Bold NHL Trade Deadline Predictions: Penguins Land Jakob Chychrun, Predators Move Juuse Saros

The 2023 NHL trade deadline it was already one of the most chaotic in recent memory, but that doesn’t mean the fireworks are over. With some big names coming off the board early, GMs have time to get creative and pull off some surprising results before March 3rd.

Players like Timo Meier, Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko are long off the board, but there are still teams looking to upgrade their rosters for a deep playoff run. The Pittsburgh Penguins may want to make a big swing with their key players still intact, and the Carolina Hurricanes need more offensive firepower after Max Pacioretty was injured.

On the other hand, teams like the Nashville Predators and Philadelphia Flyers may try to move some big names as established sellers.

Here are some bold predictions for what will happen in the final two days before the 2023 NHL trade deadline:

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Flames have some big decisions to make and not much time to make them. Calgary is currently four points out of the second wild card spot in the Western Conference, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.

In points percentage, the Flames are 10th in the conference. That puts them behind the Nashville Predators, who have already decided to become sellers. Calgary doesn’t have much time to turn things around and it might be wise for the team to do a little selling in order to get something out of a disappointing season so far.

If the Flames decide to flip some roster players for future resources, Toffoli could bring a lot to a team that needs offense. That’s where the Minnesota Wild come into this scenario.

The Wild’s biggest struggle this season has been scoring from deep, and if they hope to challenge the other top teams in the Western Conference, they likely need to get more offensive firepower. With 25 goals and 52 points in 60 games this season, Tofoli would give them a major upgrade.

Not only would Toffoli give Kirill Kaprizov some extra help up front this season, but he’s also signed for a manageable $4.25 million through 2023-24. The buyout penalties on the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter contracts only get worse next season, so getting a team-friendly deal like Toffoli’s could help Minnesota stay competitive in the Western Conference next season as well. — Nivison

The Pittsburgh Penguins are clinging to the last Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference and have been about as inconsistent as any playoff team in the league lately. Penguins general manager Ron Hexall chose to rebuild the group when he re-signed Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang to long-term deals in the offseason, so he really can’t sit on his hands now.

The window may not be open much longer for Pittsburgh, so the Penguins need to go for breaks. That’s why it makes sense for the Penguins to make a splash at the trade deadline in the form of acquiring star defenseman Jakob Chychrun from the Arizona Coyotes.

The Penguins defense is allowing 3.20 goals per game, which ranks in the bottom half of the league. Adding Chychrun would give them an excellent two-way defenseman who would bolster the team’s blue line.

Chychrun has a cannon of a shot that would add another dynamic to Pittsburgh’s offense. He could also be a huge asset on the team’s power-play if added to the mix.

If the Penguins were to add Chychrun, it also wouldn’t be surprising if Hexall found a way to include Coyotes goaltender Karel Vejmelka in the deal. Tristan Jarry doesn’t appear to be healthy this season, and Casey DeSmith has struggled with a 3.27 goals-against average in Jarry’s relief. — Bengel

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Carolina lost the biggest prize of this year’s trade deadline when Timo Meier went to the New Jersey Devils, but there are still options available to general manager Don Waddell, especially if the Florida Panthers decide to be sellers.

Like the Flames, the Panthers’ chances of making the postseason are slimmer than they appear on the surface. That’s because Florida’s .525 hitting percentage ranks 12th in the conference. The New York Islanders, Detroit Red Wings and Ottawa Senators are all ahead of the Panthers in this category.

With Florida’s playoff hopes hanging in the balance, it might be worth it for Carolina to ask about winger Sam Reinhart. Max Pacioretty is essentially done for the season with yet another Achilles injury, so the Hurricanes are once again looking for an extreme scorer, and Reinhart would fit that bill.

Over the last two seasons with the Panthers, Reinhart played 139 games and scored 54 goals. There’s no reason Reinhart couldn’t continue to score at that rate — or even higher — on a Hurricanes team loaded with young offensive playmakers.

In terms of money, this could make a bit of sense for both sides. The Panthers would have $6.5 million in cap space to reload in the summer and he still has a year left on his contract. Reinhart wouldn’t be a rental for Carolina, and the team wouldn’t have to find a way to fit him when Sebastian Ajo, Tevo Tervainen, Martin Nekas and Seth Jarvis all become free agents in the summer of 2024. . — Nivison

Over the years, the Vegas Golden Knights have made it clear that they aren’t afraid to make a big deal at the trade deadline.

Although he wasn’t at the trade deadline last season, the team went out and acquired Jack Eichel from the Buffalo Sabres. In previous years, the Golden Knights added Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty and Tomas Tatar before the trade deadline.

It’s a mindset that hasn’t failed the Golden Knights as they’ve made the playoffs in four of their first five NHL seasons. However, this is the year where Vegas could really hang onto their assets and play with the roster they have.

In February, the Golden Knights announced that captain Mark Stone had back surgery and would be out indefinitely, with no guarantee that he would return for the postseason.

Vegas currently leads the Western Conference with 76 points and has obviously done well without Stone, who has been limited to just 43 games this season. This is a group that still has plenty of playmakers in the form of Eichel, Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith and Chandler Stephenson, so a marquee move may not be needed.

Goaltender Logan Thompson is currently dealing with a leg injury and has been placed on injured reserve. As long as Thompson is back by playoff time, the Golden Knights should still be a dangerous force in the West, even if they are undrafted at the deadline. — Bengel

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The Nashville Predators hit the trade market as sellers over the weekend, and they did so with a bang. They began their selloff by trading Nino Niederreiter to the Winnipeg Jets and trading Tanner Jeannot to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Predators likely have more moves coming their way, and while it appears Juuse Saros may be one of the few untouched, it would probably be in their best interest to listen to offers for a star goaltender.

Saros has two more years with $5 million left on his contract and is set to become an unrestricted free agent in July 2025. Assuming Saros continues to play at a high level over the next two years, he should be raised THAT PERIOD. If the Predators remain committed to their rebuild, would it be wise to give Saros, who will be 30 years old then, a big payday?

For most groups, the answer might be “Yes.” Consistent goaltending, especially Vezina-caliber goaltending, is hard to come by. Saros could be dominant at 30, but Nashville might not need him.

That’s because the future of Nashville’s goaltending position may already be in the AHL. The Predators selected highly touted goaltending prospect Yaroslav Askarov with the No. 11 overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, and that pick is already looking good. In his first season with the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals, Askarov has posted strong numbers en route to being named an All-Star.

As the Predators look to build around young talent, Askarov may be ready to take over in goal in just a few years. Askarov will turn 23 in the summer of 2025 and may be the best option if Nashville takes a long-term approach to building the roster under new general manager Barry Trotz.

Trading a franchise player and a top-five goaltender might be a tough pill to swallow for the Predators, but moving Saros to a goaltending team could set them up very well for the future. — Nivison

The Seattle Kraken went through some growing pains that most expansion teams face in their inaugural season. Fast forward a year later, and the Kraken are vying for a playoff spot in a very tight Western Conference.

The Kraken were never going to go after a Timo Meier or Patrick Kane, but there are some veteran forwards that could really help them on a run to the playoffs. One of them is Philadelphia Flyers winger James van Riemsdyk.

There is a sense of familiarity with van Riemsdyk with Dave Hakstol having served as the Flyers’ head coach for part of van Riemsdyk’s first season in Philadelphia in 2018-19.

van Riemsdyk obviously isn’t the explosive 30-goal scorer he was, but he still has a lot to offer a team like Seattle. The Flyers forward has nine goals and 14 assists on the season and would provide a veteran presence on the Kraken’s second or third line.

The 33-year-old is set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, so he likely won’t command a hefty price tag.

van Riemsdyk sat out Philadelphia’s game Saturday against the New Jersey Devils for undisclosed reasons, fueling speculation that he is headed for a move. While the Flyers have been reported to be talking to multiple teams, a move to a coach familiar with van Riemsdyk’s style of play would make a lot of sense. — Bengel

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