With the NHL Trade Deadline now just 15 days away, here are the latest news and rumors from around the NHL:
The Tampa Bay Lightning are in the market of the defenseman after losing Jan Ruuta and Ryan McDonagh to injury earlier this week. “(Jan) Rutta injured Tuesday, (Ryan) McDonagh last night … could impact how Julien BriseBois approaches Feb. 24,” The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun tweeted. “Like many others, I’m of the mind you need nine-10 D to survive two months of [Stanley Cup] playoff hockey.”
NBC Sports’ Keith Jones said that there is a “90% chance” the San Jose Sharks move pending unrestricted free agent defenseman Brendan Dillon, who has a goal, 14 points, and an even rating in 55 games this season, before the deadline. “I’m certain he’ll be traded,” said Jones. “I think the Florida Panthers stand out as a team to me that would use and need his services. I think you’re talking about getting a second-round pick for Brenden Dillon, which would be really good for Doug Wilson. I think he has an element of toughness that a lot of teams want when the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs roll around,” he said. He also mentioned the Toronto Maple Leafs as a possible destination for him.
Mike McIntyre of the Winnipeg Free Press reported a rumor involving Winnipeg Jets forward Kyle Connor about which a source said, “it has legs.” He did not think Connor, who has 25 goals and 52 points this season, will be moved but with the Jets in need of help on defense, “it takes talent to land talent.” McIntyre has heard Colorado Avalanche prospect Bowen Byram, who has five goals, 30 points, and a +7 rating in 37 games with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants this season, connected to Connor.
The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz speculated on some possible destinations for Sharks forwards Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, who can both become unrestricted free agents and seek to win their first Stanley Cup. Kurz said that the Lightning were the front runners for Thornton, with the Boston Bruins, Vegas Golden Knights, and Maple Leafs also mentioned. As for Marleau, Kurz mentioned the Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Vancouver Canucks, and Washington Capitals as possible landing spots. Thornton’s contract includes a no-trade clause. Marleau declined to play for the Carolina Hurricanes this season after Carolina acquired him from the Maple Leafs over the summer before buying the final year of his three-year contract out.
Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston said there were three scouts each from the Golden Knights and Jets at the Los Angeles Kings-New Jersey Devils game on Saturday night, and he believed both are interested in Kings defenseman Alec Martinez, who has one season remaining on a six-year contract that carries a $4 million cap hit after 2019-20. He also said Kings forward Tyler Toffoli, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, is getting a lot of interest, including from the Pittsburgh Penguins and maybe Calgary Flames.
Johnston added that there haven’t been any contract talks between forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and the Ottawa Senators. Pageau has 21 goals, 34 points, and a +10 rating in 53 games this season.
According to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jordan Hall, the Philadelphia Flyers, who are currently tied with the Carolina Hurricanes for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, are willing to make a trade at the deadline but won’t sacrifice their future. “I don’t think we need to mortgage the future to try to get into the [Stanley Cup] playoffs this year,” GM Chuck Fletcher said Wednesday in an interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Taryn Hatcher. “I think our team is more than capable of getting into the playoffs with what we have, but if we can find a way to improve our team for this season and going forward, we’ll definitely not be hesitant to make a move right now.”
Johnston also said the New York Rangers and pending unrestricted free agent forward Chris Kreider, who has 20 goals, 38 points, and a +6 rating in 52 games this season, are going to start contract extension talks to see if there is any traction before the deadline.
TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie said that the Montreal Canadiens won’t trade forward Tomas Tatar or defenseman Jeff Petry, who can both become unrestricted free agents after 2020-21, “unless they get golden offers.” He added that he doesn’t expect GM Marc Bergevin to be busy before the deadline.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Freidman said that the Maple Leafs will wait on health updates on defensemen Morgan Reilly, who will miss at least another four weeks with a fractured foot and has not played since January 12, and Cody Ceci, who is out indefinitely with an ankle injury, and they’ll know more in the next couple weeks.
By Harrison Brown