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NHL Trade Deadline: 10 Prospects to Watch in the West

The Hockey News 2/3/2023 Tony Ferrari

Prospects can be assets in a trade for proven NHL players – just ask Aatu Raty. Tony Ferrari lists 10 players in the West to watch ahead of the trade deadline.

Alex Turcotte. Jason Mowry-USA TODAY Sports © Provided by The Hockey News Alex Turcotte. Jason Mowry-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL trade season is officially upon us after Bo Horvat went to the New York Islanders in exchange for Aatu Raty, Anthony Beauvilier, and a first-round pick. The first prospect is off the board, and others are likely to be involved in big trades.

Prospects are always a popular form of currency at the trade deadline. They are closer to playing NHL games than draft picks yet still hold the allure of being “magic beans” for any acquiring team.

Let’s look at some of the young players in the NHL’s Western Conference who could factor into a contender’s deal to acquire the veteran player that could put them over the top. Some are more likely to move than others, but these players are simply options should one of these teams look to upgrade now.

Colorado Avalanche: Sean Behrens and Jean-Luc Foudy

The defending Cup champions have been plagued by injuries to key players this season, with everyone from Gabriel Landeskog, Cale Makar, Nathan MacKinnon and numerous other guys missing time.

The possibility of bolstering their lineup and looking to supplement their forward group is intriguing. They haven’t replaced the role Nazem Kadri played on last year’s team after he left in free agency last summer.

Sean Behrens could be a name the Avalanche are more open to moving despite his highly skilled game on the back end. Behrens becomes a bit redundant with Makar, Sam Girard, Bowen Byram, and Devon Toews already in the NHL. However, he has a great offensive mind and is developing his defensive game with the University of Denver, helping them win an NCAA title last year.

The Avs could also opt to spend some of their forward prospect capital in a player like Jean-Luc Foudy, an incredible skater and slick playmaker. Foudy is the kind of player that helps cover the flaws of many shoot-first wingers.

Edmonton Oilers: Xavier Bourgault and Raphael Lavoie

The Edmonton Oilers were planning on competing for the division title, but they’re currently competing for a playoff spot.

They need depth at every position. They have some of the most electrifying talents in the sport but need more depth and talent beyond it to make an impact. They could use some help on the blueline or upfront, which is a big problem when you don’t have the capital or cap space to swing big.

Xavier Bourgault is one of the more exciting prospects in their pipeline. He’s a highly productive scoring winger who is a true dual threat. He isn’t a play driver, but once in the offensive third of the ice, he generates chances with a high degree of success. Enjoying a solid rookie year in the AHL, the Oilers could now use him to bolster the NHL roster.

If a team wants someone a bit closer to the NHL, Lavoie could be the piece they look to add. He has a good shot and crisp passing ability as well. Lavoie is good at the AHL level when healthy this season and has been one of the hottest prospects in the AHL since the new year. If the Oilers don’t view him as an option down the stretch, he could be traded for one.

Calgary Flames: Matthew Coronato and Jeremie Poirier

Much like their inter-provincial rival Oilers, the Calgary Flames have been underwhelming this season compared to expectations. That’s despite a busy summer that included losing Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk while adding Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri. Things haven’t gone as well as hoped, but they will look to boost their roster at the deadline in hopes of not making their summer moves all for naught.

The Flames have Coronato in the prospect pool. They could use the dangerous skilled shooter in college hockey as a late-season addition should he choose to leave Harvard, or they could trade his rights to bring in immediate help, which is more of a stretch. Coronato projects as a solid second-line scoring winger who could put up 25 or more goals and 50-plus points at the NHL level.

Jeremie Poirier is an interesting prospect. To some, he’s an intriguing, high-upside offensive blueliner who could be a power-play quarterback. To others, Poirier is a defensively inept defender who may never get to the NHL level because of his lapses in his own end, regardless of how skilled he is as an offensive threat. The Flames need to convince teams he’s developed his game in his own end because he could be a solid trade chip if they can.

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports © Provided by The Hockey News John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Winnipeg Jets: Ville Heinola and Daniel Torgersson

The Jets probably weren’t expecting to be as good as they are after struggling last year, and changes were seemingly on the horizon in the summer. New coach Rick Bowness came in, and the core stayed intact. Connor Hellebuyck returned to form in net, and the Jets are once again one of the Western Conference’s best teams.

They don’t have a wide variety of prospects that they are likely to move, but they do have Ville Heinola. He seems to have fallen out of favor in Winnipeg. He’s almost made the team every year since being drafted, but his defensive game has held him back, according to the Jets. He is a skilled blueliner, and he could be a great addition to any team’s back end that needs puck-moving ability, but the Jets don’t seem to be that team.

Daniel Torgersson hasn’t quite taken the strides that Winnipeg had hoped after drafting him 40th overall. His season with the Manitoba Moose of the AHL has been underwhelming. They could include Torgersson in a deal before his value tanks, with a fresh start possibly being best for the young Swede.

Los Angeles Kings: Alex Turcotte and Jordan Spence

The Kings may look to move one or more players from their deep and skilled prospect pool for immediate NHL help. They are in the thick of a playoff race in the Pacific Division, the NHL’s most competitive at the moment. There could be an arms race in the trade market from the teams in the Kings’ division.

The Kings could use center Alex Turcotte as the main piece of a deal for an immediate impact player. Turcotte has recently seen NHL time to limited success in a minimal role. He finally seems to be healthy, which means the intelligent two-way forward could look to get his young career back on track.

Jordan Spence could also be an attractive trade piece. He is approaching the point of his AHL career where he has nothing left to prove. But Spence could be the odd man out with a logjam of defenders in the pipeline and at the NHL level. He is an excellent skater and has good vision, playing the position in a very modern, transition-focused manner. 

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