Next year is already underway for the 31 NHL teams that will try to unseat the 2022 Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche. The champions, and the runner-up Lightning, may wait a day or two to nurse hangovers before they ponder what comes next, but the rest of the league is already working on their plans for 2022-23.

With that in mind, here is our next trade board, ahead of the 2022 NHL Draft and the start of free agency. As much as hockey fans hope and anticipate a lot of action in and around the draft, frequently, not that much ever happens.

The only immediate pressure GMs face ahead of the draft are to complete deals involving actual draft choices.

Otherwise, they can wait until free agency comes and goes because only then will teams have a clear idea of the necessary path forward.

Still, all that notwithstanding, the trade chatter has started, and there will be teams singularly motivated to make changes to improve on last year’s results.

So, let’s look at the names of some players who could be on the move this summer.

 

1. Kevin Fiala, Wild

Minnesota’s financial challenges going forward have been well-documented. In 2022-23, they will carry a $12.74 million buyout charge for Ryan Suter and Zach Parise (in the next two years following, it jumps to $14.74 million). So, it’s effectively a three-year problem for GM Bill Guerin and will force him to make some sacrifices. Fiala is a restricted free agent, with arbitration rights, and so will likely command a salary higher than the Wild can afford. They also have $6 million committed to defenseman Matt Dumba, who is UFA in a year. The Wild will need to make some hard choices, operating with a de facto $70 million cap — which will oblige them to walk a tight budgetary line over the next 36 months. Watch for them to fill in with a lot of Connor Dewar-type signings (two years, $800,000 per season) and in the meantime, move on from Fiala.

 

2. J.T. Miller, Canucks

Miller and Canucks captain Bo Horvat are in almost exactly the same contractual boat. Miller earns $5.25 million, heading into his final year before becoming UFA, while Horvat makes $5.5 million, heading into his final year before becoming UFA. The difference is, Horvat is the captain and considered far more likely to sign a long-term extension. Miller would be amenable to that too, but he would also likely command a significant package in a trade if an extension can’t get done. He’s been linked in the past to the Rangers, though New Jersey and the Islanders might make sense, too.

 

3. Jakob Chychrun, Coyotes

Chychrun was near or at the top of most trade boards ahead of the 2022 deadline, but Arizona’s asking price for the 24-year-old left-shot defenseman with the team-friendly contract (three more years at an AAV of $4.6 million) was too high for all would-be suitors. But in the summer, with time to get cap situations in hand, the courtship is expected to be renewed. Any number of teams (Los Angeles, St. Louis, etc.) could use a top-four presence on the left side, capable of playing a lot of minutes (Chychrun averaged 23:00 in an injury-shortened 47-game campaign for the Coyotes last year).

 

4. Tyson Barrie, Oilers

Barrie is an excellent power-play quarterback who usually plays protected five-on-five minutes on the third pair but can be an important offensive contributor to any team that hasn’t been satisfied with its man-advantage play. And at $4.5 million per season for the next two years, without any trade protection, Barrie would seem like the most cost-effective available player in that category, if Edmonton is confident enough in Evan Bouchard and Darnell Nurse to handle PP duties in Barrie’s place.

 

5. Jeff Petry, Canadiens

Petry had a tough year in Montreal, though it got better after Martin St. Louis took over as coach. Like Barrie, he is a right-shot defenseman who can anchor a team’s PP1. Petry’s 34, with three years to go on a $6.25 million contract, and has a 15-team no-trade list. Back in March, we had him going to Dallas as a possible replacement for John Klingberg, if Klingberg had been traded at the deadline (which he wasn’t). But if Klingberg moves this summer as a free agent, Petry would seem like a natural replacement.

 

6. Alex DeBrincat, Blackhawks

Why would a 24-year-old player with two 41-goal seasons in the past four years be on the block? According to one NHL source, Chicago is listening on DeBrincat in the same way they were listening on Branden Hagel at the trade deadline. In other words, they were not interested in dealing the player unless the offer coming their way was too good to be true. For Hagel, they got two first-rounders and two roster players. Translation: Any team genuinely interested in adding DeBrincat (who makes a $6.4 million salary in 2022-23 and becomes RFA with arbitration rights in 2023-24) had better be prepared to step up with a significant package. Otherwise, he isn’t moving.