Who says no? Analyzing 7 hypothetical offseason trades

Who says no? Analyzing 7 hypothetical offseason trades

We may be in the dog days of NHL summer, but there are still several logical high-profile trade candidates – even after the Erik Karlsson swap. So we decided to argue over the legitimacy of seven hypothetical deals.

Here’s how this exercise went down: Four of theScore’s NHL news editors (Kyle Cushman, Kayla Douglas, Sean O’Leary, and myself) submitted trades for the rest to determine which team says no. “Both” and “good deal” were options, too.

Below, I dive into the trades and analyze which aspects are sensible and which aren’t.

Leafs, Rangers pull off blockbuster

Mark Blinch / National Hockey League / Getty

Rangers receive: William Nylander (7x$9.5M extension), Timothy Liljegren, Calle Jarnkrok, Pontus Holmberg
Maple Leafs receive: Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko, Braden Schneider, Barclay Goodrow (20% retained)

Submitted by: Wegman

Editor
Who says no?

Cushman
Maple Leafs

Douglas
Maple Leafs

O’Leary
Maple Leafs

Why it could work: Latest reports indicate there’s a sizable gap between the Leafs and Nylander in extension discussions. If talks completely fall apart, the Leafs might be better off trading Nylander – who can become an unrestricted free agent in 2024 – than losing a core piece for nothing. Nylander may be more open to extending with the Rangers – one of his father’s former teams.

Nylander is undoubtedly the best player in the deal, but Chytil, who’s just 23 and locked up for four years at $4.44 million annually, would allow John Tavares to move to the wing, where he’s likely best suited at this point in his career. Kakko’s career got off to a slow start, but the 2019 No. 2 pick is coming off his best year and still has room to grow. Schneider also brings far more top-four upside than Liljegren and could be a long-term partner for Morgan Rielly. Goodrow and Jarnkrok would be swapped at near identical cap hits with the retention.

Why it might not: Nylander is a rare game-breaking talent who’s arguably been the best postseason performer of Toronto’s Core Four, and our voters think there’s not enough value in return. If this is the best offer at new genral manager Brad Treliving’s disposal, he might use the season to keep working on a Nylander extension and even be prepared to use him as his own rental if a deal can’t get done.

Jackets make another offseason splash

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

Blue Jackets receive: Elias Lindholm (6x$8.5M extension)
Flames receive: Adam Boqvist, Cole Sillinger, 2025 1st-round pick

Submitted by: O’Leary

Editor
Who says no?

Cushman
Good deal 🤝

Douglas
Good deal 🤝

Wegman
Good deal 🤝

Why it could work: Lindholm reportedly turned down Calgary’s big offer to re-sign, so new Flames GM Craig Conroy would be wise to move him ASAP. The Flames simply can’t afford to lose him for nothing, and they could likely maximize a trade return during the offseason when teams have more flexibility.

Boqvist and Sillinger are two enticing pieces for Calgary, and both are replaceable for Columbus. Lindholm would essentially take Sillinger’s spot at center, and the Jackets are loaded on right defense. Boqvist, the 2018 No. 8 pick, showed great strides in his development before a foot injury derailed his season. Sillinger is coming off a rough sophomore campaign, but he’s still only 20 years old.

GM Jarmo Kekalainen isn’t afraid to make bold moves, and he’s been aggressive this offseason, acquiring Ivan Provorov and Damon Severson to bolster the blue line. Adding Lindholm would be the final piece of the puzzle to fill a massive weakness down the middle of the ice.

Why it might not: Calgary would likely prefer a 2024 first-rounder as part of the deal – even if it’s protected in some manner. Lindholm might also be unwilling to sign a long-term deal in Columbus. He’ll likely try to get maximum term when he signs his new contract, too.

Stars bolster blue line with Hanifin

Derek Cain / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Stars receive: Noah Hanifin (5x$7.5M extension)
Flames receive: Radek Faksa, Mavrik Bourque, 2024 1st-round pick

Submitted by: O’Leary

Editor
Who says no?

Cushman
Good deal 🤝

Douglas
Stars

Wegman
Good deal 🤝

Why it could work: Like Lindholm, Hanifin is in the last year of his deal and reportedly isn’t interested in re-upping, either. Given the state of the Flames, their best bet is to reset and deal these pending UFAs if they can’t agree to extensions.

The Stars, meanwhile, are a legitimate Cup contender. But if they have one area of improvement, it’s the blue line – most notably the top four. Hanifin hasn’t quite lived up to his billing as a top-five pick, but he’s still quite good. He’s big and mobile, and at 26 years old, he isn’t done developing.

For the Flames, it’s a pretty solid return: Bourque was a first-round pick in 2020, while Faksa, a 29-year-old veteran, is signed for two more years at $3.25 million annually and is one of the game’s best pure defensive centers. The Stars have cheaper in-house options to replace Faksa, too, including 2018 No. 13 pick Ty Dellandrea – a natural center who’s played mostly on the wing so far in his career.

Why it might not: The Stars may be hesitant to move essentially a pair of first-round picks along with Faksa, who’s become an underrated part of their success in a thankless role. Hanifin may also seek maximum term on his next contract.

Kraken land proven top-line center

Jonathan Kozub / National Hockey League / Getty

Kraken receive: Mark Scheifele, Jansen Harkins
Jets receive: Alexander Wennberg, Kole Lind, Ryan Winterton, 2024 1st-round pick (top-10 protected), 2024 4th-round pick

Submitted by: Cushman

Editor
Who says no?

Douglas
Jets

O’Leary
Jets

Wegman
Jets

Why it could work: Scheifele is in the last year of his deal, and the Jets’ core as currently assembled isn’t good enough to be a Cup contender. The club already traded away Pierre-Luc Dubois and let Blake Wheeler walk as a UFA, so this would be a fitting time to part ways with Scheifele.

As shown in the Dubois trade, which netted a package including Alex Iafallo, Gabe Vilardi, and Rasmus Kupari, the Jets may be intent on getting young NHL players in return rather than just picks. Wennberg is an obvious downgrade from Scheifele, but he can fill a middle-six center role. Lind, 24, is ready to compete for an NHL job.

The Kraken have a deep group of forwards, but they could use an alpha up front. Scheifele, who’s coming off a career-high 42-goal campaign, is exactly that. Seattle also has the cap flexibility to make Scheifele a generous extension offer.

Why it might not: Wennberg only has one year left on his deal and, frankly, hasn’t played up to his $4.5-million cap hit with Seattle. Lind and Winterton aren’t exactly high-end prospects, so while this return package carries quantity, the overall quality is lacking.

Sabres go for it with Hellebuyck acquisition

Lawrence Scott / National Hockey League / Getty

Sabres receive: Connor Hellebuyck
Jets receive: Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Noah Ostlund, 2024 1st-round pick

Submitted by: Douglas

Editor
Who says no?

Cushman
Sabres

O’Leary
Good deal 🤝

Wegman
Sabres

Why it could work: The Sabres are one of the NHL’s most exciting up-and-coming teams and finished one point out of a playoff spot in 2022-23. Overall team defense and goaltending are the club’s biggest issues, even with Devon Levi’s promising seven-game debut down the stretch.

A world-class goalie like Hellebuyck could push the Sabres over the top. And since he’s in the last year of his deal, the Jets would more than likely be willing to move him – especially for a package that includes a young replacement between the pipes in Luukkonen and the 2022 No. 16 pick in Ostlund.

Why it might not: Giving up a substantial package for Hellebuyck without an extension in place is risky business for Buffalo. It’s almost unheard of to see a team go from missing the playoffs to winning the Cup – there’s usually at least one playoff failure sandwiched in between. So this doesn’t quite seem like the time for Buffalo to surrender key assets for a player who may be a one-year rental.

Bruins find Bergeron replacement

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

Bruins receive: Logan Couture (33% retained)
Sharks receive: Derek Forbort, Trent Frederic, Matthew Poitras, 2025 1st-round pick

Submitted by: Wegman

Editor
Who says no?

Cushman
Bruins

Douglas
Sharks

O’Leary
Sharks

Why it could work: It’s officially a fire sale in San Jose. The Sharks dealt Timo Meier at the 2023 trade deadline and Karlsson earlier this month. Couture would control his own destiny with a three-team trade list built into his contract, but it’s hard to imagine he’d pass up a move to the reigning Presidents’ Trophy winners in favor of sticking around for the rebuild in San Jose – despite his recent comments.

For the Bruins, there’s no “replacing” the retired Patrice Bergeron – or David Krejci, for that matter – but the need for a center is obvious, and Couture would be a pretty nice fill-in. A two-way center with excellent leadership skills, he’s coming off the second-highest point total of his career (67), and a $5.36-million cap hit (including the retention) is a pretty fair number for Boston. The inclusion of Forbort and Frederic makes the deal work cap-wise.

Why it might not: The Bruins might not want to give up multiple assets for a 34-year-old center signed for four more seasons – even at a reduced price. They may also be hesitant to deal their 2025 first-round pick in case the 2023-24 season goes sideways.

San Jose, meanwhile, may not be too enthused about the return package – even though Poitras is coming an impressive year in the OHL – or eating 33% of Couture’s contract considering it only retained 13% on Karlsson.

Ducks, Jackets make goalie swap

Ronald Martinez / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Blue Jackets receive: John Gibson
Ducks receive: Elvis Merzlikins, Andrew Peeke, 2024 1st-round pick (top-10 protected)

Submitted by: Cushman

Editor
Who says no?

Douglas
Good deal 🤝

O’Leary
Ducks

Wegman
Blue Jackets

Why it could work: The Blue Jackets’ biggest issue during their nightmare campaign – other than injuries – was Merzlikins’ poor goaltending. His minus-26.74 goals saved above expected was the worst among all NHL goaltenders.

Gibson was one of the best netminders in the entire league from 2015-19, so if he could regain that form, it could help push the Blue Jackets to the playoffs again. Given how aggressive they’ve been this offseason landing Provorov and Severson, it’s possible they’d try to make a splash in net.

Why it might not: It’s an expensive price to pay for a goalie who’s not a guaranteed upgrade. While Gibson was better last season, Merzlikins was the superior goalie in the three years prior. Merzlikins is also a year younger and $1 million cheaper (both are signed for the next four seasons).

So while the idea of upgrading in goal is logical for Columbus, surrendering Peeke, a 25-year-old right-handed defenseman signed for three more seasons at $2.75 million annually, and a protected first-round pick might ultimately be too steep – and risky.

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