NHL trade deadline tracker: Penguins’ Jake Guentzel, Flames’ Noah Hanifin among players who could be moved

Written by on March 4, 2024

The NHL trade deadline is just a week away, and that likely means many teams will be working the phones in an effort to improve their rosters for a potential Stanley Cup run.

The Vancouver Canucks made the first big splash in the trade market by acquiring center Elias Lindholm from the Calgary Flames in a massive deal in early February. 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 attempting to add veteran centers to help cement themselves as Stanley Cup contenders. After a huge gap in trades, the Flames remained active when they traded defenseman Chris Tanev to the Dallas Stars as part of a three-team deal that involved the New Jersey Devils.

Even with Lindholm and Monahan being off the board, plenty of talent remains 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. Jake Guentzel (F, Penguins)

There’s no doubt Jake Guentzel is the top available trade candidate. The Pittsburgh Penguins are still within striking distance of a Wild Card playoff spot with a week to go until the deadline, but the team would stand to land a huge return if they decide to move on from the talented forward.

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 earlier this season, 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, several teams will likely be interested, and he could command quite a few assets. After all, it’s rare that a player of Guentzel’s caliber is available at the deadline.

2. 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 possible that’s not going to be the last move that the Flames end up making.

Flames general manager Craig Conroy could potentially 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, despite the Flames being in the thick of the playoff race.

Hanifin, 27, had been negotiating with Calgary early in the 2023-24 season, and were reportedly making progress toward 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 do so in the next week or two, the team may move on from him considering 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.

3. Juuse Saros (G, Predators)

There’s not going to be many goaltenders on the move at the trade deadline, but Nashville Predators netminder Juuse Saros could be one who switches addresses.

The Predators have a five-point lead for the second Wild Card spot in the Western Conference, so it’s not a foregone conclusion Saros gets traded at the deadline. According to Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli, the Predators are unlikely to move Saros if the team is battling for a playoff spot. 

Still, the Predators aren’t likely to go on a Stanley Cup run anytime soon. As a result, if a contender blows Nashville’s doors off with an offer, it’s possible that they would considering shipping Saros out of town. If a team were to acquire Saros, they’d be getting a battle-tested netminder that is entering the prime of his career at just 28 years old. Franchise goalies don’t grow on trees, so teams like the goaltender-deprived New Jersey Devils may try to exhaust every avenue to land a netminder of Saros’ caliber.

4. Adam Henrique (F, Ducks)

With Elias Lindholm and Sean Monahan off the board, there aren’t a ton of game-breaking centers 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 Trevor Zegras could be on the move for the right offer, but considering he just signed a three-year contract extension in October, it’s likely a longshot he gets traded right now. 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 player 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.

5. Sean Walker (D, Flyers)

The Philadelphia Flyers are one of the more intriguing teams leading up to the 2024 trade deadline. It was expected to be a rebuilding year for the Flyers, but instead, head coach John Tortorella has this bunch firmly entrenched in the playoff race. As a result, it’s up in the air as to what Philadelphia general manager Danny Briere will do in his first deadline.

The Flyers likely aren’t going to part with any star power, but they do have a few pieces that would be attractive to Stanley Cup contenders. At the top of the list, defenseman Sean Walker is likely going to be on the move. Walker, who was acquired by the Flyers in a three-team trade involving defenseman Ivan Provorov, has excelled during his lone season in Philadelphia. The veteran blue-liner is second on the team in points (22) behind only Travis Sanheim.

Walker has a very attractive cap hit at just $2.65 million, so contending teams shouldn’t have too much trouble absorbing his salary in a potential deal. The Flyers obviously have had an impressive season, but probably aren’t going to be viewed as Stanley Cup contenders. As a result, it’s likely that Philadelphia chooses to get some value for Walker, considering that he’s an unrestricted free agent this summer.

6. Vladimir Tarasenko (F, Senators)

Over the past couple of seasons, the Ottawa Senators have been a team 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  its 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.

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 six points out of the Wild Card playoff spot in the Western Conference, so the possibility of shipping Buchnevich out of town certainly exists.

Buchnevich could be one of the more gifted forwards 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, Buchnevich is 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. Jakob Chychrun (D, Senators)

It seems crazy to think the Senators could move on from defenseman Jakob Chychrun just one year after acquiring him. Still, that’s a world 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 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 many teams will come calling if Chychrun is on the trade block.

9. 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 the team could elect to move him for the right price.

Laughton is currently in the third year of a five-year contract extension he signed back in 2021. That means 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 the Flyers have overachieved as a rebuilding team, it wouldn’t be shocking if they took calls on Laughton.

10. Frank Vatrano (F, Ducks)

The Ducks will almost certainly be selling a few assets at the trade deadline. In addition to veteran center Adam Henrique, another player who could be on the move is forward Frank Vatrano.

Vatrano is in the midst of a career year as he’s tallied career-highs in points (45) and goals (26) with nearly two months remaining in the 2023-24 season. The 29-year-old also leads the Ducks in both of those categories. Vatrano is still under team control through the 2025-26 season and carries a manageable cap hit of $3.65 million. The talented goal scorer would be a welcome addition to any contending team, and could be a huge difference maker during a Stanley Cup run.

The Ducks have the second-fewest points across the NHL, so it would make a ton of sense for the team to unload a veteran asset like Vatrano. Anaheim also possesses an abundance of depth at the forward position, and gained even more earlier this season when by acquiring Cutter Gauthier from the Philadelphia Flyers. 

The post NHL trade deadline tracker: Penguins’ Jake Guentzel, Flames’ Noah Hanifin among players who could be moved first appeared on CBS Sports.


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