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5 deals we'd love to see before NHL trade deadline

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Every season at this time of year, those who follow the NHL can't help but fantasize about potential blockbuster trades involving big-name players and blue-chip prospects.

Many of those desired deals never come to fruition, but that shouldn't stop us from hoping to see some wild trades in the days leading up to the March 8 deadline.

Here are five scenarios that would be very appealing for one reason or another, regardless of how likely they may be.

Oilers grab Guentzel

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The Pittsburgh Penguins are reportedly listening to offers on all of their non-core players, but team president and general manager Kyle Dubas must not consider Jake Guentzel part of the core. The executive left the door open for Guentzel to be moved when asked about the productive winger earlier this month.

If Guentzel does become available, there'll be suitors lining up around the block. But the Edmonton Oilers would arguably be the most tantalizing destination for the Nebraska-born forward, simply because it would give fans a chance to see a two-time 40-goal-scorer on either Connor McDavid's or Leon Draisaitl's wing.

Guentzel is expected to return from injury about a week after the deadline, so that likely wouldn't be too concerning for Edmonton. He's also on long-term injured reserve at the moment, which will make it easier to balance the money.

A swap between these two clubs would be very tricky financially and perhaps further complicated by Guentzel's 12-team no-trade list. But if the Oilers could offer the Penguins a package featuring top prospect Dylan Holloway, a couple of high picks - including their first-rounder in the upcoming draft - and a roster player like forward Warren Foegele while satisfying cap and roster limit concerns, they might be able to make it happen.

Flower the Flyer

Note: Shortly after this was published, it was reported the Wild don't plan to trade Fleury.

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Marc-Andre Fleury recently made it clear he doesn't want to abandon the Minnesota Wild as they fight for a playoff spot. But the Central Division club's postseason hopes are pretty slim, so the closer we get to March 8, the wiser Fleury would be to consider approving a move to a contender.

There are plenty of destinations for Fleury that could be fun. The Colorado Avalanche and Carolina Hurricanes could both benefit from his experience in goal. But what about pairing one of the NHL's most likable players with John Tortorella, one of the league's most quotable head coaches?

The Flyers are surprisingly competitive but could use some help in the crease. Samuel Ersson and Cal Petersen have been subpar for Philadelphia in goal this season despite the team exceeding expectations as a whole. Numerous Flyers are trade candidates before the deadline, but general manager Daniel Briere shouldn't be a seller. His team has a good chance of qualifying for the postseason, so while it isn't time for him to go all-in for a deep run, it wouldn't be smart to start subtracting, either.

Fleury's not worth a first-round pick at this stage of his career - in terms of his on-ice contributions, anyway - but the Flyers have two second-round picks in both this year's draft and the next one. They could send one of them to Minnesota along with a mid-level prospect or a roster player with some upside. The Flyers won't need to put together a hefty return for the 39-year-old's services, and they have the assets to make something happen.

Golden Knights get Tarasenko

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The Vegas Golden Knights should be exploring deals for all types of forwards, be they wingers or centers. The Pacific Division squad has a lengthy injured reserve list at the moment, including numerous players up front like Mark Stone and Jack Eichel. The latter shouldn't be out for too much longer, but the former will be out for a while.

Enter Vladimir Tarasenko, a right winger who could help fill the void in Stone's absence and then provide some depth if and when the Vegas captain returns. Tarasenko isn't as reliable as Stone at both ends, and his best days are behind him at 32 years old. But the Russian has been producing offense at a reasonable clip on a lackluster Ottawa Senators squad.

The Golden Knights will have to jettison some salary when they activate Eichel and his $10-million cap hit. Moving Stone and his $9.5-million figure to LTIR would seemingly take care of that in the short term. After making that switch, Vegas is projected to have around $5.5 million in cap space at the deadline.

Tarasenko's price probably won't be a first-round pick at this stage of his career. Even if it is, the Golden Knights still possess nearly all of their draft picks for the next three years, missing only a 2024 fourth-rounder and a 2025 seventh-round selection. They could take on the veteran's $5-million cap hit without forcing Ottawa to retain, and they might only need to give up one or two high (but not first-round) draft selections to facilitate this deal.

Devils snag Markstrom

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This move reportedly almost happened, and there's still plenty of time to get it done. Jacob Markstrom isn't as much of a lock to be traded as teammates Chris Tanev and Noah Hanifin, but the Calgary Flames goaltender is now a candidate to be dealt, and the New Jersey Devils make perfect sense as his destination.

But it's not just that it's logical for both teams. The Devils have underachieved this season, thanks in large part to lackluster goaltending and injuries (especially to Dougie Hamilton). But they still boast a talented group of skaters, including Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt, and Tyler Toffoli. This disappointing team was supposed to be fun to watch, so adding a proven netminder would make them more compelling.

The Devils may not be full-fledged buyers at this deadline because of their distance from the playoff picture. But with a talented core already in place and Markstrom under contract through 2025-26, adding him wouldn't just be about trying to make the playoffs this spring. Yes, the Swedish puck-stopper is 34 years old, but he's playing well again on a lackluster Flames squad.

Because of Markstrom's resume and the importance of his position, this would likely be a bit of a blockbuster involving numerous parts. The Devils have first-rounders in each of the next three drafts, plus prospects with upside like forward Alexander Holtz. New Jersey is also projected to have around $9.5 million in cap space at the deadline, so Markstrom's $6-million hit wouldn't be an issue.

Avalanche scoop up Henrique

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Now that Sean Monahan's off the board, Adam Henrique is the best center available. The Anaheim Ducks pivot, who turned 34 earlier this month, is having a solid season, especially considering his age and current team. The veteran has proven he can still contribute and could solidify a contender's top six.

The Colorado Avalanche will be getting the equivalent of a deadline add when Valeri Nichushkin returns to game action in short order. But he's only a winger, whereas Henrique can be even more versatile by playing multiple forward positions.

The already electric Avalanche adding a player who can provide stability and experience in several ways would only make them more exciting come playoff time. Henrique's cap hit is a bit hefty at $5.825 million, and Colorado is only going to have about $1.2 million in cap space at the deadline at this rate. But it wouldn't be impossible if the Ducks were willing to retain some salary and take on an NHL contract in addition to other assets in return.

The Avalanche still have picks they can offer, but they have one of the league's worst prospect pools by virtue of continuously dealing prospects away to stay competitive. However, they have enough depth and upside on the NHL roster to put a package together that would get this done.

(Salary source: CapFriendly)

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