NHL trade tiers: Top players available at each position

    Greg Wyshynski is ESPN’s senior NHL writer.

The NHL trade deadline owes a debt of gratitude to the Canadian government.

On Thursday, a league source confirmed to ESPN that the 14-day quarantine for NHL players traded from U.S. teams to Canadian teams would be reduced to seven days, with additional COVID-19 testing. This removes a roadblock for North Division teams seeking to reach across the border to complete deals ahead of the April 12 trade deadline.

But that was only one of several unusual influences on this season’s trade market. Consider:

  • The flat $81.5 million salary cap that limits the trade options for teams, unless they’re shipping out money as well.

  • The expansion draft for the Seattle Kraken looming in the offseason. There are more nuanced rules, but the basic requirements for teams: They must protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie, or eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goalie.

  • The fact that some teams aren’t eager to overreact to what they see as an anomalous, COVID-impacted season.

As trade activity intensifies ahead of the April 12, 3 p.m. ET deadline, here is a tier-by-tier look at the rentals, the investments and the wild-card stars whose availability could turn this deadline on its collective head.

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