NHL Trade Scenarios at the Season’s Midpoint

Now that we are a couple of weeks past the midway point of the 22/23 NHL season, the March trade deadline is quickly approaching. At this critical moment, teams looking to improve their playoff roster will analyze their assets and consider making a move to put them over the top.

At this point in the season, observers see distinctions between buying and selling teams throughout the league. In the Atlantic, the Boston Bruins have run away with the division, seeming to have locked up the number-one seed and the right to avoid playing either the Tampa Bay Lightning or the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round.

Relying on their powerful one-two punch down the middle of Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, and Vezina-like goaltending from Linus Ullmark, it is hard to find a glaring hole in the Bruins’ playoff-tailored and battle-tested lineup. Right now, their biggest priority should be locking up superstar and soon-to-be Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA), David Pastrnak. However, those negotiations seem to not be going as smoothly as previously assumed. With Bergeron and Krejci at age 37 and 36, respectively, there is no telling how many more seasons this duo has left.

Boston’s farm system was also recently named the third-worst in the NHL by The Athletic. I’m sure GM Don Sweeny would love to build for the future while also bolstering the team’s current chances with an aging core. 

On the other end of the NHL food-chain are the Vancouver Canucks. After firing Bruce Boudreau, it seems like yet another lost season in Vancouver. GM Jim Rutherford has insisted that he is looking to retool rather the rebuild. With young players such as Quinn Hughes, Elias Petterson, and Thatcher Demko, the Canucks should be much better than 41 points total and 14 points out of the last wild card spot in the west. 

The Canucks made their first big move on 1/30 by offloading former captain Bo Horvat to the New York Islanders in exchange for Anthony Beauvillier, Aatu Räty and a conditional first-round pick in next year’s draft. Another big name that could be on the move is Brock Boeser. Boeser was supposed to develop into a goal-scoring sniper on Petterson’s wing, but for some reason entering his prime at 25 years old, he seems to have plateaued. His best season to date was in 2018-19 when he put up 56 points as a 21-year-old. Since then, his point totals have only decreased. A change of scenery may be the best option for both parties at this point in his career.

A team looking for an injection of goal-scoring from the wing would be well-suited to pursue Boeser, but the price would obviously be high. A comparable deal could be last year’s Alex DeBrincat trade between the Blackhawks and the Senators that netted the Hawks a first, second and third-round pick, but this is a steep price for a player that is known to be on the trade block.

A team like the Minnesota Wild, Calgary Flames or New York Rangers could all be potential destinations for the Canucks winger. 

The Rangers, however, have their mind set on a different right winger, Blackhawks superstar Patrick Kane. The seemingly endless saga of Kane to New York just won’t seem to go away. With Kane’s hometown ties to New York, the Blackhawks’ blatant embrace of a tanking season and the Rangers’ desperate need for a scoring punch, this seems like a perfect fit.

The Rangers sit in third in the Metro but are only four points from being out of the playoffs. On the backend, Adam Fox and Igor Shiesterkin hold enough superstar power to propel the Rangers forward, but who wouldn’t want to see Patty Kane and old teammate Artemi Panarin link up again to complete what would be an underrated forward group? 

Kane may finally be the piece that pushes the Rangers from Stanley Cup hopefuls to contenders. Carrying his 10.5 million dollar cap hit, however, may be a stumbling block for the Rangers. Retaining some money would only increase the capital the Rangers would have to part with.

This is all in the plan for Chicago and GM Kyle Davidson. The young general manager has committed to a full rebuild, burning down anything left by the old regime, and the final piece for the teardown to be complete is shipping off arguably the greatest duo in Blackhawks history.

The prize and or light at the end of the tunnel is maybe the greatest and most hyped-up prospect since Connor McDavid in 2015, Connor Bedard. Obviously, there is no guarantee that the Hawks win the lottery, but even just the chance to land Berdad, who just had the best world juniors in Canadian history, is a great place to start a new dynasty. The future of Hockey in Chicago truly lies in the hands of the hockey gods and the tank.