The NHL's holiday trade freeze has lifted and the rumor mill is churning once again. With Taylor Hall off the trade market, teams in need of a top-six forward are focusing on the New York Rangers' Chris Kreider. The 28-year-old left winger is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and there's no indication he's any closer to a contract extension with the Blueshirts.
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported Saturday several contenders, including the Colorado Avalanche, Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blues and Pittsburgh Penguins, are believed to be interested in Kreider. He pointed out the Rangers held onto previous pending UFAs like Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello up until last season's trade deadline before moving them.
The Blueshirts could do the same with Kreider. The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder is a big, physical winger with terrific speed and a good scoring touch. He's on pace for his fifth 20-goal, 40-point campaign. Given his skills, the Rangers could hang onto him until the deadline to maximize his trade value.
Kreider isn't the only Ranger potentially available, as Lias Andersson requested a trade during the holiday roster freeze. Selected seventh-overall in the 2017 NHL Draft, the 21-year-old winger has struggled to crack the Rangers roster. He's been with their AHL affiliate in Hartford since mid-November, but was suspended after walking away from the club following his trade request.
The New York Post's Larry Brooks reports there isn't much interest in Andersson. Friedman said they intend to remain patient and won't move the unhappy winger simply for the sake of doing so.
Kreider on his own could fetch a solid return for the Rangers. Perhaps they'll also consider bundling him with Andersson if that package could fetch a first-round pick or another top prospect.
Oilers interested in Saad?
Friedman also speculated the Chicago Blackhawks' Brandon Saad could draw some interest. The 27-year-old left winger is currently sidelined for three weeks with an ankle injury but it's not expected to be serious.
During a recent appearance on Edmonton's 630 CHED, Friedman suggested Saad or Los Angeles Kings winger Tyler Toffoli could be good fits with the Oilers. He felt the asking price could be a pick in one of the first three rounds of the draft, but noted the Oilers' front office believes they've given up too many draft picks in recent years.
With 11 goals in 36 games, Saad is still on track to reach 20 goals for the fifth time in the past six seasons. He would be a welcome addition to the Oilers' secondary scoring. With one season remaining on his contract, he'd be more than a rental player.
CapFriendly indicates Saad carries an annual average value of $6 million. With only $1.8 million in cap space, they'll have to shed salary and perhaps persuade the Blackhawks to pick up part of his cap hit to fit him within their cap payroll.
If the Blackhawks are willing to move Saad, their asking price could be a promising young defenseman like the Oilers' Ethan Bear. That could be a deal breaker for Edmonton GM Ken Holland.
Anderson to the Panthers?
With Anders Nilsson looking comfortable as the Senators' starting goaltender, the Ottawa Sun's Ken Warren believes Craig Anderson's days in Ottawa could be drawing to a close. The 38-year-old netminder is slated to become a UFA in July.
Warren feels Anderson could attract interest from contenders seeking an experienced backup. The Florida Panthers were suggested as a potential front-runner, as it was noted the goalie and his family maintain their off-season home near the Panthers' arena. Anderson also spent parts of three seasons with the Panthers early in his NHL career.
Despite signing goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky last summer to a seven-year, $70-million contract, the Panthers could use a reliable backup. Pressed for cap space, however, they'd have to shed salary to make room for Anderson's $4.75-million cap hit. Even if the Senators picked up half of it, the Panthers will still be hard-pressed to find sufficient room to fit him in.
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