3 Players to Watch Before the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline

Could Marc-Andre Fleury move before the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline? (PHOTO: The Athletic)
Could Marc-Andre Fleury move before the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline? (PHOTO: The Athletic)

The 2022 NHL Trade Deadline will hit at 3 PM (ET) on 21 March. Until then, general managers can strike deals with their colleagues across the league.

While Stanley Cup contenders are trying to acquire quality players with the post-season in mind, rebuilding teams have their eyes on prospects and draft picks. As a result, we’re in for an exciting three and a half weeks as the clock ticks down in the NHL.

“It’ll be interesting,” New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider said of this year’s deadline day drama.

He isn’t wrong. Transactions made in February and March will decide who wins the Stanley Cup in May – with sellers aiming to cobble together assets that will help them win the future.

The next 26 days will be filled with twists and turns – here are three players to watch out for as the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline approaches.

Jakob Chychrun, Arizona Coyotes:

Of all the players available at this year’s deadline, Chychrun is the most interesting. The 23-year-old defenceman, signed to a $4.6 million/year contract until 2024-25, has the right blend of talent, age, and circumstance to make him the top target heading into March.

Chychrun, a left shooting blueliner, is a strong skater who defends competently with body and stick. He is, however, at his best when the puck is in his possession. The Boca Raton-born defenceman is an excellent passer, a talent he applies effectively while coordinating breakouts.

While Chychrun lead the NHL in goals by a defenseman last season (18), his offensive production has dipped this term. He has 11 points (two goals, nine assists) in 39 games for the tanking Coyotes.

It’s very likely the former 16th overall pick will be moved at this year’s deadline for two reasons. Firstly, the Coyotes are downsizing to a new arena next season. As a result, they’ll want to operate as close as possible to the salary cap floor. Secondly, Arizona are entering an aggressive rebuild – none of their assets are untouchable.

There are a few drawbacks, though. Chychrun doesn’t play big for a 6-foot-2 defenceman and Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong will be looking to extract a substantial return for parting with Arizona’s best player.

Per NBC Sports, the list of teams interested in Chychrun includes LA, Florida, Boston, Anaheim, and St. Louis.

Marc-Andre Fleury, Chicago Blackhawks:

Fleury, the current Vezina Trophy holder, is attracting a lot of interest. The 37-year-old’s $7 million/year contract expires at the end of the season, with the Chicago Blackhawks open to selling at the deadline.

Recently, two pieces of information about Fleury’s plans came to light: he’s open to a mid-year trade and would like to play at least one more season after 2021-22.

Both of those facts are very important. Firstly, the Canadian’s willingness to move before the deadline makes his 10-team no-trade list less of a stumbling block. Secondly, his interest in signing a new contract (probably with a contender) means he could stick around with the organisation he’s traded to for a while.

Related: NHL Free Agency 2021 – Winners and Losers

And, given the quality of his performances behind Chicago’s lacklustre defence, it’s easy to see why teams are interested. Fleury has a .912 save percentage on the season, which lines up with his career average.

The left-catching Quebecer is wanted by the Washington Capitals – though it’s been reported his ties to the Pittsburgh Penguins would complicate a possible switch to D.C. If they’re buyers at the deadline, the Edmonton Oilers could also do with help between the pipes.

J.T. Miller, Vancouver Canucks:

During Sportsnet’s coverage of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, Elliotte Friedman said: “If [Kyle] Dubas is going to use his LTIR space, I think it’s going to make things really interesting for him. I’m on the J.T. Miller train.”

Before we proceed, it’s worth underscoring what Friedman did (and didn’t) say.

He didn’t report that Toronto are interested in Miller, he offered him as an example of the kind of player the Maple Leafs should try to acquire.

With that in mind, it’s safe to assume that the Vancouver Canucks could be willing to part with the 28-year-old before the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline. If they were dead-set against selling on Miller, Friedman wouldn’t have thrown his name into a trade deadline discussion.

At least that’s my take on the situation.

Anyway, back to Miller. The 6-foot-1 centreman has registered 53 points (18 goals, 35 assists) in 50 appearances for Vancouver this season, playing a key role in their resurgence under new head coach Bruce Boudreau. However, his $5.25 million/year contract expires at the end of 2022-23 – and the Canucks are nowhere near being contenders.

If the Canucks are approaching the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline as sellers, they’d receive a significant package in return for Miller. As a result, he’s certainly a player to watch.

Which players are you keeping an eye on before the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline? Let us know by tweeting @BritIceHockey.

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