Happy Monday friends! Hope you all enjoyed All-Star weekend, which was surprisingly fun to watch yet again. The NHL has done a great job with the three-on-three tournament, and I think this week proved once again that the league has it right with its annual showcase.
Now that the ASG is behind us, full focus is on the NHL’s trade deadline, which is mere weeks away. As we approach the deadline, we’ll take a look at some of the top rumors in the hockey world each and every morning. Let’s begin, shall we?
NHL Trade Deadline Rumors
Oilers Open For Business:
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but the Edmonton Oilers are open for business as we head into the trade deadline. Two separate league sources have indicated to me that forward Patrick Maroon is nearly a lock to get traded, as is center Mark Letestu.
This isn’t anything new, as many have also reported what I’ve heard, but it is interesting nonetheless. According to my sources, contract talks were still stagnant as of last week, with Maroon not coming down on his original asking price . The St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins are two of the confirmed teams interested in Maroon, while the Pittsburgh Penguins are keen on Letestu.
My Thoughts: The Oilers are, by far, the NHL’s most disappointing team. A pre-season Stanley Cup contender, the Oilers will need a miracle to even make the playoffs this spring. As Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman mentioned in a recent 31 Thoughts piece, everything the club does now is to position itself to be a contender next season. Selling off pieces makes sense, and could garner the Oilers draft picks and/or prospects.
Maroon, in particular, should garner a good return for the Oilers.
The New York Rangers are in a fight for a playoff spot, but Larry Brooks of the NY Post is reporting that the club is preparing to sell at the upcoming deadline. Brooks reports that the Blueshirts could move pending UFA forwards Rick Nash and Michael Grabner, as well as veteran mainstays such as Mats Zuccarello and Ryan McDonagh.
The team has a goal, according to Brooks, and is trying to build a Stanley Cup winner, not simply just a playoff team.
The objective is to add young NHL or NHL-ready players every bit as much as garnering additional selections in upcoming entry drafts. Teams in the market for rentals generally own picks in the overall 24-to-31 range. You can get a good player toward the bottom of the first round, but generally not a franchise guy even if Boston’s David Pastrnak (25th in 2014) might prove a notable exception to the rule. The Rangers are neither plotting nor anticipating a deep dive to the league’s nether regions from which it can take years to escape. – Brooks
My Thoughts: The Rangers are stuck in a heated playoff race in the tough Metropolitan division. Currently, they are battling the crosstown rival Islanders and Penguins for wild card positioning, and if we are being honest the Rangers probably have the worst of those three rosters. It’s a tough decision, but conceding the season building toward contending next year or the year after is the right move.
As Brooks mentioned, Nash should garner a good return, and if the team does move on from Zuccarello and McDonagh they could reload on the fly.
Changing Of The Guard:
Changes are coming in Ottawa, there is no doubt about that. Senators’ captain and franchise face Erik Karlsson admitted as much on All-Star weekend, telling The Sporting News that the team is “going to have to make changes.” We expect a number of those changes to take place prior to the upcoming deadline.
My Thoughts: This comes as no surprise, as Ottawa has had an awful season and will without doubt be a seller come February 26th. Karlsson grabs the headlines, but odds are he’ll be staying put until the summer, if he even gets moved by the Sens.
We’ve heard Mike Hoffman’s name tossed around, with the St. Louis Blues, Edmonton Oilers and Boston Bruins showing various levels on interest over the last few weeks. Pittsburgh, who is searching for a center, has confirmed interest in playoff hero JG Pageau, and could look at Zack Smith if Pageau doesn’t get moved.
I also suspect we see defender Johnny Oduya get moved as teams load up on veteran defenders for the playoff push.