The 2023 NHL trade deadline on March 3 is still weeks away, but some teams have already made big moves (Bo Horvat to the Islanders; Vladimir Tarasenko to the Rangers) and plenty of other rumors are swirling. Let’s take a look at the latest rumors about Jonathan Toews, MacKenzie Weegar, and Vladislav Gavrikov.
Kraken appears in Toews trade rumors
David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period and Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times are among those mentioning the Seattle Kraken as a possible landing spot for Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews.
If you don’t live by name recognition alone, then the best reasons to search for Toews revolve around:
a) Taking minutes from Alexander Wennberg/someone who shouldn’t be that high in the Kraken lineup.
b) Toews might not cost too much in a trade, assuming he even gives up his NMC to go to Seattle.
It’s important to balance nostalgia with current reality when talking about a Toews exchange. This graph from Evolving Hockey quickly captures Toews’ decline, and points to a current state where he might actually take more “from” the table than he “puts in”.
More than anything else, it’s a red flag that Toews is also dealing with shady health issues that have kept him out of Chicago’s lineup. Maybe Ron Francis sees something of himself in the Toews he remembers, but the current version screams “buyer beware.” From the looks of a tight cap situation, the Kraken would likely need a significant salary hold on a Toews trade.
Bruins emerging as Gavrikov’s favorites
Almost every year, a regular player becomes the king of the trade deadline for whatever reason. Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov fits that bill for 2023: a serviceable blueliner who suddenly commands “first-round pick and more”-type prices.
Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reports that the Bruins are currently among the top candidates to trade for Gavrikov, but there are other bidders. Boston has its first- and third-round picks for both 2023 and 2024 (but none of its second-round picks), so the Bruins could fit in. They’re also the type of team that’s primarily looking for depth rather than a magic cure for defense, so they might regret splurging on Gavrikov less than a more desperate team.
Gavrikov is a 27-year-old left-handed defenseman of some size, which makes him attractive to a number of other rumored trade destinations, from the Oilers to the Kings. Teams may see Gavrikov as a cheaper rental alternative to a higher value item like Jakob Chychrun. Even before the salary withholding, Gavrikov’s $2.8 million AAV is contender-friendly.
Intriguing possible link: Senators ask Flames about Weegar
If you want to melt the Flames’ anxieties into a single thought, which isn’t fair when it’s actually a whole bunch of issues, you can simply think, “Jonathan Huberdeau’s $10.5M cap hit hasn’t kicked in yet.” “. However, Pagnotta raises an interesting possibility about another Flames player whose important extension hasn’t gone through: defenseman MacKenzie Weegar, who the Ottawa Senators reportedly inquired about.
Weegar, who was born in Ottawa, will have a salary cap of $6.25 million from 2023-24 through 2030-31. The promise or pain of that extension revolves around how a team or talent evaluator sees Weegar. However, you would be in an extreme position to make him the scapegoat for Calgary’s problems.
On the other hand, Weegar is the opposite of a defender like Gavrikov. While people talk themselves into becoming defensive linebackers, they often become obsessed with every turnover from a more skilled one like Weegar.
Pagnotta reports that a Weegar trade isn’t necessarily “imminent,” which makes sense since a team like the Senators would be primarily focused on the future with a Weegar deal. That said, if the Flame traded Weegar now, they could arguably be selling short, while the time limit is often about inflated prices (like what you might see with Toews, Gavrikov, and others).