Project Petey’s Partner Part II: 9 potential wingers from the list of known NHL trade targets

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
25 days ago
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Welcome back to the Vancouver Canucks’ top priority of the 2024 offseason: acquiring a high-quality winger (or two) to ride shotgun with Elias Pettersson in the 2024/25 season and beyond.
In the first edition of Project Petey’s Partner, we took a good look at the UFA market and came away with 11 different free agents who might be up to the job.
Now, we turn our eye to the trade market.
As we’ve since learned, there are more potential trade targets out there than we perhaps anticipated. With that in mind, we’re letting you know now that this is Part II of what will be at least a three-part series. Today, we’re taking a look at those players that are known to be on the block this summer. It’s a list we’ve pulled together from sources like the DailyFaceoff Trade Targets Board and other pieces of rumour and speculation from around the internet.
And here’s who we’ve found that is A) available, B) expected to be available for an at least somewhat reasonable price, and C) at the very least, better than most wingers Pettersson has been paired with in his career thus far.
Martin Necas, Carolina Hurricanes
C/RW, 25, 6’2”, 189lb
2023/24 Cap HitContract ExpiryGamesGoalsAssistsPointsAvg. TOICorsi
We start with a name that is not just on the trade block, but has already been linked to Vancouver on multiple occasions. In fact, if you believe the rumours, Necas may have been an important centrepiece to that “Pettersson to Carolina” deal that allegedly almost went down last year.
Now, could Necas be the solution to a different Petey problem?
Last season, Necas broke out in a big way with 28 goals and 71 points. This past season’s 24 goals and 53 points might look like a step back, but it’s largely attributable to a decrease in power play opportunity and production. An even 40 of Necas’ 53 points came on the power play, meaning his overall numbers could continue to climb if given a bigger role. He’s renowned as a playmaker who can create space for linemates and then set them up within that space for prime scoring chances, which seems a skillset that would mesh well with Pettersson’s.
With Carolina about to lose multiple D-men, including a couple key RHDs, to free agency, the basis of a trade seems to be that of Filip Hronek for Necas. How much balancing remains to be done on either side of that is up in the air. Like Hronek, Necas needs a new contract, and won’t exactly come cheap.
Nikolaj Ehlers, Winnipeg Jets
LW, 28, 6’0”, 172lb
2023/24 Cap HitContract ExpiryGamesGoalsAssistsPointsAvg. TOICorsi
$6 mil2025 (UFA) [M-NTC]8225366115:5254.4%
With one season left until UFA status, Ehlers is, at this point, a one-year rental. As far as those go, however, he’s of a particularly high quality. Ehlers has been a fairly consistent 25-goal scorer since his sophomore campaign, and occasionally he paces for much more than that. He’s often been said to be underutilized in Winnipeg, too, so perhaps he has a little more to give in a more dedicated offensive role, even at the age of 28. Coming off a down season, and with Winnipeg needed to shuffle around their roster and their cap, Ehlers might even come for a lesser acquisition cost than might be expected, though it will almost certainly still start with a first round pick.
Ehlers can make plays and finish them with equal aplomb, and is a winger who can typically make the most of his linemates. If there’s a downside to be highlight, it’s that Ehlers’ lack of size can contribute to frequent injuries, and has perhaps contributed to his reputation as someone who can disappear come playoff time.
Patrik Laine, Columbus Blue Jackets
RW, 26, 6’5”, 205lb
2023/24 Cap HitContract ExpiryGamesGoalsAssistsPointsAvg. TOICorsi
$8.7 mil2026 (UFA) [M-NTC]1863915:1345.4%
Our colleague L. Ron Sedlbauer made a good case for Laine’s acquisition just last week. We’re not all nearly so bullish on the mercurial winger, however.
The upside on Laine is obvious. At his best, there’s not going to be more skill available on the trade market this summer. At his best, he’s a potential 40-goal scorer that offers a unique blend of a generational sniper and a pseudo-power forward. It’s not hard to imagine a line of Laine and Pettersson terrorizing opponents with the dual threat of two top-notch shooters.
But Laine hasn’t been at his best for some time. It is hoped that time in the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program has helped him get his mental health back on track, and that his career might follow. Until then, however, Laine is a bit of an unknown, and thus a major risk to trade for.
As L. Ron said, if the Blue Jackets ask for little more than cap relief in trading Laine, the risk might be worth the reward. Under any other scenario, however, the Canucks would be best to look elsewhere. There’s also Laine’s modified-NTC to consider. Would another Canadian market really be his preference at this point?
Travis Konecny, Philadelphia Flyers
RW, 27, 5’10”, 192lb
2023/24 Cap HitContract ExpiryGamesGoalsAssistsPointsAvg. TOICorsi
$5.5 mil2025 (UFA)7633356819:5055.7%
The Canucks’ fanbase and mediasphere has been talking about acquiring Bo Horvat’s cousin since around the time he was first drafted into the league. Now, Konecny might finally be available.
Though, to be clear, this might have to be more of an in-season thing, which might not be ideal for the Canucks. The Flyers still don’t seem to know what to do with themselves, and their early success in the 2023/24 campaign before fading out toward the end may convince them to once again try to compete this season.
Should the Flyers fall out of contention earlier, however, they simply must consider trading Konecny as a pending UFA near peak value. He’s become an everything player for Philadelphia of late. Konecny is aggressive and combative, he can dig for pucks and set up plays, and he’s also a major shooting threat. Those traits, combined with his nonstop motor, make him the exact sort of linemate who might really bring out the best in Pettersson.
But we did use the phrase “peak value,” and if Philly sells on Konecny, they’re selling high. Expect the asking price to begin at a first rounder and a good prospect, and to only go up from there as multiple teams get in on the bidding.
Pavel Buchnevich, St. Louis Blues
LW, 29, 6’1”, 196lb
2023/24 Cap HitContract ExpiryGamesGoalsAssistsPointsAvg. TOICorsi
$5.8 mil2025 (UFA) [M-NTC]8027366319:4952.8%
Buchnevich got a lot of attention at the 2024 Trade Deadline, but ultimately stayed in St. Louis as they chased a dwindling chance at the playoffs. Now, he’s down to the final year of his contract.
Like Philadelphia, St. Louis still has some designs on competing, but they must also face harsh realities if they can’t sign Buchnevich to an extension soon. And if he goes to market, he’ll continue to attract lots of attention, given that he does virtually everything well. Buchnevich scores, he sets up plays, he dangles through opponents, and the takes care of his own end of the ice. He’s a linemate that could keep up with everything Pettersson does out there on the ice, and for one season more, he’s excessively affordable.
Except, again, that cost of acquisition. Buchnevich might be a tad cheaper than a few of the names higher on the list, but he still cashes out on at least a first round pick and some change, and then there’s the re-signing conversation.
Jordan Kyrou, St. Louis Blues
C/RW, 26, 6’1”, 196lb
2023/24 Cap HitContract ExpiryGamesGoalsAssistsPointsAvg. TOICorsi
$8.125 mil2031 (UFA)8231366718:2052.3%
While we’re on the subject of the Blues, why not consider Kyrou? He was once considered a vital part of St. Louis’s future, but last season their fans booed him to the point of tears, so one has to assume the relationship has soured at least somewhat.
There were whispers that Kyrou might move mid-season. Now, with his full-NTC set to kick in after this coming campaign, St. Louis must be carefully weighing their options. If Kyrou is not a long-term fit there, they’d be best to move on from him now, before they’re more fully committed to a contract that expires in 2031.
This was a down year after consecutive season of 73 and 75 points, but Kyrou still notched 31 goals and remains a multifaceted threat each time he steps onto the ice. If he’s not an outright play-driver, he’s about as good as a complementary talent as can be found.
The only real question is that of Kyrou’s trade value, which comes down to how much St. Louis wants to move on from him, and how many other teams are willing to commit. Either way, we feel as though the price has to include multiple premium future assets, if not some established young NHL talent.
Kevin Fiala, Los Angeles Kings
LW, 27, 5’10”, 204lb
2023/24 Cap HitContract ExpiryGamesGoalsAssistsPointsAvg. TOICorsi
$7.875 mil2029 (UFA) [NMC]8229447318:0256.8%
The Kings will no doubt put P-L Dubois to market first this summer. But if they can’t move him, they’ll probably give consideration to moving another tough personality, that of Fiala. Since being acquired two seasons ago, Fiala has certainly produced in LA – though not the same degree he did in his final season in Minnesota – but he’s yet to ingratiate himself to the fanbase or the organization due to occasional selfish play, including a propensity for bad-tempered penalties. A poor showing against the Oilers in the playoffs didn’t help.
Fiala plays about as much a power game as can be expected from his frame, he competes hard, and can make and finish plays at equal measure. There’s ample potential there for him to click with Pettersson, but is Fiala more trouble than he’s worth? Probably.
Trevor Zegras, Anaheim Ducks
C/LW, 23, 6’0”, 185lb
2024/25 Cap HitContract ExpiryGamesGoalsAssistsPointsAvg. TOICorsi
$5.75 mil2026 (RFA)31691517:0548.2%
There are those in the fanbase who will practically gag at the notion of fixing Pettersson’s issues by partnering him with a character like Zegras. For many, Zegras represents all that is wrong with modern hockey; a focus on flashy skill over meaningful substance.
That skill, however, is undeniable, and at the age of 23, Zegras is anything but a finish product. It’s reasonable for Anaheim to want to move on from him, what with a boatload of other young, impressionable forwards on deck. It’s also reasonable to assume that Zegras might be able to refine and mature his game amid a more veteran-laden roster, and perhaps under the tutelage of a tough-minded coach like Rick Tocchet.
What Zegras would offer a linemate like Pettersson is space. He’s known for carrying the puck on a string until his teammates are open, and one can only imagine what Pettersson might accomplish with a lot more room out there with which to ply his trade.
Putting the other kind of trade together, however, might prove difficult. The Ducks would be primarily interested in young, NHL-ready talent at this stage in their rebuild, and the Canucks are decidedly short on that. If a Zegras-for-Hronek deal can’t form the basis of something, we’re doubtful that anything will work out.
Kaapo Kakko, New York Rangers
RW, 23, 6’2”, 206lb
2024/25 Cap HitContract ExpiryGamesGoalsAssistsPointsAvg. TOICorsi
$2.4 mil2025 (RFA)611361913:1749.9%
One last long-shot. The former second overall draft pick has had a rough start to his career in New York, and though there are still flashes of potential greatness, they weren’t very frequent in 2023/24. The good news is that Kakko has rounded out his game enough to fit in fine in any NHL team’s middle-six. The bad news is that he might never reach the potential that saw him drafted so loftily, but there’s still plenty of time for that to happen, perhaps especially if Kakko gets a fresh start elsewhere.
The breakout of Alexis Lafrenière gives some reason to believe that Kakko can figure it all out, too. But Lafrenière always showed more positive signs than Kakko, and probably always had more overall skill.
In trading for him now, the Canucks would be placing a big bet on Kakko being able to unlock it, and they’d pretty much need to staple him to Pettersson in order to give him the best chance of doing so. It’s a more creative solution than can be found on the rest of the list, but it’s well worth consideration if the price can be made right.
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