On the eve of trade deadline, there's growing speculation over what the Toronto Maple Leafs will do to address their porous defense corps. That need became more pressing following Saturday’s 6-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, in which the Canes iced 42-year-old emergency backup David Ayres for the final half of the game.
On Thursday, TSN's Bob McKenzie reported the Leafs could shop Tyson Barrie, either for another defenseman or for assets that could be flipped to another team for a blueliner. An unrestricted free agent this summer, the 28-year-old Barrie hasn't panned out as hoped since being acquired last summer from the Colorado Avalanche. McKenzie's colleague Frank Seravalli reported the Hurricanes, Vancouver Canucks, Vegas Golden Knights and Calgary Flames expressed interest in the puck-moving rearguard.
Finding a suitable trade partner could be tricky. The Athletic's Harman Dayal points out the Canucks already have a top-pairing offensive d-man in rookie Quinn Hughes. Seravalli said the Leafs and Flames had previously discussed swapping Barrie for T.J. Brodie. There's no indication if that proposal remains on the table.
The Leafs could attempt to reacquire their 2020 first-round pick that they sent to the Hurricanes in last summer's Patrick Marleau trade. However, Carolina owner Tom Dundon isn't keen on parting with future assets for a rental player.
Seravalli pointed out the Golden Knights freed up over $3.8 million by shipping center Cody Eakin to the Winnipeg Jets. Having acquired Alec Martinez from the Los Angeles Kings last week, they're not under any pressure to add another blueliner,
BRUINS STILL SHOPPING?
For weeks, rumors linked the Boston Bruins to the New York Rangers' Chris Kreider and the New Jersey Devils' Kyle Palmieri. However, acquiring Ondrej Kase from the Anaheim Ducks Friday seems to address Boston’s need for a second-line right winger.
NBC Sports' Joe Haggerty believes the Bruins are likely out of the bidding for Kreider or Palmieri after parting with their 2020 first-round pick in the deal for Kase. He feels a first-rounder would have to be part of the return for either guy. Nevertheless, some observers wonder if GM Don Sweeney has another deal up his sleeve.
Haggerty points out sending veteran winger David Backes (and 75 percent of his $6 million AAV) to the Ducks frees up nearly $2 million in cap space to perhaps put toward another acquisition. Boston Hockey Now's Jimmy Murphy cites a source claiming they're looking at San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton. The Bruins are already deep at center with Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Charlie Coyle. Unless they shift Coyle to the wing and put Thornton in their third-line center role, it seems a waste to bring him back to Boston for a last hurrah.
Earlier in the week, there were reports suggesting the Bruins could attempt to acquire Chicago Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad. The Kase deal should slam the door on that possibility.
TEAMS TO WATCH
The Calgary Sun's Wes Gilbertson reports Flames GM Brad Treliving is in the market for a scoring winger. Gilbertson suggests the Devils’ Palmieri and the Florida Panthers' Mike Hoffman or Vincent Trocheck could be on Treliving's radar.
According to TSN's Pierre LeBrun, the Philadelphia Flyers could have interest in Jean-Gabriel Pageau if the Ottawa Senators decide to peddle the 27-year-old center. However, they're not interested in parting with their first-round pick.
The Senators also held Vladislav Namestnikov out of their lineup in their last two games for precautionary reasons. LeBrun's colleague Darren Dreger said the Senators received offers from the Maple Leafs, Avalanche and Columbus Blue Jackets for the 27-year-old center.
There are mixed messages coming out of Colorado regarding the Avalanche's plans. The Athletic's Ryan S. Clark reported GM Joe Sakic insists recent injuries to his roster won't affect his trade deadline plans, adding he could seek a depth goaltender. Colorado Hockey Now's Adrian Dater noted that Sakic also said he's looking for players that could have an impact in the dressing room.
Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford already made a recent splash in the trade pool by acquiring winger Jason Zucker from the Minnesota Wild. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Seth Rorabaugh, Rutherford remains open to adding a depth forward before deadline day. Depending on updates on sidelined defensemen Brian Dumoulin and John Marino, the Penguins could also look for another blueline.
Sportsnet's Chris Johnston reports the Blackhawks left defenseman Erik Gustafsson back in Chicago as they departed yesterday on a road trip. He was linked to the Golden Knights, but Johnston feels he'll be moved elsewhere.
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