5 Defensemen Who Are Prime Trade Candidates Heading Into Next Season

The 2023 NHL offseason continues and while it's moving at a snail's pace into August, let's turn our focus into some players who should be considered prime trade candidates heading into the 2023-24 season. More specifically for today's piece, let's zone in on the blue line and showcase five defensemen who will be on the trade block heading into next season:

1. Erik Karlsson, San Jose Sharks

An obvious first choice, Karlsson has reiterated numerous times this summer he does not plan to return to San Jose and would like to move on to a contending team. The Seattle Kraken, Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes have all had advanced trade talks with Sharks GM Mike Grier. At this point, it appears Pittsburgh will win the sweepstakes with a three-way deal in the works.

2. Noah Hanifin, Calgary Flames

Hanifin's agent informed Flames GM Craig Conroy his client was not interested in re-signing in Calgary and will be looking to play in the United States as soon as possible. Hanifin is in his prime, he's a top-pair defender and he's also a pending unrestricted free agent. Lots of variables involved, but don't expect to see Hanifin in a Flames uni much longer.

3. Nikita Zadorov, Calgary Flames

Another Flames blueliner who is drawing a ton of interest, Zadorov is also a pending unrestricted free agent. He's a beast, who plays tough and brings a sandpaper element that a lot of teams are looking for. There's been chatter about a deal with the Maple Leafs, but to this point it hasn't been finalized. Expect to see the towering Zadorov moved at some point next season.

4. Jeff Petry, Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins want Karlsson bad and they are trying to move Petry to a third team in the process. He's a veteran blueliner who at 35 years old is starting to slow down from the wear and tear. Petry has two seasons left on his deal at $6.25 million and there's also a 15-team no-trade clause to consider as well. Petry recorded 31 points in 61 games in his first season with the Pens last year.

5. Brett Pesce, Carolina Hurricanes

Pesce's name has made its rounds this summer on the trade market and that's not going to stop until he signs an extension with the 'Canes. He's a pending unrestricted free agent and so far, word is the contract talks haven't been going over so well since July 1. Pesce is one of the more underrated defensemen in the league and will be at the top of every contender's wish list. He's 28 years old and is set to make $4.02. He's submitted a list of 15 teams he's willing to be traded to to Carolina's management.

photo credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports