NHL trade deadline: Ideal destinations for Chychrun, Meier and more
What if the NHL general managers let us decide which players go where due to the upcoming trade deadline?
That’s what this fantasy exercise is all about: what is the most fantastic landing spot for each player that can be traded?
The likelihood that none of the new uniforms suggested below will be correct when we wake up on March 4 is more than high. But the process of determining the appropriate form for each player should help us prepare for what role, opportunity and production we can hope for once the deal is complete. All of the players listed below (with the exception of the last one I just wanted to include) are on most online “lure” lists, but I relied on TSN.ca.
To be very clear: all of the new teams below are complete fiction and were created by me as a dream place for these players. It is also not my job here to force the trade to work within a salary cap or practicality. I tried not to pick more than one player per team and focused on clubs with a decent chance of making it to the playoffs. The idea, again, is to focus on the role and club that will help improve what these players do best for fantasy squads.
Timo Meyer, W, New Jersey Devils (San Jose Sharks): Definitely the biggest fish in the trading pond, Meyer is even a better fantasy player than an NHL player, and he’s a phenomenal NHL player. I chose the Devils here because Meyer is the Corsi’s car (third overall in the Corsi in the NHL), and the Devils are the Corsi’s car (fourth in the Corsi for 60); put them together and you have the magic of ownership and production. The fantastic implications of giving Meyer a center like Jack Hughes, but also having other lines on the team that pose a threat, would potentially lift him into the top 10 fantastic territories.
Jacob Chychran, defenseman, Minnesota Wild (Arizona Coyotes): There are several lines that would benefit from a powerplay quarterback, but the Wild offer a unique solution as they would also benefit from Chichran’s presence away from the advantage. He dominates the blue lane and plays very well in 5-on-5. I mean, playing for the Coyotes with a 44.08 goal percentage in a 5v5 game (EvolutionHockey) and maintaining a personal goal percentage of 58.33 (NaturalStatTrick) is a feat in itself. The Wild could use the 5-on-5 scoring boost and power-play boost (Kalen Addison is still off target on the power-play despite being fifth in total time on ice thanks to defensive lead).
Ryan O’Reilly, C, Colorado Avalanche (St. Louis Blues) Frankly, it wouldn’t take long for O’Reilly to be in a better fantasy position than he is now with the languishing Blues. Robert Thomas is also a center, and Thomas plays with Jordan Kyrou. Those two facts overshadow O’Reilly’s potential supporting cast, especially now that Vladimir Tarasenko is out the door. In a place like Colorado, where there’s a clear and gaping hole in center two, O’Reilly will get plenty of playing time, promoted linemates (especially later this season when Gabriel Landeskog will hopefully return) and, perhaps even some minor work in the power game. I don’t know if even this dream place elevates it to a registry castle, but it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.
John Klingberg, defenseman, Edmonton Oilers (Anaheim Ducks): Of course, Chichran and Erik Karlsson would also fit here, but Klingberg is all the Oilers need. No, not the 2022-23 Klingberg, but the version that was released year after year for the Dallas Stars. I think the question is whether Klingberg will be an upgrade over Tyson Barry, but that’s not hard to believe when you look back at this season. Imagine Klingberg approaching a fantastic 2.0 PPG with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. The Oilers may not even have to worry about their defensive performance deteriorating.
Patrick Kane, W, Toronto Maple Leafs (Chicago Blackhawks): The Leafs are the perfect landing spot for any winger with a scoring output that can outshine Michael Bunting and/or Kalle Jarnkrok. With the Leafs’ deadly offensive duos (Auston Matthews-William Nylander and John Tavares-Mitchell Marner) set in stone, Kane could have joined either one and left his unforgettable Chicago season behind him.
Jake McCabe, defenseman, Washington Capitals (Chicago Blackhawks) Put McCabe on the opposing team with the best throwing guard (John Carlson) and let him push his defensive program. With the Hawks sinking, McCabe managed a 1.8 fantasy points per game (FPPG) thanks to his 102 hits and 102 blocks (heading Tuesday’s tilt). The Capitals have already put on a few fringe fantasy plays in the hits and block departments like Martin Fehervari and Trevor van Riemsdyk, so an elite producer like McCabe could thrive in that environment.
Brock Boser, W, Vegas Golden Knights (Vancouver Canucks): Even if Mark Stone was healthy, but especially if he was sidelined, Bozer would be a major upgrade on the flanks for the plucky Knights, who seem to make do with band-aids around their centers. Dropping Bowser in line with Jack Achel might be just what the doctor ordered for the struggling winger. He has 30 goals, so a change of scenery could make him a fantasy regular, especially if he’s greeted by an elite center forward.
James van Riemsdyk, W, Tampa Bay Lightning (Philadelphia Flyers): I love what Brandon Hagel is doing this season and Alex Killorn has been a tolerable mainstay for powerplay with this division in the past, but that’s bread and butter for van Riemsdyk. He threatens through and through with an edge when placed on elite teams. And no, you don’t have to go back to his Toronto days to confirm this. Over the past two seasons, Van Riemsdyk has ranked 10th in powerplay goals in 60 minutes among players with at least 300 minutes lead.
Erik Karlsson, defenseman, Dallas Stars (San Jose Sharks): When looking for a “fantastic” fantasy-friendly landing spot for Karlsson, we also had to consider the negative impact of his presence on other defenders. Let’s face it, not many other No. 1 defenders could continue their game once Karlsson entered the dressing room. But Miro Heiskanen has proven he can play second fiddle as No. 1 based on his seasons alongside John Klingberg. It’s funny to imagine that the best line in the NHL would share the ice with a capable player like Karlsson – let alone give him an advantage with Jason Robertson, Roop Hintz and Joe Pavelski.
Shane Gostisbere, defenseman, New York Islanders (Arizona Coyotes): The addition of a powerplay specialist shouldn’t greatly detract from the value that Noah Dobson provides. In fact, I can imagine a world where Dobson and Gostisbecher would be at the top. The Isles still have a defensively focused blueliner team that has outlasted their more insular image of recent seasons. The addition of an offensive defender like Gostisbehere could be just what this struggling powerplay needs.
Karel Veimelka, goaltender, Los Angeles Kings (Arizona Coyotes): Jonathan Quick is not good enough this season; Cal Peterson was expelled from the AHL; and who knows how many flowers the Phoenix Copley rose has left. Why not Weimelka? This season, he ranks ninth in the league in higher-than-expected batting (MoneyPuck.com) for the basement-dwelling Coyotes. Behind a legitimate Kings lineup, Weimelka could turn them into a strong playoff team.
Jonathan Toews, C, Nashville Predators (Chicago Blackhawks) Technically, the Predators are flooded with centers. However, in practice, Matt Duchene and Mikael Granlund were better on the flanks. While Toews may not be better than Ryan Johansen late in his career, he is certainly a step ahead of Cody Glass in the middle. The Predators may be the only contenders for whom a player like Toews (or Ryan O’Reilly) can waltz and claim to be the No. 1 center player.
Max Domi, C/W, Calgary Flames (Chicago Blackhawks): The Flames distribute their attack so that there is enough room in the top two lanes to add another high-scoring winger. Dillon Dube and/or Jakob Pelletier don’t have to be there, and Domi can bring a bit of attack mixed with tenacity to the line, whether it’s Elias Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli or Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri.
Jesse Pulujärvi, W, Seattle Kraken (Edmonton Oilers): The skills shown in his draft year still have to be out there somewhere, and Pulujärvi won’t get another chance to rediscover them in Edmonton. A team like Kraken built in the middle with a flexible wing lineup for years to come could be the perfect place for another chance. Seattle might be the only opponent to contend with, giving him a shot at the top without the pressure to immediately score like a star. It definitely works for Ieli Tolvanen.
Vladislav Gavrikov, guard, Winnipeg Jets (Columbus Blue Jackets): Given that he’s hardly at the center of fantasy lists, there’s little hope that a change of scenery might push Gavrikov to the level of aspiring fantasy. But a strong, defensively strong team like Winnipeg could do just that, especially if he was in the top pair and picked up extra assists to fuel the Jets’ elite scoring lines.
John Gibson, goaltender, Buffalo Sabers (Anaheim Ducks): Admittedly, the Gibson is not on anyone’s list of “trade lures”, but I really wish the Ducks would touch him. Anaheim has taken a quick punch in the gut this season with hopes of being competitive again and I’d say its window isn’t quite open yet and may not be fully realized as Gibson is still in his prime. Lukas Dostal is a great goalkeeper prospect and his development could well align with that of other young Ducks. It would be great to see…