How the NHL trade market looks after Erik Karlsson deal

The NHL news cycle tends to be on the quiet side this time of year, but the Erik Karlsson trade was an exception as it made waves around the league.

While the hot stove has cooled down a touch in the wake of the deal, it hasn’t gone totally cold. There are still a number of quality players who could be in different uniforms when the 2023-24 season begins.

Here’s a rundown of some of the top options available in a couple of notable categories:

Possible non-extenders

Players in this category are guys entering the last year of their contracts who may not be inclined to re-sign with their current team.

No matter how good that squad is it needs to contemplate whether it’s better off getting something for a key player as opposed to riding out their contract and losing them for nothing in free agency.

In some cases these players are specifically indicating they won’t re-sign, and in other cases the team may feel like a reunion at the price the player will command doesn’t fit their salary cap structure.

Elias Lindholm, C, Calgary Flames

Elias Lindholm could fetch a haul on the trade market if an extension with the Flames isn't in the cards. (Darcy Finley/NHLI via Getty Images)

Elias Lindholm could fetch a haul on the trade market if an extension with the Flames isn’t in the cards. (Darcy Finley/NHLI via Getty Images)

Lindholm has performed at a star level since joining Calgary and the team would undoubtedly like to secure him for the long term, but he might have something different in mind.

The return for a center of Lindholm’s calibre would be significant, and the 2023-24 Flames don’t project to be a strong enough team to ride things out with the Swede this year and let him walk in free agency.

The Pierre-Luc Dubois deal showed just how much a top-line center can be worth on the trade market, and Lindholm is a better defensive player coming off a similar offensive season.

Noah Hanifin, D, Calgary Flames

Hanifin doesn’t put up massive offensive numbers, but he can handle top-pair minutes and would fit into almost any team’s top-four. He also comes with an appealing $4.95 million cap hit and his eight-team no-trade list is relatively short.

If the Flames confirm that Hanifin has no interest in signing an extension with them, the trade market for the big American would be robust.

Mark Scheifele, C, Winnipeg Jets

Trade talk seems to have quieted in Winnipeg after the Dubois deal, but the possibility for a Scheifele move remains if he’s disinclined to re-sign with the Jets.

The 30-year-old might not be quite as complete a player as he once was, but there would certainly be a market for him coming off the best goal-scoring season of his career.

The Boston Bruins are a possible landing spot as they need top-line talent following Patrice Bergeron’s retirement. They are also a candidate to be in on Lindholm.

Connor Hellebuyck, G, Winnipeg Jets

Hellebuyck seems like an obvious trade candidate for the Jets to move, but the fact he’s reportedly looking for a contract extension with a $9.5 million AAV makes trading him difficult.

Teams will be reluctant to pony up a significant package for just one year of the American netminder, and an extension of that magnitude might scare suitors off.

So far a team willing to pay Winnipeg’s price and Hellebuyck’s has yet to emerge.

William Nylander, RW, Toronto Maple Leafs

There have been few indications that the Maple Leafs and Nylander are closing in on a deal.

The team has to focus on getting Auston Matthews a contract and the winger’s talks with Toronto haven’t seemed to proceed smoothly thus far.

The Maple Leafs may come to the conclusion that 2023-24 is such an important season for them that their best move is to hold onto Nylander in hopes of putting together a drought-shattering run — but there’s a case that letting him walk away is too tough to stomach.

A move seems unlikely, but it is something Toronto has to consider.

Jack Roslovic, C, Columbus Blue Jackets

Roslovic is a little bit lesser known compared to the other names on this list, but he’s a solid middle-six forward with some playmaking creativity and the ability to play center.

He’s coming off a bit of a quiet season, but he’s been productive with the Blue Jackets over the last three years. His 2.0 points per 60 at 5-on-5 ranks 95th in the NHL in that time, right between J.T. Miller and Dylan Larkin.

Columbus doesn’t need to put much stock in players on expiring contracts unless an extension is incoming, and Roslovic’s palatable $4 million cap hit wouldn’t be too hard to move, especially if the Blue Jackets did some retaining to juice the return.

Window mismatches

When a quality player in their 30s finds themselves on a team with little hope of competing they become an obvious trade candidate.

There are 102 players aged 30 or over making at least $5 million in the NHL right now — a salary indicating that they were considered a major contributor recently. Of that group, 44 are on teams that didn’t make the playoffs last season.

While that might seem like a lot, many of that group can be easily dismissed as trade targets.

Eight players (headlined by Karlsson himself) were acquired this offseason. Another seven are core players on the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals, who are hoping to return to the playoffs in 2023-24. The same can be said for the Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks, which takes Jeff Skinner, J.T. Miller and Tyler Myers off the board.

A huge percentage of this cohort can be ruled out as trade bait because they have some combination of injuries or dwindling production. That slightly subjective group ranges from Carey Price to Marc-Édouard Vlasic and numbers 12 players.

Take away three more goaltenders from teams that are at least respectable (Darcy Kuemper, Jacob Markström, and Jordan Binnington), guys who signed big contracts very recently (Jonathan Huberdeau, Nazem Kadri, and Ryan Strome), and one player who already refused to waive his no-trade clause this offseason (Torey Krug) and you’re left with just seven guys.

Even that group is dicey as the Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues, and Flames are all in ambiguous competitive situations and their willingness to sell is up for debate:

Roman Josi, D, Nashville Predators

The Predators may justifiably see Josi as completely off the table, and he holds a full no-movement clause. It would take a gargantuan offer and the defenseman feeling the need to head for greener pastures to get something done.

That’s an extremely unlikely confluence of factors, but he bears watching considering his age (33) and the fact Nashville doesn’t seem particularly close to Stanley Cup contention.

Brayden Schenn, C, St. Louis Blues

Schenn’s situation is similar to Josi’s. He has a full no-trade clause and by moving him the Blues would severely damage their short-term competitive prospects.

He’s also just 31 so St. Louis might envision him as a part of a team that turns around behind young forwards Jordan Kyrou and Robert Thomas. Schenn would probably have to lose faith in his team’s direction and force his way out of town to change uniforms.

Colton Parayko, D, St. Louis Blues

Parayko has heard his name in trade rumors for quite some time, even as he hadn’t reached the heights some imagined for him earlier in his career.

He’s still a massive right-shot defenseman capable of logging a heavy workload and playing plenty of penalty-killing minutes. That’s a desirable skill set around the NHL, but like Schenn he has a no-trade clause, meaning he and the Blues would both have to want a divorce for something to happen.

Logan Couture, C, San Jose Sharks

Following the Karlsson deal there is no doubt the Sharks are in a complete rebuild, and it’s unlikely the 34-year-old will be part of the next good team in San Jose.

His contract’s no-trade protection includes just three teams, but the fact it runs through 2025-26 with an $8 million cap hit makes him a difficult piece to move, even coming off a strong season.

Mikael Backlund, C, Calgary Flames

Backlund also fits in the first category as uncertainty has been circling the Flames for months.

The veteran has a 10-team no trade list, but Calgary seems likely to keep him if he has any desire to stay. His value to the franchise goes beyond his on-ice contribution as he’s a candidate to become the Flames’ captain.

Adam Henrique, C, Anaheim Ducks

Henrique is no superstar, but he’s a consistent and productive two-way forward who is an odd fit for the Ducks as he enters his age-33 season.

The veteran has a 10-team no-trade clause and a salary that’s on the high side ($5.825 million), but those aren’t insurmountable obstacles to finding a new home for a player coming off a strong season.

John Gibson, G, Anaheim Ducks

Gibson is an interesting case because he hasn’t put up a positive GSAA since 2018-19, but he’s a well-respected talent who just turned 30.

There may be teams who believe he’s been worn down by the terrible defense played in front of him and a change of scenery could result in a career renaissance. Even so, his $6.4 million cap hit is a bit much for a reclamation project, and he’s probably someone to add to a tandem rather than hand a starting job to.

That means trading for him would require salary retention over a four-year span, and he has a 10-team no trade list. Getting Gibson would be a complicated endeavour that might not be worth the trouble.

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