With the 2023 NHL All-Star Game in the books, the trade deadline rumour mill kicks into high gear as armchair GMs come up with the ideal path for their favourite team.
With the intrigue about to take off, we look at eight pressing questions that could have a large impact on the deadline four weeks from now.
What's next for the Canucks?
Some rumours have linked Brock Boeser to the Minnesota Wild, but as Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman noted in last week's 32 Thoughts, the math doesn't quite add up. Boeser's $6.65-million cap hit might make a trade to any team difficult, if Vancouver hopes to get a satisfying return.
But they can't be done with just the Horvat trade. Veteran Luke Schenn is a valued piece in the locker room, but also precisely the type of player contenders crave this time of year. Is Tyler Myers' $6 million moveable if any salary is retained? How about Conor Garland's $4.95 million?
And how about Thatcher Demko? Injured right now, if he's able to return and string a few good games together to show good health, would the Canucks consider moving him if the offer was right? The conditions would have to be just right and that hasn't been the case on the goalie market lately.
The Canucks have a lot of possible remaining trade options, but none of them are slam dunks in-season.
What are Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane going to do?
It could be the end of an era in the Windy City if either of their longstanding pillars and multi-Cup winners move on. While at this moment it doesn't appear either player has discussed with management what the next steps are, from a competitive standpoint there are more reasons to leave. From a personal standpoint, there could be any number of reasons for either to stay.
“I have my feelings, but at this point, I still want to keep that to myself and have my own process about it,” Toews told The Athletic's Mark Lazerus two weeks ago of the decision he faces. “I’m not really at the point where I’m talking about it yet. There's still a lot of things that can transpire over the next month, or whatever. Let’s just let things play out.”
Neither player is at his peak anymore, but Toews at least is having something of a resurgent season with 14 goals and 28 points in 46 games. His role as a two-way faceoff-winning centreman and captain, and his reputation as a leader are all qualities coveted by contenders. And though Kane has sagged with 34 points in 45 games -- on pace to finish under a point per game for the first time in five years -- you could easily convince many people that he'd become a true game-breaker again on a better team.
But both players also make $10.5 million against the cap. The Blackhawks should easily be able to retain half of each, given the contracts expire at the end of the season, but a third team may still be required to make any deals happen.
And, of course, it may yet turn out that one or both players decide to stay through the deadline.