Wednesday, February 21, 2024

NHL trade deadline tracker: Flames’ Noah Hanifin, Penguins’ Jake Guentzel among players likely to get moved

The NHL trade deadline may be one month away, but that doesn’t mean that some teams haven’t gotten an early start when it comes to improving their rosters for a potential Stanley Cup Playoff run.

The Vancouver Canucks made the first big splash in terms of the trade market when the team acquired center Elias Lindholm from the Calgary Flames in a massive deal. In exchange for Lindholm, the Flames acquired forward Andrei Kuzmenko, defenseman Hunter Brzustewicz, defenseman Joni Jurmo, a 2024 first-round pick, and a conditional 2024 fourth-round pick.

Shortly after Lindholm was dealt, the Winnipeg Jets acquired center Sean Monahan in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens landed a 2024 first-round pick and a 2027 conditional third-round pick in exchange for Monahan’s services.

In the span of a few days in late January, two of the biggest trade targets were off the board to teams that were attempting to add veteran centers to help cement themselves as Stanley Cup contenders. Even with Lindholm and Monahan being off the board, there’s still plenty of talent that is up for grabs leading up to the NHL trade deadline, which is on March 8.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the top trade candidates leading up to the deadline.

1. Noah Hanifin (D, Flames)

The Calgary Flames made it clear that they were sellers at the deadline when they unloaded Elias Lindholm earlier this month. However, it’s likely not going to be the last move that the Flames end up making.

It’s very possible that Flames general manager Craig Conroy will trade multiple members of the team’s blue line prior to the March 8 deadline. The biggest name that could be on the move is defenseman Noah Hanifin.

Hanifin, 27, had been negotiating with Calgary early in the 2023-24 season, and were reportedly making progress towards a massive contract extension. However, Hanifin never ended up inking a new deal. It appears as though the Flames still prefer to re-sign Hanifin, but if they’re unable to in the next week or two, the team may move on from him considering that he’s an unrestricted free agent this summer.

In Hanifin, NHL teams would be getting a very offensive-minded defenseman who possesses a blistering point shot. Hanifin is among the league leaders in goals on the year and isn’t afraid to jump into the play to provide offense. He’s also a very physical blue-liner on the defensive end, so a team is getting the total package.

2. Jake Guentzel (F, Penguins)

Jake Guentzel would be the top available trade candidate if there was a larger possibility that he was getting moved at the trade deadline. The Pittsburgh Penguins are still within striking distance of a Wild Card playoff spot with over two months remaining in the regular season. The next month will be very telling in terms of how Kyle Dubas ends up handling his first deadline in Steel City. 

If the Penguins fade out of playoff contention, it’s very possible that Guentzel could be on the move. Guentzel is slated to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, so the Penguins really can’t afford to get nothing for him. Then again, when it seemed like the Penguins may be blowing up their veteran core, they re-signed the likes of Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang, so nothing can be ruled out when it comes to a player of Guentzel’s caliber.

The Penguins did reportedly extend an offer to Guentzel in the $50 million range, but Guentzel declined. According to Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos, that particular offer was a six-year deal that would’ve broken down to a yearly cap hit of $8.5 million.

Guentzel has really thrived playing alongside Sidney Crosby in recent years and currently ranks second on the team in goals (22). If the Penguins do decide to trade Guentzel, there are going to be several teams that are likely interested, and he could command quite a large group of assets.

3. Chris Tanev (D, Flames)

As was mentioned above, the Flames aren’t going to stop working the phones after the Elias Lindholm trade. The Flames have an aging roster and are clearly attempting to get younger by moving their veteran pieces.

Defenseman Chris Tanev may not be flashy, but he’s the type of glue guy that any contender could use in their top six. Tanev is a gritty defenseman who does the little things that are necessary on the defensive end. The 34-year-old has proven that he’s not afraid to get what it takes to help his team win. Tanev sells out to block a ton of shots, while also not hesitating to lay a big hit on the opposition.

Considering his age, Tanev may be more likely to be dealt than Hanifin. Tanev isn’t the elite defenseman who is going to put a contending team over the top but provides incredible depth for a team that is close to having a complete roster.

4. Vladimir Tarasenko (F, Senators)

Over the past couple of seasons, the Ottawa Senators have been a team that was expected to take the next step and make a push for a playoff spot. However, that hasn’t exactly come to fruition as the Senators find themselves in last place in the Atlantic Division.

As a result of the Senators being out of contention, the team could elect to unload some of their veterans, including Vladimir Tarasenko. Tarasenko signed a one-year deal in the offseason with Ottawa after receiving interest from the Carolina Hurricanes and a few other teams. The veteran forward may not be an elite winger at this stage of his career, but is still an extremely productive winger that belongs in the top-six forward group.

Could a potential reunion with the New York Rangers be a possibility? It’s definitely something that could be on the table given the Rangers’ need for some secondary scoring. If the Senators don’t see Tarasenko re-signing with the team, it would make a ton of sense to ship him out of town prior to the trade deadline.

5. Jakob Chychrun (D, Senators)

It seems crazy to think that the Senators could move on from defenseman Jakob Chychrun just one year after acquiring him. Still, that’s a world that we could be living in when the trade deadline rolls around.

It all comes down to the Senators struggling and not looking like they’re anywhere close to being a contender in the near future. According to Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli, Chychrun has reportedly been inquired about by multiple teams, and the Senators haven’t said he’s untouchable at this stage. The Senators also have a surplus of left-handed defensemen in the form of Thomas Chabot and Jake Sanderson that they’ve already extended with $8 million cap hits. 

Would the Senators be willing to cough up a massive amount of money for a Chychrun extension in the near future? That’s something that the Senators are going to need to decide, but it would certainly make sense to move on from the veteran blue-liner if they aren’t willing to sink more money into their defensive core. It’s safe to say that many teams will come calling if Chychrun is on the trade block.

6. Adam Henrique (F, Ducks)

With Elias Lindholm and Sean Monahan off the board, there aren’t a ton of game-breaking centers that are available in the trade market. That’s certainly good news for the Anaheim Ducks, who could be offloading at least one center prior to the deadline.

It’s possible that Trevor Zegras could be on the move for the right offer, but considering that he just signed a three-year contract extension in October, it’s likely a longshot that he gets traded. Still, it’s not going to come as a big surprise if center Adam Henrique switches addresses over the next month.

Obviously, Henrique isn’t quite the marquee option that Lindholm and Monahan are, but he’s a very solid option that can serve as a second or third-line center on a contender. Henrique may not be the most lethal goal scorer, but he really thrives in front of the net. While he’s not quite as fast as he used to be, the Ducks forward is an extremely smart hockey player who can stickhandle when he needs to.

7. Pavel Buchnevich (F, Blues)

Much like a few players on this list, the availability of Pavel Buchnevich is going to come down to where the St. Louis Blues are at when the trade deadline gets closer. The Blues are currently in the second Wild Card playoff spot in the Western Conference, but a lot can change between now and March.

Buchnevich could be one of the more gifted forwards that teams could acquire at the deadline. After all, Buchnevich has registered 25-goal seasons in each of the last two years since he was acquired in a trade with the New York Rangers. Buchnevich currently has a $5.8 million cap hit in the third year of a deal that he signed with the Blues back in 2021. 

Considering he’s under team control through the 2024-25 season, that makes Buchnevich a very attractive option that St. Louis may choose to move before he’s going to need to be re-signed to a larger contract. Buchnevich could be one of the biggest offensive difference makers in the trade market if Blues general manager Doug Armstrong decides to take advantage of his value.

8. Scott Laughton (F, Flyers)

If a team doesn’t want to acquire a rental like Adam Henrique, Scott Laughton could be the next best option. The former Philadelphia Flyers first-round pick has spent his entire 11-year career in the City of Brotherly Love, but it’s very possible that the team could elect to move him for the right price.

Laughton is currently in the third year of a five-year contract extension that he signed back in 2021. That means that an acquiring team would have two more full seasons of control when it comes to Laughton, plus his $3 million cap hit isn’t going to destroy any team’s payroll. 

Laughton is never going to be confused for being a flashy offensive forward, but he’s physical and provides a ton of grit. The 29-year-old did score a career-best 18 goals a season ago, so the scoring numbers can be there at times. Laughton can slide into the middle of a contender’s third or fourth line and really make a difference on a potential Stanley Cup run. Considering that the Flyers have overachieved as a rebuilding team, it wouldn’t be shocking if they took calls on Laughton.

9. Marc-Andre Fleury (G, Wild)

This is a situation where you can connect the dots to see what could potentially happen leading up to the trade deadline. The Minnesota Wild aren’t currently in playoff contention and should they fall even further heading into March, it would make a ton of sense to approach Marc-Andre Fleury about being moved.

Fleury is 39 years old and probably doesn’t have a ton of run remaining in his Hall of Fame career. The veteran netminder does have a no-trade clause, so he can dictate where he wants to be moved if he so choses. While his days of being an elite goaltender are probably in the rearview mirror, Fleury still would bring some terrific stability to a team that is a Stanley Cup contender.

Fleury is still a capable starting option and would make a ton of sense for a team like the Colorado Avalanche. Starter Alexandar Georgiev could certainly use a breather down the stretch, and having Fleury as an insurance policy come playoff time would be huge. Fleury will likely want to go somewhere that he has a chance to play a decent amount down the stretch, so there may only be a few options for him to go to.

10. Jake Allen (G, Canadiens)

There don’t appear to be a ton of high-profile goaltenders that will be available leading up to the deadline. If Marc-Andre Fleury gets moved or doesn’t become available, Jake Allen could be an option for a team that is seeking help in net.

It’s a logjam in the crease when it comes to the Montreal Canadiens. Sam Montembeault signed a three-year contract extension in December 2023 and looks to be the goaltender of the future in Montreal. In addition, 24-year-old Cayden Primeau has also played considerable time in between the pipes this season. As a result, that makes Allen expendable considering that Montreal doesn’t need to carry three goaltenders going forward.

While his Canadiens tenure hasn’t been rousing, Allen had some very productive years with the St. Louis Blues earlier in his career as he registered a 2.50 goals-against-average and a .913 save percentage in seven seasons with the team. For a franchise that is looking for a veteran presence in net, Allen could be their meal ticket. Allen is also a very affordable cap hit and is under team control for the 2024-25 season as well.

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