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Turning Tides: A Pacific Division trade deadline preview

A graphic displays the text Pacific Division Deadline Preview above impages of Anthony Duclair, Trevor Zegras and Jordan Eberle. There are logos of each NHL Pacific Division team in the background
(Graphic by Reid Nyenhuis)


With the NHL All-Star break now thankfully in the rearview, the next stop on the NHL calendar is approaching fast: trade deadline day. Speculation season. Rec spec city. Lee Stempniak Day. Call it whatever you wish, but the news cycle will be overdrive regarding who's going where and what jersey your favourite players will wear come Mar. 8, 2024. 

In this article, we will look at the possible deadline machinations of each Pacific Division team in alphabetical order. We’ll give our recommendation, some possible trade recommendations, and a base rationale. Now sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. 

Anaheim Ducks

Objective: Deal players to acquire assets and futures

With the Ducks firmly in their rebuild, they must determine their options and see if they can move certain players for future assets. First up, center Adam Henrique. Henrique is a top-nine forward for any contending team, with 35 points in 51 games at the time of writing. Despite his sizable cap hit of $5.875M, the Ducks could retain 50% of his salary on his expiring contract and fetch some additional assets in return. For many contenders, a cap hit under $3 million is much easier to swallow. Teams such as the Toronto Maple Leafs and Colorado Avalanche are obvious fits for the 14-year veteran, though Henrique does have a 10-team no-trade clause that could complicate things. 

Next, we have goaltender John Gibson, a yearly mention during trade season. Gibson’s stats have taken a nosedive, but much of that is likely due to the Ducks' lacklustre d-corps in recent years. Further complicating things, Gibson has a sizable cap hit of $6.4M for the next three seasons. New Jersey and Carolina, in the market for a goaltender, are possible suitors for the Pittsburgh native. 

Rumours persist involving Trevor Zegras, who is having a miserable season due to a lack of form and injury. Anaheim already has its two centers of the future in Leo Carlsson and the recently acquired Cutter Gauthier, leaving Zegras’s place in doubt. The Montreal Canadiens continually appear as a possible suitor, and it makes sense as a likely fit. Zegras brings lots of potential after a promising 65-point campaign last year – as seen with Sean Monahan, Montreal has experience in fixing players in unsuitable spots. It may cost considerable assets (such as at least one of the two first-rounders GM Kent Hughes received for acquiring and trading Monahan), but it could be worth it due to Zegras’ elite skill. 

Calgary Flames

Objective: Sell on Tanev, Markstrom, and Hanifin; see how the season plays out

The Calgary Flames continue to dominate trade talks nearly halfway through the NHL season and haven’t stopped yet.  Despite trading out pending UFAs Nikita Zadorov, Elias Lindholm and Chris Tanev, now they’ll decide what to do with defenceman Noah Hanifin and goaltender Jacob Markstrom, among others.


Chris Tanev was recently traded to the Dallas Stars in exchange for prospect Artem Grushnikov, a second-round pick and a conditional third-round pick. Some see the trade as a win for Dallas, especially with Tanev’s salary retained down by Calgary and the New Jersey Devils – a third team in – to $1,125,000.

Calgary will hope to get more for Tanev’s former defence partner, Noah Hanifin, who is probably the best defenceman on the trade market. Hanifin is highly rated as an elite number two defenceman or a lower-end number one, akin to players like Morgan Reilly or Mattias Ekholm, and has been consistently good, sometimes even great, since he was traded to the Flames in 2018. His UFA status and manageable $4.95 million cap hit make him the perfect rental acquisition for contending teams. If retention is required, like Tanev, the Flames could be enticed to do so in exchange for additional assets, or a third team could be involved. Teams like Hanifin’s hometown Boston Bruins, the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Philadelphia Flyers are all possible destinations but one thing is for sure: a large sum of money and a long-term deal await Hanifin in free agency. 

Lastly, Jacob Markstrom is 34 years old and having a resurgent season, posting his best numbers in a few years. However, three years left on his deal and a full No-Movement Clause, plus a $6M cap hit – making retention a non-starter for Calgary – hurt the cause for him being moved. Still, Markstrom’s value won’t be higher than now, and the goaltending market is hot. The Flames have reportedly said they are keeping Markstrom, but teams like the New Jersey Devils, LA Kings, and Carolina Hurricanes are all hunting for better goaltending. A reported trade to the New Jersey Devils fell through, but if Markstrom is willing to waive his no-movement clause, Calgary should oblige and deal him to the highest bidder.

Edmonton Oilers

Objective: Acquire two of: Backup goaltender, top-4 RHD, top-6 forward

No team has encapsulated the phrase “let it play out” more than the Edmonton Oilers this season. To say the first couple months of the Oilers season were miserable is an understatement, with everyone other than Connor McDavid (of course), Evander Kane and Zach Hyman being unable to hit a beach ball, let alone a puck into a net. Additionally, neither goaltender could buy a save, leading to Jack Campbell being sent down to the AHL. Since the move and replacing coach Jay Woodcroft with Kris Knoblauch, the Oilers have one of the best records in the league, thanks in part to a 16-game win streak and another nine-game win streak. Additionally, they signed Corey Perry after his controversial exit from the Chicago Blackhawks, adding tenacity, greasy play, and veteran leadership.

Despite the good omens right now, the Oil have some severe areas of improvement. 

Firstly, they need to acquire a top 6 forward, ideally a winger, to play on Leon Draisaitl’s right flank. The main target would be Jake Guentzel of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who is an upcoming UFA but has a 12-team no-trade list, which likely includes Edmonton. Additionally, Guentzel is now injured and on LTIR, making a trade unlikely. If Guentzel is too rich for the Oilers' blood, other targets, such as San Jose’s Anthony Duclair or Tyler Toffoli of the New Jersey Devils, are also possible targets. Duclair is the more interesting of the two, as he could be included in a package alongside one of San Jose’s goaltenders, killing two birds with one stone. A reunion with Jordan Eberle of the Seattle Kraken is also possible if the Kraken are willing to retain half of his salary. 

A backup goalie is possibly an area of concern – although Calvin Pickard’s numbers are decent, he’s only played nine games (at the time of writing), pointing to a lack of trust. Additionally, Pickard is an unrestricted free agent after this year, so a possible upgrade is worth considering. San Jose Sharks duo Mackenzie Blackwood and Kaapo Kahkonen have put up good numbers on an abysmal team, and in Blackwood’s case, they have an additional year on their deal. With San Jose rebuilding, they may take on Jack Campbell’s contract, depending on the nature of the trade.

Lastly, an upgrade on Cody Ceci is sorely needed. The top pair of Mattias Ekholm and Evan Bouchard is already solidified, and a practical bottom pair of Brett Kulak and Vincent Desharnais is in place. There’s a clear weak link. As I said on the Intermission Snapshot Podcast, “What does Cody Ceci actually do?” The Philadelphia Flyers’ Sean Walker has been rumoured to be a target for the Oilers for the whole season. Walker’s an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, so he will need to be resigned, but he remains a possibility. Other names floated include Dante Fabbro, Colton Parayko and Brett Pesce, though the latter two seem far-fetched. 

Los Angeles Kings

Objective: Improve goaltending, offence down the middle; make a Pierre-Luc Decision

Earlier in the season, the LA Kings were a wagon of a team, setting the NHL record for consecutive road victories with 11 games. Cam Talbot seemed to be reviving his career and everything was clicking. Then everything went wrong. The questions that persisted about LA before the start of the season started rearing their ugly head, there is an $8.5 million elephant in the room with an upcoming no-movement clause, their goaltending has been giving as much confidence as Captain John Smith of the Titanic and they ended up firing head coach Todd McLellan. Therefore, some changes are needed in LA to get the Kings back on their throne. 

Firstly, let's look at the LA Kings’ central weak spot on their team: the goaltending. A tandem of 36-year-old Cam Talbot, coming off a down year in Ottawa, along with “Big Save” Dave Rittich, is amongst the worst goalie corps on contenders in the West. Compared to their rivals in the Pacific division, are the Kings even in the top 5 in goaltending ability? Further complicating the issue is Phoenix Copley’s injury, which has them relying on Talbot and Rittich for the foreseeable future unless changes are coming. Players like Jacob Markstrom and John Gibson are obvious targets, while Chicago’s Petr Mrazek or even Kaapo Kakhonen are possible targets.   

Secondly comes the 6-foot-2 disaster, Pierre-Luc Dubois. Since “the shift” during his tenure with the Columbus Blue Jackets, PLD has been a controversial player in the NHL. During his time with the Winnipeg Jets, rumours of Dubois wanting out persisted, leading to him eventually demanding a trade. He’d get his wish, departing Winnipeg in a July blockbuster to the Kings and signing an eight-year deal worth 68 million with LA.

At the time of writing, Dubois has been playing as a third-line center and on pace for just around 40 points, well below the expectations of his salary. Examples of players with the same salary as PLD include first-line centers for both NY teams, Mika Zibenajad and Bo Horvat, while Leon Draisaitl, Roope Hintz, and Tim Stutzle have similar cap hits. So, perhaps the Kings should trade Dubois before his NMC kicks in on July 1st, even if it requires taking back a bad contract. A suggestion is trading Dubois to the San Jose Sharks for a package centred around Blackwood and Duclair or for Sharks captain Logan Couture. Lastly, because Dubois is 25 years old, 1/3rd of his salary needs are due in case of a buyout. It may be a Hail Mary play, but sometimes you must take a risk.  

San Jose Sharks


The other teams' paragraphs had a much more in-depth breakdown but in the case of the San Jose Sharks, it is painfully simple: just sell. The rebuild will be long and painful, but if done correctly, another era in San Jose could emerge. But that's in the future. For now, this team is simply shark fin soup. 

Instead of listing what they should do or possible returns, I’ll merely list players on the Sharks roster with trade value, their respective cap hit, and any trade restrictions.  

  • LW/RW Anthony Duclair, $3M cap-hit, UFA at the end of the season.

  • LD Mario Ferraro, $3.25M cap-hit, two additional years remaining on the contract

  • C Logan Couture, $8M cap-hit, three years additional remaining, 29 team NTC

  • G Mackenzie Blackwood, $2.35M cap-hit, one additional year remaining

  • G Kaapo Kahkonen, $2.75M cap-hit, UFA at the end of the season

Seattle Kraken

Verdict: Sell on Jordan Eberle; try to acquire scoring forwards

The Seattle Kraken have one overarching problem this year: they simply cannot score. Otherwise, they’re just a solid hockey club, nothing more, nothing less. Some candidates on the roster could be ready for a change of scenery and they could use to replenish the cabinet a bit, so there might be some “hockey trades” in their cards. For example, they could target someone like Tyler Toffoli of the New Jersey Devils – a consistent 30-goal scorer over the past few seasons – or Anthony Mantha of the Washington Capitals, adding an infusion of scoring punch to the table for likely a cheaper price than their potential value.

Though Matty Beniers is in a sophomore slump and Shane Wright is not yet in the NHL, the future is bright for the Kraken. Add in the solid veterans in their lineup, and the Rise of the Kraken could still occur. The franchise made strides last season with their series win against the Colorado Avalanche and going to game seven against the Dallas Stars, so even if they miss the playoffs this year, they’ll be in the hunt next year.

Vancouver Canucks

Objective: Continue the course, finish the season strong; add depth

The Vancouver Canucks season has been nothing short of remarkable, with Quinn Hughes looking like a Norris Trophy winner, JT Miller rediscovering defence, and, best of all, the team winning games. Rick Tocchet and his all-star coaching staff (consisting of Adam Foote, Sergei Gonchar, the Sedins, and more) have led Vancouver right to the top of the league. GM Patrik Allvin and president Jim Rutherford deserve credit for their terrific work this offseason to help the Canucks reach the potential of their roster.  

The first bold move was buying out Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s albatross contract and reworking the defence by adding Ian Cole, Carson Soucy, and Nikita Zadorov. Next, they acquired goaltender Casey DeSmith to backup Thatcher Demko, giving the Canucks something they haven’t had in years: a usable backup netminder. Additionally, the Canucks’ forward corps is bolstered by arguably the best third line in the NHL, featuring Dakota Joshua, Teddy Blueger and Conor Garland. A trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs saw them acquire veteran bottom sixer Sam Lafferty, adding more depth to the team.

In addition to Zadorov, the team acquired center Elias Lindholm from the Calgary Flames in exchange for struggling winger Andrei Kuzmenko, draft picks, and prospects. Adding Lindholm to their already elite forward corps, and doing so without sacrificing much of the current team's success, allows them to continue being a contender. 

What now, then? Stay the course, and add only what is truly worth it.

Vegas Golden Knights

Objective: If possible, add a significant UFA rental with LTIR; power through the season until stars are healthy 

With Jack Eichel having recently gone on LTIR, the defending Stanley Cup champions suddenly have a lot of salary cap space to play with—in the controversial fashion of the Tampa Bay Lightning of years past and themselves last year with Mark Stone, they could bring Eichel back for game 1 of the playoffs when the salary cap no longer applies. Additionally, with Stone rumoured to also go on LTIR, Vegas could spend tangible assets on upgrading their lineup significantly with a virtually unchanged roster from last season (minus the departure of Reilly Smith). 

The solid defensive corps remains excellent, and Adin Hill is proving his playoff run isn’t a fluke, posting some of the best goaltender stats in the NHL. Aside from Stone, their captain, Eichel, their top forward, and top defenceman Alex Pietrangelo, every player on the team is tradeable, though eight players have a modified no-trade clause

As for trade targets, some of the names mentioned earlier, such as Jordan Eberle or Tyler Toffoli, could be targets. Really, there isn’t much for the Golden Knights to do other than stay consistent.

At the end of the day, the Pacific Division continues to have a lot of power at the top, but lots could change with teams making the right, or wrong, moves.

Stay tuned for tons more NHL trade deadline coverage from Intermission Sports.


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