NHL Trade Deadline: Top Five North Division Targets
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.
Recaps of Wednesday’s action, the NHL and ESPN officially announce their new seven-year partnership, plus the latest on Artemi Panarin, Alex Pietrangelo, Evander Kane and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Leon Draisaitl had a hat trick and collected two assists as the Edmonton Oilers thumped the Ottawa Senators 7-1. Connor McDavid had a goal and two assists and Tyson Barrie had three helpers as the Oilers went 6-0-0 over the Senators this season. Senators forwards Colin White and Ryan Dzingel both left the game with injuries.
A two-goal performance by Joel Eriksson Ek enabled the Minnesota Wild to hold off the Vegas Golden Knights by a score of 4-3. Vegas rookie Dylan Coghlan tallied his first career NHL hat trick. The Golden Knights played without defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, who coach Pete DeBoer said is sidelined “for the foreseeable future” with an upper-body injury. Meanwhile, goaltender Robin Lehner (upper-body) has been loaned to the Golden Knights AHL affiliate for a conditioning stint as he moves closer to returning to the lineup.
Montreal Canadiens forwards Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Tyler Toffoli each had two points in a 5-1 drubbing of the Vancouver Canucks. Jeff Petry scored his 10th goal of the season to lead all NHL defensemen in goals. He’s also the Canadiens leading scorer with 24 points. Habs blueliner Ben Chiarot left the game after injuring his hand in a fight with Canucks forward J.T. Miller.
The Colorado Avalanche edged the Arizona Coyotes 2-1 on an overtime goal by captain Gabriel Landeskog. Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta kicked out 44 shots in a losing cause. The Avalanche (30 points) sit in fourth place in the Honda West Division, two points up on the Los Angeles Kings.
Speaking of the Kings, goalie Troy Grosenick made 33 saves to win his first start in six years as he backstopped his club over the Anaheim Ducks 5-1.
The NHL, ESPN and the Walt Disney Company officially announced their new seven-year media rights partnership beginning in 2021-22. The deal will be a combination of television and “cutting-edge streaming” that should “help Disney grow its audience, help the NHL grow the game and give fans more options.”
The remainder of the league’s media rights is still being negotiated. NBC, which carried the NHL’s broadcasting rights for the past decade, is among the bidders.
Among the highlights:
The Stanley Cup Final will be on ABC four of the seven years of this deal. ABC and ESPN will carry one conference final series and half of the first- and second-round games in the Stanley Cup playoffs each season, plus 25 regular-season games.
ESPN will also produce 75 national games each season and stream them on ESPN+ and Hulu. It will also stream more than 1,000 out-of-market games each regular season on ESPN+, replacing NHL TV.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports the ESPN package is worth around $2.8 billion, paying out over $400 million per season to the NHL. That’s a considerable increase over the $200 million per season from the current deal with NBC, with more to come when the second broadcast/streaming deal is finalized.
SPORTSNET: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the salary cap will likely remain stagnant as part of the four-year extension of the collective bargaining agreement with the NHL Players Association. He indicated it will remain flat until the league recovers overpayments through the escrow that built up in the return-to-play last season and the lack of attendance this season due to COVID-19.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That means less money for the foreseeable future for restricted and unrestricted free agent players. The league approached the PA last fall about a short-term increase in escrow payments or deferred salary to address the potential overpayments. However, that was rejected by the players as they didn’t want to make changes to a CBA extension agreement made just several months earlier. The players were within their rights, of course, but this is going to make it increasingly difficult for free agents to land lucrative new contracts.
NEW YORK POST: Artemi Panarin returned to Rangers practice for the first time in over two weeks. He took time off to deal with unsubstantiated accusations from a former KHL coach claiming he assaulted a young Latvian woman in 2011. Panarin is listed as day-to-day and won’t be in the lineup for tonight’s game against the Boston Bruins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panarin could be back in action perhaps on Saturday or Monday against the Philadelphia Flyers.
THE SCORE: The San Jose Sharks denied a report claiming they could void Evander Kane’s contract as the winger navigates through bankruptcy proceedings. “The Sharks are 100 percent committed to honoring Evander Kane’s contract and have no intention of having it terminated,” said a team spokesperson.
Kane filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in January, citing $26.8 million in debt and $10.2 million in assets. There is $29 million remaining on his contract with the Sharks. His creditors have requested to convert the bankruptcy to Chapter 11, which would make that remaining money available to them. A hearing to determine the designation is slated for later in March.
TSN: Nashville Predators defenseman Dante Fabbro received a two-game suspension for elbowing Carolina Hurricanes forward Brock McGinn on Tuesday.
SPORTSNET: Winnipeg Jets defenseman Nathan Beaulieu will be sidelined for weeks after blocking a shot with his right hand during a recent game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
An update on Ryan Getzlaf, the Blue Jackets seek a center and the latest on the Oilers and Senators in today’s NHL rumor mill.
DUCKS HAVEN’T ASKED GETZLAF TO WAIVE NMC
NHL.COM: Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray said he has not asked team captain Ryan Getzlaf to consider waiving his no-movement clause. The 35-year-old center is in the final season of an eight-year deal and is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
“I’m tired of hearing this from Toronto anymore, how his name is out there (in media rumors),” said Murray. “The only way Ryan Getzlaf would go anywhere is if he came to me and said, ‘Bob, can you try and trade me to a contender?’ He added, “he’s not going anywhere.”
Murray said he’s spoken with Getzlaf after next year and they’ve agreed to see how he feels after this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s apparent Murray would prefer if Getzlaf stayed on during the club’s ongoing rebuild but will leave that decision up to him. Maybe the long-time Ducks captain will decide in the coming weeks he’d like one more shot at winning another Stanley Cup before hanging up his skates. Maybe not.
BLUE JACKETS SEEK A FIRST-LINE CENTER
TSN: cited Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen tell The Athletic his club is in the market for a top-line center. “It’s a challenge because they’re just not available,” said Kekalainen. “You usually have to draft and develop one. We did that with one player and now he’s not here.”
Kekalainen was referring to Pierre-Luc Dubois, who asked to be traded and was subsequently shipped to the Winnipeg Jets in January along with a draft pick for forwards Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic. He added there could be some centers available in this summer’s free-agent market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whatever the reason behind Dubois’ trade request, the fact remains the Jackets are in a difficult spot without a reliable first-line center.
The Blue Jackets tried to bolster their depth at center before the season began by acquiring Max Domi and Mikko Koivu but the former has struggled to adapt while the latter retired after only seven games. They’ve been using Roslovic and Nick Foligno to plug the gap at the first-line center spot but it’s not working out.
Pickings will be slim for first-line centers via this year’s UFA market. The best of the bunch is Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins but there’s no certainty he’ll be available. The Blue Jackets will face stiff competition signing him if he decides to test the market. The remainder are aging stars like Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf, Boston’s David Krejci, Buffalo’s Eric Staal and Winnipeg’s Paul Stastny or a struggling center such as Montreal’s Phillip Danault.
LATEST ON THE OILERS AND SENATORS
THE ATHLETIC: Allan Mitchell recently suggested several targets for the Edmonton Oilers leading up to the April 12 trade deadline. Mitchell believes trading for a true No. 1 goaltender would do more to bolster the current roster than anything else. He wonders if GM Ken Holland could find a way to “switch out (Mikko) Koskinen” and acquire Darcy Kuemper from the Arizona Coyotes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anything’s possible but Holland faces long odds acquiring Kuemper. The Coyotes are battling for the final playoff spot in the Honda West Division so they have no reason to trade their starter unless they tumble out of the race before April 12. Even then, they’ll be reluctant to move him with a year remaining on his contract.
A more likely trade option would be Arizona backup Antti Raanta, who becomes a UFA this summer. But as long as the Coyotes remain in the playoff chase they won’t break up their current goalie tandem.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators will have decisions to make regarding their eight pending UFAs leading up to the trade deadline. He considers it “highly doubtful” alternate captain Erik Gudbranson would get moved while Ryan Dzingel only recently joined the lineup from a 14-day quarantine following his acquisition from Carolina last month. Mike Reilly would be an attractive option for teams seeking blueline help but he’s stabilized the Senators’ second pairing with Artem Zub.
Garrioch believes GM Pierre Dorion will listen if a team comes calling and want to give something in return. Given the current environment, however, this could be a quiet deadline for him.
A look at TSN’s latest trade-bait board in today’s NHL rumor mill.
TSN: With the NHL’s Apr. 12 trade deadline six weeks away, Frank Seravalli lists Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm, Columbus Blue Jackets blueliner David Savard, New York Rangers rearguard Tony DeAngelo, Buffalo Sabres defender Brandon Montour and Sabres winger Taylor Hall among the top-five players on his trade-bait board.
Ekholm has a year remaining on his contract and could fetch more than Savard, who’s an unrestricted free agent this summer. However, Seravalli believes the latter’s playoff experience and right-hand shot will draw interest from postseason contenders. It remains to be seen, however, if Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen will move him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports Philly’s Jordan Hall observed recent trade speculation linked Ekholm to the Philadelphia Flyers. However, he believes the club’s performance over the next month will determine if they need external help on their blue line.
Seravalli notes Kekalainen tends to let pending UFAs play out their contracts but that might change if the Jackets fall further out of playoff contention. DeAngelo remains available but his banishment from the Rangers over his personal issues makes rival general managers reluctant to take a chance on him right now.
It’s only a matter of time until the Sabres become sellers. Montour and Hall are both pending UFAs but the latter has a full no-movement clause. His camp was reportedly interested in talking contract extension with the Sabres but that might have changed given the club’s ongoing poor play. His $8 million cap hit could be difficult for most contenders to absorb.
Predators winger Mikael Granlund, Detroit Red Wings forward Bobby Ryan, Vancouver Canucks winger Jake Virtanen, Calgary Flames forward Sam Bennett and Canucks winger Tanner Pearson round out the top ten.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Granlund, Ryan and Pearson are pending UFAs on teams with fading playoff hopes. Granlund was linked to the Toronto Maple Leafs while Ryan acknowledged the possibility he could be traded but hopes to return to the Wings this summer as a free agent.
Virtanen and Bennett are fixtures in this year’s rumor mill. The Canucks reportedly attempted to ship him to the Anaheim Ducks over the weekend for Danton Heinen but his $3.75 million in actual salary for next season was a rumored sticking point. The Athletic’s Thomas Drance believes this shows the Canucks still hope to get something decent back in return.
The Bennett trade chatter picked up a month ago when his agent went public with a trade request. Flames GM Brad Treliving recently stated his club will decide the versatile forward’s fate and not his agent. Treliving may be reluctant to move Bennett this season because he ramps up his game in the playoffs. However, he could change his mind at the trade deadline if the struggling Flames fail to improve.
Red Wings forward Luke Glendening, St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn, Sabres center Eric Staal, Wings blueliner Marc Staal and Senators winger Ryan Dzingel fill the final five spots on the list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like Ryan, Glendening and Marc Staal are both pending UFAs who could be shopped at the deadline for draft picks. The latter still has a no-movement clause but could waive it for a contender. Detroit Sports Nation cited a report in The Athletic quoting an NHL executive’s belief that Wings GM Steve Yzerman could shop a young forward like Tyler Bertuzzi or Anthony Mantha if the right deal came along. Bertuzzi could draw more interest but Yzerman could prefer moving the talented-but-inconsistent Mantha, who also has a bit of an injury history. He’ll likely seek a good young player in return.
Dunn was the hot topic of trade chatter a month ago but that has died out as the Blues deal with an injury-ravaged roster. Eric Staal still has a 10-team no-trade list but his experience could make him an invaluable addition to a playoff club. Dzingel was recently acquired by the Senators from the Carolina Hurricanes but could also be moved by the trade deadline for a draft pick.
Analysis of a list of early potential trade-rental candidates in today’s NHL rumor mill.
SPORTSNET: Luke Fox recently examined the potential trade-rental candidates among this year’s NHL cellar-dwelling teams. He considers the pickings slim for those pending unrestricted free agents who could become available at the Apr. 12 trade deadline.
The notable names on the Buffalo Sabres include Taylor Hall, Eric Staal and Brandon Montour. Bobby Ryan and Marc Staal are among the Detroit Red Wings’ pending UFAs. Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula and Pekka Rinne are the noteworthy Nashville Predators while the Ottawa Senators’ list includes Derek Stepan and Ryan Dzingel.
Hall is the standout in this group and Fox is skeptical he’ll sign an extension with the struggling Sabres. He feels Buffalo general manager Kevyn Adams must move Hall if he hasn’t re-signed by Apr. 11.
Eric Staal must submit a 10-team no-trade list. Centers are always in demand and he carries a reasonable $3.25 million salary-cap hit. Brother Marc, meanwhile, could help clubs in need of a dependable, stay-at-home defenseman.
Fox feels Stepan and Haula could help a contender seeking a third-line center. Montour, a right-handed shot, is only 26 and should still have better days ahead.
Granlund could be more successful playing sheltered minutes on a good team’s third line than trying to produce on a bad team’s top line. If the Toronto Maple Leafs were willing to take a chance on Alex Galchenyuk then someone should be willing to take a chance on Dzingel.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Fox’s assessment of the limited trade options available for contenders seeking quality playoff rental options. Nevertheless, I’d like to add a few points.
Fox published this list of pending UFAs prior to Friedman’s report last Saturday listing Rinne among the Predators’ three untouchables along with Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis. It sounds like Nashville GM David Poile wants the 38-year-old to finish his NHL career with the only team he’s ever played for. His age, $5 million cap hit and declining performance would significantly hurt his trade value even if he was available.
Ryan could be an affordable gamble for a club seeking an experienced depth forward. He’s on a $1 million contract and has nine points in 19 games with the rebuilding Red Wings. He turns 34 next month and his best years are behind him. However, a playoff contender could gamble on him rising to the occasion the way Corey Perry did for the Dallas Stars in last year’s postseason.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman last week linked Granlund with the Leafs, noting they tried to sign him last fall but couldn’t make the dollars fit. Perhaps they’ll try to acquire him if they still want to add a top-six forward before the deadline.