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Top 10 NHL Trade Candidates (Centers Edition): J.T. Miller and More

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J.T. Miller #9 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates his power play goal against the Minnesota Wild in the third period at Xcel Energy Center on March 24, 2022 in St Paul, Minnesota. The Wild defeated the Canucks 3-2 in overtime. Photo by David Berding/Getty Images via AFP.

Top 10 Wingers Trade Candidates I Top 10 Defensemen Trade Candidates I Top Goalie Trade Candidates

While it is usually considered to be extraordinarily difficult to acquire top centers via trade in the National Hockey League, circumstances may be right for more significant deals in the summer of 2022.

With a tight salary cap situation and some teams shifting their priorities into a rebuilding situation, there might be some trade matches.

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Here are 10 centers that could get traded this offseason in the NHL (stats courtesy of Natural Stat Trick).

1. J.T. Miller, Vancouver (32 G, 67 A, 52.4 Corsi For %, 51.0 Expected Goals For %, 80 GP)

The 29-year-old had the best season of his career in 2021-22, dominating the second half of the season by tallying 63 points in his last 43 games. Miller can play any forward position but a strong physical player who produced more than a point-per-game and won 54.1% of his faceoffs makes for a good fit down the middle.

Miller has one year left on his deal and is great value at a $5.25 million cap hit. If the Canucks can not get him signed to an extension, he would command a substantial return via trade.

2. Jonathan Toews, Chicago (12 G, 25 A, 47.9 CF%, 47.9 xGF%, 71 GP)

While rumors have quieted recently, the Blackhawks’ plans are still aimed towards a horizon further in the distance. Thus, it would make sense for Chicago to find a landing spot for Toews, who has a no-movement clause and one year left on his current deal. Even though Toews did return to action last season after missing all of the 2020-2021 season, his production was a far cry from his best seasons.

Given his pedigree, however, a 34-year-old Toews might still draw some interest if the Blackhawks will retain 50% of his salary for next season.

3. Pavel Zacha, New Jersey (15 G, 21 A, 53.6 CF%, 53.4 xGF%, 70 GP)

The 25-year-old was shifted to the wing more last season and did finish with a career-high 36 points, but he is a restricted free agent and could be the right answer for a team seeking a third-line center as Zacha plays a responsible two-way game.

4. Pierre-Luc Dubois, Winnipeg (28 G, 32 A, 50.9 CF%, 52.4 xGF%, 81 GP)

If the Jets do not move Mark Scheifele, they might be leaning more towards moving Dubois, a 24-year-old who is reportedly not interested in signing a long-term deal in Winnipeg. He is a big center who can play a physical game and just scored a career-high 28 goals.

If the Jets are looking to deal Dubois, they ought to recoup significant value with a trade.

5. Filip Chytil, N.Y. Rangers (8 G, 14 A, 49.7 CF%, 48.9 xGF%, 67 GP)

A 22-year-old who scored eight goals in 67 games during the regular season, Chytil responded with a better postseason, scoring seven goals in 20 games as the Rangers reached the Eastern Conference Final.

It’s not like the Rangers have to move Chytil — he has one year and $2.3 million left on his contract — but he would be a prime candidate to go if the Rangers get into trade talks for a star forward.

6. Dylan Strome, Chicago (22 G, 26 A, 48.3 CF%, 48.9 xGF%, 69 GP)

Often mentioned in trade rumors, the 25-year-old center did have a strong finish last season, producing 27 points in his last 28 games. However, they might not be inclined to give Strome a long-term contract extension given they are looking to rebuild. While his game has flaws, Strome has also shown that he can be a legitimate offensive contributor.

7. Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg (29 G, 41 A, 50.0 CF%, 48.3 xGF%, 67 GP)

A 29-year-old center who has produced at least a point per game for six straight seasons, Scheifele seemed like he might want out of Winnipeg if the team was prepared to embark on a rebuilding process. But after they hired Rick Bowness as their new head coach, it does not seem that an aggressive rebuild is in the plans.

Teams that are contenders might be still able to entice the Jets if they make a significant offer for a scoring pivot who has two years and a $6.125 million cap hit left on his contract.

8. Christian Dvorak, Montreal (11 G, 22 A, 43.8 CF%, 43.6 xGF%, 56 GP)

Acquired from Arizona last year after Jesperi Kotkaniemi was signed to an offer sheet by the Carolina Hurricanes, Dvorak had a terrible start to the season with Montreal and then missed time with a lower-body injury. Dvorak did finish the season with 13 points in his last 12 games, which might have helped to rehabilitate his value in the marketplace.

9. Alex Kerfoot, Toronto (13 G, 38 A, 49.7 CF%, 51.0 xGF%, 82 GP)

A 27-year-old who scored a career-high 51 points in 2021-2022, Kerfoot spent most of last season playing left wing on Toronto’s second line, but he has also been a third-line center for significant periods throughout his career. If the Maple Leafs are feeling pressed against the salary cap, Kerfoot’s $3.5 million cap hit for the final year of his contract could be moved.

10. William Karlsson, Vegas (12 G, 23 A, 57.7 CF%, 55.7 xGF%, 67 GP)

After scoring 35 points in 67 games last season, his fewest since joining the Golden Knights in 2017-2018, Karlsson could be expendable because he has five years remaining with a $5.9 million annual cap hit, and Vegas does have a cheaper alternative in Chandler Stephenson to fill that spot down the middle of the ice.

Since Vegas is jammed against the cap, they might be more likely to move a pricy defenseman instead, but 29-year-old Karlsson could be a trade option.

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