2022 NHL trade deadline: Ranking top 20 players for teams to target in deals

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2022 NHL trade deadline: Top 20 players for teams to target in deals originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The 2022 NHL trade deadline set for March 21, but it would be wise for contending teams to start making moves much earlier than that.

Playoff races often dictate when teams begin to dip their toes in the trade market.

The Eastern Conference playoff race isn't likely to be very exciting down the stretch. In fact, it wouldn't be one bit surprising if the teams currently in a playoff spot right now all make it.  The Western Conference is a little different. There are several teams still in the mix for the second wild card berth.

It won't be long before there is a clear list of buyers and sellers in the trade market. Which players should contenders target ahead of the March 21 deadline?

Here are our top 20 players for teams to pursue, based on a combination of talent, age, contract, positional importance and other factors.

20) Jack Roslovic, C, Columbus Blue Jackets

2021-22 Stats: 6 G, 10 A in 38 GP

Age: 24

Contract: $1.84M cap hit, RFA in 2022

Roslovic is playing about four minutes fewer per game compared to last season and his offensive production has suffered as a result. That said, his goals per 60 minutes, assists per 60 minutes and points per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 are all up over 2020-21. A change of scenery and a larger role could give Roslovic the boost he needs to be a reliable center again.

19) Rickard Rakell, RW, Anaheim Ducks

2021-22 Stats: 8 G, 8 A in 33 GP

Age: 28

Contract: $3.79M cap hit, UFA in 2022

The Ducks are in a playoff spot as the third place team in the Pacific Division. But they also have three notable UFAs -- Rakell, plus defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson -- to make tough decisions on. Rakell's offense has fallen off sharply in recent seasons. He scored 33 goals in 2016-17 and 34 goals in 2017-18. But over the next three seasons he averaged just 14 goals. It might be an interesting buy-low opportunity for a contender.

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18) Joonas Korpisalo, G, Columbus Blue Jackets

2021-22 Stats:

Age: 27

Contract: $2.8M cap hit, UFA in 2022

Korpisalo, as the backup in Columbus and a UFA this summer, is a name to watch in the goalie market. The Blue Jackets are unlikely to make the playoffs, trailing the Bruins by 13 points for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Columbus would be wise to make all of its UFAs available.

17) Alexandar Georgiev, G, New York Rangers

2021-22 Stats: 7-6-2, .902 SV%, 2.92 GAA

Age: 25

Contract: $2.42M cap hit, RFA in 2022

Igor Shesterkin has established himself as the clear No. 1 goalie in New York amid a Vezina Trophy-caliber season. The Rangers could use their depth at this position and deal Georgiev to address positions of weakness.

16) Calvin de Haan, D, Chicago Blackhawks

2021-22 Stats: 1 G, 3 A in 37 GP

Age: 30

Contract: $4.55M cap hit, UFA in 2022

De Haan is among the top rental defensemen with his ability to play around 20 minutes per night, as well as his 37 games of postseason experience. It makes little sense for the Blackhawks to keep him given their place in the standings and his upcoming UFA status.

15) Calle Jarnkrok, C, Seattle Kraken

2021-22 Stats: 7 G, 7 A in 30 GP

Age: 30

Contract: $2M cap hit, UFA in 2022

Jarnkrok is another upcoming UFA on the Kraken's roster that contenders should target for center depth, especially in the bottom six. He also has 63 games of playoff experience.

14) Max Domi, LW, Columbus Blue Jackets

2021-22 Stats: 8 G, 9 A in 29 GP

Age: 26

Contract: $5.3M cap hit, UFA in 2022

Domi is having a bounce-back season for Columbus with eight goals in 29 games, nearly matching his nine-goal total in 54 games during the 2020-21 campaign. He's been pretty inconsistent throughout his career. Domi scored 28 goals for the Canadiens in 2018-19 and 17 the year after. He's also scored fewer than 10 goals twice. It's difficult to know which Domi teams are going to get, but he's worth the gamble for contenders in need of middle-six scoring depth.

13) Anton Khudobin, G, Dallas Stars

2021-22 Stats: 3-4-1, .879 SV%, 3.63 GAA

Age: 35

Contract: $3.33M cap hit, UFA in 2023

Khudobin is a good target for teams desperate for an upgrade in net -- looking at you, Edmonton! The veteran netminder helped lead the Stars to the Stanley Cup Final in 2020.

12) Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Chicago Blackhawks

2021-22 Stats: 13-12-3, .913 SV%, 2.79 GAA

Age: 37

Contract: $7M cap hit, UFA in 2022

Fleury would be one of the top goaltenders for teams to target if he's open to a move. He has a modified no-trade clause, though. The Blackhawks made a splash in the offseason with hopes of getting back to the playoffs, but they currently own the third-worst record in the Western Conference. They might as well get something for Fleury before the deadline if he doesn't figure in the team's plans for 2022-23 and beyond.

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11) Jake DeBrusk, LW, Boston Bruins

2021-22 Stats:

Age: 25

Contract: 3.675M cap hit, RFA in 2022

DeBrusk's trade request became official in late November but he remains with the Bruins, for now at least. A change of scenery would benefit DeBrusk, but his recent play has not impressed. He has scored only once in his last 11 games. Inconsistency has again plagued DeBrusk.

10) Reilly Smith, RW, Vegas Golden Knights

2021-22 Stats: 11 G, 14 A in 41 GP

Age: 30

Contract: $5M cap hit, UFA in 2022

How are the Golden Knights getting cap compliant when Jack Eichel makes his Vegas debut? Smith and his $5 million cap hit is among the best candidates for the Golden Knights to move and clear salary.

9) Artturi Lehkonen, LW, Montreal Canadiens

2021-22 Stats: 5 G, 10 A in 37 GP

Age: 26

Contract: $2.3M cap hit, RFA in 2022

Lehkonen will be an RFA this summer, so the Canadiens don't have to move him before the deadline. But if a team offers a first-round pick, Montreal should strongly consider moving him. Lehkonen's defensive talent as a shutdown forward and penalty killer make him an intriguing trade target for contenders.

8) Nick Leddy, D, Detroit Red Wings

2021-22 Stats: 1 G, 10 A in 40 GP

Age: 30

Contract: $5.5M cap hit, UFA in 2022

The Red Wings trail the Bruins by eight points for the second wild card spot, and Detroit has also played four more games than Boston. Leddy has more playoff experience -- 121 career games and a 2013 Stanley Cup title with the Blackhawks -- than most players who could be available. Given the desire for quality defensemen at the trade deadline, the Red Wings absolutely should gauge the market for Leddy, especially since he's a UFA in the summer.

7) Lawson Crouse, LW, Arizona Coyotes

2021-22 Stats: 10 G, 10 A in 39 GP

Age: 24

Contract: $1.53M cap hit, RFA in 2022

Crouse's physicality and 10-15 goals per season make him a strong target for contending teams in need of bottom-six scoring depth.

NHL rumors: Could Lawson Crouse be target for Bruins before trade deadline?

He would be an excellent fit for a team like the Boston Bruins.

6) Phil Kessel, RW, Arizona Coyotes

2021-22 Stats: 5 G, 22 A in 40 GP

Age: 34

Contract: $6.8M cap hit, UFA in 2022

The Coyotes are in a full rebuild, so it makes zero sense to hang on to Kessel when he's about to hit free agency. Kessel is no longer an elite scorer, but he absolutely would upgrade a contender's second or third line. He's also a two-time Stanley Cup champion with 81 points (34 goals, 47 assists) in 96 career playoff games.

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5) Mark Giordano, D, Seattle Kraken

2021-22 Stats: 4 G, 11 A in 35 GP

Age: 38

Contract: $6.75M cap hit, UFA in 2022

Giordano was selected by the Kraken in the expansion draft and made captain. With the Kraken sitting near the bottom of the standings, it makes sense to move Giordano for a package of picks and/or prospects. Giordano has loads of experience and would provide excellent depth to a contender.

4) John Klingberg, D, Dallas Stars

2021-22 Stats: 1 G, 22 A in 33 GP

Age: 29

Contract: $4.25M cap hit, UFA in 2022

Klingberg and the Stars have been unable to work out a long-term deal. If this remains the case, the Stars need to move him and not risk losing a quality player for nothing during free agency. Klingberg is a legit top-four defenseman despite a drop-off in his offensive production over the last three years. He remains an above-average playmaker capable of logging 20-plus minutes per game.

3) Ben Chiarot, D, Montreal Canadiens

2021-22 Stats:

Age: 30

Contract: $3.5M cap hit, UFA in 2022

Chiarot is arguably the top rental defensemen available for contenders. If the Blue Jackets could get a first-round pick for David Savard in 2021, the Canadiens should do everything possible to acquire one for Chiarot this year.

2) Tomas Hertl, C, San Jose Sharks

2021-22 Stats: 21 G, 16 A in 42 GP

Age: 28

Contract: $5.63M cap hit, UFA in 2022

Hertl is tied for eighth in the league in goals and already has surpassed his total from last season in eight fewer games. He's a legit top-six forward with enough versatility to produce at center and right wing. The Sharks are currently in the second wild card playoff spot in the West, although they've played several more games than many of the teams right below them in the standings. If San Jose is competing for a playoff berth as the deadline nears, it will be tougher to move Hertl.

1) Jakob Chychrun, D, Arizona Coyotes

2021-22 Stats: 2 G, 6 A in 29 GP

Age: 23

Contract: $4.6M cap hit, UFA in 2025

Chychrun is a legit top-four defenseman in the early prime of his career. He's a talented offensive player, logs well over 20 minutes per game and contributes to special teams. One concern is his injury history -- he's never played more than 68 games in one season. The price for Chychrun reportedly is "Jack Eichel-like", which would be an NHL player, a top prospect, a first-round pick and another quality pick.

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