By Allan Muir
With the NHL's Wednesday 3 P.M. ET trade deadline fast approaching, the rumor mill is cranking full time and bodies are starting to fly. Here's what we are finding through various sources in social media. We'll update the page throughout the day as more grist flows in. For now, though, some updates on notable names that have been in the news of late. And we have some early deals and at least one stunner:
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So now Boston appears to be on the clock. Given Loui Eriksson's persistent health issues, there's a spot for Vanek but can they afford to give up another first rounder after coughing one up in the Jaromir Jagr trade last March?
Not a lot of nutrition in that rumor, but then again most teams are looking at the Edmonton winger as a fall-back option. I'd think the Devils, Penguins, Bruins, Sharks, Kings and Coyotes would be among those kicking the tires. Hemsky is taking the pre-game skate at the moment, so it looks like he'll be in the lineup tonight. Odd decision given that the game means nothing to the Oilers.
Didn't take long for Pancakes to make himself at home in Washington, eh? Maybe he could slip POTUS a couple of sweet seats in exchange for the couch surf.
We already knew that Kesler had put the kibosh on talks with Columbus, and now another leading contender has been kicked to the curb.
The Caps closed the book on the disastrous Filip Forsberg trade, sending Martin Erat and John Mitchell to the Coyotes for Rusty Klesla, Chris Brown and a fourth-round pick in 2015. Erat, who has one goal on the season despite ample time on the first line and power play, was arguably the worst acquisition of the 2013 deadline but he was a consistent 50-point winger during his time with the Predators. A new start might be just what he needs to get those hands snapping again. Klesla was available on waivers earlier this season and has spent most of the season with Portland of the AHL, which tells you how desperate Washington was to get Erat off the books.
Three losses coming out of the Olympics a little tough to ignore for a team falling behind in the wild card race.
No names mentioned, but you have to think the Isles would be in the mix here.
So apparently the price wasn't right for the Ducks after all...but there's a new bidder circling Vanek: the San Jose Sharks.
They saved nearly $2 million all told from today's earlier deals, and they could use another big body in the middle to match up against the top teams in the West. They have the prospects that the Canucks would crave--Emerson Etem, Devante Smith-Pelly, Richard Rakell, Sami Vatanen, William Karlsson--there might be a match here.
Former first rounder is toolsy, but never seemed to put the pieces together in Phoenix. He'll replace Mike Kostka as a depth option in Chicago, where they're hoping he can rediscover his promise in their system. For the Coyotes, this is a solid return for a player they'd all but given up on.
The Hurricanes have just announced the signing of Anton Khudobin to a two-year, $4.5 million deal. Savvy play by Carolina, and nice to see Khudobin get a little bit of security after a series of one-year deals. Now lets see if Jim Rutherford is as adept at moving an unmovable contract (Cam Ward) as was Mike Gillis.
What...now? Reportedly for Jacob Markstrom and center Shawn Matthias. Here's my take on the deal.
No harm in the Islanders asking for a first rounder in exchange for MacDonald, but I'm guessing Garth Snow figured out quickly that he wasn't going to get it. Two picks isn't a bad return for a player that New York thought so highly of during his last negotiation that the team paid him a whopping $550,000. Mangene is a borderline prospect who can play forward or defense, but slots primarily at right wing. He may get a cup of coffee in the league, but more likely his acquisition was made with Bridgeport in mind. On the Flyers side, AMac fills an obvious need for support on the back end. He has his coverage issues, but he's a fearless shot blocker and he can chip in offensively. He'll make Philly a better team immediately, but the Flyers will need to be careful with MacDonald moving past this season. He'll be looking for top-pair money over the summer. The club would be well advised not to give it to him.
The Ducks sent Dustin Penner to the Capitals for a fourth-round pick, then flipped that pick to the Stars for defenseman Stephane Robidas. Not surprised that Penner wore out his welcome in Anaheim despite a decently productive season (32 points in 49 games). Good guy, but a coach gets beaten down while always trying to find the right button to push. Not sure what Washington is looking for from him, but the price makes Penner almost a no-lose acquisition. I love the Ducks' addition of Robidas (more on him below), and am surprised that this was all it took for GM Bob Murray to pick him up, injured or not. Before the spring is over, this guy is going to make every playoff team in the league wonder why they didn't ante up at least a third rounder. And Dallas? No idea what the Stars were thinking when they let him go while they're trotting Jordie Benn, Kevin Connauton and Trevor Daley out on a regular basis. I realize that Robidas is not part of the future, but the Stars have a chance to make the postseason for the first time in six years--he could help them reach that goal. And even if they decided it was best to move on, couldn't they have waited until the deadline to see if another team might have been desperate enough to outbid Anaheim? This feels like a misstep by GM Jim Nill.
Ducks make Fasth deal with Oilers:
Viktor Fasth for a third rounder and a fifth. The guy has played only 30 NHL games and been hurt much of this season, so it's not like the Oilers acquired a 25-year-old Grant Fuhr. Still, he has had success in the league and will challenge newly-signed Ben Scrivens for the No. 1 job. Have to give GM Craig MacTavish some credit--for just two third-round picks and a fifth-rounder, he has rebuilt his crease with two capable keepers.
The Wild wanted a proven veteran to spell rookie Darcy Kuemper and they got one--as Russo notes, for next to nothing (and certainly cheaper than Jaro Halak or Martin Brodeur). Not sure about what he'll do to the chemistry in Minnesota's room, but Bryz will be more than serviceable, especially playing behind a real defense for the first time in three seasons. Have to think that Sabres GM Tim Murray is scrambling to find someone who is willing to take Halak off his hands now. Pittsburgh and Washington seem like possibilities, although neither team will be in a rush to give up anything of value.
The day's early rumors:
This may be nothing, but at this time of year it's worth keeping an eye on.
Turk's around the team as a part-time TV analyst, so he's probably on to something here with Stephane Robidas. If there's anything to this --and I'm not convinced, given that the Stars need him as badly as anyone--it would be a masterful acquisition for the Ducks. Robi has been punching above his weight for years on the first pair in Dallas. Given a chance to settle back into a second- or third-pair role, he could make a significant impact. The guy is a warrior who can excel as a puck mover or as a shutdown specialist. He would also fill a need for a right-handed shot.
I've said it better and I'll say it again: the Penguins need defense and grit, not more scoring. But would anyone really be surprised if this is the way that GM Ray Shero attacks the deadline? Money will be an issue with Vanek counting $5.75 million against the cap. With just under $1.2 million AAV in cap space available, Pittsburgh would have to send some salary back to the Islanders or really sweeten the pot in terms of picks/prospects to get New York to retain some salary.
Now that Ryan Callahan has softened his stance, there's a much greater chance that he and the Rangers will find common ground. If not, Ryan Kesler is a solid alternative.
In other words, Callahan has to decide if he values cash more than the security of a no movement clause.
Halak makes a lot more sense than Brodeur, who at 41 going on 42 is no more than a risky, creaky rental. As for Halak, I'll be surprised if the former Blues goalie costs more than a future second rounder.
Based on what I saw of his thoroughly disengaged performance last night in Toronto, it's hard to believe that anyone would take him and his $7.5 million cap hit off the Blue Jackets' hands for anything more than a mid-round pick or a B-level prospect.
Robidas told a source yesterday that while the rebab for his broken leg is progressing nicely, he's still two weeks away from being game-ready.
There were rumors that Johnson wanted out earlier this year after getting snubbed by Team USA, but it's been so quiet on that front lately that most observers assumed that things had been smoothed over. If he is available, the Bruins would be one of many interested teams. (The Sharks and Ducks could use a left-shooting D as well). Johnson has a contract that runs four seasons at $4.36 million per after this one, so he'd be more expensive than a mere rental, but his sticking around certainly makes his price a little more palatable.
Luongo to the Caps? No ....
Boy, that Ben Bishop trade keeps looking better and better, doesn't it? Cory Conacher and Joe Corvo are now on waivers. I can see Buffalo or Florida biting on Conacher.
Everyone's reading into Loui Eriksson being scratched for tonight's game due to a "minor issue" as a sign that the Bruins are really sitting him ahead of a trade. I sincerely doubt that's happening ... or that Jordan Caron is being showcased. Scouts have had plenty of opportunities over the past couple of seasons to see that Caron is a barely serviceable NHL player with almost no upside. Might be worth a late pick for some team desperate for a bottom-six forward with decent size, but that's it.
Let's count our blessings that this deal was consummated today. If it had happened tomorrow, the TSN boys would have gone to three roundtables to discuss the impact of a third-pair D-man on Les Habitants.