With less than a month to go until the deadline, we’ve got you covered every day at Daily Faceoff with one trade-focused story leading up to Deadline Day.

Today, we’re looking at five competitive clubs with prospect assets they can use to bring in someone notable at the deadline. Which prospects get moved is a complete mystery – they’re almost never in trade rumors, and who gets moved really depends on the specifics of a deal.

So we’re basing today’s list on the teams with prospects that they could be willing to move to get the pieces needed for a long playoff run. It doesn’t mean they’re being shopped, or that teams will consider moving them. But the opportunity to get the spicy target they need could be more accessible if one of the listed players gets moved.

2023 Trade Deadline Countdown: 26 days


1. Toronto Maple Leafs

Possibly available: Matthew Knies, Fraser Minten, Roni Hirvonen, Nick Abruzzese, 2023 1st-round pick

The Maple Leafs need to do whatever it takes to make it out of the first round this year, and no prospect in the system should be untouchable. That includes Matthew Knies and Fraser Minten, two of the team’s more notable forward prospects from the past two drafts. Knies would be the one that attracts the most attention. He had a point-per-game as a rookie at the University of Minnesota last year and has 30 points in 28 games as a sophomore. He’s surrounded by high-quality teammates like Jimmy Snuggerud and Logan Cooley, which helps, but he’s been the goal-scoring leader of the three. That potential to be a decent middle-six scorer could entice teams to part with a current roster player, and if it gives the Leafs some extra scoring depth right now, it’s worth it.

I was never high on Minten, who I didn’t even have as a second-rounder last year, let alone the 38th-best prospect. He has put up good numbers with Kamloops in the WHL, but he’s fifth in team scoring (mostly behind older players, mind you) and I don’t think he has a high ceiling in the NHL. His value is as a middle-six physical forward, and while that would be a nice fit with the current lineup, he’s definitely someone worth moving.

One intriguing name is Topi Niemela, who already has an entry-level contract. He’s having a bit of a down year with Karpat in Finland, but he’s still the team’s top defensive prospect – and, in my opinion, the one with the most upside in Toronto’s system. Teams love young, mobile puck-moving defenders, and he’d be a prime candidate to come over to North America next year.

Nick Robertson’s season-ending injury likely takes him out of the equation. But one name that could definitely garner attention is goaltender Joseph Woll. He’s one of the hottest goalies in the AHL right now and is playing well enough to earn a shot in the NHL. But with Ilya Samsonov playing well this season, and Matt Murray signed for another year, Woll could be 25 and still toiling around in the NHL. I don’t think he fixes any team’s immediate problems, but maybe he’s used as a sweetener to land a scoring forward they need. Who knows? Roni Hirvonen and Nick Abruzzese could also act as sweeteners, especially with Abruzzese playing some great hockey right now.

The Leafs earn the No. 1 ranking not simply because they have some intriguing assets but also because they’re positioned to make virtually any of their prospects available.


2. Carolina Hurricanes

Possibly available: Jackson Blake, Alexander Nikishin, Massimo Rizzo, Domenick Fensore, 2023 1st-round pick

With Max Pacioretty out and with no actual timeline, the Hurricanes could look to fill the gap with his lost scoring touch. After years of building one of the best prospect pools, the Hurricanes have jumped near the top of the NHL standings. And even after graduating players like Martin Necas and Seth Jarvis, the pool still looks strong.

They’re solid in the NCAA with forwards Massimo Rizzo, Jackson Blake and Cruz Lucius, as well as defensemen Scott Morrow and Domenick Fensore, among others. So they can afford to move a few pieces around to grab another high-impact player without too much hesitation from just one league alone.

The real wild card is 6-foot-4 blueliner Alexander Nikishin. The 21-year-old is one of the best defensemen in the KHL, playing around 23 minutes and about to hit 50 points while playing a huge role on SKA St. Petersburg, the top team in the KHL. But Nikishin signed a three-year deal in the KHL just before getting drafted 69th overall by the Hurricanes, which is why he hasn’t come over yet.