NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 28, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 28, 2021

Recaps of Saturday’s action, the Rangers and Kings make a trade, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Third-period goals by Nick Ritchie and Craig Smith lifted the Boston Bruins over the Buffalo Sabres 3-2, handing the latter their 17th straight loss. Boston winger Brad Marchand missed the game when he was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. With 39 points, the Bruins hold a three-point lead over the Philadelphia Flyers for fourth place in the MassMutual East Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres were actually the better team through the first two periods but couldn’t close the deal in the third.

The Flyers ended a four-game losing skid by edging the New York Rangers 2-1. Samuel Morin’s first NHL goal was the game-winner. The Rangers (34 points) sit two points behind the Flyers and five back of the Bruins.

Max Pacioretty’s overtime goal gave the Vegas Golden Knights a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. The Golden Knights (47 points) hold a one-point lead for first place in the Honda West Division over the Avalanche, who extended their points streak to 10 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the day’s most entertaining game and perhaps a preview of a playoff series between these two clubs later this spring.

Detroit Red Wings goaltender Calvin Pickard made 21 saves for his first win since 2018 by backstopping his club to a 3-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Dylan Larkin collected two assists and Robby Fabbri tallied what proved to be the game-winner as the Wings snapped a three-game losing streak. The loss leaves the Blue Jackets (34 points) one point behind the fifth-place Nashville Predators and three back of the fourth-place Chicago Blackhawks in the Discover Central Division.

Carolina Hurricanes forward Martin Necas (NHL Images).

Martin Necas scored twice and added two assists to lead the Carolina Hurricanes over the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3. Teammate Dougie Hamilton picked up an assist to extend his team points record to 14 games. Pat Maroon had a goal and an assist for Tampa Bay. With 49 points, the Hurricanes sit one back of the first-place Lightning in the Central Division.

An overtime goal by Auston Matthews lifted the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Edmonton Oilers by a score of 4-3. The Leafs overcame a 3-1 deficit on third-period tallies from John Tavares and William Nylander. Leon Draisaitl had a goal and two assists for the Oilers while Connor McDavid collected two assists. The win gives the Leafs (46 points) a two-point lead over the Winnipeg Jets for first place in the Scotia North Division. The Oilers sit one behind the Jets.

A hat trick by Bryan Rust powered the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 6-3 win over the New York Islanders, bringing goalie Ilya Sorokin’s eight-game win streak to an end. Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist for the Penguins (46 points), who move within two points of the second-place Islanders in the MassMutual East.

The Nashville Predators picked up their fourth straight victory by downing the Chicago Blackhawks 3-1. Luke Kunin collected two assists in his first game since being sidelined on Feb. 28 with a lower-body injury. Blackhawks center Kirby Dach was held pointless in his season debut after missing 34 games with a fractured wrist. The win moves the Predators (35 points) just two points behind the fourth-place Blackhawks in the Central.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm and forward Mikael Granlund are considered among the players most likely to move by the April 12 trade deadline. That could change, however, if the Predators overtake the Blackhawks.

Aaron Ekblad scored the game-winner as the Florida Panthers edged the Dallas Stars 4-3 in overtime. Ekblad tallied earlier in the frame but that goal was overturned on an offside review. Carter Verhaeghe had a hat trick for the Panthers (46 points), who remain three points back of the second-place Hurricanes in the Central. The Stars (31 points) sit six points behind the fourth-place Blackhawks but hold four games in hand.

The Arizona Coyotes got a natural hat trick from Phil Kessel and a 34-save shutout performance from Adin Hill to blank the San Jose Sharks 4-0. The Coyotes have won three straight and move into a tie with the St. Louis Blues with 37 points in the West Division. The Blues, however, hold fourth place with a game in hand.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes were expected to become sellers at the April 12 trade deadline. That will change if they stay in the thick of the West Division playoff race.

Third-period goals by Andrew Mangiapane and Sam Bennett enable the Calgary Flames to double up the Winnipeg Jets 4-2 and snap a four-game losing skid. Calgary winger Johnny Gaudreau collected an assist in his 500th career NHL game. The Flames (35 points) move two points behind the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens in the North Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gaudreau showed a lot of energy in this game after being publicly called out by head coach Darryl Sutter before this contest.

HEADLINES

NEW YORK POST: The New York Rangers traded winger Brendan Lemieux to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Post reports the Rangers were looking to free up a roster spot, perhaps for promising Vitali Kravtsov after he recently joined the team following a stellar season in the KHL. Lemieux, 25, will bring some grit to the rebuilding Kings’ checking lines.

TSN: Boston Bruins defenseman John Moore will be sidelined five-to-six months after electing to undergo hip arthroscopy and labral repair on March 22. He appeared in just five games this season.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes forward Nick Schmaltz was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL’s department of player safety for boarding San Jose Sharks defenseman Radim Simek on Friday.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forwards Brandon Tanev and Mark Jankowski were placed on the NHL COVID-19 protocol list.

CBS SPORTS: Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Calvert is listed as week-to-week with an undisclosed injury.

New York Islanders forward Michael Dal Colle will miss the next two games with a lower-body injury.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed high-touted US college prospect forward Cole Caufield to a three-year entry-level contract. He will start his pro career with the Habs’ AHL affiliate in Laval. Caufield is a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 27, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 27, 2021

Recaps of Friday’s action features more scoring from Alex Ovechkin, a milestone game for Phil Kessel, the Blues remember beloved alumni Bob Plager, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Alex Ovechkin scored two goals and Ilya Samsonov made 24 saves as the Washington Capitals blanked the New Jersey Devils 4-0. With 48 points, the Capitals are tied with the New York Islanders and hold first place in the MassMutual East Division with a game in hand.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 17 goals, Ovechkin is just four behind Toronto’s Auston Matthews, who leads the goal-scoring race with 21. The Capitals captain now has 723 career goals, sitting eight behind Hall-of-Famer Marcel Dionne for fifth on the all-time list.

Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel scored in his 1,100th career game in a 5-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks. Christian Dvorak scored twice for the Coyotes (35 points), who sit two points back of the fourth-place St. Louis Blues in the Honda West Division. Kessel and Dvorak lead the Coyotes with 11 goals each.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes became the subject of trade speculation over the past couple of weeks. There’s talk general manager Bill Armstrong could become a seller by the trade deadline but he could have other plans as his club surges back into playoff contention.

Speaking of the Blues, they dropped a 4-1 decision to the Anaheim Ducks. Anaheim goaltender John Gibson returned from a five-game absence with a lower-body injury by making 33 saves as his club snapped a three-game losing skid. Ducks defenseman Jamie Drysdale left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury. Before the game, the Blues honored the memory of beloved alumni Bob Plager, who died earlier this week in a car accident that investigators believe was the result of Plager suffering a cardiac event.

A third-period goal by Paul Stastny enabled the Winnipeg Jets to held off the Calgary Flames 3-2. Stastny, Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor each had a goal and an assist. The Jets move into a tie with the Toronto Maple Leafs with 44 points but the Leafs hold first place in the Scotia North Divisions because they have a game in hand. The Flames (33 points) remain four behind the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like the Flames need more than bringing back Darryl Sutter as head coach to reverse their fortunes. They’ve dropped four straight after winning four of their first five games after Sutter took over behind the bench. General manager Brad Treliving could turn to the trade market in search of a season-saving deal.

SPORTSNET: The Canadian government has officially approved reducing the 14-day quarantine period for players acquired by Canadian teams from American clubs to seven days. The decision has the support of the five Canadian provinces with NHL teams.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This makes it easier for Canadian teams to make trades with American clubs before the April 12 trade deadline. It’s the same quarantine period as players must undergo when traded between American clubs.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer could be in line for a significant raise following this season. He leads the league in goals-against average (1.69) and shutouts (five) and among the leaders in save percentage (.931) and wins (20).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Grubauer could become a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, which will ensure he gets a big raise from the Avalanche or another club via this summer’s free-agent market. Cap Friendly indicates his current annual average value is $3.33 million. The Post’s Mike Chambers suggests Grubauer could double his money.

ESPN.COM: Buffalo Sabres interim head coach Don Granato and assistant coach Mike Ellis can return behind the bench after being cleared from the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol. The pair were placed on the list just hours before the Sabres game on Thursday against Pittsburgh.

NHL.COM: Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Samuel Morin was fined $3, 017.24 by the league’s department of player safety for unsportsmanlike conduct against New York Rangers forward Brendan Lemieux.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – March 21, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – March 21, 2021

Analysis of the Canadian NHL teams before the trade deadline plus the latest on P.K. Subban, Conor Garland and Marcus Sorensen in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

LATEST ON THE CANADIAN NHL TEAMS

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Vancouver Canucks have decided to hold off on becoming sellers now that they’ve climbed back into the Scotia North Division playoff race. They want to see how things play out and as a result has slowed things down in the trade market. The Columbus Blue Jackets are another club holding off after battling back into the postseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers aren’t buying into the Canucks’ recent improvement and believe they should remain sellers at the deadline. Still, management can’t be faulted for wanting to see if they can make a serious run for a postseason berth. If they falter over the next two weeks it won’t hurt their status as sellers, especially among other Canadian teams as none of their players would have to undergo quarantine if traded within Canada.

Chris Johnston believed it could be a quiet trade deadline for the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames. GM Ken Holland may be reluctant to trade draft picks this year plus they have limited cap space. The Flames, meanwhile, would like to add some forward depth but may have made their big move by bringing back Darryl Sutter as head coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Holland does make a move it’ll likely be a dollar-in, dollar-out trade. Given that constraint, he could find it difficult bringing in a player who significantly improves the Oilers’ depth. The Flames, meanwhile, are reportedly seeking a right-shot right-winger. They might have to consider an affordable rental like Detroit’s Bobby Ryan.

Johnston considers the Winnipeg Jets the wild card among Canadian teams heading toward the trade deadline. They’ve already acquired Pierre-Luc Dubois and are looking for a defenseman but they must consider if they want to put that player through a 14-day quarantine as Dubois had to endure before joining their roster.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cheveldayoff hasn’t ruled out taking another swing in the trade market. The Jets have been linked to Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm and Columbus’ David Savard.

The Athletic’s Murat Ates believes Cheveldayoff won’t wait until deadline day to make his move because they’re using long-term injury reserve space on Bryan Little. That $2.8 million in cap relief doesn’t prorate and won’t increase as the season goes on.

Friedman believes the amount of interest in the Ottawa Senators’ pending UFAs will determine how busy they are at the deadline. While Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin has hinted he might not be busy in the trade market because of salary-cap constraints, Friedman points out he’s been unafraid to make big moves and not everyone is convinced he won’t do anything.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The notable Senators UFAs include defensemen Braydon Coburn, Erik Gudbranson and Mike Reilly.

What will Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas do at the 2021 Trade Deadline? (NHL.com)

Friedman pointed out Bergevin has tradeable assets. He has 11 picks in rounds two through five of this year’s draft. Players like Tomas Tatar, Artturi Lehkonen, Paul Byron, Joel Armia and Victor Mete have surfaced in trade speculation. If Bergevin or his fellow Canadian GMs make a move for a player on an American club it’ll likely happen within the next 10 days. The 14-day quarantine means a player acquired at the April 12 deadline won’t be available until April 27.

While Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas is seeking a forward, Johnston doesn’t rule out the possibility he’ll acquire a defenseman. He acknowledged the Leafs have limited cap-space resources and he’s heard them linked to a couple of blueliners. Friedman notes there were questions if the Leafs will do anything in goal given how things are going with starter Frederik Andersen. However, he thinks they’ll stick with what they’ve got.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s tricky enough for the Leafs to add a forward. It could get more complicated trying to also bring in a defenseman or a goaltender. Given their cap constraints, it appears they can only suitably address one need unless Dubas and his capologist have a trick or two up their sleeves.

Blueliners believed to be available include Ekholm, Savard, Anaheim’s Josh Manson (currently sidelined), Buffalo’s Brandon Montour and Colin Miller, and Arizona’s Alex Goligoski and Niklas Hjalmarsson (who has a full no-movement clause).

As for goaltenders, rental options include Detroit’s Jonathan Bernier (currently sidelined), San Jose’s Devan Dubnyk and Arizona’s Antti Raanta. If Dubas feels the need to bring in a long-term replacement for Andersen (who’s a UFA this summer) I don’t see him addressing that need until the offseason.

SUBBAN, GARLAND AND SORENSEN AVAILABLE?

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks points out P.K. Subban is having a pretty good season with the New Jersey Devils. Subban has a year remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $9 million. Brooks suggests he’d be a good option for clubs seeking a right-side defenseman if the Devils agreed to pick up half of his cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That move could take place in the offseason if at all. Subban’s stock tumbled over the last couple of years. He’ll need another solid effort with the Devils to convince clubs he’d be worth pursuing. Besides, the Devils could be content to let him play out the final year of his contract and evaluate his value as a rental player next season.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports teams have shown an interest in Arizona Coyotes winger Conor Garland. He doesn’t believe it’s a move the Coyotes want to do but perhaps they’d consider it for the right price if it allows them to restock.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: On one hand, it makes no sense for the offensively anemic Coyotes to trade their leading scorer. On the other, we don’t know what first-year GM Bill Armstrong has in store for his club so we can’t dismiss trading Garland at the deadline unless Armstrong shoots it down.

Chris Johnston reports San Jose Sharks forward Marcus Sorensen has drawn some interest from Canadian teams. He’s a UFA this summer with an affordable $1.5 million cap hit this season. Johnston believes he’ll be moved at the trade deadline.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 20, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 20, 2021

Alex Ovechkin extends his goal streak, the Leafs’ struggles continue, the Canucks surge in the standings while the Bruins’ next two games are postponed over COVID-19 concerns. Details plus updates on Evgeni Malkin, Matt Dumba and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Alex Ovechkin scored twice in the third period to lead the Washington Capitals over the New York Rangers 2-1. Vitek Vanecek made 32 saves for the win while Artemi Panarin scored the Rangers’ only goal. The Capitals (44 points) moved two points up on the New York Islanders into first place in the MassMutual East Division.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin now has 720 career goals. He also has 14 on the season, moving to within seven of Toronto’s Auston Matthews and his league-leading 21 goals.

Mark Giordano’s power-play goal in the second period held up as the game-winner as the Calgary Flames edged the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3, handing the latter their sixth loss in their last seven games. While the Leafs (40 points) still hold first place in the Scotia North Division, the Flames (33 points) picked up their fourth win in their last five contests and sit two points behind the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens. Leafs winger Wayne Simmonds picked up an assist in his first game since suffering a broken wrist on Feb. 6.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen gave up four goals on 18 shots as he continues to struggle with a nagging lower-body injury. Leafs fans are hoping a healthy Jack Campbell can provide some much-needed stability between the pipes when he returns from injury tonight against the Flames.

Despite the Leafs’ position in the standings, the race in the North is tightening. The Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets are breathing down their necks while the Flames and Vancouver Canucks are surging. Only six points separate Toronto from the fifth-place Canucks.

Speaking of the Canucks, they handed the Canadiens their ninth straight defeat in extra time with a 3-2 overtime victory. J.T. Miller tallied the game-winner as Vancouver (34 points) has won four straight and moved to within one point of the fourth-place Habs. Earlier in the day, they announced winger Tanner Pearson will be sidelined four weeks with a sprained ankle and placed center Elias Petterssen (wrist) on long-term injury reserve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks were being written off a month ago and are still considered by some observers as a potential seller by the trade deadline. Their recent improvement, however, has put them back in the playoff picture, especially with the Canadiens struggling to hang onto the final playoff spot in the North Division.

Max Pacioretty scored twice as the Vegas Golden Knights picked up their fifth straight win by doubling up the Los Angeles Kings 4-2. Vegas netminder Robin Lehner made 23 saves in his first game since being sidelined by a concussion on Feb. 7. With 43 points, the Golden Knights opened a five-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for the top spot in the Honda West Division. The Kings (30 points) sit five back of the fourth-place St. Louis Blues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pacioretty now has 16 goals, moving to within five of Matthews.

The Blues, meanwhile, snapped a five-game losing skid by nipping the San Jose Sharks 2-1 on a shootout goal by Vladimir Tarasenko. Jordan Binnington made 30 saves for the win while Tyler Bozak tied the game for the Blues with a shorthanded goal.

HEADLINES

The Boston Bruins’ next two games (Saturday against Buffalo, Tuesday against the New York Islanders) have been postponed over COVID-19 concerns as four Bruins (Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci, David Pastrnak and Craig Smith) were added to the COVID protocol list on Friday. This comes one day after the Bruins canceled practice when Sean Kuraly was added to the list. They played the Sabres on Thursday.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins listed center Evgeni Malkin as week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Losing Malkin will be a big test for the Penguins as they strive to move further up the East Division standings. With 37 points, they just one up on the fourth-place Bruins and four ahead of the fifth-place Philadelphia Flyers.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba is doubtful for today’s rematch with the Colorado Avalanche after suffering a lower-body injury during the Wild’s 5-1 loss to the Avs on Thursday.

WGR 550: Speaking of the Avalanche, they are reportedly close to acquiring Sabres goaltender Jonas Johansson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nothing confirmed as of this morning and no indication as to what the Sabres would receive in return. Johansson was not on the ice for Sabres practice yesterday while the club announced the signing of netminder Michael Houser. The Avs are believed in the market for a reliable backup with Pavel Francouz sidelined indefinitely.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings are listing goaltender Jonathan Bernier as day-to-day after he suffered a lower-body injury during Thursday’s win over the Dallas Stars. However, they’re awaiting clarification as to the severity of his injury.

SPORTSNET: Senators goalie Joey Daccord will be out long-term with an apparent leg injury suffered during Wednesday’s loss to the Vancouver Canucks. There’s speculation he could be done for the season.










Canadian Teams On the Clock as the NHL Trade Deadline Approaches

Canadian Teams On the Clock as the NHL Trade Deadline Approaches

 










NHL Rumor Mill – March 18, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – March 18, 2021

Analysis of TSN’s list of trade-deadline buyers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: Frank Seravalli listed the Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets, New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes, Vegas Golden Knights, Colorado Avalanche, Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins as his eight buyers heading toward the April 12 trade deadline.

Seravalli cited the Leafs’ willingness to make a trade soon for a middle-six rental forward and their willingness to move a top prospect to do so.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Luke Fox listed Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf, Buffalo’s Taylor Hall and Eric Staal, Columbus’ Nick Foligno, New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri, Minnesota’s Mikael Granlund and Los Angeles’ Alex Iafallo as his top-seven pure rental targets for the Leafs.

Buffalo Sabres winger Taylor Hall (NHL Images).

Forget about Getzlaf unless he waives his no-movement clause which doesn’t appear likely. Hall also has a no-movement clause but Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams said every option is on the table regarding his roster.

The Leafs were linked to Granlund for weeks in the rumor mill and could remain their main target. I wouldn’t rule out Staal as he’s affordable though his age (36) could be a factor. Getzlaf, Hall, Foligno and Palmieri could prove too expensive to add to the Leafs’ limited cap payroll. The Kings reportedly intend to re-sign Iafallo.

Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff could pursue a rental defenseman primarily for expansion draft purposes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That would rule out Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm, who has a year left on his contract. A better fit could be Columbus’ David Savard if Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen is willing to sell at the deadline.

New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello admits he’ll use his $5.5 million of LTIR space to find a replacement for sidelined winger Anders Lee.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall, Foligno and Vancouver’s Tanner Pearson could be options for the Isles. The Canucks, however, could be reluctant to move Pearson as long as they remain in the playoff chase. The Athletic’s Arthur Staple believes the Isles’ first-rounder in this year’s draft is most likely in play, that Lamoriello will consider all rental options, and he could act quickly.

Seravalli points out the Hurricanes made three moves at last year’s trade deadline and are more open to change than most on his list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been very quiet on the Hurricanes’ rumor front but that doesn’t mean they aren’t shopping around. They could perhaps use another secondary scorer or a physical checking-line forward. There’s some speculation about bringing Eric Staal back to Carolina but it remains to be seen just how seriously they’re entertaining that option.

The Golden Knights could use some depth at center.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They have almost no projected trade-deadline cap space but have defenseman Alex Pietrangelo on LTIR. However, they could be unwilling to use that if he’s returning before the season’s end. It might have to be a dollar-in, dollar-out move.

Seravalli expects Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic to make a move for a backup goaltender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If anything happens to starter Philipp Grubauer the Avs are screwed. Sakic is being patient but he could pull the trigger to add someone like Detroit’s Jonathan Bernier or San Jose’s Devan Dubnyk.

Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher appears smitten with Predators’ defenseman Mattias Ekholm.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: To trade or not to trade, that is the question for the Flyers. They need defensive help and Ekholm could be a good fit but adding him would mess up their expansion draft protection list for their blueliners.

Fletcher could be unwilling to part with assets if his club loses ground in the standings. If he does pursue a defenseman he could go the rental route with someone like Columbus’ David Savard.

The Bruins are competing with the Flyers for that final playoff berth in the East Division. It’s been a transition year on defense while core players like Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand are aging.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: GM Don Sweeney must decide if his club’s window of opportunity for a Stanley Cup run remains open or has slammed shut. If it’s the latter, he might not make any significant moves here. Their primary need is secondary scoring but they have limited trade assets.

Seravalli considers the following clubs as “soft” buyers: Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues, and Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Oilers need either a scoring left-winger or a second-pairing left-shot defenseman but they aren’t interested in rentals or moving draft picks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could leave the Oilers looking at an affordable depth move rather than addressing those two issues. You’ve gotta give to get.

The Flames have sought an impact right-shot winger for some time but prices are expensive.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported earlier this week the Flames weren’t willing to pay the Ducks’ high price for Rickard Rakell. GM Brad Treliving could end up seeking a more cost-effective option like Detroit’s Bobby Ryan.

The Capitals could be in the market for an experienced goaltender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As an LTIR team they have no trade-deadline cap space available. GM Brian MacLellan recently indicated any move will be dollar-in, dollar-out.

Seravalli suggests Penguins GM Ron Hextall could look at bolstering his forward depth but he’s unwilling to part with futures.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hextall would like to add some toughness to his lineup. That’s usually affordable but costs a draft pick to do it.

The Blues might not need any acquisitions as sidelined players such as Jaden Schwartz, Colton Parayko and Robert Thomas come off injured reserve. Sniper Vladimir Tarasenko recently returned from injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: GM Doug Armstrong will likely evaluate his roster as it gets healthier to determine if a move or two is necessary by the deadline.

Tampa Bay Lightning GM Julien BriseBois recently pointed out his club has “literally zero cap space”. Sidelined winger Nikita Kucherov could also return to the lineup before the end of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can’t fully dismiss the possibility of BriseBois making a deadline move. However, I’d say the odds are against it this year unless he’s moving one lower-salaried player for another.

Seravalli considers the Montreal Canadiens, Minnesota Wild, Dalla Stars, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers as “neutral trade deadline teams”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin talked about how his limited cap space and the two-week quarantine period for players acquired from American teams could hamper his efforts to add to his roster. That doesn’t mean he won’t be looking but he will have to get creative to make it work.

The Stars could end up as sellers if they don’t gain ground in the standings soon. Kings GM Rob Blake could make an addition but won’t waste assets on a rental player. Ditto the Blackhawks as GM Stan Bowman recently indicated. He’s interested in players with term on their contracts. He’s also reportedly willing to use his $22 million of LTIR space to take on a bad contract if he can also get draft picks and/or prospects with the deal.

The Panthers could make a move but they aren’t under pressure to do so as they jockey with the Lightning and Hurricanes for first place in the Discover Central Division. I also doubt Wild GM Bill Guerin is interested in rental players. I’d put the Rangers among the sellers if they fail to gain ground on the Bruins and Flyers in the East.