The calendar is about to turn over to a new year, and in hockey, that means one thing. All 32 teams begin preparations for a wild NHL trade deadline season.
Each season has its own oddities and quirks that make it unique. That bodes true this year as well. This summer's NHL Draft has the potential to be very special. There are a lot of potential stars coming into the league in 2023, and that will have an effect on how teams deal draft picks.
The divide between buyers and sellers is less defined at this point than it was last year, as well. The East and West are both wide open and any team could make a run down the stretch.
With all factors considered, which players are likely to be traded? Here are our predictions for five stars who will be traded by the end of the 2023 NHL trade deadline.
5) Winger Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues
It's been a little over a year now since Vladimir Tarasenko requested a trade away from the St. Louis Blues. Now, with his contract nearing its end, the veteran goalscorer should get his wish.
The Blues are battling for a playoff spot, currently sitting three points behind the Seattle Kraken for the West's last playoff spot. However, they aren't in the best form, and giving up goals is an issue as evidenced by their -18 goal differential.
The veteran has full no-trade protection. However, getting anything of value for Tarasenko would be wise for St. Louis. Especially since it seems likely he will leave for nothing when he hits free agency in the summer.
4) Defenseman John Klingberg, Anaheim Ducks
When the Ducks signed John Klingberg to a one-year deal in the summer, it seemed to be a huge bargain. However, things haven't quite panned out the way either side hoped.
The Ducks are the second-worst team in the Western Conference. Klingberg himself hasn't entirely been healthy, and when he has, he hasn't been great. He has just eight points this season as an offensive-minded defenseman.
Despite the down season, the veteran defenseman could still be of use for a contending team. After January 1, Klingberg's no-trade protection becomes a modified 10-team clause instead of a full no-trade clause. This will certainly help general manager Pat Verbeek ahead of the trade deadline.
3) Defenseman Jakob Chychrun, Arizona Coyotes
Chychrun trade rumors have swirled since last offseason. Discussions over who fits best for the former first-round pick aren't anything new at all. The question has never been if, it's always been when.
And the answer to that is still unclear to some. However, I like the chances of Chychrun being moved this season. The Coyotes could certainly hold on to him, but the longer they hold on, the more his value goes down.
The 24-year-old is a legitimate top-four defenseman making just shy of $5 million a season. This is a bargain price, so it'll take a lot for Arizona to part ways. It'd be in their best interest to strike before other defenseman pop up on the market.
2) Winger Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
Kane is one of Chicago's two franchise cornerstones who are likely to be moved at some point soon. He and Jonathan Toews are free agents after this season, so Chicago will certainly look to add what they can prior to the trade deadline.
Kane paces the league-worst Blackhawks with 26 points in 34 games. The 34-year-old has scored only six goals, but has shown the ability to make plays even in the backend of his career.
Kane has full no-trade protection, meaning he has complete control over where he goes next. Irregardless of that, it seems unlikely the three-time Stanley Cup champion finishes the season in Chicago.
1) Center Bo Horvat, Vancouver Canucks
Horvat is perhaps the biggest fish on the trade market this season. The Canucks captain is a pending unrestricted free agent but has made it clear he wants to wait until the offseason to discuss a contract.
Vancouver responded by saying they will focus on trading their former first-round pick. Horvat leads the Canucks with 26 goals in 35 games and has 39 points on the season.
A team trading their captain isn't unheard of. The Tampa Bay Lightning did it in 2014, sending current Montreal Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis to the New York Rangers at the trade deadline.
Whoever acquires Horvat will have to pay a steep price. However, he is a legitimate top-six center who can completely change the team's offensive makeup. Much like Chychrun, a Bo Horvat trade is not a question of if, as it is of when.