NHL Trading Deadline Deep Dive: Analysis of the Five Biggest Names in the Market

The trade deadline is fast approaching and it is time to analyze what is out there.

As always, the trading market has a variety of different options from spread makers to deep cuts that can put a team over the top or plug some much needed holes. There is something for everyone and I wanted to explore the most interesting names available and analyze what to expect from them.

With an analytical bent, I’ve dived deep into three categories of players: the biggest names, the little-known types, and of course, the red flags.

This post focuses on the biggest names, most sought after players at the top of the trade board list who will make the biggest difference to their future team’s bottom line – and cost the most.

Here are the five biggest names available at this year’s Trade Deadline and what to expect from each of them.


This year’s belle of the ball is Timo Meier, an elite winger who can lead play on both ends of the ice in a senior role. It’s not easy to find and the bonus is that it’s not pure rental either – it’s RFA this summer. Meyer’s qualifying offer of $10 million puts some wrench in that, but it’s worth the cost. He’s currently that level of player in San Jose and on an eight-year extension. Meyer’s net worth, according to model, is $9.6 million.

With Meier, teams get to man create chances at an elite rate and put the puck in for the power play. At five years old, he’s not quite a sniper, with a shooting percentage of under 10 percent in each of the past three years, but he makes up for it with the size of his opportunities. Meyer has scored more than 1 goal per 60 in four of the past five years. In this range, he ranks 26th in goals per 60 at 1.07 and fifth in goals expected per 60 at 1.09. If that finishing talent jumps out while paired with a better passer, Meyer could become one of the deadliest scorers in the league. On the power play, he’s really been around for the past two seasons scoring 4.1 goals per 60, second in the league to only Leon Dricetel.

What makes Mayer particularly mystifying is that he’s not just a scorer β€” he’s driving play. Mayer has had a positive impact on expected goals every season of his career and ranks 14th among forwards over the past five years. Its effect on actual targets is almost identical (although not as high). It all comes down to his offense as the Sharks live in a much more offensive zone with Meyer on the ice.

Meyer is expected to deserve three wins going forward, and it’s not often that a player of this caliber is available on deadline. Perhaps the last time was in 2018-19 with Mark Stone, the player who completely changed the view of Vegas back then…and moving forward. Mayer isn’t quite on Stone’s level, but he can be Stone-esque in terms of his offensive impact on the game. In the three years prior to trading, the two had similar scoring averages in all positions and the ability to hit projected targets. Just don’t expect a defense of Selke’s level.

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Adding Meyer would be a big deal for the team’s top six. It’s the kind of addition that can bump into a team a level or two higher in the league hierarchy. With the amount of par there is at the top of the league, it’s a move that can make all the difference to a team’s cup odds.

Erik Karlsson is unlikely to be traded – which is why he never made our trading board list. But the fact that his name is out there means he can’t be ignored as the season gets under way.

Karlsson is averaging 3.7 wins this season already in just 56 games. This ranks fifth in the entire league. There was a time earlier in the season his value depended strictly on his noble output, but the tide has turned on that since the new year. Since January 1, he leads the league in Game Score with a score of 2.53. No other defenseman has been close to it.

Not only does Karlsson still have it, but he’s also showing his special factor to a whole new level. In a Hall of Fame career, he posts the most dominant season to date at 32. He’s never been better and this says a lot.

He’s a franchise-changing player who plays at the MVP level and if his name is ever there, teams without a true #1 defenseman should scramble to find a way to acquire him. Playing it on the ice is worth the cost.

The elephant in the room is, of course, his necklace. Carlsson has been well deserving of his deal this season, but there are risks with four years left. There’s a reason he was included in last summer’s ‘worst contract list’ and it can’t be ignored.

But the calculations on that have changed since then. It’s not fair to expect Carlson to continue his pace at 5.4 wins, but he still has to be a defense with about three wins going forward. That might be a conservative estimate, but it’s close to where it was last season and three years ago – this season (good) and 2020-20 (bad) are likely outliers.

However, three wins is enough to put Carlson into the top five on defense, with a win value of just under $10 million per season over the next four years. This is not very stressful. With the right amount of salary retention, Karlsson could still be a positive value contract. Sharks’ I mentioned you ask It included an 18 percent team retention which would push Carlson’s deal to $9.5 million – in line with his projected value.

This is what Carlson’s projected value looks like in the future.

This is the right ballpark given his current outlook and the Sharks need to stand firm on this. Holding anything close to 50 percent isn’t essential to his gameplay unless the return is massive.

Carlson’s deal would be a blockbuster that would shake up the contested landscape. It’s not impossible, but it will force teams to get creative to make it work. It’s well worth the cost and extra effort required to make it happen.

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Let’s start praying for her now – we all deserve another round of Playoff Carlsson.

It seems that the saga of Jakob Chychrun is finally over and its value has never been higher. It’s not just his sharp shot or powerful point totals that make Chychrun an attractive piece, but his ability to command play on both ends of the ice. He’s been a real difference maker in Arizona’s lineup this season.

That wasn’t the case last year as Chychrun slumped overall, but this season the 24-year-old is proving he was just the epitome of a bad team. It’s the real deal and the real first choice. He’s the kind of player who can dramatically change a team’s structure at the back end and that’s worth paying for.

In difficult minutes with a bad team, Chychrun has been very exciting this season. He is the Coyotes’ only defenseman with a positive goal share of 58 percent and his projected share of 49 percent is second among defensemen. For his teammates, he’s had a huge impact on Arizona’s goal difference per 60 β€” jumping by 1.31 with him on the ice while jumping projected goal difference by 0.5. Both of them are in the top 10 best players in the league this season.

Digging deeper, Chychrun is extremely powerful with a puck on his stick. according to Data tracked by Corey SznyderHe creates a lot of offense with his shooting contributions, is one of the strongest defenders in the league at rushing command, and is great at breaking up the ball. There are some questions about his puckless play, but Chychrun is excellent at limiting scoring chances off the rush and defending the blue line.

Chychrun does it all and it’s no surprise that his numbers on the ice have been very strong for the Coyotes this season. He’s an all-around powerhouse with massive offensive upside, and is expected to deliver 2.5 wins of value for his next team. This is an incredibly impressive addition.

There are two versions of Patrick Kane and it’s probably fair to say that any team that trades for his services won’t get them either.

There is a version of last season and the last few seasons before that. Kane was a 95- to 100-point scorer – a player with real defensive shortcomings, but he made up for it with his innate ability with the puck. Kane was no longer a staple of the Contender franchise, but he was a dynamic maker on offense. Real game breakers that hold real value no matter his game off the puck. Kane was a player that deserved about three wins, and the defense is goddamn.

And then there’s this year’s edition, an injury-ridden player who has sunk on one of the worst teams in the league. In 51 games, Kane scored only 11 goals and 37 points, and his ball game was never the same. Kane usually ranks as one of the best passers, punt carriers, and rushing specialists in the league β€” but he’s seen a significant downturn from last year across the board. His already questionable defensive game has also slipped off the map. Only four strikers were on the ice to get more chances than Kane. With his attack missing his usual punch, Kane saw his expected and actual goal difference drop to less than 40 per cent. This is not a game killer, it’s a game destroyer. Chicago wasn’t one of the worst teams in spite of Kane, but in part because of him. This year, Kane was a player below replacement level.

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Ken isn’t what he used to be, but he’s also never the same under catastrophic circumstances. Figuring out a middle ground is where things get tricky, and any potential team better be really sure what that middle ground is – and whether it’s worth the potentially high cost.

Assuming good health (which is not an ideal assumption in Kane’s case given his hip issues), it’s likely that Kane will regenerate in a new locale. In a different environment with some offensive weapons, some defensive assists, and some goofy reasoning, it would be foolish to think Kane’s value on the ice would still be negative. On the better team, Kane will have more room to breathe and be creative. But given his performance this year, it’s still a huge gamble despite his reputation as one of the league’s brightest stars. There is good reason to be apprehensive.

Going from Timo Meier, Patrick Kane, Erik Karlsson, and Jakob Chychrun to Tyler Bertuzzi is… kind of a downgrade in the buzz department. The Red Wings winger isn’t nearly as exciting as their former name, but we needed a replacement after Ryan O’Reilly’s big deal Friday night and the Board of Trade this year is a bit short for the big names.

Bertuzzi – like Kane and O’Reilly – is having a very spotty year compared to his usual standards, but his introductions suggest he has a lot to offer a potential team. He only has 11 points in 23 games this season, but he’s coming off a season in which he scored 62 points in 68 games. That still carries weight, especially considering how unlucky he is to earn points when he’s on the ice. Last year Bertuzzi got 71 percent of his goals scored on the ice in five-for-five. This year it’s down to 46 percent. And the fact that he only hits 5.7 percent of his shots personally isn’t something he should keep going going forward.

The weaker production should fix itself and make it back to the first six levels, but on top of that, Bertuzzi is also a useful suite to drive. His impact on expected goals has always been positive, and although he’s struggling to score this year, he’s on a career high in terms of relative impact expected on goals. The Red Wings have been a much better team with Bertuzzi on the ice – and results will come in the end. Any team that loses to Meyer can claim a good consolation prize in Bertuzzi.

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(Top photo by Timo Meyer and Eric Carlson: Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today)

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