The NHL trade deadline isn’t until March 21, but it’s never too early to start thinking about transactions.
Few things get sports fans' minds racing like trades, signings, or even potential deals. Just the thought of your favourite team making a move is enough to send you to the moon with excitement, and that’s what I intend to do in this blog.
Just under 11 weeks out from the trade freeze, I’ve compiled a list of 10 players that should be dealt. That doesn’t mean that they will or that their name has been swirling around in trade rumours, it just means that if I was general manager, I would be looking to deal this player.
If you’ve got a problem with my theoretical trades, go make your own. I’m sure I’ll hate them.
1. Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers
It seems pretty obvious that the Flyers’ next championship window isn’t going to include Giroux.
At 33 years old, the captain is playing out the final season of an eight-year deal that carries a cap hit of $8,275,000. His contract does include a full no-move clause, but we’ve seen players in the past be open to the idea of waiving it to join a contender. With Philadelphia deserted in the dreaded middle of the NHL standings, the squad is neither in a position to tank nor seriously contend for a title. The last thing any franchise should want to be is directionless, and if Philly were to keep Giroux around, it would be exactly that.
Plenty of teams would salivate over the opportunity to add Giroux, even strictly on a rental basis. He’s totalled 11 goals and 29 points this year, and he would serve as a high-end second-line centre on a contending team.
Considering the Flyers are short a second-round pick in each of the upcoming drafts, trading Giroux could help them re-stock some draft capital in addition to strengthening their prospect pool.
Flyers acquire: Vitali Kravtsov, Greg McKegg, New York Rangers 2nd (2022), St. Louis Blues 2nd (2022)
Rangers acquire: Claude Giroux
2. Jonathan Drouin, Montreal Canadiens
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The Canadiens would be set up so well for a quick rebuild had then-general manager Marc Bergevin not traded away a gifted first-round pick to the Arizona Coyotes for a faceoff specialist-plus in Christian Dvorak.
Alas, this is the reality the Habs find themselves in, and although the squad will likely not be able to recoup a lost first-rounder in a trade involving Drouin, there should be teams that are interested in the forward.
The 2013 third-overall pick has had a pretty strong 2021-22 campaign, potting six goals and 17 points in 27 contests. His versatility as a winger who can play centre if needed is an added boost to playoff teams that could use some lineup flexibility.
His contract also isn’t horrible, as he carries a cap hit of $5,500,000 for each of the next two campaigns before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2023-24.
Canadiens acquire: Egor Afanasyev, Nashville Predators 4th (2022)
Predators acquire: Jonathan Drouin
3. Jakob Chychrun, Arizona Coyotes
For the sake of Jakob Chychrun and him alone, the Coyotes should definitely try to trade the talented young blueliner.
It would definitely benefit Chychrun more than the organization to deal him, as 23-year-old rearguards who have top-pairing upside are hard to come by, but considering the abysmal state of Arizona's roster, trading him could really help accelerate the rebuild, too.
Chychrun carries a very affordable yearly cap hit of $4,600,000 through the 2024-25 campaign, and is coming off a season where he recorded 18 goals and 41 points in 56 contests. Arizona already holds eight draft picks through the first two rounds of the upcoming draft, and dealing Chychrun would certainly net it some more draft capital and prospects.
Coyotes acquire: Rasmus Kupari, Trevor Moore, Los Angeles Kings 1st (2022), Los Angeles Kings 2nd (2023)
Kings acquire: Jakob Chychrun, San Jose Sharks 4th (2024)
4. Semyon Varlamov, New York Islanders
The Islanders don’t really need Varlamov anymore, and with some serious contenders starving for goaltending help, the 2022 trade deadline seems like a great time to shop the netminder around.
The 33-year-old hasn’t quite been himself since returning from rehabilitating a mystery injury, as he’s produced a .910 save percentage to go along with a 2.77 goals-against average this year. He has looked better lately, however, winning each of his last two starts while posting a combined .974 save percentage in the outings.
With Ilya Sorokin proving through the early portion of this season that he can handle the starting role, and with the team seeming like a long shot for the postseason, the Isles can afford to move on from Varlamov.
The veteran's contract expires at the end of next season and carries a reasonable cap hit of $5,000,000, which shouldn’t be too difficult to find a suitor for.
Islanders acquire: Carter Savoie, Edmonton Oilers 1st (2022), Mikko Koskinen
Oilers acquire: Semyon Varlamov, New York Islanders 3rd (2022)
5. James van Riemsdyk, Philadelphia Flyers
Like Giroux, van Riemsdyk is another player who won’t be useful to the Flyers during their next competitive window, and should also be shopped at the trade deadline.
It hasn’t been an overly impressive campaign for the 32-year-old, as he’s only scored seven goals and 13 points. Just last season, however, van Riemsdyk notched 17 goals and 43 points in 56 games, and the hope is that he can join a contending team and rekindle that type of production.
He does carry a large cap hit of $7,000,000 this year and next, but Philadelphia should be willing to eat some of the money to get a deal done.
Flyers acquire: Reilly Walsh, New Jersey Devils 3rd (2023)
Devils acquire: James van Riemsdyk
6. Tyler Toffoli, Montreal Canadiens
The Canadiens went from Stanley Cup finalists to bottom feeders pretty quickly, and with the franchise likely heading toward a rebuild, a player like Toffoli isn’t of great importance.
The 29-year-old was excellent for the squad last season, burying 28 goals and 44 points, but has potted just five goals and 17 points across 26 games this year. Toffoli underwent hand surgery in December, but will likely return to the lineup in February.
Toffoli is signed through the 2023-24 campaign under a reasonable annual cap hit of $4,250,000. There should be several teams inquiring about the winger if he’s made available by the Habs.
Canadiens acquire: Calgary Flames 2nd (2022)
Flames acquire: Tyler Toffoli
7. Joe Pavelski, Dallas Stars
I thought the Stars were poised to be a real contender in the Central Division, and even though it’s still early, I don’t know if Dallas has what it takes to make another run to the Cup Final after being there just two years ago.
With that being the case, Dallas should be looking to unload Pavelski at the 2022 trade deadline. The 37-year-old is having another solid season for the Stars as he’s tallied 12 goals and 27 points, and would be coveted by a number of squads.
Pavelski’s contract expires at the end of the 2021-22 season and carries a cap hit of $7,000,000. The veteran currently slots on the wing for the team’s top line, but he has played the middle of the ice in the past, and that’s where he could be most valuable for an interested team.
Stars acquire: Jake DeBrusk, Tomas Nosek, Calgary Flames 3rd (2022)
Bruins acquire: Joe Pavelski
8. Ben Chiarot, Montreal Canadiens
Chiarot was a valuable part of the Canadiens' run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2021, and with Montreal struggling, he would sensibly be a prime candidate to be dealt at the deadline.
For starters, Chiarot’s contract expires at the end of the 2021-22 season. His current deal carries a cap hit of $3,500,000, and considering he’s 30 years old, he likely doesn’t want to stick around for a rebuild.
During the Habs’ improbable playoff run, Chiarot averaged 25:15 of ice time and, along with Shea Weber, was tasked with shutting down the opposing squad’s top line. When the postseason rolls around, line matching is more important than ever, and in order to do that successfully, teams must have a number of defensemen who can be trusted in any situation. Chiarot proved in last year’s playoffs that he has that quality.
Canadiens acquire: Alexander Khovanov, Minnesota Wild 5th (2022)
Wild acquire: Ben Chiarot
9. Phil Kessel, Arizona Coyotes
While the name recognition is still there with Kessel, the 34-year-old isn’t quite the player he once was.
Never the fleetest of foot, Kessel’s speed has declined in his 16th season. Still, thanks to his hockey smarts, the winger has recorded five goals and 21 points in 30 contests.
Kessel is in the final year of a contract that carries a cap hit of $6,800,000. The veteran would likely slot into a contending team’s middle-six and could be a solid source of depth scoring.
Coyotes acquire: Toronto Maple Leafs 5th (2022)
Ducks acquire: Phil Kessel
10. Mark Giordano, Seattle Kraken
It shouldn’t be shocking to see the first captain in Kraken history involved in a trade at the deadline.
It’s clear that Seattle will need some time before it’s a serious contender in the Pacific Division, which doesn’t leave much use for Giordano. The 38-year-old may not be playing in the NHL by the time the Kraken are competitive, and with defensemen always holding value come the postseason, general manager Ron Francis would be doing the franchise a disservice if he wasn’t trying to trade him.
Giordano owns a cap hit of $6,750,000 this season before becoming an unrestricted free agent. Seattle will surely have to eat some cap in order to make a deal work, but it should be able to find a suitor.
Kraken acquire: Calgary Flames 5th (2022)
Flames acquire: Mark Giordano
More from Yahoo Sports