SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said he wouldn’t part with a first-round pick or a top prospect for a rental player. He got himself an excellent top-four defenseman with Giordano without having to sacrifice too much in return.
Seattle Kraken trade defenseman Mark Giordano to the Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL Images).
The Leafs needed a top-four blueliner with Jake Muzzin still sidelined indefinitely by a head injury. Giordano isn’t a physical shutdown rearguard like Muzzin but his mobility, two-way skills and leadership should prove a welcome addition as a playoff rental to their defense corps.
Winner of the Norris Trophy in 2019, the 38-year-old Giordano put up a respectable 23 points in 55 games with the low-scoring Kraken. His puck-moving skills should prove a good fit with the Leafs’ potent offense.
Blackwell, 28, can play center or wing and is also slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. He has a decent scoring touch, netting 12 goals and 22 points in 47 games last season with the New York Ranger. Blackwell’s versatility gives the Leafs some flexibility to slot him into a variety of roles should injuries strike.
To free up some additional salary cap room, the Leafs traded defenseman Travis Dermott to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for the Canucks’ third-round pick in 2022.
The Kraken reportedly sought a first-round pick for Giordano but the number of potential trade partners was shrinking with Hampus Lindholm acquired by the Boston Bruins and the Florida Panthers dealing for Ben Chiarot. Getting two seconds should help them select a pair of promising youngsters to stock up their prospect pipeline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamonic is in the first year of a two-year deal with an annual average value of $3 million. A physical two-way defenseman, the 31-year-old has been sidelined in recent years dealing with injuries and personal matters.
The Canucks wanted to shed salary to garner some cap flexibility heading into the offseason. It remains to be seen if this move is to clear room to re-sign restricted free agent Brock Boeser or the first of other cost-cutting deals.
The Canucks used their recently reacquired pick to bring in Travis Dermott from the Leafs. He’ll get a great opportunity for more playing time in Vancouver. He’s signed through 2022-23 with a $1.5 million cap hit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panthers blueliner Aaron Ekblad is expected to be placed on long-term injury reserve with a lower-body injury for the remainder of the regular season. That provides the Panthers with some cap flexibility to add more depth to their lineup for the postseason. Hagg, 27, is a stay-at-home rearguard with an affordable $1.6 million cap hit.
Johnston feels the Islanders could still be interested in getting Hall out of Buffalo but there are other clubs also lurking. Some teams feel if Hall is still on the Sabres as tomorrow’s 3 pm ET deadline draws near perhaps the Sabres’ asking price will come down. He wondered if the Edmonton Oilers could be among the suitors in that circumstance.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can’t rule anything out when you’re talking about Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello. His club still has over $3 million in long-term injury reserve space to draw upon. It’ll take some salary-cap creativity but it’s possible, as we saw in yesterday’s three-team deal that sent David Savard from the Columbus Blue Jackets to the Tampa Bay Lightning through the Detroit Red Wings.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cites Sportsnet NHL insiders Mike Futa and Kris Versteeg suggesting Hall should be at the top of the Edmonton Oilers’ wish list. They feel the Sabres winger can provide the Oilers with the scoring depth they need.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think their biggest need is a skilled checking-line center who can win faceoffs. Regardless, Oilers GM Ken Holland said he’s not parting with assets for rental players, preferring those with term on their contracts. If he maintains that stance, forget about Hall coming to Edmonton at the deadline.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks ponders the possibility of the Pittsburgh Penguins taking a shot at Hall. He wonders if playing for a contender and skating alongside Sidney Crosby might snap the winger out of his scoring funk. Brooks also mused about the Calgary Flames’ Sam Bennett or New Jersey’s Miles Wood being better suited for Pittsburgh.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins are reportedly seeking more toughness up front. That’s not something Hall provides. Bennett would be a good checking-line addition if he goes into his usual beast mode in the postseason.
Brooks mentioned Wood as he suggests this might be the best time to trade him for maximum value if Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald harbors any doubts about re-signing him. Wood has a year remaining on his contract. That, however, might be a move best made in the offseason, when contract discussions can formally begin.
THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo also weighed in on Friedman’s report, saying he’s long suspected the Wild intend to pursue Nick Foligno in the offseason if he becomes an unrestricted free agent. However, Russo doubts Wild GM Bill Guerin will part with a first-rounder for the Jackets captain.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the Jackets lower their asking price we’ll have to wait until this summer for a possible Foligno family reunion.
WILL THE BLUES MOVE SCHWARTZ OR HOFFMAN?
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman believes the St. Louis Blues will set a high asking price for pending UFA winger Jaden Schwartz, making it difficult for other clubs to acquire him. He notes the Montreal Canadiens had some interest in winger Mike Hoffman before he signed with St. Louis in the offseason. He wonders if the Habs might consider Hoffman to bolster their sagging offense.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues won’t move Schwartz, especially when they’re battling for a playoff spot. Hoffman, however, hasn’t been a good fit with them. Despite scoring two goals last night after being a healthy scratch from the last two games, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s traded. I still think the Canadiens need to shore up their left-side defense but their scoring has suffered since Brendan Gallagher fractured his thumb.
UPDATE ON THE JETS, OILERS AND FLAMES
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston believes the Winnipeg Jets intend to acquire a defenseman before tomorrow’s trade deadline. However, he doesn’t see them parting with any of their top prospects.
WINNIPEG SUN: Scott Billeck reports the Jets were believed among the clubs with an interest in David Savard before he was shipped to Tampa Bay yesterday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Manson’s the best of the bunch but he has a year remaining on his contract and the Ducks reportedly seek a first-round pick and a top prospect. The rest are pending UFAs and wouldn’t cost the Jets a top prospect or a first-rounder.
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston believes the Edmonton Oilers intend to be bargain shoppers rather than big-game hunters at the trade deadline. He feels they’re looking for a defenseman and had an interest in Patrik Nemeth before he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche on Friday. Columbus’ Michael Del Zotto could make sense.
Elliotte Friedman thinks the Calgary Flames will have a quiet trade deadline because they lack notable UFAs. Derek Ryan might draw interest from teams seeking a center while David Rittich could be enticing to teams looking for a backup goalie.
Recaps of a busy Saturday, injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM:Connor McDavid scored twice, including the winner in overtime, to lead the Edmonton Oilers to a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Leon Draisaitl and Tyson Barrie each collected two assists while John Tavares had two assists for the Leafs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid’s end-to-end power-play goal in the second period is my candidate for goal of the year. I realize it’s very early in the season and lots of great goals are coming but it will be difficult for McDavid – or anyone else – to top that tally.
Jack Eichel tallied the only goal in a shootout as the Buffalo Sabres edged the New Jersey Devils 4-3. Sabres winger Taylor Hall collected two assists. Devils defenseman Ty Smith scored to move into a tie with Minnesota’s Kirill Kaprizov (seven points) for the rookie scoring lead.
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby’s overtime goal lifted his club to a 5-4 win over the New York Rangers. Rookie defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph had three assists for the Penguins, who lost blueliner Kris Letang to a lower-body injury. Rangers center Colin Blackwell left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: An update on Letang’s status could be coming later today. The Penguins already have four regular defensemen on the shelf with injuries.
The Philadelphia Flyers edged the New York Islanders 3-2 on an overtime goal by Scott Laughton. Carter Hart kicked out 26 shots for the win. It’s the Islanders’ fourth consecutive defeat.
Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored in overtime to nip the Boston Bruins 4-3. It was Ovechkin’s first game since being placed on COVID-19 protocol list a week ago. Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom had a goal and two assists. This was Zdeno Chara’s first game against the Bruins since signing with the Capitals. Bruins winger David Pastrnak collected an assist in his first game of the season following his recovery from offseason hip surgery.
The Carolina Hurricanes beat the Dallas Stars 4-1 to hand the latter their first loss of the season. Vincent Trochek scored twice for the Hurricanes, who chased Stars goalie Anton Khudobin after he gave up four goals on 16 shots. Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek left the game early in the first with an upper-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Khudobin didn’t get much help from his teammates in this contest. The defense was sloppy, giving up three power-play goals.
A four-goal second-period outburst carried the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Nashville Predators 4-3. Lightning rookie Callan Foote tallied his first NHL goal while Steven Stamkos scored the eventual game-winner. Filip Forsberg had two assists for the Predators.
Aleksander Barkov had a goal and an assist while Aleksi Heponiemi scored his first career NHL goal in overtime to lift the Florida Panthers over the Detroit Red Wings 3-2. The Panthers extended their season-opening points streak to five games (4-0-1).
The Calgary Flames blanked the Montreal Canadiens 2-0 to hand the latter their first regulation loss of the season. Jacob Markstrom kicked out 37 shots for the shutout while Johnny Gaudreau and Mikael Granlund were the goal scorers as the Flames halted their three-game losing skid. Canadiens winger Josh Anderson left the game following the first period with flu-like symptoms. He tested negative for COVID-19 but will be retested today.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flames winger Dillon Dube got away with a blindside headshot on Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi. It’s unlikely he’ll receive supplemental discipline. Kotkaniemi was shaken up but returned to action.
Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Brandon Saad, Andre Burakovsky, and Samuel Girard each collected two points as the Colorado Avalanche downed the Minnesota Wild 5-1, handing the latter their third loss in their last four games. Wild defenseman Matt Dumba left the game with a leg injury in the third period. Earlier in the day, the Wild revealed prospect Marco Rossi returned to Austria to rest due to complications from COVID-19. He’s expected to return to the Wild sometime in March.
The St. Louis Blues scored their fastest three game-opening goals (2:06) in franchise history on route to a 6-1 thrashing of the Anaheim Ducks. Jordan Kyrou scored two of those three goals. Ducks goalie John Gibson was pulled after giving up those three goals on just six shots.
Brock Boeser scored twice to lead the Vancouver Canucks over the Winnipeg Jets 4-1 for their fourth straight win. Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko made 23 saves for the win while Jets netminder Connor Hellebucyk turned aside 35 shots.