The trade deadline for the NHL season is February 25th at 3 PM. That’s next Monday. Teams around the league are looking to make a few final moves as they push toward a Stanley Cup run. Hey, the playoffs start in April and most teams are still in contention! Others are looking to improve for next season and rack up a few good picks as we inch toward the draft. Some teams might even sit tight with what they have, though that’s a pretty bold move. Here are some of the NHL players and teams that are rumored to be (ie, almost definitely) making trades before the deadline…
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Matt Duchene of the Ottawa Senators is moving… somewhere
This 28-year-old center looks to be headed to another team, and there’s no shortage of interest around the league. Word on the street is that Duchene, an unrestricted free agent, will not sign an extension with the Senators. So Ottawa has been making calls to see what they can get for him. He’s an offensive explosion and potential game-changer for any team this late in the season. So who’s going to get him?
The red-hot Winnipeg Jets are eyeing Duchene, as well as the New York Islanders, both teams who have been leading their divisions lately and looking to go deep in the playoffs. The Nashville Predators and the Columbus Blue Jackets might also be intrigued by the prospect of fitting Duchene into their lineups for a big offensive boost. And there are probably other teams lining up to inquire about him as we type this…
The Canadian Olympic gold medal winner turned down an eight-year, $64 million extension and is seeking a new home despite the fact that Ottawa would love to keep him there. His move has other implications for the team though. Along with Duchene, Mark Stone and Ryan Dzingel are also unrestricted free agents who happen to be having the best seasons of their careers. Ideally, the Senators would like to keep all three. Stone would likely be the team’s captain and take on an even bigger role if he stays, but Duchene’s move might change his plans. There’s a lot of interest around the NHL in Stone, so who knows? The Senators might do a lot of wheeling and dealing before Monday if these guys don’t decide to stick around.
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The Columbus Blue Jackets could trade Artemi Panarin
With an expiring contract, the leading scorer for the Blue Jackets has an unclear future in Columbus. He’s having an excellent season with 24 goals and 43 assists, and while the Blue Jackets want to resign him, Panarin apparently wants to test the market. In return, Columbus is actively shopping him around, looking to see what offers are out there. They are willing to move him if they get their price. However, a lot of these potential Panarin deals depend on what’s happening with that other great right winger we just discussed – Mark Stone. (Sorry, but Panarin is likely the second choice for most teams.)
Panarin has multiple points in his last five games and he’s played even better since announcing he won’t be extending his contract, so he would change things up for teams hoping to hit the playoffs running. Boston, Nashville, and even Tampa Bay could all be interested in nabbing him. But Columbus doesn’t want to lose their best player and not get anything in return. As of now, they have no one on their roster to fill the hole that Panarin would leave if they hope to go deep in the postseason.
Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets’ goalie Sergei Bobrovsky also has an expiring contract and, rumor has it, he doesn’t plan to stick around either, having refused to discuss potential contract extensions. Should the Blue Jackets trade him now, rely on their backup Joonas Korpisalo in the potential postseason, and get something equivalent in return… or risk losing him in the offseason for nothing? It’s a precarious situation over in Columbus with two great players possibly leaving before April.
Philadelphia Flyers saying goodbye to Wayne Simmonds?
This winger is also an unrestricted free agent with a lot of potential for whichever team can land him, even if it is just a rental. Apparently, the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning have inquired about the 30-year-old “Wayne Train” who is still playing his heart out for the Flyers. Simmonds is known for his great attitude, professionalism, and being super supportive of his teammates, but he’s also got speed, scoring potential, and toughness. Though it’s rumored he’d like to stay in Philly, the Flyers’ power forward has not yet received a contract extension.
The Flyers have drastically improved their position heading toward the postseason, passing 13 teams to move from the bottom of the NHL to playoff contention. They’re currently six points away from a wild card spot and now all their games before Monday will be like auditions for Simmonds, who is having to shop his talents around. The Lightning conveniently visited the Wells Fargo Center, but the Bruins and the Predators could also be in the market for a player like Simmonds. But he won’t come cheap. According to general manager Chuck Fletcher, “It’s just hard to say — if we can find a way to improve our team, we’ll certainly look at anything, whether it’s now or in the summer.” Just FYI, Simmonds has 12 teams on his no-trade list so they can’t just send him anywhere…