The 2023 NHL Draft is now only three days away, and there has already been a flurry of activity in the NHL trade market. Yesterday, we saw the Colorado Avalanche acquire Ryan Johansen from the Nashville Predators, and the Arizona Coyotes acquire Sean Durzi from the Los Angeles Kings. Following up on those deals, there is heavy expectation that the St. Louis Blues will acquire Kevin Hayes from the Philadelphia Flyers, and the Carolina Hurricanes will add back Anthony DeAngelo to their lineup. If yesterday didn’t bring enough action, it’s also expected that the Kings are close to acquiring Pierre-Luc Dubois from the Winnipeg Jets.
After losing Nazem Kadri to the Calgary Flames last offseason, the Avalanche had a very difficult time replacing the void left by Kadri on the team’s second forward line. Throughout this past season, Colorado originally tried to patrol Alex Newhook in that role, but after failing to live up to expectations, J.T. Compher was thrust into that role. Compher did excel, scoring 17 goals and 35 assists this season, the best statistical performance of his career. Unfortunately for the Avalanche, Compher is set to enter unrestricted free agency, and Colorado may not have the cap space to retain him.
By acquiring Johansen from the Predators, the Avalanche clearly wanted to make an outside move to complete their second line. This past season, Johansen did not play particularly well, scoring 12 goals and 16 assists in 55 games, having his season ended by a foot injury in February. However, the year prior, Johansen was a proficient offensive player in Nashville, scoring 26 goals and 37 assists.
Sticking in the Central Division, the expected acquisition of Hayes for the Blues should fill the void left behind by Ryan O’Reilly last season. Hayes has very much had an up-and-down career, having much of his time spent in Philadelphia hampered by injuries. This past season, he did have the best offensive output so far with the Flyers, scoring 18 goals and 36 assists in 81 games. It was well known that Hayes and head coach John Tortorella sparred quite consistently, and it was becoming more and more clear that his time in Philadelphia would be coming to an end.
In Los Angeles, the Kings’ trade of Durzi largely indicated that the team was trying to move out money to acquire better talent. In Durzi, Los Angeles largely had a defenseman that was exceptional at moving the puck but was not as responsible on the defensive side of the game. He did score 38 points last year for the Kings, but the underlying defensive metrics were not positive. Opening up $1.7MM with that trade, it has now been reported that the Kings are expected to acquire Dubois, as well as sign him to an extension. Not only will this move allow the Kings to strengthen their second line, but by being able to move Phillip Danault to the third-line center position, Los Angeles may be one of the deepest teams in the Western Conference.
Lastly, the Hurricanes are bringing back a familiar face, as reports indicate that Carolina and Philadelphia are working on a trade. Last offseason, the Hurricanes felt that DeAngelo’s asking price on his next contract was too rich for their blood, and moved him to the Flyers for three draft picks. By acquiring DeAngelo, Carolina now has four defensemen set to hit unrestricted free agency next season, even though it does strengthen their blue line for next year.
After all the moves up to this point, which player do you think will have the biggest impact on their next team?