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We’re into December and reaching the heart of the NHL season. We have a firmer idea of who the contenders and pretenders are, meaning we might get some trade talk swirling soon. After all, not every star gets dealt at the deadline. Last season, Vegas pulled the trigger on Jack Eichel in November, while the Flames got Tyler Toffoli in February. Our own Frank Seravalli has already published his first Trade Targets list of 2022-23, headlined by Vancouver Canucks center Bo Horvat.
So, Daily Faceoff Roundtable, the question this week is…who is the first big-name player to get traded this season?
MATT LARKIN: I don’t always snatch the low-hanging fruit, but I’ll do it this time just to be a jerk. It’s Jakob Chychrun, right? He’s perhaps the only high-impact name who is already more or less playing in protest of his current location. Chychrun is back from injury and playing NHL games but has made it clear he has no desire to be an Arizona Coyote. Also factoring in that his team is already firmly established as a tanker for this season, there’s no need for suitors to wait until the stretch run to pursue Chychrun. He can help you right now, and his highly reasonable AAV means it doesn’t require too many financial gymnastics to get him.
NICK ALBERGA: I’ll go with John Klingberg of the Anaheim Ducks. Considering his expiring contract and the current state of the team (they’re bad), it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that he’ll be on the move at some point between now and the trade deadline. On top of that, right-handed shooting blueliners always seem to be a hot commodity on the trade market, so I wonder if somebody jumps the gun to acquire someone of Klingberg’s ilk. Furthermore, in the right setting, I think he can be a difference maker for a perennial contender looking to put all their chips in the middle. Of note, Klingberg’s full no-trade clause turns into a 10 team no-trade starting Jan. 1. Let the games begin!
MIKE MCKENNA: I guess it really depends on what we consider to be a big-name player. But I’m looking squarely at the Chicago Blackhawks. After a surprisingly strong start, the Hawks earned only three points in their last 10 games. And I’m sure GM Kyle Davidson is more than ready to move assets. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are obviously the prize possessions likely to fetch the largest returns for Chicago. But what about Andreas Athanasiou? He can absolutely fly and would provide a nice solution for a Stanley Cup playoff-caliber team that needs help on the third line. Athanasiou is dangerous on the rush but defense will always be a concern. Frank has him listed at No. 13 on this Trade Targets board for good reason. I think Athanasiou is the perfect early-season deal because (a) his cap hit ($3 million) is manageable and (b) the price to acquire him wouldn’t be too steep. I know he’s not the biggest name on the list, but I think Athanasiou could easily be on the move soon.
STEVEN ELLIS: I’m going with Timo Meier on the Sharks. He’s a big piece of that core, but I think the value they could get outweighs the positives. Mainly, I’m not keen on San Jose’s prospect pool right now, so this doesn’t feel like a short-term rebuild for the Sharks. He’ll be an expensive off-season RFA signing, which makes moving him tough, but the Sharks could benefit from just maximizing every asset possible over the next two drafts, and that means moving Meier. Erik Karlsson is a tough cookie to move, so I think Meier has to be the choice here.
FRANK SERAVALLI: I’m going to cheat a little bit, based on some of the intel that I reported last week with our first Trade Targets board of the season. I think the first big name player will be traded from the Florida Panthers. As mentioned, they must trade a player to be cap compliant once Anthony Duclair is ready to return. It sounds like he’ll be ready to go sometime around Christmas. So that seems like a worthy safe bet in terms of timing as to who will be first. Now, will he be the one who is moved? Not necessarily. Florida can move another player who earns more than Duclair on the cap. I think the Panthers have received overtures of interest on some other forwards, including Sam Reinhart, Sam Bennett and maybe even Patric Hornqvist. Stay tuned.