CJ's NHL Trade Deadline Big Board 4.0: Dominoes falling around the league
Timo Meier remains the NHL's most sought-after players heading into the deadline. Photo by Godofredo A. Vásquez/AP.

Scratch off Bo Horvat, Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko – big names who’ve already found a new home in recent weeks.

Remove Jonathan Toews, who is dealing with health challenges and will remain with the Chicago Blackhawks through the end of the season. And forget about Olli Maatta, who signed a two-year extension in Detroit rather than becoming a for-hire rental.

There’s been a big shakeup on the latest version of CJ’s Trade Deadline Big Board.

Crucial decisions are starting to be made and the action is heating up with the NHL’s March 3 trade deadline now coming into view.

Here’s the latest look at the names in play.

1. Timo Meier, San Jose Sharks

Age: 26 | Position: LW

PuckPedia contract status: $6-million cap hit, pending RFA

CJ’s take: As other big dominoes have started falling, we’re still waiting for someone to meet San Jose’s asking price on Meier. They’ve set the bar at three significant assets. Not only are New Jersey and Carolina battling in the Metropolitan Division standings, but they’re also jockeying to bring in a big winger scoring at a 40-plus goal pace.

Potentially keeping him out of the hands of a rival brings added appeal. Vegas has shown interest and St. Louis is also sniffing around after shipping out Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko for first-rounders. What sets Meier apart from the other top forwards available in this market is that he’s still got one year of team control beyond this one.

2. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks

Age: 34 | Position: RW

PuckPedia contract status: $10.5-million cap hit, pending UFA

CJ’s take: Amid a difficult season we saw some vintage ‘Showtime’ appear again over the weekend. The timing of a five-goal explosion in wins over Ottawa and Toronto may not be a total coincidence. There was no denying Kane’s disappointment when the New York Rangers chose to acquire Vladimir Tarasenko on Feb. 9 – seemingly closing the door on any possibility they’d go after him instead – but the 34-year-old winger still has a chance to jump to another contender.

There are concerns about his nagging hip injury, but there’s also a strong allure because of his reputation and resume. Potential fits include Dallas and Vegas. And who knows? Maybe the Rangers will still come calling, too.

3. Jakob Chychrun, Arizona Coyotes

Age: 24 | Position: LD

PuckPedia contract status: $4.6-million cap hit through 2024-25

CJ’s take: The trade fatigue is getting real on a player now being scratched from every game for “trade-related reasons.” On the surface that would seem to suggest Chychrun’s time in Arizona is basically up, but some remain skeptical that anyone will meet Bill Armstrong’s ask of two first-round picks plus another asset before March 3.

Los Angeles has shown interest, but negotiations seem to have cooled off. Columbus is believed to be lurking in the shadows. Chychrun performed magnificently after missing training camp and the start of the regular season due to injuries, but his medical file has given potential suitors pause.

4. Vladislav Gavrikov, Columbus Blue Jackets

Age: 27 | Position: LD

Contract status: $2.8-million cap hit, pending UFA

CJ’s take: There are growing whispers the meat-and-potatoes defenceman will be Don Sweeney’s big deadline acquisition. The Bruins have traded for rentals the last two years and signed both Hampus Lindholm and Taylor Hall to extensions after making those deals.

In the here and now, Boston needs to clear some cap space before it can add Gavrikov, who has been in limbo as a scratch for “trade-related reasons” throughout the last week. That could potentially open the door for another team to meet the Columbus ask of a first- and third-round pick before they do.

5. Dmitry Orlov, Washington Capitals

Age: 31 | Position: LD

Contract status: $5.1-million cap hit, pending UFA

CJ’s take: This is a new name on the board and it’s a whopper given that Orlov is an established first-pair defenceman logging nearly 23 minutes per night. While the Capitals continue to discuss an extension with Orlov’s camp, the progress on those negotiations is said to be “nowhere.”

That could still change with one conversation and one seismic shift in bargaining position.

If it doesn’t, Washington’s front office will have no choice but to explore the market in a season where an incredibly banged-up roster appears to be fading. Orlov has limited control over where he can be dealt with a five-team no-trade list.

6. Ivan Barbashev, St. Louis Blues

Age: 27 | Position: LW/C

PuckPedia contract status: $2.25-million cap hit, pending UFA

CJ’s take: The interest started heating up on Barbashev after the Blues traded Tarasenko and O’Reilly. He’s not expected to be back in St. Louis next season.

Even though he isn’t quite matching last season’s 60-point pace, Barbashev’s versatility and cost are appealing. Not only can he fill a role on both special teams, but he can also be moved comfortably up and down the lineup. Vegas is viewed as a potential fit.

7. James van Riemsdyk, Philadelphia Flyers

Age: 33 | Position: LW

Contract status: $7-million cap hit, pending UFA

CJ’s take: JVR is emerging as a strong secondary forward option now that some of the larger fish are off the board. He’s played well since returning from a broken finger in December and has drawn praise from Flyers coach John Tortorella for the way he’s mentored younger teammates.

He still has a lot to offer both on and off the ice. The size of his cap hit is a challenge but can be made more manageable by the Flyers eating half of the remaining deal. Potential fits include Minnesota, Winnipeg and Vegas. Perhaps Carolina joins the fray if it doesn’t land Meier.

8. Luke Schenn, Vancouver Canucks

Age: 33 | Position: RD

PuckPedia contract status: $850,000 cap hit, pending UFA

CJ’s take: There doesn’t seem to be any movement toward extending a highly respected veteran who enjoys playing in Vancouver, and Schenn found himself kept out of Tuesday’s game in Nashville. He’ll be an easy asset to move. You want a winner? Check. You want a steadying presence? Check. You want a pro’s pro? Check.

Schenn is also playing on an expiring contract that every contender could comfortably make room for. Keep an eye on a potential return to Tampa, where he helped the Lightning win a Stanley Cup in 2020 and 2021.

9. Erik Karlsson, San Jose Sharks 

Age: 32 | Position: RD

PuckPedia contract status: $11.5-million cap hit through 2026-27

CJ’s take: Things have gone quiet since the Oilers and Sharks re-engaged in trade discussions on Karlsson earlier this month.

Not only has San Jose established a high asking price on a defenceman playing at a ridiculous 110-point pace, but it has also so far been unwilling to entertain retaining more than 20 percent of Karlsson’s significant cap hit.

That’s a non-starter for Edmonton.

However, it’s believed Karlsson is open to waiving his no-movement clause to join Connor McDavid and Co. and there’s still time for these sides to take another run at a blockbuster.

10. Jake McCabe, Chicago Blackhawks

Age: 29 | Position: LD/RD

PuckPedia contract status: $4-million cap hit through 2024-25

CJ’s take: One of the bright spots to be found in a dreary season in Chicago. The team has an even goal differential with McCabe on the ice at 5-on-5 and is taking on all kinds of water when he isn’t. That’s helped put him on the radar of a couple of rivals looking to load up for a playoff run.

McCabe has a seven-team no-trade list, which means any Canadian-based suitors are likely going to have to convince him to waive before pursuing a deal.

Jake McCabe has been a good story for Chicago this season. Photo by Erin Hooley/AP.

11. Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks

Age: 25 | Position: RW

PuckPedia contract status: $6.65-million cap hit through 2024-25

CJ’s take: Boeser’s stock has been on the rise since Rick Tocchet took over as head coach, getting reunited on a line with Elias Pettersson and putting up nearly a point per game across the last 20.

That should help boost his trade value. Should the Canucks be willing to retain salary in a deal, that could get things across the finish line. Potential fits include Minnesota, New Jersey and Calgary.

12. Nick Bjugstad, Arizona Coyotes

Age: 30 | Position: C

PuckPedia contract status: $900,000 cap hit, pending UFA

CJ’s take: The Coyotes are wide open for business and Bjugstad has played his way into being an asset for the rebuilding organization.

He’s a low-maintenance veteran and a right-shot centre who is on a friendly contract. Bjugstad can be comfortably plugged into the bottom six on a playoff team.

13. Sam Lafferty, Chicago Blackhawks

Age: 27 | Position: LW/C

PuckPedia contract status: $1.15-million cap hit through 2023-24

CJ’s take: A capable penalty killer, faceoff man and role player, Lafferty can be had for two playoff runs and comes with some cost certainty.

Teams speaking to Chicago about other players will try to secure him as well – similar to how the Leafs got Noel Acciari included in the Ryan O’Reilly trade.

14. Shayne Gostisbehere, Arizona Coyotes

Age: 29 | Position: LD/RD

PuckPedia contract status: $4.5-million cap hit, pending UFA

CJ’s take: The Ghost resuscitated his career after arriving in Arizona last summer as a cap dump and made a quicker-than-expected return from an elbow injury over the weekend.

He played more than 22 minutes on Sunday after missing nearly a month. That’s an encouraging sign. Gostisbehere is an option for the Oilers if things don’t pan out with their talks on Karlsson.

15. Mattias Ekholm, Nashville Predators

Age: 32 | Position: LD/RD

PuckPedia contract status: $6.25-million cap hit through 2025-26

CJ’s take: You won’t have any trouble finding a team that likes what the hard-nosed veteran brings, but it’s going to be tough for GM David Poile to get his asking price given Ekholm’s hefty cap hit.

The Predators are said to be seeking two first-round picks for him. Still, his potential availability has increased the scouting presence at Nashville games. Stay tuned.

16. Jesse Puljujarvi, Edmonton Oilers

Age: 24 | Position: RW

PuckPedia contract status: $3-million cap hit, pending RFA

CJ’s take: The Oilers would love to clear some cap space for other moves and appear to be nearing the end of the road with their fourth overall pick from 2016. Puljujarvi’s offensive game has sputtered and his confidence has taken a hit in the process.

The asset is diminished, but teams are sniffing around a buy-low candidate who could be waiver-bound if he isn’t moved soon.

17. Tyler Bertuzzi, Detroit Red Wings

Age: 27 | Position: LW

PuckPedia contract status: $4.75-million cap hit, pending UFA

CJ’s take: As quickly as Bertuzzi shot up the board, he’s already tumbling backwards. There are now indications that Steve Yzerman is inclined to hold on to him as an “own rental” even if the sides can’t reach a contract extension.

Detroit is hanging around the Eastern Conference wild-card race and it might send a bad message to the team if a playoff-type performer was parlayed into future assets.

18. Gustav Nyquist, Columbus Blue Jackets

Age: 33 | Position: RW/LW

PuckPedia contract status: $5.5-million cap hit, pending UFA

CJ’s take: Another trade chip who was recently bitten by the injury bug. Nyquist is nursing a shoulder issue that won’t require surgery, but it could keep him out for the rest of the regular season.

That could bolster his trade value for a contender already using LTIR since Nyquist could essentially be stashed there and then activated without cap considerations once the playoffs start. When healthy, he’s a reasonably productive winger who kills penalties and delivers reliable minutes.

19. Karel Vejmelka, Arizona Coyotes

Age: 26 | Position: G

PuckPedia contract status: $2.725-million cap hit through 2024-25

CJ’s take: A top-10 NHL goaltender this year when measured by goals saved above expected who is on a reasonable contract for two more seasons.

We don’t typically see too many goalies moved at the deadline, but Vejmelka could represent a unique opportunity for a team because of the term remaining on his deal. Los Angeles could be an intriguing fit, especially if the teams wind up moving forward with a Chychrun trade.

Starting-calibre goalies rarely move at the deadline but Vejmelka could get traded. Photo by Ross D. Franklin/AP.

20. Nick Jensen, Washington Capitals

Age: 32 | Position: RD

PuckPedia contract status: $2.5-million cap hit, pending UFA

CJ’s take: Another Capitals defenceman on an expiring contract that is starting to draw some interest.

Jensen is a capable second-pair defender who brings added utility on the penalty kill.

21. Carson Soucy, Seattle Kraken

Age: 32 | Position: LD

PuckPedia contract status: $2.75-million cap hit, pending UFA

CJ’s take: A big body on an expiring contract who recently found himself scratched in place of the newly acquired Jaycob Megna.

That strongly suggests Soucy is a deadline chip for the Kraken. He excels most in the physical aspects of the game and could be a nice depth addition for a contender.

22. Max Domi, Chicago Blackhawks

Age: 27 | Position: C/LW

PuckPedia contract status: $3-million cap hit, pending UFA

CJ’s take: It’s starting to look like Domi’s tenure in Chicago could be extended with a new contract, rather than ended with a trade out of town. He’s been a great fit for the organization.

However, should negotiations not produce a new deal, the versatile forward with a manageable cap hit can still be parlayed into a draft pick. Of particular note is the fact he’s played centre this season after spending most of his career on the wing.

23. Evgenii Dadonov, Montreal Canadiens

Age: 33 | Position: LW

PuckPedia contract status: $5-million cap hit, pending UFA

CJ’s take: Famously dealt by Vegas to Anaheim at last year’s deadline, only to be returned to the Golden Knights because of a mixup with his 10-team no-trade clause, Dadonov could be on the move for real this time around.

There is modest interest in a player with a strong record of producing offensively who can be had at a low cost. It certainly helps that he’s played better of late.

24. Sean Monahan, Montreal Canadiens

Age: 28 | Position: C

PuckPedia contract status: $6.375-million cap hit, pending UFA

CJ’s take: A nice start to the season for Monahan in Montreal was all but wiped away with another extended injury. The fact he hasn’t played since Dec. 5 has severely diminished his potential value as a rental.

And while there have been recent indications Monahan is getting close to returning to the Canadiens lineup, there isn’t much time to prove that his undisclosed issues won’t be lingering.

25. Vitali Kravtsov, N.Y. Rangers

Age: 23 | Position: RW

Contract status: $875,000 cap hit, pending RFA

CJ’s take: The ninth overall pick from the 2018 draft has struggled to crack the Rangers lineup with any regularity this season and recently requested a trade. He’s seeking a bigger opportunity somewhere else.

While it remains to be seen how impactful Kravtsov can be at the NHL level, he’s an excellent buy-low candidate who carries four more years of team control. New York can also help make room for another deadline addition by removing his salary from the books.

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