The countdown to the NHL's March 3 trade deadline is on.
The countdown to the NHL's March 3 trade deadline is on.
With front offices gathering intel and conducting pro scouting meetings to map out their plan of attack, teams generally fall into one of three categories: Buyers, Sellers or On The Fence. Today, with some help from our friends at Puck Pedia, we'll examine where The Buyers stand from a salary cap, asset and needs standpoint.
Thursday: The Sellers | Friday: On the Fence | Live: CJ's NHL Trade Deadline Big Board
2023 Draft Picks: 1st, 3rd (own/conditional: Arizona can claim Leafs 2023 third round pick or 2025 second-round pick), 3rd (OTT), 5th, 6th
Pending UFAs: 9 (Kerfoot, Engvall, Kampf, Bunting, Simmonds, Aston-Reese, Holl, Benn, Dahlstrom)
Pending RFAs: 5 (Holmberg, Anderson, Timmins, Samsonov, Mete)
CJ’s take: Adding another forward capable of playing in the top half of the roster would be ideal, but it’s going to come down to acquisition cost. Don’t expect GM Kyle Dubas to surrender a first-round pick for one of the big-name rentals available on the market. If the Leafs can find a good fit with term remaining, that pick will be in play. Toronto has used third-party brokers to reduce the cap hit of incoming players in the past and may need to deploy that strategy again.
PuckPedia’s Cap Take: With Robertson, Muzzin, Mete, and Dahlstrom on LTIR, Toronto has $1.2 million of cap space available in LTIR with a full 23 active players on the roster. This increases to $2.7 million if they drop to 21 players on the roster, and assuming Muzzin does not return this season.
2023 Draft Picks: 1st (own), 2nd (own), 3rd (PHI/conditional: Hurricanes will receive the lowest of PHI/FLA/NYR 3rd round pick in 2023 draft), 4th (own), 5th (own), 5th (VAN), 6th (own), 6th (CHI), 7th (own)
Pending UFAs: 10 (Staal, Fast, Stastny, Stepan, De Haan, Andersen, Raanta, Pacioretty, Gardiner, Kase)
Pending RFAs: 1 (Coghlan)
CJ’s take: Just because the Hurricanes are flush with cap space doesn’t mean they’re in a mad rush to use it. This is a front office that has traditionally avoided chasing rentals, too. However, GM Don Waddell is expected to pursue another scorer after losing Max Pacioretty for the season. Timo Meier was ranked No. 2 on the Trade Deadline Big Board and could be a good fit in Carolina, especially if he was willing to negotiate a contract extension as part of the trade. Look for the Hurricanes to add some defensive depth as well.
PuckPedia’s Cap Take: With just Gardiner and Kase on LTIR, Carolina has $3.1 million of cap space available in LTIR. However, if they add Pacioretty’s $7 million back to LTIR, they would have $10 million of cap space to work with. The crafty Canes might use the extra space to pick up some assets for being a third-party cap hit broker.
2023 Draft Picks: 1st (own), 3rd (own), 4th (own), 5th (own), 6th (own), 7th (own), 7th (LAK)
Pending UFAs: 8 (Pastrnak, Foligno, Smith, Bergeron, Nosek, Krejci, Clifton, Wagner)
Pending RFAs: 5 (Frederic, McLaughlin, Koppanen, Swayman, Filipe)
CJ’s take: GM Don Sweeney is going to have to get awfully creative to bolster this juggernaut. Assuming continued good health, it’s hard to imagine him finding the necessary cap room to make a big deadline splash the way he did in recent years with the acquisitions of Taylor Hall and Hampus Lindholm. But with so much riding on this season, the Bruins can’t be ruled out of anything. And even if they only end up adding a depth piece or two, they’ve still got the makings of a potential champion.
PuckPedia’s Cap Take: With DeBrusk ($4 million) on LTIR, Boston has $2.4 million of cap space with a full 23 active roster players. However, to activate him, they would need to drop to 21 players and down to almost zero cap space. That means that unless they move out players buried in the minors like Reilly and Wagner, they’re a pure dollar-in-dollar-out team.
2023 Draft Picks: 1st (own), 3rd (own), 5th (own), 5th (NYR), 7th (own)
Pending UFAs: 4 (Kuhlman, Maenalanen, Gagner, Rittich)
Pending RFAs: 6 (Dubois, Barron, Jonsson-Fjalby, Stenlund, Samberg, Stanley)
CJ’s take: The Jets are one of the top bounce-back stories in the NHL this season. They’re thriving under a new coaching staff despite being tested with some significant injuries. A big area of improvement has been found with Winnipeg’s defensive play in front of Connor Hellebuyck and it wouldn’t be surprising to see GM Kevin Cheveldayoff pursue a little more depth for his blue-line. He’s got the cap space needed to take a big swing, but this roster may only need to be tinkered with at the margins.
PuckPedia’s Cap Take: Winnipeg is one of the buyers with the most cap space with $2.1 million projected cap space and a full 23 players on the active roster. This can fit $4.8 million in annual cap hit now or $9.1 million if they wait until the trade deadline
2023 Draft Picks: 2nd (own), 4th (own), 5th (own), 6th (own), 7th (own)
Pending UFAs: 4 (Glendening, Kiviranta, Hanley, Khudobin)
Pending RFAs: 2 (Gurianov, Dellandrea)
CJ’s take: Yet another team with ambition that will be in the market for a forward. The Stars are getting all kinds of offence out of Jason Robertson this season, but could use a little more balance further down the lineup. Even though their cap picture will make things tricky for GM Jim Nill, his motivation should be high in a Central Division that looks wide open at the moment.
PuckPedia’s Cap Take: Dallas is a potential buyer that is low on cap space but not in LTIR, so there is a real benefit in them going with a lean roster and accruing extra space to the deadline. With $630,000 projected cap space and 21 active players on the roster, they can fit $1.5 million of additional annual cap hit this week, but that increases to $2.8 million by deadline day. To possibly create more space, Khudobin is counting $2.21 million against the cap while buried in the minors, and by deadline day will have $851,000 of real cash remaining on his deal through the end of the year.