The NHL trade deadline is a week away, but some front offices have started their work early with some big deals.
As Stanley Cup contenders separate themselves from the rest, and those sitting outside the playoff picture start to consider pawning off their assets to the highest bidder, the drama off the ice is keeping hockey fans hooked while teams slog through the dog days of the season.
Here’s a breakdown of all the trades and news out of the NHL in the lead-up to the March 3 deadline.
The Boston Bruins aren’t waiting for deadline day to gear up for the stretch run.
The NHL’s top team acquired defenseman Dmitry Orlov and forward Garnet Hathaway from the Capitals on Thursday, sending forward Craig Smith along with a 2023 first-round pick, a 2025 second-rounder and a 2024 third the other way.
To make the salary work, the Minnesota Wild got involved in the trade, securing a fifth-round pick to retain a portion of Orlov’s salary.
The Blackhawks and Ducks swapped AHL depth players, with Chicago sending forward Josiah Slavin to Anaheim in exchange for winger/defenseman Hunter Drew.
The Ottawa Senators have cleared some valuable cap space ahead of the NHL trade deadline, dealing defenseman Nikita Zaitsev — along with a 2023 second-round draft pick and a 2026 fourth — to the Chicago Blackhawks for “future considerations” in a salary-dump move.
Shipping Zaitsev and his $4.5-million cap hit — this season and next — to Chicago helps pave the way for a potentially significant move as Ottawa is likely to be a buyer at the deadline this year for the first time in a while.
“We’re pleased to afford Nikita a fresh start,” Senators general manager Pierre Dorion wrote in a statement.
“He’s a pro’s pro who showcased himself to be a caring teammate and quiet leader throughout his Sens tenure. We’re thankful for his time in Ottawa and wish he and his family the best in his next chapter.”
Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson said Chicago intends to keep Zaitsev in hopes he can add some NHL-caliber depth to the right side of the team’s d-corps.
The Vegas Golden Knights acquired defenseman Dysin Mayo from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Shea Weber and a 2023 fifth-round pick. Weber is currently on long-term injured reserve and hasn’t played since Game 5 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final. He has three years remaining on his contract.
Ottawa will receive forward Julien Gauthier and a conditional seventh-round pick in 2023. The pick becomes a sixth-round selection if New York advances past the first round of the playoffs.
On paper, Motte is not a flashy addition. Through nine games with the Rangers last season, he failed to collect a point. The 27-year-old did, however, generate two points (both goals) through 15 playoff games.
The St. Louis Blues traded forwards Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for 2023 first- and third-round picks, a 2024 second-round pick, along with minor-league forwards Mikhail Abramov and Adam Gaudette. St. Louis retained 50 percent of O’Reilly’s salary in the deal. The Minnesota Wild retained 25 percent of O’Reilly’s salary in exchange for Toronto 2025 fourth-round pick, while also sending forward prospect Josh Pillar to the Maple Leafs.
The St. Louis Blues traded forward Vladimir Tarasenko and defenseman Niko Mikkola to the New York Rangers in exchange for a conditional first-round draft pick in 2023, a conditional fourth-round pick in 2024, forward Sammy Blais and prospect Hunter Skinner.
The San Jose Sharks traded defenseman Jaycob Megna to the Seattle Kraken for a 2023 fourth-round draft pick. In 48 games this season, Megna has registered 12 points and 21 penalty minutes. The 30-year-old is signed through 2024 at a $762,500 AAV.
The Islanders also announced they signed Bo Horvat to an eight-year, $68-million ($8.5-million AAV) contract extension.
The Washington Capitals signed forward Sonny Milano to a three-year, $5.7-million contract extension. Milano, 26, has registered 22 points in 40 games after signing a one-year deal with the Capitals in early November.
The Capitals agreed to a five-year, $25-million contract extension with forward Dylan Strome after the 25-year-old joined Washington on a one-year deal in the offseason. Strome is third in team scoring with 36 points in 52 games.
The Vancouver Canucks traded captain Bo Horvat to the New York Islanders for forward Anthony Beauvillier, prospect Aatu Raty and a protected 2023 first-round pick. Horvat, 27, is on pace to have a career year, scoring 31 goals and registering 54 points in 49 games.
Beauvillier, 25, has struggled in 2022-23, posting only 20 points in 49 games. Raty, 20, was taken by the Islanders with the 52nd-overall pick of the 2021 NHL Draft.
The Avalanche took a chance on Merkley after the 24-year-old puck-moving defenseman requested a trade out of San Jose in January, while also acquiring a familiar face in Nieto, who played in Colorado between 2016 and 2020. In return, the Sharks brought in Kaut, a once highly-touted lottery pick that could not find his footing with the Avs, and undrafted veteran blueliner MacDonald.
When is the NHL trade deadline?
The NHL trade deadline is at 3PM EST on March 3.
Who are the best players available?
Sharks star forward Timo Meier is the biggest prize to be won ahead of the deadline, with 48 points in 51 games.
Arizona Coyotes’ Jacob Chychrun is the best defenseman up for grabs, with a number of teams around the league interested in acquiring the 24-year-old under team control through 2026.
Once the cornerstone of an NHL dynasty, forward Patrick Kane may be packing his bags to leave Chicago, but any potential move will depend on whether they feel comfortable with a trade. Forward Max Domi is also likely to be moved.
Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov will also be one of the most coveted players come trade deadline day, with a number of championship contenders eager to add his solid defensive presence to their backend.