NHL Mock Trades: Red Wings get coveted defenceman, Devils swing big for goalie


This is trade deadline season for NHL general managers. More importantly, though, it’s fake trade season for the rest of us.

And what a glorious time of year that is.

With the March 8 hard line on the horizon, there’s no better request from an editor to get than, “Hey, take two fingers, rub your temples and see what kind of reasonable swaps you can dream up.”

If there’s one thing doing this activity at previous deadlines has taught it’s that, though the moves are pretend, the anger will be real. Hopefully, it comes from all sides, so we know we did a decent job.

With that, let’s dive in and present three potential moves — gently vetted by Sportsnet’s own longtime NHL suit and prospect guru, Jason Bukala — we think could benefit all parties involved.

The Headline: Wings land their D-man, Calgary continues to build

To Detroit

Defenceman Noah Hanifin*

Goalie Kaapo Kahkonen

*Hanifin inks an eight-year extension with Detroit, San Jose retains 50 per cent of the money remaining on his expiring contract.

To Calgary

Forward Jonatan Berggren

Forward Anthony Duclair

Detroit’s 2025 top-10 protected first pick

To San Jose

Goalie Ville Husso

Detroit’s 2024 top-10 protected first pick

Vancouver’s 2026 third, previously acquired by Calgary

Why the Red Wings do it

Hanifin isn’t perfect, but he’s a legit, puck-moving first- or second-pair guy. He just turned 27, so an eight-year extension is justifiable for a team desperately trying to become a playoff squad right now. Husso was a free agent play that has not worked out. He’s singed to a $4.75 cap hit through next season. Kahkonen, by contrast, is a pending-UFA with a $2.75-million hit. Detroit is moving off some Husso term and money and can slot Kahkonen — an upgrade on Husso right now — into the mix with Alex Lyon and James Reimer.

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Detroit owns Boston’s 2024 first from the trade that sent Tyler Bertuzzi there a year ago. It also owes Ottawa a pick from the Alex DeBrincat deal, so basically the Wings would send their own 2024 pick to San Jose, Boston’s to Ottawa and forfeit their 2025 first to Calgary. That’s a lot, but they just made two first-round selections in 2023 and would have DeBrincat and Hanifin locked up long-term.

Why the Flames do it

We know Calgary is opting for a re-tool over a true rebuild. Berggren is another upside play on a 23-year-old, in the same vein as the deals that returned Yegor Sharangovich and Andrei Kuzmenko. As for Duclair, it feels like we’ve been speculating about Calgary getting him to stick with Jonathan Huberdeau since the latter’s earliest struggles in Southern Alberta. If acquiring Duclair — who is still just 28 — helps Huberdeau look like the guy he was in Florida, it’s a massive win for Calgary. Duclair is a pending UFA, but you have to think two good months with the Flames might convince all sides there’s a deal to be made.

Also, under this scenario, Calgary is retaining no money on Hanifin. That means retaining on a possible Chris Tanev trade is more palatable and that would up the return Calgary could extract for that player.

Why the Sharks do it

They don’t really have anything that would make for a tasty return on its own, so they have to get creative by jumping in as a salary broker. Take on Husso’s extra year and hope he finds his game next fall. Maybe he becomes an asset when potential playoff teams are scrambling for goalie help next February.

The Headline: Devils make bold crease move

To New Jersey

Goalie Juuse Saros

Defenceman Alexandre Carrier*

*Predators retain 50 per cent on Carrier

To Nashville

Forward Dawson Mercer

New Jersey’s top-five protected 2025 first pick

Goalie Vitek Vanecek

Goalie Akira Schmid

Defenceman Seamus Casey

Why the Devils do it

Jersey has had the season from hell and is still just two points out of the playoffs. Goaltending has been an issue all year and could truly be the only thing holding this club back from real contention once all its players are healthy. Saros might be having a down year by his standards, but he’s a proven, high-end 28-year-old stopper who would be on his current contract carrying a $5-million cap hit through the 2024-25 campaign. At that point, you can decide if you want to bite down and give him the big deal that carries him past 35 years old. If you’re competing for Cups, chances are you do it.

Mercer is great, but you can trade a young winger with scoring chops when you have Jesper Bratt and Timo Meier locked up.

Carrier is a wonderful right-shot guy to add to the bottom of a D-corps that’s had to make due without Dougie Hamilton and Jonas Siegenthaler for huge parts of the year.

Why the Predators do it

Saros has been part of trade rumours dating back to last year’s deadline. He’s been the backbone of the squad for a while but, as noted, he’s not having his best season and is now down to just one more full year of team control before his contract expires in 2025. With 21-year-old AHLer Yaroslav Askarov looking very much like the goalie Nashville hoped he’d be when it took him 11th overall in 2020, the Preds can stomach parting with Saros. Also, you bring in Vanecek — who’s looked okay at times in the past couple years — and 23-year-old Akira Schmid — who really showed something last year in Jersey — to fill out your goalie picture. All three guys come to camp next fall ready to battle it out. Vanecek is a 2025 UFA, so it’s not a big commitment.

Mercer might not be the pure offensive talent Nashville would love to get its hands on, but he’s going to score at a rate worthy of a top-six role and his dog-on-bone mentality is perfect for Preds culture.

Casey is an intriguing right-shot defence prospect who could be running a second power-play unit before too long in Tennessee.

The Headline: Zegras gets a fresh start

To St. Louis

Forward Trevor Zegras

To Anaheim

Forward Jimmy Snuggerud

St. Louis’ 2024 top-10 protected first pick

Defenceman Marco Scandella

Why the Blues do it

St. Louis has a great 1C in Robert Thomas and Zegras could wind up settling in as a perfect second-line pivot. The Blues are very much in the playoff picture but also don’t match the description of a pure buyer. This is a trade meant to help the squad for years to come.

Trading a potential sniper in Snuggerud would be tough, but at least you’re doing it for a guy, in Zegras, who doesn’t turn 23 for another month and already has two 60-point seasons on the books in the NHL.

The Blues also have two second-round picks in 2024, so surrendering your first isn’t quite as painful as it otherwise could be — especially after making three first-round selections last June.

Moving out pending UFA Marco Scandella would help clear up some salary space.

Why the Ducks do it

The relationship with Zegras has obviously soured after a summer of tough contract negotiations and a horrible, injury-marred year for the young American. With Mason McTavish, Leo Carlsson and Cutter Gauthier up the middle, the Ducks are absolutely set at centre for the next decade. Why not add Snuggerud to the flank and hope he lives up to the very tantalizing potential he’s shown?



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