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On the Move: Predictions Ahead of the Trade Deadline

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The trade deadline is one of the most exciting times of the year for National Hockey League teams and one of the most anxiety producing times of the year for fans. After all of the new year festivities such as the Winter Classic, the All Star Weekend, and the Stadium Series, teams around the league look to trade players so that they can bring fresh talent to the table as they approach the end of the regular season. With just under two months left in the regular season, teams want to make sure that their spot is secured as one of the sixteen teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. There are many rumors going around about who will be traded, with some big names up for grabs.

Disclaimer: these are some of my predictions going into the trade deadline. I have updates on some, but I am still waiting to see where the rest will end up.

Courtesy of Yahoo Sports

Beginning with goalies, there are several speculations about players who are on the block to be traded. First there is Jacob Markstrom, who currently plays for the Calgary Flames. Markstrom is a very motivated player with lots of explosive power and control in the net. He is currently in a no-clause agreement, which means that he has the control to veto a trade. However, the New Jersey Devils have taken huge interest in him and they’re in a wild-card spot to make it to the playoffs, whereas the Flames are not at the moment. The Devils are also looking to improve their presence in the net. If the pieces fall into place, with the incredible season that Markstrom is having, he could add a lot of value to the Devils’ roster.

Update: there is a rumor going around that the Flames have called off the Markstrom trade.

Courtesy of Chris O’Meara/AP Photo

The next goaltender is Juuse Saros, who currently plays for the Nashville Predators. Even though Saros is small, he moves quickly in the net; where some bigger goalies have to play small to fit in the net, Saros can play big, which improves his ability to make saves. He is currently signed with the Predators through next year, but like with Markstrom, the New Jersey Devils have expressed interest in having him on their roster. However, it would take a very big offer in order to persuade the Predators enough to trade Saros. The Predators are currently in a wild-card spot in the Central Division, and Saros would be instrumental in their playoff success. Even though trading Saros is probably a shot in the dark, the Predators at least need to know what is available for him.

Courtesy of Jim Mone/AP Photo

The last goalie is Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury is a legendary goalie in the NHL, and having won three Stanley cups, he is sure to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in the future. His veteran experience would add exponential value to any NHL team. For this upcoming trade deadline, Fleury is an Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA), which means he is free to be traded to any team at any time and his previous team will receive no compensation. However, the Minnesota Wild are in playoff contention this season. If they think that they have a shot at making it far in the playoffs, they most likely will not trade Fleury.

Courtesy of NBC Sports Boston

Regarding defensemen, there have also been some rumors flying around, starting with Noah Hanifin who currently plays for the Calgary Flames. He is known for his exceptional skating ability and puck handling skills and he is expected to make a huge impact on the trade market. The Flames have reportedly had an eight-year contract on the table for Hanifin for quite some time. However, he has not touched it, which makes it likely that the Flames will trade him. The cost to acquire him would be significant to the teams that are looking, such as the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Detroit Red Wings, and would possibly result in one of these teams placing him on a long term contract. As long as a team can come up with something the Flames cannot refuse, such as first round draft picks, it is highly likely that Hanifin will be traded.

Update: Hanifin has been traded to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for defenseman Daniil Miromanov, a first round pick in the 2025 draft, and a third round pick in the 2025 draft. The Flames’ general manager Craig Conroy says the team is “very happy with the return” on this trade.

Courtesy of Los Angeles Daily News

The next defenseman is Sean Walker, who currently plays for the Philadelphia Flyers. Walker is a very valuable player: he can play 20 minutes per game, skate on the power play and the penalty kill, and he also has amazing offensive skills for a defenseman. This season, Walker is an unrestricted free agent, so he can be traded at any time. The Philadelphia Flyers are in Playoff contention right now, and with Walker being one of their key players, they would benefit from keeping him around. Unless they can sign him to a contract by the trade deadline, other teams who have taken interest, such as the Tampa Bay Lightning, will swoop in to take him. 

Update: Walker has been traded to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for center Ryan Johansen. Regarding the trade grades, this trade is a win for both teams.

Courtesy of James Guillory- USA Today Sports

Moving on to forwards, there are some wild rumors circulating. The first forward on the market is Jake Guentzel, who is currently a left winger for the Pittsburgh Penguins. He has scored the second most goals for the Penguins this season, ranking just behind Sidney Crosby. He was on the injury reserve for a while, though he has recently begun skating again. He is also an unrestricted free agent. The Penguins’ general manager Kyle Dubas has reportedly said that the team needs to have a “younger” roster. Because they are not trading their older franchise players like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, or Erik Karlsson; trading Guentzel, who is 29, would allow them to make room for younger players. The Penguins are also hungry for a playoff spot. Guentzel’s injury gives them time to look into potential trade offers and to see if they can play their way into the playoff mix. If Guentzel is traded, it will be really close to the deadline.

Courtesy of Sean Kilpatrick/ The Canadian Press

The next forward who is rumored to be on the docket is Vladimir Tarasenko, who is currently a right winger for the Ottawa Senators. He is a high level skater with explosive speed who is creative in finding ways to score goals. He is on pace for 20 goals this season and has a Stanley Cup ring under his belt. Tarasenko has been a solid addition to the Senators’ roster, and even though his one-year contract is up, he has no intent to re-sign with them. Because the Senators are able to keep some of Tarasenko’s salary in a trade, it improves their bargaining leverage. Lots of teams, such as the Vegas Golden Knights and the New York Rangers, are interested in Tarasenko, so it will be interesting to see where he goes.

Update: Tarasenko has been traded to the Florida Panthers in exchange for a fourth round pick in the 2024 draft and a third round draft pick in the 2025 draft. This trade is a win for both teams because the Senators retain 50% of Tarasenko's salary and the Panthers add a Stanley Cup champion to their roster. 

Courtesy of ESPN

The probability of the last forward being traded is ridiculous in my opinion, but nonetheless the rumors have been flying. It has been speculated that the Anaheim Ducks are looking to trade their franchise center, Trevor Zegras. He is one of the most remarkable players in the league who is known for his incredible goal scoring ability and his creativity to score in tough situations. Though Zegras is currently signed to the Ducks for two more years, he has currently been out for six weeks with a broken ankle. The Colorado Avalanche have expressed interest in acquiring Zegras; however, it would be costly to sign him. The Avalanche would have to send a franchise player, some premium draft spots, and some talented prospects over to the Ducks to make that trade work. Even though the chances of Zegras being traded are extremely slim, only the trade deadline will reveal whether he stays with the Ducks or not.

The trade deadline is the time of year that makes anyone who is interested in hockey both anxious and excited. It has been exciting to see how everything surrounding the trade deadline has unfolded as franchises across NHL race to build their teams into Playoff contenders. 

Edited by Giana Robertaccio

Social Media Content Created by Caroline McGuinness

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