NHL News

Hellebuyck, DeBrincat and other NHL trades we’d like to see this summer

The NHL’s trade deadline season always features the highest volume of deals in the sport. But some of the trades with the biggest impact happen over the summer. Furthermore, a lot of those swaps occur leading into the NHL draft.

With the 2023 edition of the draft set for June 28 and 29, it’s time to come up with some potential blockbuster trades that could take place between now and then, setting up each team for 2023-24 and beyond.

NHL reporters Ryan S. Clark, Kristen Shilton and Greg Wyshynski devised two trades apiece — of benefit to both teams, and keeping in mind the relative cap implications — that would certainly raise some eyebrows this summer.

Kings swing big, land Hellebuyck from the Jets

Los Angeles Kings get: G Connor Hellebuyck
Winnipeg Jets get: C Blake Lizotte, D Tobias Bjornfot, 2023 second-round pick, 2024 first-round pick

Why it works: In 2022-23, the Kings were top five in fewest shots allowed per 60 minutes, and in the top 10 for lowest scoring chances allowed per 60 and lowest high-danger scoring chances allowed per 60. But they were 22nd in team save percentage. Connecting their defensive success with a Vezina Trophy winner in Hellebuyck would potentially strengthen their title aspirations. Figuring out a reasonable trade is where it gets challenging.

There is not a big sample of trades in which a team landed a Vezina winner. Marc-Andre Fleury was the most recent Vezina winner to be traded; at age 37 in 2021-22, he was dealt from the Blackhawks to the Wild for a second-round pick. Sergei Bobrovsky, 23 at the time, was traded from the Flyers to the Blue Jackets the year before he won the first of his two Vezinas for three draft picks — a second- and two fourth-rounders. Dominik Hasek had just won his sixth Vezina at age 36 when he was traded by the Sabres to the Red Wings for Vyacheslav Kozlov and a first-round pick.

Hellebuyck, 30 years old and a Vezina finalist again this year, is expected to command a rather sizable haul. The Kings have the prospect pool to get it done; it’s just a matter of which players they’ll deploy here. Do the Jets want Quinton Byfield, who projects as an imposing, top-six center who could play a massive role in their future plans? Those are the reasons the Kings want to keep Byfield — much in the same way they fought to keep Brandt Clarke when involved in the Jakob Chychrun trade talks. If the Kings want to keep Byfield, they could be forced to part with a roster player such as Lizotte along with a young player like Bjornfot, who’d give the Jets more defensive depth. The two draft picks would give the Jets more options when it comes to building for their future.

It’s a steep price to pursue Hellebuyck. But if it means getting a perennial Vezina candidate who can be signed to a long-term deal, it could be the move that allows the Kings to claim the third Stanley Cup in franchise history. — Clark

Karlsson heads to Big D

Dallas Stars get: D Erik Karlsson
San Jose Sharks get: 2023 second-round pick, 2023 fourth-round pick, D Thomas Harley, LW Ayrton Martino, C Radek Faksa

Why it works: Dallas was oh-so-close to reaching the Stanley Cup Final this season. What held the Stars back was their top four on defense, the play of which dropped off significantly after Miro Heiskanen. That’s what makes the prospect of an Erik Karlsson trade so appealing. Dallas has a dynamic group of forwards and an excellent netminder in Jake Oettinger; finally solidifying the Stars’ back end could make them a front-runner to reach the Cup Final next year.

Karlsson checks a lot of boxes. He’s a right-handed shot, is a superb puck mover, can contribute offensively (as proven by his recent 101-point campaign) and has the ability to elevate some of the Stars’ lagging defenders, who would equally benefit from a Karlsson infusion.

The cap situation requires creativity, of course. Moving Faksa would help. Eliminating a contract like Ryan Suter‘s adds cash, too. The Stars might also have to rely on some of their up-and-comers to fill the voids up front (Dallas has only seven NHL forwards under contract for this coming season), but the prospect of adding Karlsson and the potential impact he could have on a good team might be too much to pass up.

Dallas could also be aided by the fact Karlsson controls his own destiny — that limits San Jose’s prospective trade partners, and theoretically aids a top contender like Dallas. A couple of draft choices, a pair of top prospects and a veteran addition could be viewed as a decent haul for Sharks GM Mike Grier, considering all the circumstances. — Shilton

Hurricanes get scoring boost by trading for Kuznetsov

Carolina Hurricanes get: C Evgeny Kuznetsov (25% retained), D Nick Jensen
Washington Capitals get: D Brett Pesce, LW/RW Teuvo Teravainen, 2024 second-round pick

Why it works: I’ll never forget Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour giving effusive praise to Evgeny Kuznetsov at the 2022 NHL All-Star Game and the feeling being mutual. Kuznetsov has reportedly asked the Capitals for a trade in multiple seasons. The 31-year-old has two years left on his contract with a $7.8 million AAV.

Acknowledging his off-ice issues in the past, I think Raleigh is a good market for him, Brind’Amour is a good coach for him and the Hurricanes are a good team for him, with Russian countrymen Andrei Svechnikov and Pyotr Kochetkov there already. He’s also the kind of dynamic offensive player they need, particularly at center.

Pesce, 28, recently changed agents and is one year away from UFA status. If it becomes clear their financial asks aren’t aligned, I could see the Hurricanes trading him now, but not to the detriment of their defense. That’s where Jensen comes in — a great defender signed at $4.050 million annually for the next three seasons. Teravainen helps make the money work — he makes $5.4 million against the cap and is a UFA next summer — and fills some of the Capitals’ offensive need.

Washington retains 25% to move Kuznetsov’s contract, earns a second-rounder and gets a chance to ink Pesce long-term as a younger upgrade of Jensen. Two division rivals, going to back to the Southeast days, helping each other out. — Wyshynski

Red Wings accelerate build, deal for DeBrincat

Detroit Red Wings get: RW Alex DeBrincat
Ottawa Senators get: LW Carter Mazur, 2023 first-round pick (from NYI via VAN), 2023 second-round pick (from VAN)

Why it works: The return value will be tricky in any DeBrincat deal. The Senators likely want to receive an immediate replacement for DeBrincat who could be inserted into the lineup on opening night. It’s possible that particular trade combination might exist elsewhere. But this hypothetical deal does have benefits for both.

The Red Wings need scoring help as they were 24th in goals per game last season. DeBrincat gives them an immediate scoring threat who could also be part of their future plans; let’s assume for this that they get a long-term deal inked with him as well. The Red Wings have the cap space, draft capital and prospects to make a deal like this work in their favor. Parting with Mazur would be difficult, because of the promise he has shown at the University of Denver, in the AHL with the Grand Rapids Griffins and with Team USA at the IIHF Men’s World Championships. But it allows them to hang on to Simon Edvinsson, Marco Kasper, Sebastian Cossa and Jonatan Berggren.

It is worth noting the Senators currently don’t pick until the fourth round in this year’s draft. By making this deal, they get a first-rounder, a second-rounder and a 21-year-old prospect in Mazur. That would allow them to recoup something similar to what they gave up last summer when they traded a first-rounder, a second-rounder and a third-rounder to get DeBrincat. Of course, the Sens gave up the No. 7 pick last year, whereas this particular first-round pick would be the No. 17 selection. — Clark

Bruins jump the line for Dubois

Boston Bruins get: C Pierre-Luc Dubois
Winnipeg Jets get: 2025 first-round pick, 2023 third-round pick, D Mason Lohrei

Why it works: Winnipeg does not have the upper hand when it comes to Dubois. Everyone knows he’s not going to sign long-term with the Jets. While Dubois has been consistently tied to his hometown Montreal Canadiens, it would be even more fun to see him land with an established team like Boston — and the B’s would be keeping him away from their rivals.

The Bruins are coming off a truly disheartening postseason. The team could lose both Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci to retirement, putting a massive dent in its center depth. Enter Dubois, a 20-plus goal scorer who can have an impact all over the ice and potentially keep the Bruins from slipping too far off course from where they were this season (even without the aforementioned veterans in their forward mix). Plus, Dubois gets his chance to play in a bigger market that might satisfy him more than his experiences with Columbus or Winnipeg.

In return for Dubois, the Jets land a couple good draft choices and a top defensive prospect in Lohrei, a 6-4 defenseman drafted in the second round in 2020 who scored 32 points in 40 games for Ohio State in 2022-23. They could add Lohrei to their prospect pool or use him in another trade down the line. All in all, not a bad ending the Dubois era for the Jets. — Shilton

Wild finally get a No. 1 center by landing Scheifele

Minnesota Wild get: C Mark Scheifele, 2024 third-round pick
Winnipeg Jets get: D Carson Lambos, 2023 first-round pick (21st overall), 2024 second-round pick, C Frédérick Gaudreau

Why it works: The Wild are in a perpetual state of “needing a No. 1 center,” which is one reason they were 23rd in goals per game last season. That need would be soothed with the acquisition of Scheifele.

The 30-year-old pivot saw a streak of six straight point-per-game seasons end under new head coach Rick Bowness, although he still posted 0.84 points per game in 81 games. But his goal scoring had a significant uptick: 41 tallies, a career high, that included 12 power-play goals.

Scheifele makes $6.125 million against the cap next season and then goes into unrestricted free agency, so the return should reflect whether the Wild can extend him immediately. For the Jets, they get two solid draft picks; a center in Frédérick Gaudreau who can give you around 40 points and is signed on a cheap contract ($2.1 million AAV through 2027-28) but has some trade protection; and a highly regarded young defenseman in Carson Lambos, selected 26th overall in 2021 and, perhaps most importantly, a Winnipeg native. — Wyshynski.

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