2023 NHL Trade Deadline A Trade and Two Signings

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NHL Activity: A Trade and Two Signings Get the Party Started

Chicago Blackhawks

We’re closing in on the NHL All-Star Game, which happens to take place on my birthday this year. Once that’s in the rearview mirror, our complete focus will shift to the March 3 NHL Trade Deadline.

As you know, teams are already having conversations. And some have started to get their affairs in order for if/when the time comes to make a move. And while there is plenty yet ahead of us, one trade and two free agent signings caught my eye over the past few hours.

  • Late Wednesday night, the San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche made a relatively minor trade. The deal does include two former first-round picks, however; Martin Kaut going to San Jose is an intriguing name (he was the 16th overall pick in 2018). Ryan Merkley was the 21st overall pick in 2018 and he’s now part of the Avs organization.

Blackhawks Spin: if Colorado is looking to add a second-line center, Merkley might be a prospect who is more interesting to a potential trade partner than Kaut. He had six points (one goal, five assists) in 39 games last season. Still, this deal is only interesting at this point because it happened. San Jose is expected to sell between now and the deadline.

  • On Thursday, the big name to sign a contract extension was Andrei Kuzmenko, who agreed to a two-year deal to stay in Vancouver that carries a $5.5 million cap hit.

Blackhawks Spin: The Canucks now have almost $75 million in deals on their NHL books for next year for only 15 players — not including captain Bo Horvat. They just hired a new head coach and their front office is getting crushed in the PR department. But team president Jim Rutherford recently alluded to the roster needing “major surgery.” As such, a modest commitment to Kuzmenko is still noteworthy. Horvat is one of the biggest names on the trade market.

  • The New York Rangers also got a deal done with defenseman Ben Harpur, who would have been an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Blackhawks Spin: the Rangers, like the Avs, are expected to be buyers on the trade market. This was just a first domino for the Rangers, who many feel will be active before the trade deadline. They still have to deal with pending RFA defensemen K’Andre Miller and Libor Hájek and forwards Alexis Lafrenière, Filip Chytil, Vitali Kravtsov and Julien Gauthier. They have expensive pieces already, and Miller is going to be a big price tag while Lafrenière has been underwhelming as a former No. 1 overall pick.

Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab