NHL Trade Deadline: Top 5 West Division Trade Targets
SPORTSNET (via KUKLA’S KORNER): Elliotte Friedman believes there’s a lot of teams checking in with the Buffalo Sabres regarding Taylor Hall. He wonders if the St. Louis Blues might be a fit if they can find suitable salary-cap space. The Blues are having trouble scoring of late.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Blues have over $5.4 million in LTIR salary available. However, they’ll lose that buffer when Colton Parayko and Ivan Barbashev come off LTIR later in the season. It’ll have to be a dollar-for-dollar swap for Hall. Even then, the Sabres will probably have to pick up half of his $8 million cap hit.
Friedman also reports Toronto Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said sideline goaltender Frederik Andersen is undergoing some different evaluations. He said the Leafs don’t feel Andersen’s season is in jeopardy and they’re not actively looking for a goalie. They don’t have much salary-cap room and don’t want to add a netminder unless they absolutely have to.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, unless Andersen’s season is over so they can put him on LTIR they cannot afford to pursue a goaltender.
UPDATE ON THE CANADIENS
TSN: Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said he’s not trying to free up salary-cap space to make more moves before the April 12 trade deadline. However, he didn’t rule it out. “Anything’s possible,” said Bergevin.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Eric Engels believes Bergevin isn’t done dealing because of his depth in draft picks and a prospect pool that won’t suffer much damage if one or two were used as trade bait. He also believes the Habs GM could move a marginal player to free up cap space.
The Canadiens are in a good position to make another trade akin to their Friday acquisition of Eric Staal. The question, however, is whether Staal and whoever else Bergevin might bring in will ensure a playoff berth and a chance at a deep postseason run.
LATEST ON PEARSON AND HAMONIC
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports contract talks haven’t taken place yet between Vancouver Canucks management and Tanner Pearson. The 28-year-old winger is a pending unrestricted free agent. He’s sidelined with a lower-body injury but could return to action before the trade deadline. Johnston believes he could become a trade candidate if the two sides don’t get a deal done before the deadline.
Speaking of the Canucks, Friedman believes the Carolina Hurricanes had an interest in Travis Hamonic. Like Pearson, the 30-year-old Hamonic is eligible for UFA status this summer. The Hurricanes are interested in acquiring a right-hand shot defenseman. However, Hamonic prefers to remain in Western Canada and isn’t waiving his no-trade clause.
THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston included Pearson among his five potential Canucks trade candidates. The others include winger Jake Virtanen, defenseman Alex Edler, center Brandon Sutter and blueliner Jordie Benn.
Sutter is already of interest to the Edmonton Oilers. Edler could draw some interest if he can be convinced to waive his no-movement clause.
Johnston believes the Canucks should attempt to stockpile draft picks with their tradeable assets to put toward future acquisitions. He recommends targeting teams in the offseason who risk losing players in the expansion draft, suggesting a defenseman like Devon Toews could be left exposed by the Colorado Avalanche. The Carolina Hurricanes could be another option given their depth in blueliners.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks should be sellers by the deadline and look at coming back stronger next season. Peddle as many of those pending UFAs as possible and see if you can find a taker for Virtanen and the final year of his contract (with that $3.4 million in actual salary).
As Johnston suggests, follow the Canadiens example and stockpile draft picks that can be used in the offseason to pry away quality players (preferably defensemen) from cap-strapped clubs or teams that risk losing a good player in the expansion draft.
Edler might not be interested in waiving his no-movement clause. If Hamonic’s not waiving his no-trade that means he’s not heading to the Winnipeg Jets as some have suggested. Then again, maybe the Jets haven’t expressed an interest in the Manitoba native.
COULD THE CAPITALS SHOP FOR A GOALIE?
THE ATHLETIC: Tarik El-Bashir suggested Detroit’s Jonathan Bernier and San Jose’s Devan Dubnyk among his shortlist of potential goaltending trade targets for the Washington Capitals. Calgary’s David Rittich and Nashville’s Pekka Rinne are the other two, though he considers it unlikely Rinne will waive his no-movement clause to leave the Predators.
El-Bashir acknowledged the Capitals’ limited salary-cap space would make pursuing a rental goalie difficult for general manager Brian MacLellan. Further complicating things is the recent improvement of young goalies Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports Washington’s J.J. Bean suggests Samsonov’s recent play is taking some pressure off MacLellan to bring in an experienced rental goaltender. Given their salary-cap situation, the Capitals GM could be content to stand pat by the deadline.
A look at several noteworthy names on TSN’s updated trade bait list plus updates on the Penguins and Flyers in today’s NHL rumor mill.
ANALYSIS OF TSN’S UPDATED TRADE-BAIT LIST
TSN: Mattias Ekholm remains atop the updated trade-bait list. Pierre LeBrun recently reported the Nashville Predators seek three assets (including a first-round pick and a top prospect) for the 30-year-old defenseman.
Meanwhile, winger Mikael Granlund rises to No. 3 as Frank Seravalli reported he’s the Toronto Maple Leafs’ primary target ahead of the April 12 trade deadline. Seravalli also pointed out the Predators’ recent surge in the standings have them in wait-and-see mode.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No mention of Nashville blueliner Ryan Ellis on TSN’s list. The Athletic’s Adam Vingan observed Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman wondering if Ellis might be available. Vingan weighed the pros and cons of trading either defenseman. He also pointed out the Preds are under no obligation to do so given their recent improvement in the standings and the term remaining on both rearguard’s contracts.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No mention of Coyotes winger Conor Garland on this list. A recent report by Elliotte Freidman speculating over Garland’s availability has BostonHockeyNow’s Joe Haggerty and NBC Sports Boston’s Nick Goss suggesting the winger would be a good trade target for the Bruins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pierre LeBrun, in his column for The Athletic, suggested Foligno or Palmieri could be targeted by New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello if they become available. He and Elliotte Friedman both reported the Bue Jackets could be reluctant to part with Foligno. With the Jackets back in the playoff race they could also retain Savard. It remains to be seen, meanwhile, whether the Devils will trade or re-sign Palmieri.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports Washington listed Bernier and Dubnyk among possible goalie trade targets for the Washington Capitals. Others include Buffalo’s Carter Hutton, Arizona’s Antti Raanta, Nashville’s Pekka Rinne and Calgary’s David Rittich.
Given the Capitals’ limited cap space, any deal they make will be dollar-in, dollar-out. I rule out Rinne because of his no-movement clause and desire to finish his career with the Predators. I don’t see the Flames moving Rittich as long as they have a shot at a playoff spot.
SPECTOR’ S NOTE: The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch considers it doubtful Dzingel will get traded. He feels teams will be more interested in getting blueline help before the deadline, suggesting Braydon Coburn, Mike Reilly and Erik Gudbranson could be targeted by playoff clubs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staal carries a 10-team no-trade list but it’s believed he could be willing to waive it to go to a contender. However, The Buffalo News’ Lance Lysowski recently reported Sabres GM Kevyn Adams hasn’t asked Staal about it. Maybe Adams is waiting until the deadline draws closer. Then again, maybe no one’s called the Sabres about the 36-year-old center.
UPDATES ON THE PENGUINS AND FLYERS
THE ATHLETIC: Josh Yohe reports Brian Burke, the Pittsburgh Penguins president of hockey operations, dismisses speculation this year’s trade deadline could be a quiet one around the league, suggesting business could soon pick up. He said general manager Ron Hextall is working the phones as they’ll try to add at the trade deadline if they can. Burke indicated he and Hextall would like to bring some size to their roster.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall reports Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher took accountability for his club’s struggles this season. He cited his inability to replace retired defenseman Matt Niskanen as a significant factor. Fletcher said he’s not looking at selling right now, adding the trade market is very quiet. He indicated he’s willing to upgrade his team if a deal makes sense.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins are rising in the standings, emboldening their front office to try to augment their lineup at the trade deadline. The Flyers, meanwhile, could go either way, which explains Fletcher’s position. They’re still in the playoff chase but must gain ground over the next couple of weeks for their GM to consider investing futures for immediate help.
The latest on the Leafs, Bruins and Devils plus an update on Pavel Buchnevich in today’s NHL rumor mill.
SHOULD THE LEAFS TRADE ANDERSEN?
TORONTO STAR: Mark Zwolinski reports there’s talk the Maple Leafs should shop Frederik Andersen before the upcoming trade deadline despite his history of regular-season success. He’s battling a lower-body injury and can become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Backup Jack Campbell has put up better numbers in limited action this season but has also had his injury woes this season.
Zwolinski speculates Andersen could be in a backup role in the coming spate of games to work with goaltending coach Steve Briere. After that, he feels Andersen should return to the starter’s role or be dealt before the April 12 deadline. “There’s no sense keeping a $5 million-a-year goalie in the backup role for long.” However, he acknowledged the risk that Andersen could help another team make a long playoff run.
TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby doesn’t see Andersen going anywhere. The Leafs lack an experienced third option within their system as witnessed by Michael Hutchinson’s inconsistent play. The 14-day quarantine for players acquired from American clubs leaves little time to break in a new acquisition, there’s limited salary-cap space and management is focused on a top-six forward and blueline depth.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Andersen’s critics don’t care about those points raised by Hornby, they just want him gone. Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas, however, probably doesn’t share that view for exactly the reasons espoused by Hornby. Besides, it’ll take a fair bit of creativity and salary-cap gymnastics to ship out Andersen, bring in a suitable replacement and still pursue a top-six winger and perhaps a defenseman.
If the Leafs were to attempt to trade Andersen there might not be much of a market for his services. Many contenders have limited salary-cap space and more pressing issues elsewhere on their roster.
NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes recently reported sources claiming interest in heating up in Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick, Detroit’s Jonathan Bernier (though he’s currently sidelined) and San Jose’s Devan Dubnyk. Those options could be more palatable to teams seeking goaltending depth for the playoffs.
WHAT WILL THE BRUINS DO AT THE DEADLINE?
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Haggerty was asked what the Bruins will do to address their anemic secondary scoring and injury-battered blueline. He cautions against giving up too much for a short-term fix for a club that might not be a legitimate Stanley Cup contender this season.
Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm would be a great fit on the Bruins’ defense but he won’t move the needle offensively. He doesn’t consider Buffalo Sabres winger Taylor Hall a pure goal scorer. Anaheim’s Rickard Rakell might be a better option but Haggerty is leery of taking him on, pointing to the Ducks’ offensive woes and low position in the standings. Other trade targets could be Detroit’s Bobby Ryan, Anthony Mantha or Marc Staal or New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri or Dmitry Kulikov.
Jimmy Murphy recently reported multiple sources claiming the Bruins are scouting Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman David Savard. GM Don Sweeney is also continuing to monitor the situation with Ekholm and St. Louis Blues rearguard Vince Dunn. The Predators and Blues recently scouted the Bruins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sweeney is being lambasted daily by his critics as Boston clings to the final playoff spot in the MassMutual East Division. Cap Friendly indicates the Bruins have $5.9 million in trade deadline cap space. However, their lack of sufficient tradeable assets makes it difficult to outbid other clubs in the trade market.
Haggerty made a great point that it might not be worthwhile wasting futures on short-term fixes on a club whose Stanley Cup window may be closed. That’s something Sweeney must carefully consider. Sacrificing the future for immediate returns that might not advance their Stanley Cup hopes will only cost them down the road, especially when they have aging core players like Patrice Bergeron, Tuukka Rask and Brad Marchand.
WILL THE DEVILS MOVE PALMIERI OR SUBBAN?
NEWSDAY: Andrew Gross wonders if New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello will target Kyle Palmieri before the trade deadline. The New Jersey Devils’ winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
Lamoriello is in the market to replace sidelined captain Anders Lee, who suffered a season-ending knee injury. Gross believes Palmieri would be a good fit as he plays the type of hard-edge game Isles coach Barry Trotz prefers. He’s also tallied at least 24 goals in each of his full five seasons with the Devils.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW (via FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW): Jimmy Murphy reports Devils defenseman P.K. Subban is surfacing more frequently in trade rumors. He has a year remaining on his contract with a $9 million salary-cap hit but there’s a sense Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald would be willing to pick up a good portion of it. Subban has improved his defensive play while still logging big minutes and can still contribute to the power play.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Palmieri has expressed an interest in re-signing with the Devils and the two sides are said to have engaged in preliminary discussions. Nevertheless, Fitzgerald could consider moving the veteran winger if the cost of re-signing him proves too expensive. His current cap hit is $4.65 million and he could seek a substantial pay raise.
Murphy also pointed out Subban’s contract could be difficult to move right now even if the Devils picked up half his cap hit. That doesn’t mean he couldn’t be moved in the offseason but a trade-deadline deal seems remote.
UPDATE ON BUCHNEVICH
NEW YORK POST: A week after suggesting the Rangers face an important decision on whether to re-sign or move Pavel Buchnevich at the trade deadline, Larry Brooks believes the answer is re-signing the winger. He points out Buchnevich has become a productive top-six winger and a complete player with a strong work ethic at both ends of the ice, suggesting the Blueshirts re-sign him to a four- or five-year deal worth $5.5 million annually.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Buchnevich is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer. He’ll also be a year away from UFA eligibility. It’ll be interesting to see what he and the Rangers eventually agree to.
LEAFS AND CANADIENS
TSN: Pierre LeBrun cited the different approaches by the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens toward the April 12 trade deadline. Toronto general manager Kyle Dubas is going all-in as the Leafs aim to add a forward. Meanwhile, Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin indicated he might not do much owing to limited salary cap space and 14-day quarantine for players acquired from American-based teams. LeBrun also feels the Canadiens’ inconsistency thus far could affect whether Bergevin adds at the deadline.
The Leafs could pursue a rental player such as New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri or Columbus’ Nick Foligno or Nashville’s Mikael Granlund, or a hockey deal for a player with term on his contract like Nashville’s Filip Forsberg or Anaheim’s Rickard Rakell. Frank Seravalli also noted Dubas’ willingness to move a top prospect. He considers Rasmus Sandin as close to untouchable as possible unless Dubas can hit a home run at the deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas told reporters yesterday he’d like to get a deal done sooner rather than closer to the trade deadline because of that 14-day quarantine period. He would like to add a rental player but didn’t rule out adding a player with term if the deal made sense. Darren Dreger considers Dubas’ willingness to move a top prospect falls in line with being open to moving a first-round pick if the trade made sense.
Adding a rental forward is probably the Leafs’ best bet in terms of cost. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman doesn’t think Rakell’s a fit. He observed the Anaheim Ducks’ asking price for Rakell is high, preferring younger players with a bit of NHL experience. He also said the Calgary Flames wouldn’t pay it. The Predators will also set a high ask for Forsberg.
Montreal GM Bergevin didn’t rule out making a move if it made sense but it’s clear it would have to be a dollar-for-dollar swap. Defenseman Ben Chiarot could be placed on long-term injury reserve thus giving the Habs around $3.5 million in cap relief. However, Bergevin expects he’ll return from his fractured hand by late-April, meaning the Canadiens would have to dump salary to become cap compliant.
Bergevin could make a move over the next couple of weeks if his club can string together some wins and improve their chances of securing a playoff spot. Sportsnet’s Eric Engels believes he’ll pursue a more affordable addition like Detroit’s Luke Glendening than Buffalo’s Eric Staal to shore up his depth at center.
Engels cites sources saying the Canadiens are interested in Glendening but they’ll have to move a player off their roster if they wish to have enough cap space to address their need for a left-side defenseman. He suggested a swap of forward Artturi Lehkonen for Glendening.
LATEST ON EKHOLM AND DUBNYK
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm “is the belle of the trading ball.” The Predators have made it clear they want a return similar to that the Leafs gave up two years ago to acquire Jake Muzzin from the Los Angeles Kings. That was a first-round pick, a second-rounder and a prospect.
Friedman believes the Boston Bruins and Winnipeg Jets are among those interested in Ekholm. He’s doubtful the Philadelphia Flyers are in because they could be unwilling to pay the cost this year. The Leafs looked into it but they’re already deep on the left side of their blue line with Muzzin and Morgan Rielly. Friedman feels Ekholm would be a good fit with the Edmonton Oilers but he believes Oilers GM Ken Holland wants to build up his draft and prospect capital.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports Boston’s Nick Goss doesn’t believe the Bruins should pursue Ekholm when their obvious priority is landing a top-six forward. He points out secondary scoring is their most glaring issue right now.
Eric Engels also mentioned the Canadiens as a suitor for Ekholm if they can find a way to shed a salary such as Tomas Tatar or Joel Armia. Based on Bergevin’s comments, however, it doesn’t sound like he’ll be pursuing the Predators’ defenseman.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun believes San Jose Sharks goalie Devan Dubnyk could be available by the trade deadline. Dubnyk has a 10-team no-trade list but LeBrun feels he’d waive it for the right contender and the right fit. The Colorado Avalanche and Washington Capitals come to mind as possible destinations. The Avs are in the market for a short-term replacement for sidelined backup Pavel Francouz.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubnyk isn’t a full-time starter anymore but he has plenty of playoff experience and could be a worthwhile addition for playoff contenders in a backup role. Making the dollars fit, however, could be tricky. He carries a $4.33 million annual average value with over $1.9 million remaining to be paid.
MORE TRADE TIDBITS FROM FRIEDMAN’S “31 THOUGHTS”
The Jets need one more defenseman. Ekholm or David Savard would be a good fit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Savard might be the better one as they seem to have more of a need to address the right side.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman last Saturday said he’d heard Terry might welcome a change of scenery. However, The Athletic’s Eric Stephens subsequently cited a source saying that’s not the case.
The New Jersey Devils and Kyle Palmieri have started conversations about the pending UFA’s future. Friedman thinks the Bruins, New York Islanders and Leafs could be interested if Palmieri hits the trade block.
Friedman believes Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman will consider almost anything heading toward the trade deadline. He feels Dylan Larkin, Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider aren’t going anywhere. There’s interest in pending UFA goalie Jonathan Bernier.
The Colorado Avalanche is one of the teams seeking a Blake Coleman-type player.
The Chicago Blackhawks are in a position to absorb a contract or two for the right assets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Frank Seravalli also reported on this, pointing out they’ve got $22 million in LTIR cap space. They’re willing to take on a rival team’s bad contract if they can also get some good assets (draft picks, prospects) as part of the return.