Florida Panthers and St. Louis Blues could be sellers at the trade deadline

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Every NHL season brings with it several surprises and that’s exactly the case with two teams many thought would be contenders: The Florida Panthers and St. Louis Blues.

Many expected the Chicago Blackhawks, Arizona Coyotes, Montreal Canadiens, Anaheim Ducks, and San Jose Sharks to be among the league’s bottom feeders. The Vancouver Canucks, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Philadelphia Flyers quickly got added to the list of potential trade deadline sellers before Thanksgiving.

However, here we are approaching the halfway point of the 2022-23 campaign and the Panthers and Blues may be dealing instead of buying in March.

Florida Panthers 15-16-4 (34 points)

Playoff Situation: 6th in the Atlantic Division, 9 points out of the final wild card berth

Top Trade Candidates: Patric Hornqvist (UFA), Anthony Duclair (1yr – $3M), Radko Gudas (UFA), Marc Staal (UFA), Eric Staal (UFA), and Chris Tierney (UFA)

Potential Cap Saving Trade: Sam Reinhart (1yr – $6.5M) or Sam Bennett (2yrs – $4.425M)

The fall of the Panthers has been stunning.

After winning the Presidents’ Trophy last season with a 122 points, Florida dismissed interim head coach Andrew Brunette for veteran Paul Maurice. The move has gone poorly to say the least as they sit in sixth place in the Atlantic.

The Panthers really went for it at the last trade deadline acquiring veterans Claude Giroux and Ben Chiarot giving up future assets. Both left via free agency in the summer leaving GM Bill Zito with not much to show for those moves.

With the Panthers likely going to miss the playoffs and needing to shed cap space for next season, look for them to be sellers at the deadline.

florida panthers st. louis blues
Nov 26, 2022; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers right wing Patric Hornqvist (70) and St. Louis Blues defenseman Torey Krug (47) fight during the second period at FLA Live Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Blues 16-16-3 (35 points)

Playoff Situation: 5th in the Central Division, 5 points out of final wild card berth

Top Trade Candidates: Ryan O’Reilly (UFA), Vladimir Tarasenko (UFA), Ivan Barbashev (UFA), Niko Mikkola (UFA), and Thomas Greiss (UFA)

Potential Cap Saving Trade: Pavel Buchnevich (2yrs – $5.8M)

Head coach Craig Berube appears to be shaking his head on a nightly basis following a 109 point campaign last season. That was good enough for third in a competitive Central Division that saw the first place Colorado Avalanche win the Stanley Cup.

As their mediocre season continues, the Blues will need to decide on what to do with two of their biggest stars and pending UFA’s. At this time, it looks like both O’Reilly and Tarasenko will be jettisoned for picks and prospects.

That being said, the Blues will have only around $15 million in cap space next season with 14 players signed. A lot of their cap space is tied up on forwards Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou. They’ve also spent a lot of money on their defense and goaltending with many modified no-trade clauses not kicking in until 2024-25.

Could Pavel Buchnevich be sent packing for a top young prospect and a first round pick to create more cap space? An interesting question to say the least.