NHL Trade Deadline: Top Five North Division Targets
Who could the Islanders be targeting in the trade market? Could Sam Bennett become available as the Flames fade? What’s the latest on the Leafs and Oilers? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
ARE HALL, PALMIERI ON THE ISLANDERS’ TRADE LIST?
THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple believes Taylor Hall could be among those on the New York Islanders list approaching the April 12 trade deadline as they seek a replacement for sidelined captain Anders Lee.
Staple doubts the 29-year-old Buffalo Sabres winger is at the top of the Isles wish list. General manager Lou Lamoriello is unwilling to pay the reported asking price of a first-round pick.
Kyle Palmieri is still the best fit in Staple’s estimation. However, teams like the Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins and perhaps the Toronto Maple Leafs could also pursue the 30-year-old New Jersey Devils winger, potentially driving up the Devils’ asking price.
Staple also noted Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno and Los Angeles Kings winger Dustin Brown have also been connected to the Islanders in the rumor mill. Foligno is a pending UFA who could end up re-signing with the Jackets while the Kings could hang onto Brown if they remain in playoff contention.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lamoriello holds his cards close to the vest but he’s also made his share of bold moves over the years. He could land Hall if the Sabres lower the asking price but I think he’d prefer Palmieri as his style of play fits better into Isles coach Barry Trotz’s system.
I don’t see Foligno or Brown going anywhere. It wouldn’t surprise me if Foligno signs a contract extension with the Jackets. Brown has another season remaining on his contract with a seven-team no-trade list. I don’t think the Kings are really feeling any pressure to move their former captain. That doesn’t mean they won’t listen to offers but trading him isn’t among their priorities.
BENNETT COULD DRAW TRADE INTEREST AS FLAMES FADE
SPORTSNET: Eric Francis believes plenty of teams could line up to make a pitch for forward Sam Bennett as the Calgary Flames playoff hopes fade. Earlier this season, Bennett’s agent told Elliotte Friedman his client would welcome a change of scenery. Francis feels the 25-year-old forward’s versatility and previous postseason performance could attract more attention in the trade market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Calgary GM Brad Treliving could make Bennett’s trade wish come true by next Monday at 3 pm ET. The Flames have dropped seven of their last nine and sit six points behind the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens in the Scotia North Division. The end of the regular season is just over five weeks away and the Canadiens hold five games in hand.
LEAFS CALLED SABRES ABOUT ULLMARK
WGR 550: During an April 1 appearance on “The Instigators” with Andrew Peters and Craig Rivet, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said the Toronto Maple Leafs spoke with the Buffalo Sabres regarding goaltender Linus Ullmark.
Friedman indicated the Leafs were doing due diligence and merely inquiring as to the Sabres’ plans for Ullmark. He doesn’t think the Sabres’ asking price would be a first-round pick but does believe the netminder would have some value in the trade market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This came about as a result of Leafs starter Frederik Andersen remaining sidelined by a lower-body injury until at least next week. Ullmark is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun said he doesn’t believe the Leafs are panicked over Andersen’s status and didn’t have a sense they were calling other teams. Like Friedman, however, he acknowledged that could change if Andersen is sidelined longer than expected.
LATEST OILERS SPECULATION
SPORTSNET: Mark Spector wondered if Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland can find the right fit for his roster before the trade deadline when he’s already maxed out at the $81.5 million salary cap. His lack of second, third and fifth-round picks in this year’s draft also limits his buying power.
A third-line center and a top-six left winger as the Oilers’ primary needs. Spector suggested Detroit Red Wings center Luke Glendening, Vancouver Canucks center Brandon Sutter and Ottawa Senators winger Ryan Dzingel as trade targets.
Montreal Canadiens winger Tomas Tatar would be a good fit but that hinges on the Canadiens’ playoff fortunes. He also doesn’t see Canucks winger Tanner Pearson as much better than what the Oilers already have. His suggested trade asset includes Caleb Jones or Ethan Bear if the price is right.
THE ATHLETIC: Jonathan Willis also mentioned Glendening and Sutter as well as Vancouver’s Travis Boyd and Calgary’s Derek Ryan as his proposed trade targets. He considers Ryan as best-suited to address the Oilers’ needs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whoever Holland pursues in the trade market it’ll have to be dollar-in, dollar-out. That means giving up a current roster player in a one-for-one swap or shipping out a player to another club in a separate move to clear cap space for the intended target.
I don’t see the Canadiens moving Tatar while they’re in the thick of the Scotia North playoff chase. Pearson is currently sidelined but could return to action later this month. However, the current outbreak of COVID-19 among the Canucks likely takes him and Sutter out of the equation.
No April Fool’s pranks here as we examine the latest notable changes to TSN’s trade-bait list in the NHL rumor mill.
TSN: Frank Seravalli moved Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman David Savard into the top spot on his NHL Trade Bait List. Savard’s teammate, Nick Foligno, also moved up two spots into fourth on the list as the Blue Jackets struggled to remain in playoff contention in the Discover Central Division.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The next week or so should determine if the Jackets become sellers by the April 12 trade deadline. Savard seems more likely to move than Foligno as it’s believed the Jackets hope to sign their captain to an extension before free agency opens in July.
Seravalli doesn’t believe Predators general manager David Poile has pulled his players from the board but he could prefer giving his club the opportunity to prove they’re playoff-worthy before the trade deadline. Granlund was believed to be a primary target for the Toronto Maple Leafs, who could be forced to consider other forward options.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators’ recent improvement is also bad news for teams like the Boston Bruins who may have had an eye on Ekholm or Granlund. Like the Leafs, they could end up having to find other trade targets.
Granlund’s status as a pending UFA makes him a more likely trade candidate than Ekholm, who has a year remaining on his contract. The Predators’ rumored asking price of three assets for Ekholm (including a first-round pick and a top prospect) would’ve also turned off some potential suitors.
New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri moved up into the second spot on the board ahead of Buffalo Sabres left wing Taylor Hall. Palmieri’s $4.65 million cap hit would be easier to move than Hall’s $8 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres could agree to absorb up to half of Hall’s cap hit if it would facilitate a trade that fetches a healthy return including a first-round pick.
NBC Sports Boston’s Nick Goss recently made the case for the Bruins to pursue Palmieri, citing his five 20-plus goal seasons and his improved production in recent games. The winger is a pending UFA and it’s been reported contract talks have stalled between his reps and Devils management.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Contenders seeking checking line depth are drawn to Glendening’s faceoff skills and penalty-killing experience. It’s believed Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland could have an eye on the pending UFA center.
Seravalli added Florida Panthers goaltender Chris Driedger at No. 12 and Philadelphia Flyers forward Scott Laughton at No. 16. The Panthers signing top prospect Spencer Knight could give them the flexibility to move Driedger as he’s is a potential expansion draft target. The Flyers, meanwhile, face a decision with pending UFA Laughton, who’s a versatile two-way forward.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t believe the Panthers will trade Driedger while they’re jockeying with Tampa Bay and Carolina for the top spot in the Discover Central Division. They can always wait and trade him in the offseason before the expansion draft. As promising as Knight is, he has no NHL experience right now. Laughton’s future in Philadelphia could depend upon where the Flyers are in the standing by the trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The struggling Blues could turn into sellers if they drop out of contention by the deadline but I still think GM Doug Armstrong sees himself as a buyer.
Armstrong could attempt to use Dunn as a trade chip to add a scoring forward. A restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer. He carries a $1.875 million cap hit and surfaced in trade rumors earlier this season following a stretch of poor play.
Bennett could hit the block if the Flames fail to gain ground in the Scotia North Standings. His agent raised eyebrows around the league in late January by claiming his client wouldn’t object to a change of scenery. He could soon get his wish.
The Canucks would probably love to move Virtanen but his poor performance combined hurts his trade value. So does his contract, for while he carries a $2.55 million cap hit next season he’ll earn $3.4 million in actual salary.
Who could the Leafs, Flyers, Jets and Islanders pursue leading up to this year’s trade deadline? Read on to find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
TORONTO SUN: Michael Traikos believes Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas doesn’t have much time to decide if he’ll make any acquisitions by the April 12 trade deadline. While that date is five weeks away any players acquired from American teams would face a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Traikos feels the Leafs don’t need another skill player such as Buffalo’s Taylor Hall. “It needs more blue-collar players like (Zach) Bogosian and (Wayne) Simmonds. Guys like Nashville defenceman Mattias Ekholm and Calgary forward Sam Bennett. It needs guys that can push back against Boston and Tampa and Vegas. Guys that can help the Leaf go the distance.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Making the dollars fit is the sticking point for the Leafs. Cap Friendly indicates they have just $130K in projected trade deadline salary-cap space. It’ll have to be a salary-in, salary-out scenario, the selling team retains some salary, or Dubas and his capologist find another creative way to free up the necessary space to make an addition.
NHL.COM: In a recent mailbag segment, Dan Rosen was asked if the Philadelphia Flyers would try to bolster their blue line by acquiring Mattias Ekholm from the Predators. Rosen believes he’d be a good fit and a more well-rounded rearguard than current Flyers left-shot defensemen Erik Gustafsson and Robert Hagg.
However, the Flyers could face competition for Ekholm’s services in what could be a limited trade market. He also has a year remaining on his contract, which could affect their protection list for this summer’s expansion draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The effect of an Ekholm addition upon the Flyers’ protection list suggests they could opt for a rental player instead. Options could include Detroit’s Marc Staal, Patrik Nemeth or Jon Merrill, Arizona’s Alex Goligoski, Ottawa’s Mike Reilly or Vancouver’s Jordie Benn, though they’re not as good as Ekholm.
THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Murat Ates was asked if the Jets should acquire a defenseman. While he feels Ekholm would be a good fit he believes the Jets would prefer a right-hand defenseman to pair with Josh Morrissey.
Ates mentioned Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen but his $5.4 million cap hit through next season could make him expensive if he fails to deliver. He also feels acquisition cost could keep the Jets out of the Matt Dumba sweepstakes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Columbus’ David Savard is rumored to be available if the Blue Jackets become sellers at the deadline. Sames goes for the Sabres’ Brandon Montour. They’re UFAs who might serve as good rental options though whether they’d be a good fit with Morrissey isn’t a certainty.
Arthur Staple recently examined possible blue line depth options for the New York Islanders. Given their limited salary-cap space, he anticipates GM Lou Lamoriello will look at affordable options such as the Red Wings’ Jon Merrill, the Senators’ Mike Reilly or Nashville’s Mark Borowiecki.
Walter Gretzky, the father of Wayne Gretzky, passed away at 82, the Flames replace head coach Geoff Ward with Darryl Sutter, plus recaps of Thursday’s games and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Walter Gretzky, father of Wayne Gretzky, passed away at age 82 after battling several illnesses including Parkinson’s disease. The world’s most famous hockey dad, Walter’s guidance and tutelage helped develop Wayne into the greatest player in NHL history.
“For my sister and my 3 brothers, Dad was our team captain – he guided, protected, and led our family every day, every step of the way,” wrote Wayne on Twitter in announcing Walter’s passing.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to the Gretzky family and Walter’s friends. He will be greatly missed. A kind, friendly man who devoted considerable time to charitable causes and always had time for a fan, Walter’s passing leaves a void in the hockey world.
“There’s no relationship like a father and son.” – Wayne Gretzky
As long as there is hockey, Walter’s story will be told. Stephen Brunt remembers Canada’s favourite hockey dad. pic.twitter.com/fhkv1YemyV
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 5, 2021
The Calgary Flames’ 7-3 drubbing of the Ottawa Senators was overshadowed by their firing of head coach Geoff Ward following the game. His replacement is Darryl Sutter, who coached the Flames from 2002 to 2006 and was also their general manager from 2003 to 2010. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports the Flames signed Sutter to a three-year contract (this season plus two more).
Flames winger Dillon Dube tallied his first career NHL hat trick while Matthew Tkachuk collected three assists. Sam Bennett was made a healthy scratch from this contest as a “coach’s decision” by Ward.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ward became the Flames’ interim head coach in November 2019 and was named their full-time head coach last September. The club’s inconsistency this season has threatened to derail their playoff hopes. It’ll be interesting to see how they perform under Sutter, a no-nonsense coach who guided the Flames to the 2004 Stanley Cup Final and went on to win two Cups with the Los Angeles Kings in 2012 and 2014.
The New York Islanders extended their home record to 8-0-2 by dropping the Buffalo Sabres 5-2. Matt Martin scored twice and Jordan Eberle had a goal and an assist. Sabres winger Taylor Hall tallied his first goal since the club’s season-opener on Jan. 14.
Chris Kreider tallied a hat trick to lead the New York Rangers over the New Jersey Devils 6-1. It was a costly win for the Rangers as goaltender Igor Shesterkin left the game in the third period with a lower-body injury. Struggling Blueshirts center Mika Zibanejad had his ice time reduced, including being bench for the first half of the second period. Earlier in the day, the Devils announced captain Nico Hischier is week-to-week with a sinus fracture after being hit in the face by the puck during Saturday’s loss to Washington.
Carolina Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov finally faced off against brother Evgeny Svechnikov in a 5-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Andrei had a goal and an assist while Evgeny picked up an assist for the Red Wings. Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL department of player discipline for a dangerous slew foot on Wings forward Robby Fabbri.
The Philadelphia Flyers overcame a 3-0 deficit to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3. Claude Giroux scored twice, including the game-winner. Flyers forward Joel Farabee missed the game as he was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. Penguin captain Sidney Crosby came off the list yesterday and picked up an assist.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Farabee is just one of three players on the protocol list, joining Boston’s Charlie Coyle and San Jose’s Tomas Hertl.
Paul Stastny scored twice and Pierre-Luc Dubois tallied in overtime as the Winnipeg Jets nipped the Montreal Canadiens 4-3. Corey Perry had a goal and an assist for the Canadiens, who’ve dropped six games in overtime this season and are 3-5-4 in their last 12 games. They hold a two-point over the Flames for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Scotia North Division.
The Tampa Bay Lightning overcame a 2-0 deficit to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 on an overtime goal by Alex Killorn. Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy’s shutout streak ended at three games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A tough loss for the Blackhawks as they outplayed the Lightning through the first two periods and carried a 2-0 lead into the third.
Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad had a career-best four-point performance (two goals, two assists) as his club held off the Nashville Predators 5-4. Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov collected three helpers. Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson each had a three-point game for the Predators.
The Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the Dallas Stars 3-2, handing the latter their fourth straight loss. Boone Jenner had a goal and an assist for the Jackets.
A two-goal performance by Jake Virtanen lifted the Vancouver Canucks to a 3-1 upset of the league-leading Toronto Maple Leafs. Canucks center Elias Pettersson missed the game with an upper-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.
IN OTHER NEWS…
TSN: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin was fined $5,000.00 by the league’s department of player discipline for spearing Boston Bruins forward Trent Frederic on Wednesday.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm will be sidelined for six weeks with a fractured wrist.
THE MERCURY NEWS: San Jose Sharks forward Joachim Blichfeld received a two-game suspension by the league for an illegal hit to the head of Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon on Wednesday. MacKinnon’s status remains uncertain as the Avs have yet to release an update on his condition.