NHL Power Rankings: Offseason trade candidates

NHL Power Rankings
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In this week’s NHL Power Rankings we turn our attention to the potential summer trade market and the players who could be on the move.

The Chicago Blackhawks figure to be big sellers again as they try to overhaul their roster, but just how bold they are willing to be remains to be seen. The Montreal Canadiens could find themselves in a similar situation as they not only try to rebuild following a bitterly disappointing season, but try to work their way through a salary cap crunch.

Speaking of salary cap crunches, no team is feeling that more than the Minnesota Wild as they have more than $12 million in empty cap space complicating their attempts to re-sign forward Kevin Fiala.

We look at those situations and more in this week’s rankings.

To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!

1. Alex DeBrincat, Chicago Blackhawks. DeBrincat is one of the NHL’s best goal scorers, but he is going to be due a major extension after this season and the Blackhawks seemed destined to stink for at least the next two-three years. Is he somebody you rebuild your entire organization around or do you cash in for a big return? Keep in mind, the return here is probably not going to be as massive as you expect. It never is.

2. Kevin Fiala, Minnesota Wild. Ideally the Wild would never even considering trading Fiala. He is one of their best players, still in the prime of his career, and Minnesota should intend to be contenders. But their salary cap situation is a mess after the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter buyouts, while Fiala is due for a significant raise as a restricted free agent. Every team that needs a top-line scorer should be calling Bill Guerin right now.

[NHL Power Rankings: Most intriguing restricted free agents]

3. Chicago’s other core players. Basically, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Yeah, they were franchise players here for more than a decade, but if the Blackhawks are rebuilding there is no sense in keeping them other than sentimental reasons. The next time this team is good these guys will not be major contributors. An argument can be made that Toews is no longer a major contributor now. The problem with trading them: Their salary cap hits are massive, they have some control over where they go, and there is probably a limited market on who can take them. Chicago would probably have to retain significant salary to move Toews’ remaining contract this season.

4. J.T. Miller, Vancouver Canucks. Milller has blossomed into one of the NHL’s most productive players since arriving in Vancouver, but the Canucks have a new front office, a new direction, and Miller is an unrestricted free agent this summer while the team’s vision remains a mystery. His name was mentioned in trade speculation leading up to the deadline but nothing ever happened. The offseason seems like a real possibility.

5. Jakub Chychrun, Arizona Coyotes. Chychrun has expressed a desire to play on a playoff team, and the Coyotes are not even close to that right now. He still has multiple years remaining on a very team-friendly contract. Any team that needs a top-pairing defender in their prime should be in on this. He may not be a superstar, but he can play at the top of most team’s bluelines.

[Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info]

6. Jesse Puljujarvi, Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers should not trade Puljujarvi, but given their salary cap situation, his contract status, and the fact he does not seem to score enough goals for the coaching staff’s liking might make him a candidate to be moved. If the Oilers foolishly go in that direction some team is going to get a helluva player that still has very high ceiling.

7. Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks. Like Miller, the mystery here is nobody is really sure what direction the Canucks are going to go in. Do they see this roster as a potential playoff team? Or a struggling team that needs a change? More importantly here, do they see Boeser as a player that is going to be worth the contract commitment he will require?

8. Josh Anderson, Montreal Canadiens. Anderson’s contract is massive in term, but the salary cap hit is manageable if he performs to his potential. Montreal probably is not under any immense pressure to trade him, but there is no way they would turn down a competitive offer to get out of that long-term deal.

9. Matt Dumba, Minnesota Wild. Dumba has a limited no-trade clause so that could limit his availability here a little bit, but he has a $6 million salary cap hit for this season and the Wild have some major salary cap constraints. If they want to re-sign Fiala they are going to have to move somebody out. Dumba is a logical candidate for that.

[Related: Wild can survive salary cap crunch but can they thrive?]

10. John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks. Gibson’s play has fallen off drastically over the past few seasons. Is that the result of a decline in his play? Or the situation around him? He has a big contract for somebody to take that gamble. The Ducks finally have a good young core in place and would probably like to take a step back toward the playoffs this season (in a division where there is a path for that), could they find a better goalie than Gibson if they traded him?

11. Jeff Petry, Montreal Canadiens. Petry’s contract gives him a lot of say over where he can go if Montreal decides to move him. He had a bit of a down year and has three years remaining on a contract that has a salary cap hit of $6.25 million per season, which is a significant investment. But he is still a pretty good player and would help any contender in the short-term.

[NHL Power Rankings: Top potential 2022 unrestricted free agents]

12. John Marino, Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins would still like to re-sign Kris Letang and Evgeni Malklin, and still make some improvements elsewhere on the roster, and they are going to need some salary cap space to do those things. Marino is probably the most marketable of their potential trade candidates on defense (moreso than Marcus Pettersson and Mike Matheson) and could still be seen as a good addition if a team thinks he can return to his rookie season form.

13. Tyson Barrie, Edmonton Oilers. Barrie is really good on the power play but he is a luxury the Oilers really do not need. They could probably get a fair return for him and not really miss much. That power play is going to run like a well-oiled machine with or without him.

14. Jordan Eberle, Seattle Kraken. My thinking here is the Kraken are not close to competing after making some regrettable mistakes in the expansion draft, Eberle is 32 years old and one of the few tradable assets they have, and could probably bring them a nice return to help stock the cupboards. It should at least be explored.

15. Alexandar Georgiev, New York Rangers. The Rangers have their franchise goalie in Igor Shesterkin, and he is a monster. Georgiev’s development has stalled a little bit in New York, he is due for a raise as a restricted free agent on a team that still has a lot of improvements to make, and he could use a fresh start. Does a rebuilding team see him as a potential starter?

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    Kuzmenko signs 2-year extension with Canucks

    Andrei Kuzmenko
    Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Forward Andrei Kuzmenko signed a two-year contract extension with the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.

    The deal has an average annual value of $5.5 million.

    The 26-year-old Kuzmenko has played in 47 games for the Canucks this season with 21 goals and 22 assists, four penalty minutes and a plus-4 defensive ranking.

    Kuzmenko ranks second on the team in goals and power-play goals (nine) this season.

    His 43 points are also tied for third on the team in overall scoring, while his 32 even-strength points (12 goals, 20 assists) are second on the Canucks.

    Kuzmenko leads all Vancouver skaters in shooting rate (24.7%) and ranks third in the NHL in that category (minimum of 20 games).

    He leads all first-year NHLers in almost every offensive category, including goals, assists, points, points per game (0.91), power-play goals, and power-play points.

    He has also had 14 multi-point games so far this season (second most on the Canucks), highlighted by his first-career NHL hat trick and season-high four-point game against Anaheim on Nov. 3.

    A native of Yakutsk, Russia, Kuzmenko spent his first eight professional seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) with CSKA Moscow and SKA St. Petersburg, getting 200 points (85-115-200) in 315 regular-season games. He set career highs in goals (20), assists (33), and points (53) last season, ranking second in the league in scoring.

    Kuzmenko has also represented his country on the international stage on multiple occasions, totaling 16 points (10-6-16) and six penalty minutes in 37 games played. He was originally signed by Vancouver to a one-year, entry-level contract on July 13, 2022.

    Hurricanes top Stars in OT to win matchup of 1st-place teams

    Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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    DALLAS – Martin Necas scored 1:34 into overtime to give the Carolina Hurricanes a 3-2 win over the Dallas Stars in a matchup of division leaders Wednesday night.

    Sebastian Aho had a short-handed goal and Brent Burns also scored for the Hurricanes, who lead the Metropolitan Division in the Eastern Conference. The game-winner was Necas’ 19th goal this season.

    Dallas is still atop the Western Conference, and the Central Division, after its second consecutive 3-2 overtime loss at home. Jason Robertson scored his 33rd goal for the Stars, and 19-year-old rookie Wyatt Johnston got his 13th.

    Carolina goalie Frederik Andersen didn’t return after the first intermission because of an upper-body injury, soon after a strange sequence that ended with Robertson scoring on a shot from what seemed to be an impossible angle.

    The puck was bouncing on the ice behind Andersen and settled against the post after Tyler Seguin‘s shot before the goalie was able to swipe it away to his right. Robertson then shot from behind Andersen, and the puck apparently ricocheted off him and into the net for a 2-1 Dallas lead. Robertson’s 33rd goal matched his assists total.

    Antti Raanta replaced Andersen and stopped all 15 shots he faced – none in overtime – after the starter had four saves. Raanta had to shake off getting struck in the head by Mason Marchment‘s stick when the Stars forward was behind the net fighting for the puck midway through the third period.

    Stars goalie Jake Oettinger stopped 22 shots, including a glove save of Andrei Svechnikov‘s wrister with just more than five minutes left in regulation.

    Aho’s 200th career goal put Carolina up 1-0 midway through the first period. The Stars got even just more than two minutes later when Johnston scored unassisted after a faceoff.

    Johnston also had a shot ricochet off the post with just under six minutes left.

    In between the first two goals, Oettinger went into a fully extended split, with his right skate against the post, to deny Paul Stastny‘s attempt to knock in a loose puck.

    Burns tied the game at 2 in the second period, getting the puck after a faceoff, then skating over the top of the circle and scoring top shelf over Oettinger’s left shoulder.

    NOTES: Marchment was coming out of the penalty box at the same time Carolina made an errant pass in the second period. He had a breakaway attempt, but couldn’t get enough control of the puck to get off a quality shot. … Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce and Stars center Luke Glendening both got five-minute penalties for fighting in the second period.


    Hurricanes: Will play San Jose on Friday night in the first of three consecutive home games.

    Stars: Host the New Jersey Devils on Friday night in their last game before the All-Star break.

    Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry out until after the All-Star break

    Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry‘s on-again, off-again season is now off again.

    Coach Mike Sullivan said that the two-time All-Star will miss at least two games with an upper-body injury.

    Jarry was scheduled to start against Florida but reported an upper-body issue when he arrived at PPG Paints Arena. Casey DeSmith got the last-second start as the Penguins pulled out a wild 7-6 victory over the Panthers.

    Jarry is out through at least the All-Star break. Pittsburgh plays at Washington and then hosts San Jose before getting a full week off.

    The 27-year-old Jarry has played well when he’s been in the lineup, posting a 16-5-5 record with a 2.65 goals-against average in 27 games. His availability, however, has been an issue of late. He missed more than two weeks earlier this month after being injured against Boston in the Winter Classic on Jan. 2.

    The Penguins are not as sharp when Jarry is out. Pittsburgh is 8-10-3 with DeSmith or Dustin Tokarski in goal this season. The Penguins recalled Tokarski from their American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to back up DeSmith during Jarry’s absence.

    Letang scores twice in return, Penguins beat Panthers 7-6 in OT

    Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    PITTSBURGH – Amid a nightmarish season off the ice, Kris Letang has been searching for joy. A sense of normalcy.

    He found a little of both.

    The veteran Pittsburgh defenseman scored twice in his return from a lower-body injury, the second with 54 seconds left in overtime to give the Penguins a 7-6 victory over Florida.

    “I was just happy to be out there,” Letang said. “Be in the atmosphere of the team.”

    Letang’s 17th season with Pittsburgh has been pockmarked by health issues and a profound sense of loss. He missed two weeks after suffering the second stroke of his career shortly after Thanksgiving. He then tweaked something in a loss to Detroit on Dec. 28.

    His father died unexpectedly a few days later, and Letang spent an extended amount of time with his family in his native Montreal, with his teammates making an unexpected stop to join Letang for his father’s wake at the end of a West Coast swing earlier this month.

    The Penguins activated him off injured reserve on Tuesday afternoon. Letang responded with four points in a rollicking game that featured 13 goals, the last Letang’s one-timer from just above the left circle on the power play that gave Pittsburgh just its fourth win in 12 overtime games this season.

    “It was kind of surreal, you know?” Letang said. “I didn’t know what to think or how it was going to go. These guys supported me for the last month… it’s just great to be back.”

    The Penguins, currently in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, opened up a small bit of breathing room over the ninth-place Panthers by beating Florida for the 18th time in its last 21 trips to Pittsburgh.

    Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Danton Heinen each had a goal and two assists for The Penguins. Rickard Rakell and Drew O'Connor also scored for the Penguins.

    Casey DeSmith struggled in place of Tristan Jarry, a late scratch with an upper-body injury. DeSmith stopped 33 shots, including both he faced in overtime, to win for the third time in his last 10 starts.

    “That was a huge two points for us,” DeSmith said. “Obviously we’re battling with them in the standings. Character win at home.”

    Carter Verhaeghe scored twice for Florida, including a tying goal with 2:32 left in regulation. Aaron Ekblad had a goal and two assists. Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Reinhart each had a goal and an assist. Colin White‘s sixth goal of the season 4:10 into the third gave the Panthers the lead but Florida couldn’t hold it.

    Alex Lyon made 42 saves after getting the start when Spencer Knight was unavailable for reasons head coach Paul Maurice would not disclose. The Panthers are 7-3-2 since January 1 to surge back into the fringe of contention.

    “We’re so much more of a different hockey team than we were a month ago at this time,” Maurice said. “Rallied around each other, battled as hard as they could to get a point on the road in the circumstances that we’re in. I couldn’t be more proud.”

    Neither Lyon or DeSmith – who got the heads up he was playing less than an hour before the opening faceoff – appeared quite ready to play on short notice. They gave up a six goals – three by each team – during a frantic first period that included Letang’s first goal since Dec. 15 and Tkachuk’s 25th of the season.

    Things settled down in the second. Ekblad’s short-handed goal put the Panthers in front but Crosby knotted the game at 4-4 with a pretty backhand through Lyon’s legs with 40 seconds to go in the period to set up a hectic third in which both teams squandered one-goal leads.

    “It wasn’t pretty but you need to find ways to win sometimes,” Crosby said. “We did a good job of that here today.”


    Panthers: Host Angeles on Friday night.

    Penguins: At Washington on Thursday night.