The 2023 NHL playoffs are down to the final four teams with the conference finals in full swing. While most of the focus is on postseason play, the rumor mill is gaining steam involving teams eliminated from the playoffs.
Clubs that failed to qualify for the playoffs and those eliminated from postseason competition can make trades with each other. They will most likely wait until the playoffs have ended in June when all 32 teams can make deals with each other.
Toward the end of June, they should have clarity on what the salary cap will be for 2023-24. Current projections have it rising by only $1 million to $83.5 million. However, the New York Post's Larry Brooks reported the league and the NHL Players Association will meet this week to discuss increasing the cap beyond $1 million.
A bigger-than-expected increase in the cap could spark more activity in the offseason trade market, possibly during the NHL draft in Nashville, Tennessee on June 28-29. With the general managers of all 32 teams in one place, there's a greater likelihood for major moves to take place.
Some of those trades could see teams lacking a first-round pick, such as the New Jersey Devils, attempt to move in the draft order. Others could see a possible blockbuster by clubs like the Toronto Maple Leafs that were eliminated early from the playoffs.
NHL fans could be uncertain which rumors are worth believing or rejecting. We'll attempt to clear things up with our take on the latest notable speculation. Feel free to express your thoughts on this topic in the comments section below.
Will the New Jersey Devils Move Up in the 2023 NHL Draft?
For the first time in a decade, the New Jersey Devils lack a first-round pick in the NHL draft. They traded their 2023 first-rounder to the San Jose Sharks as part of the return in the Feb. 26 move for winger Timo Meier.
In his end-of-season interview on May 17, Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald noted his club's lack of a first-round pick in this year's draft. "That doesn't mean we won't get one," he said.
The Hockey News' Kristy Flannery observed that the Devils have a pick in every round of this year's draft except the first and third. Taking note of Fitzgerald's comments, she anticipates that he'll conduct his due diligence and explore all his options, including perhaps trading up into Round 1.
Fitzgerald's desire to acquire a first-rounder is understandable. Flannery observed that this year's draft is expected to be deep in promising talent, drawing comparisons to the 2015 draft class that included Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel and Mitch Marner.
Fitzgerald has a history of offseason wheeling and dealing, acquiring Pavel Zacha and Vitek Vanecek last summer and Ryan Graves in 2021. We can't rule out the possibility that he'll find a way to move up into the first round, perhaps by bundling his second-round pick with a prospect or another pick.