2023 NHL trade deadline: Ranking top 15 players teams should target

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2023 NHL trade deadline: Ranking top 15 players teams should target originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

This season's NHL trade deadline is shaping up to be one of the most exciting in recent memory.

It's the rare year when several stars, future Hall of Famers and past Stanley Cup champions could be moved. Many of the top players eligible to hit free agency this summer, including Vancouver Canucks center Bo Horvat, also might be available. Will teams get a head start on the 2023 free agent market by acquiring these players and quickly signing them to extensions?

The majority of the top players who could be on the trade block are forwards, which is an ideal scenario for contenders in need of additional scoring depth.

The trade deadline is set for 3 p.m. ET on March 3. Check out our list below of the top 15 players for teams to pursue, based on a combination of talent, age, contract, positional importance and other factors (all stats through Jan. 22).

15. Shayne Gostisbehere, D, Coyotes

2022-23 Stats: 9 G, 20 A in 47 GP

Age: 29

Contract: $4.5 million cap hit, UFA in 2023

Gostisbehere is on his way to posting back-to-back seasons of 50-plus points for the first time in his career. He's a talented playmaker on the back end with consistent production at even strength (18 points) and the power play (10 points). Gostisbehere's offensive talent and ability to play 20-23 minutes per game should give him decent value at the trade deadline. He would be a solid third-pairing upgrade for a contender who can be deployed in offensive-minded situations.

14. Luke Schenn, D, Canucks

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2022-23 Stats:

Age: 33

Contract: $850,000 cap hit, UFA in 2023

Schenn is a true defensive defenseman who plays a hard, physical game and leads the league in hits, He can also kill penalties, block shots and provides lots of playoff experience as a two-time champion with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Schenn's small cap hit and ability to give valuable defensive depth -- either as a third-pairing guy or seventh defenseman -- make him a tremendous trade target for a lot of playoff-caliber clubs.

13. Ivan Barbashev, C, Blues

2022-23 Stats: 7 G, 15 A in 47 GP

Age: 27

Contract: $2.25 million cap hit, UFA in 2023

Barbashev is struggling offensively this season, but he played quite well in 2021-22 with 26 goals and 34 assists in 81 games. Perhaps a change of scenery will re-ignite his scoring touch. He also has 50 games of playoff experience, a Stanley Cup ring, and with the ability to play all three forward positions he brings valuable versatility to the ice. Barbashev is a solid middle-six forward target for contenders in search of scoring depth and physicality.

12. Matt Dumba, D, Wild

2022-23 Stats: 4 G, 8 A in 43 GP

Age: 28

Contract: $6 million cap hit, UFA in 2023

Dumba was a healthy scratch twice last week, fueling speculation that he could be traded before the deadline. He also hasn't played well in recent weeks, so it's possible the healthy scratch was performance related and intended to be a wakeup call. Dumba has been a top-four defenseman for many years. He doesn't light up the stat sheet with sparkling offensive stats, but he's a reliable two-way blueliner who can play in all situations. It also wouldn't be shocking if the Wild just kept Dumba. They are in third place in the Central Division and want to make a deep playoff run. The combination of a $6 million cap hit and lackluster on-ice play could also make it tough for the Wild to move Dumba.

11. Sean Monahan, C, Canadiens

2022-23 Stats: 6 G, 11 A in 25 GP

Age: 28

Contract: $6.375 million cap hit, UFA in 2023

Monahan tallied 82 points in 78 games for the Calgary Flames in 2018-19 and appeared to be headed toward stardom. Instead of joining the upper tiers of forwards, he has regressed rather substantially. His scoring totals have decreased in each of the last three seasons, although that trend is likely to end in 2022-23. When healthy -- he's currently dealing with a foot injury -- Monahan has been an above-average offensive player for the Canadiens.

Monahan should be motivated to have a strong finish to the campaign with free agency and a new contract on the horizon. He's also a 10-year veteran with good size (6-foot-1 and 200 pounds) who can provide scoring at even strength and the power play. Any team in need of a center that fails to land Jonathan Toews, Ryan O'Reilly or Bo Horvat should consider pursuing Monahan.

10. Brock Boeser, RW, Canucks

2022-23 Stats: 9 G, 18 A in 38 GP

Age: 25

Contract: $6.65 million cap hit, signed through 2024-25

If the Canucks really decide to rebuild and tear it down, then Boeser is one intriguing option for teams who want a young, talented forward who has term left on his contract. Boeser has scored an average of 23.4 goals over the previous five seasons. One problem in acquiring Boeser is his $6.65 million cap hit. It's a pretty steep number for a player like him, and not many teams have that kind of cap space as the trade deadline approaches.

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9. John Klingberg, D, Ducks

2022-23 Stats: 6 G, 9 A in 40 GP

Age: 30

Contract: $7 million cap hit, UFA in 2023

Klingberg's offensive stats and many of his analytics are not great. After tallying 47 points in 74 games (0.64 points/game) last season, he's posted just 15 points in 40 games (0.375 points/game) this year. That said, he would still be a solid third-pairing upgrade for a lot of teams, and he's also playing for a new contract in the summer. Playoff teams in need of blue line depth -- Maple Leafs, Oilers, etc. -- should take a look at Klingberg. The Ducks are in rebuild mode and should do everything possible to get the best draft lottery odds for the Connor Bedard sweepstakes. Therefore, it would be a bad scenario for Anaheim if Klingberg is on its roster after March 3.

8. Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, Blues

2022-23 Stats: 10 G, 19 A in 38 GP

Age: 31

Contract: $7.5 million cap hit, UFA in 2023

Tarasenko is in the final year of his contract. He has scored 30-plus goals six times, most recently last season when he found the back of the net 34 times in 75 games. He could serve as a second or third-line right wing for a contender. Tarasenko also has proven to be a reliable playoff performer with 41 goals in 90 career playoff games. The primary concern with Tarasenko is health. He suffered a hand injury on Dec. 31 and hasn't played since. He could return about a month before the trade deadline, though.

The Blues are four points out of a playoff spot, so they still have a chance to get in if their roster is healthy down the stretch. However, this team is not a title contender, and with so many veteran UFAs on the roster, St. Louis could stockpile a nice batch of quality assets (prospects and picks) by trading Tarasenko, Barbashev and O'Reilly.

7. Vladislav Gavrikov, D, Blue Jackets

2022-23 Stats: 3 G, 7 A in 45 GP

Age: 27

Contract: $2.8 million cap hit, UFA in 2023

Gavrikov is a talented second-pairing defenseman with a small enough cap hit that many teams can easily absorb. All of that makes him an enticing trade target as teams look to bolster their defensive corps for the playoffs. At 6-foot-3 and 213 pounds, Gavrikov brings plenty of size and truculence to the blue line and defends well against quality competition. He can also kill penalties.

Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman recently reported that the Blue Jackets have allowed teams to speak with Gavrikov about a potential contract extension.

6. Ryan O'Reilly, C, Blues

2022-23 Stats: 10 G, 6 A in 37 GP

Age: 31

Contract: $7.5 million cap hit, UFA in 2023

O'Reilly, if healthy, would be an ideal addition for a contending team. He's one of the best two-way centers in the league, excels on faceoffs, kills penalties and has Stanley Cup-winning experience (plus a 2019 Conn Smythe Trophy). O'Reilly is a versatile player, too, with his ability to produce at center or on the wing.

The Blues put O'Reilly on injured reserve with a broken foot in early January. The team said he would be re-evaluated in six weeks. With no setbacks, he should be back before the trade deadline, giving teams some time to see where he's at physically and if a trade to acquire him is worth the risk.

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5. Jonathan Toews, C, Blackhawks

2022-23 Stats: 13 G, 14 A in 44 GP

Age: 34

Contract: $10.5 million cap hit, UFA in 2023

Toews is no longer an elite center, but he still would be a fantastic second or third-line forward for a title contender. He's one of the best leaders of his generation, has loads of postseason experience (137 games and three Stanley Cup rings) and makes a meaningful impact on both the power play and penalty kill. Toews is still a very good two-way forward and his 63.4 faceoff win percentage ranks No. 1 among all centers.

The question is whether Toews actually wants to leave the Blackhawks. He's a franchise icon, and playing his entire career in Chicago would be special. Toews' contract includes a full no-movement clause, so he'll need to sign off on any deal. The Blackhawks have the third-worst record in the league and could accelerate their rebuild by trading Toews for a quality asset or two.

4. Patrick Kane, RW, Blackhawks

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2022-23 Stats: 8 G, 22 A in 42 GP

Age: 34

Contract: $10.5 million cap hit, UFA in 2023

Kane is a future Hall of Famer and arguably the best American-born player in NHL history. He's also one of the best playoff performers of his era with 132 points in 136 career games, plus three Stanley Cup titles and a 2013 Conn Smythe Trophy. Kane has not produced offensively at an elite level this season, but he could regain that form and get reinvigorated playing on a contender with a chance to play for another championship.

Similar to Toews, Kane has a full no-movement clause in his contract. It's possible he stays. He's a franchise legend and legacy is an important thing to a lot of players. If he does hit the trading block, and assuming he's not battling any lingering injury issues, he would be a top target for contenders who want playoff experience and a scoring punch on the wing.

3. Jakob Chychrun, D, Coyotes

2022-23 Stats: 5 G, 19 A in 31 GP

Age: 24

Contract: $4.6 million cap hit, signed through 2024-25

Chychrun is a legit top-four defenseman who drives offense and can play 20-plus minutes per game versus quality competition. The main concern with Chychrun has always been durability. He's never played more than 68 games in a single season, and he played just 47 of 82 in 2021-22. Chychrun has already missed 16 games this season.

Similar to last year, there's no rush for the Coyotes to trade Chychrun. He is signed for two more seasons, so Arizona could wait until the draft or the summer when other teams have more salary cap space and roster flexibility.

2. Timo Meier, RW, Sharks

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2022-23 Stats: 27 G, 20 A in 48 GP

Age: 26

Contract: $6 million cap hit, RFA in 2023

Last year, it was Tomas Hertl who teams were interested in acquiring from the Sharks. Hertl ultimately signed an eight-year extension a few days before the trade deadline to remain in San Jose.

This season it's Meier drawing interest. His agent, Claude Lemieux, recently told Curtis Pashelka of The Mercury News that "we have not discussed a contract extension and we are very realistic of the possibility of Timo getting traded."

Any contender that is looking for a proven goal scorer in a top-six wing role should have Meier at the top of its list. After scoring a career-high 35 goals in 77 games last season, Meier is on pace to tally 46 goals in 2022-23. He's on pace for back-to-back seasons of 70-plus points for the first time in his career. He's a dynamic offensive player who creates plenty of challenges for opposing defensemen.

The Sharks are 16 points out of a playoff spot and clearly need to rebuild. Meier could fetch the Sharks a nice return package of quality assets to jumpstart that rebuilding process.

1. Bo Horvat, C, Canucks

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2022-23 Stats: 30 G, 19 A in 46 GP

Age: 27

Contract: $5.5 million cap hit, UFA in 2023

The most popular name in the rumor mill right now is Horvat, and it's not hard to figure out why. He's a No. 1 center with an impressive two-way skill set who is having a career-best season from an offensive perspective. He's one goal away from his career high for a single season.

Horvat has been unable to reach a new contract extension with the Canucks, and with Vancouver unlikely to make the playoffs, the smartest move for the franchise is trading its captain and not risk losing him for nothing in free agency. Sportsnet's Jeff Marek reported this past Saturday that the asking price for Horvat is "three players, including a top prospect."

The ideal scenario for any team acquiring Horvat is signing him to an extension soon after a trade. He's a legit top-six center and still in his prime at 27 years old. He's the type of player you give $7-plus million per year to keep around long term.