Reilly Smith to the Oilers? Noah Hanifin to the Bruins?: Predicting where the NHL’s top trade targets will land

Photo credit:USA Today Photos
Zach Laing
4 months ago
We’re just days away from the NHL’s Friday trade deadline, and things will surely start picking up today and through the rest of the week.
And on Monday morning, Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli dropped his latest Trade Targets list, looking at his top 50 players who could be on the move. So today, let’s take a look at the top 10 players he has listed what he had to say about them, and make some predictions as to where they could land.
1. Jake Guentzel
Left Wing, Pittsburgh Penguins
Age: 29
Stats: 50 GP, 22 G, 30 A, 52 Pts
Contract: Pending UFA, $6 million AAV
Scoop: It’s entirely possible Guentzel has played his last game as a Pittsburgh Penguin. Injured on Valentine’s Day and placed on LTIR, Guentzel is out through the March 8 deadline. The exact nature has been speculated to be a fractured finger, but speaking with teams who are interested in the most impactful forward available, they don’t believe his value will be damaged by the time missed. They’d still have Guentzel for the final month of the regular season, plus an entire playoff run – however long that lasts. There’s not a lot to dislike. Guentzel has been north of a point per game in four of these last five seasons. He has twice hit 40 goals. And he was a force in the Penguins’ 2017 Stanley Cup playoff run, leading the postseason in goals (13) as a rookie. His 34 goals in 58 career playoff games is 30 percent above his regular season pace.
– Seravalli
My prediction: Colorado Avalanche.
There’s going to be an arms race in the Western Conference, with the Edmonton Oilers, Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche looking to make some big moves ahead of the deadline. The latter of the two teams are into LTIR and could afford Jake Guentzel without moving out any salary. I think that will leave the Oilers on the outside looking in.
2. Noah Hanifin
Left Defense, Calgary Flames
Age: 27
Stats: 60 GP, 11 G, 24 A, 35 Pts
Contract: Pending UFA, $4.95 million AAV
Scoop: The Hanifin file has been a grind for the Flames, as Hanifin’s camp is more or less holding the trade process hostage, flexing his power as a pending free agent to sway interested suitors. Officially, Hanifin can only block a trade to eight teams via his limited ‘no-trade’ clause. In reality, all Hanifin’s camp has to do is quietly signal to an interested party that he will not be willing to sign there long-term and it effectively kills the potential of a deal. So, who is on the list of teams where Hanifin would entertain a new deal? Tampa Bay is the front runner. But it also potentially includes Florida, plus Boston, Los Angeles and Vegas. The problem for the Flames is that some (many?) of those teams do not have the assets Calgary wants to make a deal. The net result may be a return the Flames feel isn’t commensurate with his value.
– Seravalli
My prediction: Boston Bruins.
Could a sleeper team enter the mix? I could see it. The Bruins are in the market for upgrades, and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman linked the Bruins and Flames together as a potential fit. Calgary dreads a rebuild, and the Bruins have roster players they could send back, similarly to Elias Lindholm trade with the Canucks.
3. Reilly Smith
Left/Right Wing, Pittsburgh Penguins
Age: 32
Stats: 53 GP, 10 G, 16 A, 26 Pts
Contract: 1 year remaining, $5 million AAV
Scoop: Interestingly enough, the Penguins have more teams on the horn about Smith than they do about Jake Guentzel, who is clearly the best forward available prior to the deadline. For whatever reason, Smith hasn’t worked out as intended in Pittsburgh. The Pens took on Smith’s full $5 million salary from Vegas as a cap casualty and only gave up a third-round pick to get him. It was a worthy gamble but hasn’t paid off. Now, the Penguins could leverage their salary cap space and retain half on Smith to make him a quality addition (with term) that nearly every team in the league could afford. One of the original Golden Misfits, Smith was a horse for Vegas in the playoffs last year, racking up 14 points on the way to their first Stanley Cup win.
– Seravalli
My prediction: Edmonton Oilers.
The Oilers are likely to be priced out of Guentzel, and the St. Louis Blues might have the price for Pavel Buchnevich too high. It’s a reason why I could see Edmonton and Pittsburgh coming together on a deal. Kyle Dubas and the Pens are reportedly looking at prospects over picks for Guentzel, and maybe they would with Smith, too. Would Xavier Bourgault and a draft pick or two get the job done with salary retention? Smith is having a down year, much like all of the Penguins are, but had been rock solid in Vegas for years beforehand. With a year left after this on his contract, Edmonton could pick him up for two playoff runs.
4. Sean Walker
Right Defense, Philadelphia Flyers
Age: 29
Stats: 62 GP, 6 G, 16 A, 22 Pts
Contract: Pending UFA, $2.65 million AAV
Scoop: The Flyers have been engaged with Walker’s camp over the last couple weeks in contract extension talks, but so far have found the asking price to be rich, which increases his likelihood of a trade. The ask is believed to be in the neighborhood of four years approaching $5 million per year, which is nearly a 2x bump in pay. Walker has certainly played well this year, and you can understand why he’d want to be appropriately compensated, but the Flyers probably aren’t in a position to make that kind of commitment. That makes the situation complicated because Philadelphia is already down two defensemen (Jamie Drysdale and Rasmus Ristolainen) and they’re squarely in the playoff chase. But it’s also worth considering not just the long-term picture, but the reality of where Walker was one year ago. In Los Angeles, Walker was as much of a cap casualty as he was a victim of a roster logjam – and he was a healthy scratch in the playoffs. Check out Walker’s in-depth trade deadline profile here.
– Seravalli
My prediction: Tampa Bay Lightning.
I’m facinated to see where Walker lands, and how he’s valued in the trade market. The Lightning need to improve their blueline, and this would be alogical, low-cost fit.
5. Adam Henrique
Center, Anaheim Ducks
Age: 34
Stats: 60 GP, 18 G, 24 A, 42 Pts
Contract: Pending UFA, $5.825 million AAV
Scoop: Is anyone more excited about the way the center market has shaped up than Ducks GM Pat Verbeek? Probably not. By process of elimination, Henrique has become the top rental center available with Lindholm and Monahan off the board. We took a long look at Henrique’s game to explain why he was always the third most attractive option after those two. But now, after both returned first-round picks, Henrique is all that’s left. That thin market has also caused teams to consider other options with term on their contract (see: Scott Laughton). But Henrique is eminently capable of holding down a second line center role. The Ducks are reportedly looking for second and third-round picks, plus another third-round pick to retain half.
– Seravalli
My prediction: Colorado Avalanche.
Another player to the Avalanche. Dipped into LTIR, work to make the money work would have to happen here, but Henrique would be a great second or third line center for an Avalanche team who needs the depth.
6. Tyler Toffoli
Right Wing, New Jersey Devils
Age: 31
Stats: 60 GP, 26 G, 18 A, 44 Pts
Contract: Pending UFA, $4.25 million AAV
Scoop: The Devils have been trying to avoid sell mode, but Toffoli has been one of the hotter scorers in the league over the last month. Since Jan. 20, Toffoli has racked up 10 goals in 17 games (15 points), which is tied for 13th in the NHL over that time span. That hasn’t stopped teams from calling, who are watching New Jersey’s precarious position in the playoff push. Toffoli is a consistent scorer with a clutch gene in him, dating back to helping the Los Angeles Kings win their second Stanley Cup in 2014. The Devils traded a second-round pick and Yegor Sharangovich for Toffoli last summer, and he could fetch first-round value now to recoup their losses.
– Seravalli
My prediction: Vegas Golden Knights.
Here’s where Vegas enters the mix, and Toffoli feels like he would be an ideal fit for the Golden Knights. They could make the money work, and have a plethora of future picks they could trade.
7. Nic Dowd
Center, Washington Capitals
Age: 33
Stats: 45 GP, 8 G, 8 A, 16 Pts
Contract: 1 year remaining, $1.3 million AAV
Scoop: We recently explained why Dowd could be this year’s version of Barclay Goodrow in 2020. Dowd has been out since Feb. 20 but is expected to return to the lineup in the coming days. To casual fans, Dowd will feel like a nerdy addition to the Trade Targets board. But not to close Capitals observers. Dowd is a coach’s dream. He’s reliable, has great attention to detail in his game, and his work rate and work ethic are off the charts. He squeezes every drop out of his game. He’s hit double-digit goals each of the last three seasons. You can pencil him in for 25 points a year. And he’s chipped in a couple clutch playoff goals, too. For GMs, the interest will be strong, but the extra year on his deal at $1.3 million has them salivating.
– Seravalli
My prediction: Toronto Maple Leafs.
The suggested asking price of a 1st round pick for Nic Dowd is downright insane, as far as I’m concerned, but doesn’t this scream like the kind of move Brad Treliving would make? He panicked in acquiring Ilya Lyubushkin for too much too early before the deadline, and Dowd feels like the kind of “depth player” that he’d look to add.
8. Pavel Buchnevich
Left Wing, St. Louis Blues
Age: 28
Stats: 58 GP, 24 G, 24 A, 48 Pts
Contract: 1 year remaining, $5.8 million AAV
Scoop: Is there a more unheralded point-per-game player in the league than Pavel Buchnevich? Hard to imagine. Buchnevich has 191 points in 194 games since arriving in St. Louis. It was a shrewd move then by GM Doug Armstrong to seize on the New York Rangers’ inability to pay him as an RFA. He cost just a second-round pick and Sammy Blais. Now, the prevailing thought among rival GMs is that Armstrong might cash in on Buchnevich before having to give him the next big raise. Because Buchnevich has played himself into a longer-term deal in the $7.5 to $8 million range per season. In the meantime, he’s more valuable to a team for two playoff runs at just $5.8 million than he is the Blues.
– Seravalli
My prediction: Staying in St. Louis.
The Blues aren’t going to make the playoffs this year, and should sell off assets, including Buchnevich as his value may not be higher. That said, I can easily see them making the price too high for any team to match, instead making a move in the offseason when they may not get as much.
9. Frank Vatrano
Left Wing, Anaheim Ducks
Age: 29
Stats: 61 GP, 29 G, 19 A, 48 Pts
Contract: One year remaining, $3.65 million AAV
Scoop: Ducks GM Pat Verbeek was at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night, sparking rumors of a Rangers reunion with Vatrano. The truth is the Ducks really aren’t looking to move Vatrano, their All-Star this year, who has had a tremendous season approaching 30 goals for the first time in his career. If they trade Vatrano, the first thing Anaheim will be looking to do this summer is replace him. The flip side to that scenario is also true: At that production and salary cap hit, Vatrano is probably worth more to a contending team than the Ducks, who don’t have any cap limitations or even real expectations. It’s an interesting spot because outside of the two Penguins, Vatrano is probably the most impactful forward left on the board.
– Seravalli
My prediction: Staying in Anaheim.
Similar to Buchnevich and the Blues, I can see Anaheim having the price too high and not making a move happen now. The Ducks did this with Adam Henrique last year, holding onto him with a large asking price. Anaheim wants vets there to insulate their young players, and Vatrano fits that mold.
10. Anthony Mantha
Right Wing, Washington Capitals
Age: 29
Stats: 56 GP, 20 G, 14 A, 34 Pts
Contract: Pending UFA, $5.7 million AAV
Scoop: Mantha has found himself again under new coach Spencer Carbery. He’s up to 20 goals on the season, which is basically his best production since 2018-19 when he collected 25. He’s actually on pace for 28 over a full 78 games, which would be a new career high. The Capitals were ready to move on from Mantha last summer. At $5.7 million, though, that might prove a difficult contract to move. But maybe not if he continues at this pace, given the limited ice time. And if the Capitals are willing to retain half, that will help. It hasn’t quite been three years since the Capitals gave up a 1st, 2nd, Jakub Vrana and Richard Panik for him. Tough trade.
– Seravalli
My prediction: Carolina Hurricanes.
Carolina has cap room to play with, and Mantha feels like a bit of an “under the radar” player the Hurricanes covet. They can drive play with the best of them, but they lack a pure goalscorer. That’s Mantha to a tee, and I think he would be a great fit.


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Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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