developing perspective is the goal. Making a play for Saros would not only help them climb out of the basement in the East, but also throw them right into the mix with Ottawa, Detroit and Buffalo as rebuilding teams ready to compete for the postseason.
Not coincidentally, it’s Ottawa, Buffalo and Los Angeles that should also call on Saros to help their future chances of success. Such a move would cost a lot, but could help Canadians take a giant leap forward.