The new year supposedly ushers in new beginnings. It's an opportunity to cut ties with everything that you didn't like about the 365 days prior and begin anew. Of course, simply making a resolution won't change anything; one has to put in the work to see the desired change.
Yet there's still a feeling of renewal that comes with tearing down the old calendar and replacing it with a new one. With this in mind, which NHL players could be revitalized by a trade in 2022? Much in the same way some of us could be recharged by a change of scenery, be it on the home front, in the office or elsewhere.
It's easy to forget sometimes that hockey players are people first. Fans see the names and numbers night in and night out and occasionally fail to remember the human aspect of the game. Locker rooms are essentially their office cubicles, with the head coaches representing their version of bosses.
Periodically, it's simply best for all parties concerned to part ways. It doesn't mean that there was never anything positive there. Just that it's time for a new chapter. And blank pages aren't any more plentiful than they are at the start of a new year.
As such, we're going to look around the league and find a handful of skaters who could see their respective games brought back to life by trades to different cities and teams.
Kailer Yamamoto to a Mid-Rebuild Team
Kailer Yamamoto's time with the Edmonton Oilers could be over soon.
General manager Ken Holland is expected to add a talented wing or two ahead of the NHL trade deadline, set for the afternoon of March 21. This, according to Mark Spector of Sportsnet, who wrote the following in late December:
"He has stayed at second line right wing this season largely because the Oilers don't have anyone better. That should change at the trade deadline, and the wings will get crowded as left wing Dylan Holloway eventually arrives and Ryan McLeod (we predict) gets employed on left wing, perhaps pushing [Zach] Hyman to the right side."
Spector reasons that the 5'8", 153-pound right wing is simply too small to be effective in a bottom-six role while also noting that Yamamoto has only managed five assists while skating alongside Leon Draisaitl for a majority of the season.
He might not be a fit in Edmonton anymore, but the former first-round pick (22nd overall) is only in his age-23 season. Yamamoto might not evolve into a game-breaking scorer at this point, but his 11 goals in 72 contests in 2019-20 suggest that he could still be a solid finisher.
He fell off last season, scoring eight times in 52 games before settling into a near-20 goal pace this year. This is the kind of player mid-range rebuilding teams can stand to take a swing on. Yamamoto is an RFA at the end of 2022, but shouldn't command too much more than his current $1.2 million cap hit to retain.
An organization like the Seattle Kraken could take a chance on him given how thin their prospect pool is following just one draft.
Evgenii Dadonov to the Detroit Red Wings
There's no need to force fits where they might not be there just for the sake of it, but the idea of the Detroit Red Wings acquiring Evgenii Dadonov from the Vegas Golden Knights makes sense on a few levels.
We know that the Golden Knights are going to have to do some cap gymnastics whenever Jack Eichel is ready to return from neck surgery. He's been skating for a month, but it's unclear when he'll be ready for a full-speed NHL contest.
Meanwhile, Max Pacioretty underwent a procedure on his wrist on Dec. 30 and the team's Twitter account said that he would be "out indefinitely." Maybe that ends up creating enough cap space down the line, but Jesse Granger of The Athletic reported that the injury isn't expected to prevent Pacioretty from returning during the regular season.
This is all to say that Vegas will need to create some cap room before Eichel suits up for them. That isn't news, but there are a few different ways the team could go about it. The leading trade candidate seems to be Dadonov.
Granger opined that trading the right wing would affect Vegas the least if it intends to trade one of its trio of $5 million forwards (the other two being Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith). Owen Krepps of VegasHockeyNow.com also sees Dadonov as being a possible odd man out once Eichel comes back while mentioning Detroit as a possible landing spot.
The Red Wings need to start adding pieces around their budding young core eventually, and the 32-year-old forward would give them more offensive depth, something they're in desperate need of, as they are 24th in the NHL in goals scored per 60 and have the 24th worst power play to boot.
Dadonov is allowed to submit a 10-team list he won't accept a trade to. If Detroit is on that list, this is all a moot point. However, if he would be open to joining a team that appears to be on the rise with two years left on his contract, there could be a trade to be made here.
He'd get a ton of playing time in Detroit's top six while forcing its younger players to compete for playing time.
Mark Giordano Returns to the Calgary Flames
Mark Giordano doesn't need a fresh start out on the ice. He received exactly that, for better or for worse, when the Seattle Kraken selected him in the expansion draft this past offseason. No, his reuniting with the Calgary Flames would be more of an emotional revitalization.
It's increasingly unlikely that Seattle will be able to battle into a playoff spot—MoneyPuck.com gives them a 0 percent chance to make it to the dance. This means that the team could well be open to trading the first captain in Kraken history if the return is right.
Given that Giordano is an impact veteran defenseman with a puck-moving pedigree, the bidding war would likely reach noteworthy heights for Seattle as it tries to stock the cupboards with promising prospects. Toward the end of December, Sportsnet scribe Eric Francis predicted that the Flames would bring in a more offensive-minded blueliner and pointed out Giordano as a possible fit.
The cost for him would be high, however. Francis notes that Seattle asked Calgary for a first-round pick and either another second- or third-round selection to not select him in the expansion draft. That's steep, especially for a team that might not be turning the corner into true contenders just yet.
If the Flames believe they can take a run at it this season, though, and are only missing a piece or two to make that happen, maybe they are more willing to deal that first-rounder now than they were this past summer.
There also aren't a lot of defenders in this mold who could be available. Samuel Girard, Ben Chiarot and John Klingberg all made Lyle Richardson's December trade block big board, but the ask for those younger options would likely be considerably higher.
And none of those blueliners spent 949 regular-season games skating for Calgary as Giordano did, either. There's not a lot of room for sentimentality in professional sports, but this makes a good deal of sense for both sides as long as the Flames aren't being asked to give up a piece of their young core.