Yes, the 2021-22 NHL season is around a month old and there is a long way off till the March 21st trade deadline. There are quite a few unrestricted free agent defensemen who may find themselves in different locations by or before then.
These UFA’s are attractive to NHL teams for a variety of reasons. Fit and cap hit are just two of the main ones. Quite a few trades will be just for picks. Some trades should happen but may not for a variety of reasons.
The clock is ticking as the next four months or so will go by faster than anyone expects. Let’s see what names may be on this list.
Western Conference UFA Defensemen Trade Deadline Targets
Hampus Lindholm — Anaheim Ducks
Lindholm is going to be an inevitable target no matter what. He has just this year left on that $5.205 million AAV deal. Even as the deadline approaches, some teams will inevitably ask for Anaheim to retain some salary. With Bob Murray gone, the rebuild may just start with this defenseman.
It will be intriguing to see what kind of return Anaheim gets for Hampus Lindholm. The reason may be right below.
Josh Manson — Anaheim Ducks
Could one or both of Anaheim’s UFA defensemen be gone by the March 21st trade deadline? It is an excellent question. Manson plays around 18-19 minutes a night now for the Ducks and would be a nice bottom-pairing defenseman on most teams. People may forget he is 30 now and the legs are not quite what they used to be.
Anaheim is eventually going to regress so more than likely both of these defenseman will be on the market at some point.
John Klingberg — Dallas Stars
Some pundits keep saying no but the ascension of Miro Heiskanen may point to yes. Klingberg was a 50+ point defenseman at one time who has just two assists in eight games for Dallas this year. While he is still playing over 22 minutes a night, one has to wonder how long that will even last. Klingberg has this last year remaining on his deal at $4.25 million AAV.
While a trade to a division rival is unlikely, there are a few teams in the East that could use his services. It all depends again on fit and budget. One thing is certain. The turnovers outweigh the good at least in Dallas according to Jack Han. These last two seasons have been brutal.
Connor Murphy — Chicago Blackhawks
The Chicago Blackhawks are not going anywhere. This Western Conference defenseman has a reputation for playing mostly sound in his own end while blocking quite a few shots. Murphy does get paid a hearty $3.85 million AAV but a deal can always be made.
Murphy’s number being so skewed by Chicago’s awful start will help teams looking for his services. There is a high likelihood he gets moved and maybe several weeks before the deadline even.
Anton Stralman — Arizona Coyotes
There are a few defensemen who may have helped Anton Stralman find a new home. The reality is things will only keep getting worse in Arizona. The $5.5 million AAV may scare off a few teams but Arizona has zero problems retaining salary to facilitate a deal.
Stralman will likely get dealt as close to the deadline as possible to maximize cap space for wherever he goes. The likely bottom line is he is going.
Some final thoughts on other Western Conference UFA Defensemen
Simply, this deadline will be like a can opener of sorts. Teams will wait until after the Olympic Break and injuries (COVID too) to see where they are at. That being said, expect some deals, unlike last year. While it will not be at the volume most are accustomed to, deals will happen.
Next up will be the Eastern Conference and probably P.K. Subban.