Hockey fans continue to approach the NHL trade deadlines, hoping to have fun, but find themselves with a few hours of inertia. High prices discourage otherwise highly motivated entrepreneurs. The rumors of what might happen end up being more interesting than what actually happens.
Too bad, because a big term can lead to big things. This can pave the way for healing. It could change the salary cap for a productive summer. Or it could catapult a Stanley Cup contender to the title: Take last season, when rookies Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow gave the Tampa Bay Lightning their dominant control line en route to the Bubble Cup.
Things are quiet in the NHL right now, both in terms of actual transactions and conversations between GMs.
Some teams that have backers can still do it. But they’re still close enough to the playoffs to not raise the white flag, a general manager told me recently.
There are other forces at play, such as the fact that more than half the league is under pressure from a stagnant payroll. There are also quarantine issues at the Canadian border. Let’s also not forget the shadow of the tentacle hanging over the season as teams consider how each move will affect Seattle’s extension numbers.
But this unprecedented time of year can also encourage more activity: A general manager I spoke with speculated that the divisional playoff format, where teams play divisional opponents until the last 15 minutes of the third round, might encourage teams to fight back more than if they had to play conference opponents in the first round.
There is a lot of pressure on the timing of the exchange. Here are six NHL teams to succeed this season.
Calling this week, it’s clear the Ducks are open for business. The last time they made the playoffs was in 2018. Since then, they have steadily deteriorated, with a .367 mark this season, which many believe could mean the end for Dallas coach Eakins, as well as general manager Bob Murray, whose contract expires after the 2021-22 season.
If it’s time for a regime change in Anaheim, it’s possible that the oversaturation of the roster will pass to the next CEO. In the short term, however, Murray is listening to offers for striker Ricard Rakell, who has no trade protection and is only one year left on his contract with an average annual value of $3,789,444.
Some teams seem to think he’s available. These names are always a bit of a surprise because they are good players in their best years, a general manager said.
The 27-year-old has had two 30-game seasons, but his production has stabilized around 0.65 points per game over the past three seasons. There will be a big market for it. If the offer is lower than a rookie, another high pick and an above average prospect, Murray should just hang it up.
The best news for Anaheim is that Rakell has been on a roll lately, scoring 15 points in six games. Then he went four games without a point (minus 7), but the overall picture is better with 19 points in 30 games.
But there’s still a lot of work to be done, and to do that the Ducks need to get their defense in shape. It’s time for Josh Manson to move on. He has a modified no-trade clause and an additional season on his $4.1 million contract. It’s a change of scenery if ever there was one.
(The Ducks, as you know, traded star Shea Theodore to the Golden Knights so Vegas wouldn’t pick Manson or Sami Vatanen in the expansion draft. Murray is still with the Ducks four years later).
They really need to take this thing apart for the concrete and prospects. To me, that means we have to deal with the Hampus Lindholm trade in the offseason and we have to contract goalkeeper John Gibson either now or in the offseason. Talk about a change of scenery: These have been back-to-back horror seasons for Gibson, who has an .894 save percentage in 23 games. We have to assume it’s a back injury after he’s carried the franchise for the last five years.
As for Ryan Getzlaf, he has a total travel ban and a large family in Anaheim. Fantasy could give him to a dozen teams that could use him, but the assumption is he’s not going anywhere. At least until the contract expires this season.
The Bruins have scored 73 goals this season. The series with Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak won 48%. Some of Boston’s offensive production comes from absences: David Krejci for some games; Ondrej Case for all but two games. But it was more a case of players not playing up to level: Craig Smith had a 6.5% save percentage with four goals in 26 games, and Jake DeBrusk earned a spot in the squad with two goals in 20 games.
Five-on-five is just not the place to consistently win or take advantage when you get it, general manager Don Sweeney said recently, calling it a serious problem.
DeBrusk’s name has been mentioned as bait for a trade with bigger fish for a while now, and he’s a wanted target for just $3.675 million a year at the start of next season. He also seems to be someone with a similar ability as Tyler Seguin to lift his game to a new place and turn every Bruins deal with him into a two-season trade with DeBrusk.
With all that said about the attack, there is also the problem of Matthias Ekholm. Ekholm, a 30-year-old defenseman for the Nashville Predators, has an AAV of $3.75 million this season and 2021-22.
The Bruins’ blue line needs a veteran with its skills, and this AAV clearly fits into their economy this season and next. However, it will take until the expansion draft for the Bruins to want to protect Charlie McAvoy, Matt Grzelsik and Brandon Carlo.
The Bruins don’t have the deepest talent pool. Given the age of their core, they should start using them in the first round instead of trading them like Sweeney has done in two of the last three seasons. But given the age of their core group, they may continue until there is no longer a reason to do so.
The Hurricanes can win the Stanley Cup this season, period. Yes, it takes a fully armed and active Tampa Bay Lightning post to come out of the Central with a ready, equipped, but possibly rusty Nikita Kucherov. But if that happens and the Hurricanes play their system in front of a skilled goalie, beware.
Of course, the same could have been said last season, before Andrei Svechnikov’s injury plunged the team into crisis. That is, health is always an important factor.
Which brings us to Vincent Trocchi.
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The Canes center appeared in 24 games this season before being sidelined with an upper-body injury. General manager Don Waddell said Wednesday that Trocheck was absent from week to week, and that’s not what you want to hear.
After trading Ryan Jingel and relegating Jake Gardiner to the position, the Canes have some room on the ceiling. The addition of a center seems to be of the utmost importance. The question is whether that center should be for Eric Staal of the Buffalo Sabres, a reunion of franchise player/franchise player who has been seemingly randomly voiced by fans and the media lately.
There is clearly a mistake here. Staal scored 775 points in 909 games with the Hurricanes from 2003 to 2016, helping them win their only Stanley Cup in 2006. His brother Jordan is still out there. This is clearly the center. He’s also 36 years old and has been terrible this season with 10 points in 28 games for the moribund Sabres, with a below-average success rate.
The Hurricanes love nostalgia – Rod Brind’Amour is the coach, and Justin Williams just retired after being a second-round pick by the franchise – so it wouldn’t be shocking to see Staal return.
But if he does, it will be because one of hockey’s most numbers-focused front offices decides it’s the right move. If not, they will look elsewhere for the final piece of the puzzle, which could be a championship.
It’s been a tough season for Eric Staal in Buffalo. Can he go back to Carolina? Sarah Schmidl/NHLI via Getty Images
As with the Ducks, you wonder in this situation if the same person who makes deals at the deadline will make them in the offseason. Predators general manager Sean Henry recently told The Athletic that the owners have no desire to fire general manager David Poile.
Still, fans are outraged at the current state of affairs at the team. It’s entirely possible that Poyle gets kicked in the crotch and brings in a new GM….. who could theoretically be his son Brian, who is currently an assistant GM in Nashville. The NHL has never had to deal with favoritism from managers who weren’t allowed to.
Whatever happens to Poile, the biggest question for the Predators at the deadline is rebuilding vs. Does everything have to go or do we still love it and some have to go?
Which for many means: how to trade Philip Forsberg or not to trade him?
Forsberg, I think, will stay. It’s clear that Ekholm is a deadline not to be missed. The 2019 trade of Jake Muzzin between the Kings and Maple Leafs has been delayed now that Los Angeles has received Karl Grundstrom, Sean Durzi and Toronto’s 2019 first-round pick.
Mikael Granlund is also expected to make a good return as a versatile striker, earning $3.75 million in the final year of his contract. Pekka Rinne would be of some value as an experienced goalie, but Poile has recently said he’s not going anywhere.
No matter what the Predators look like, they will first have to find a way to get centers Ryan Johansen ($8 million per year through 2025) and Matt Duchene ($8 million per year through 2026) off the cap and into the next adventure when neither has trade protection. Johansen has nine points in 21 games. Duchene has eight points in 23 games.
My God, who handed out these contracts?
(David Poile, in a hot dog suit and standing next to the hot dog car that crashed into the building: yes, we’re all trying to find the guy who did this…)
The Flyers have systemic problems this season that a trade won’t fix. They’ve been struggling all season, especially when it comes to defending the puck – turnovers that lead to goals against seem to happen overnight. This is a team that is happy with its own offense, scoring 3.35 goals per game this season. This comes with a sacrificial defensive structure most nights, as they allow 3.27 goals per game this season.
One of the reasons for this defensive dysfunction is goaltender Carter Hart, who turned from preseason Vezina Trophy favorite into one of the NHL’s worst goaltenders in terms of saves (minus 10.2). He’s a great goalie, and an anomaly heading into the pandemic season, but there’s no denying that his .884 save percentage has an impact on the team.
Another reason for the defensive woes is that the Flyers have yet to replace Matt Niskanen on the blue line. Sure, it’s not every day that veteran defenders score 30 points, play 22 minutes a game and are able to take down a player. As luck would have it, there are probably two at the deadline: Alex Goligoski of the Coyotes, a 35-year-old player who earns $5.475 million on cap, and the Ekholm Predators. They could have gotten Manson from the Ducks, but his offense hasn’t been very consistent over the last three seasons.
Who knows? Maybe finding the defensive linchpin will help calm the other chaotic parts of the team. We have to do something as the Flyers fight for a playoff spot in the East.
Could Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner become new teammates for the rest of the season? Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images
No Bruins. No flashes. At least, not yet. The Maple Leafs have a chance to get further into the postseason than they have since 2004 and leave the North Atlantic. They are better than any team in the Canadian league, but there is clearly room for improvement.
It was interesting to hear GM Kyle Dubas talk about the Leafs’ plans this week, as he was a bit subversive. He downplayed the need for another big-name defender, while many have linked Ekholm to the Leafs. He seems content with Frederik Andersen and Jack Campbell as his goalkeeping battery this postseason, though that’s more for lack of better options than anything else.
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He said the Leafs were looking for improvements up front, which makes sense given the number of defensive upgrades and cap considerations that have shipped lately. It’s also no surprise that his enthusiasm is to put prospects and picks on the table to aggressively pursue the Stanley Cup, as this franchise covets the Cup more than Indiana Jones did in The Last Crusade.
Now the Leafs just need to find the right players. Rackell? Steel? Granlund? Kyle Palmieri from the Devil?
One name that intrigues me, assuming the Kings are willing to move him, is Alex Yafallo. The 27-year-old free agent is good for $2.425 million and feels just as comfortable in the penalty box as he does in the top-six. Plus, Dubas and Kings GM Rob Blake have already done some good things with the Muzzin and Campbell trades.
As always, the Leafs are limited to what their salary cap will allow. But most importantly, they are willing to do something. Like all the other teams on our list, we hope it will be something substantial to our own upbringing, and something that won’t tarnish their own eudaemony.
Jersey business of the week
From the Rocky Mountain Country:
Finally, the time has come!!! Merry late Christmas to you! !! I hope this guy wears it to the Avalanche’s Stanley Cup game this year. !!!! #GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/4pSYHc8cuq
– Nick Kaczor (@Nick_Kaczor) 5. January 2021
This version of Joe Sakic’s retro Avalanche jersey is not an offense for a number of reasons. In the past we have allowed the wearing of general managers shirts. We also allowed retired numbers to be placed on shirts from different eras – if the number was no longer in use, it had to meet the same rule as the interchangeable shirts.
But really, the fact that Sakic was a northerner before becoming an Avalanche is a reason for us to give the nod here. Hey, if you want to appropriate the other team’s jersey in your colors, the badge should only list the player wearing both jerseys.
1. I was wrong about Ralph Krueger as head coach. I think many of us have. We wanted so badly for him to succeed because of his charisma, his intelligence, his unconventional background in the NHL and the poor treatment he received in Edmonton. This desire blinded us to the fact that he was not doing his job properly. Over the past two seasons (2.00), the Sabres have the second most expected goals in 60 minutes at 5-on-5. This is a systematic problem. They had two wins in their last 19 games. Last season, they had three wins in 15 games. These delays are inexcusable. GM Kevin Adams talked about the concept of stacking wins to build confidence in the team. Too often under Kruger, the Sabres resembled the worst game of Jenga imaginable.
I’m not saying the Sabres would have been exponentially better with a different head coach in the last 97 games. I still maintain that they would have been a better franchise if Kruger had been put in charge in Buffalo two years ago instead of sitting behind the bench. He was an illusion.
2. Assuming interim coach Don Granato doesn’t get a permanent position, the Sabres’ next head coach will be the fifth Jack Eichel in eight seasons, all of which have been spent in the offseason. I really don’t see him wallowing in that defeat for another season. I’m finding it harder and harder to imagine a scenario where the Sabres wouldn’t try to move him, even if he wants to stay, given the rewards they get from teams like the Rangers or Kings. He turns 25 in October. This franchise couldn’t look at the Stanley Cup controversy if it borrowed the NASA telescope.
Adams said he had a good relationship with Eichel and that his door was always open for Eichel to walk through that door and give Adams the former Ryan O’Reilly. I lost my smiling speech and went on my way.
3. Again, my heart goes out to Buffalo Sabres fans. You deserve so much better than that. I can’t believe it hasn’t happened yet. For Terry Pegula to buy a team, give it financial stability and promise to win the Stanley Cup only to miss the playoffs every season, as is the case here, is wishful thinking.
Once this franchise recovers, there will be a cathartic explosion of enthusiasm like the NHL hasn’t seen since Boston and Chicago. Have you seen Bill’s fans? You don’t want to see a man in a Matthew Barnaby shirt running across a burning car park? Or ruin it by seeing Matthew Barnaby fumbling in a burning table in the parking lot?
Winners and losers of the week
Winner: Mika Zibanejad
The Rangers’ center became just the second player in NHL history to score six points in a second period in the Rangers’ 9-0 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night. He scored a hat-trick, doubling his total of goals scored this season. Everyone is thinking about last season, and expectations are clearly higher, but if the puck won’t go in, it won’t go in.
Loser: David Quinn.
The Rangers’ entire coaching staff missed Wednesday night’s game due to COVID-19 minutes. Chris Knoblauch, coach of the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League, has been named Quinn’s assistant coach, along with assistant coach Gord Murphy and Rangers assistant general manager Chris Drury. And they won 9-0 without Quinn behind the bench. We have to imagine that he looked out of the quarantine and thought: Hey, save some for me, will you?
Winner: Thomas Gertl
The Rocky song that was sung when Mark Stone and Thomas Gertle faced each other is great.
Uploaded to pic.twitter.com/lzUQXWJUOg
– Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 18, 2021
One of the cleanest players in the NHL was on hand for Game 1 against Mark Stone of the Golden Knights on Wednesday. I would have liked to do better, but I was exhausted. But I’ll take it. Who knows, maybe I’ll fight again? he said after the game.
Tough season in Buffalo. Taylor Hall now takes a header pic.twitter.com/LGW2T95oYq
– Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) March 16, 2021
Praise the hockey gods that Taylor Hall is safe here, but it turns out P.K. Subban ran into him in the path of the puck. Ken Campbell has been struggling with cross-checking for a while now. I suspect this mill is an even bigger whim.
Winner: Tyson Barry.
After Wednesday night, Barry leads all NHL defensemen with 28 points in 32 games. He came to the Edmonton Oilers on a one-year contract to improve his stats. They say they can make it an extension.
Loser: Adam Fox
The good news for the Rangers defenseman is that NHL.com writers are not official Norris Trophy voters. The bad news is that while Fox has an award, it was not mentioned once on the trophy tracker ballots in March. Despite the fact that the award was much touted this season.
The adoption of the Sickos meme by Ottawa Senators fans and the team itself – to raise money for mental health initiatives and Canadian Blood Services – is one of the most unexpected and moving stories of the season.
At Robin Lehner, honesty is a policy.
That was his response to a good question from @DavidSchoenLVRJ, who asked if he had heard the rumors about his absence and if it bothered him. pic.twitter.com/BNfVHxETFl
– SynBin.vegas (@SynBinVegas) 17. March 2021
Robin Lehner has strong words for those who speculated about his mental health while he had a concussion, and rightfully so.
- PCT awards mid-season: I’ve been thinking a lot about the Canadian division and whether the wild score is unfair in determining the MVP, but all divisions are a bit messy, so Connor McDavid is definitely the best player.
- Justin Bourne’s award-winning watch. In Selka: For me, this is Alexander Barkov’s year to win if he keeps playing like this.
- Bubble Demko is back, baby.
- Eric Duhatchek’s 10 teams that will close the deal at the deadline. If you’re trying to improve the chemistry of your underperforming team, sometimes the trade deadline is the best time to do so, because that’s when competitors are extra motivated to move, and they’re sometimes willing to pay a premium to get the game they want.
- Say goodbye to NWHL founder Dani Rylan.
- Hey, uh… The hockey puck is not in the beer can if you want to help the environment. Speaking of beer cans, Samantha Longshore, Milwaukee’s resource recovery program manager, says another thing we’re really trying to get people to understand (is) sometimes it’s really fun to hockey a puck to crush it (into) that little puck shape when they’re done with an aluminum can. We lose a lot of this aluminum because it is so small that it is difficult to sort. They say it’s no fun, but try not to break your glass. Eat it, rinse it, throw it in the basket.
- Oh, we love a good temporary arena build, don’t we, folks?
? ➡️ ?
Indiana Farmers Coliseum #MarchMadness ready! pic.twitter.com/ZtP9arS5eN
– NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 17, 2021
From your friends at ESPN.
My article on the transformative power of Minnesota newcomer Kirill Kaprizov.
frequently asked questions
What will be the NHL trade deadline in 2020?
The trading deadline for 2020 is Monday, February 24 at 3:00 pm. IT. Columbus Blue Jackets: Conditional seventh-round pick for 2020 (if Hannikainen plays 10 games for the Coyotes before the end of the season, Columbus gets the pick).
Can NHL teams trade after the deadline?
Trade deadline. … In Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League, players acquired in an exchange after the trade deadline may not participate the following season unless their respective league allows them to replace an injured player on the roster.
What time is the NHL trade deadline for 2019?
The 2019 NHL trade deadline is Monday, Feb. 25, with a 3 p.m. trade deadline. AND The 2019 trade deadline is the same as last year’s. This is the first season in which the NHL has decided to advance the deadline a week.
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