Trade Verdict: A big win for the Toronto Maple Leafs
The National Hockey League's Trade Deadline is on Monday, Feb. 24, and teams will be making decisions on whether to buy or sell and decide which players can make the biggest difference and hold the greatest value. Check out the latest trade rumours and speculation from around the NHL beat.
"Pretty Small Market"
Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford has been open about his pursuit of a top-six forward to help replace the injured Jake Guentzel ahead of the trade deadline, but noted Wednesday he's had trouble finding a trade partner with most teams still in the playoff race.
“I think the market will open up at some point in the next week or two,” Rutherford told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Once teams decide which direction they want to go, more players will get into the market. But now it’s a pretty small market.”
Rutherford has a history of striking before the deadline and admitted Wednesday that's his preference. With the Penguins having won eight of their past 10 games, though, the general manager said he's not feeling the need to a make a move.
“You prefer [to get a trade completed sooner than later],” Rutherford said. “But only if you’re comfortable with it. At this point, there hasn’t been any comfort level. And there hasn’t been any urgency. If we don’t add anybody other than the injured players - and Jake, of course - it would be a pretty solid lineup.”
The Penguins (33-14-5) currently sit second in the Metropolitan Divsion, six points back of the Washington Capitals with two games in hand. Pittsburgh will visit the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have won four straight, on Thursday night.
Wait and See
The Calgary Flames deadline plans may hinge on the health of captain Mark Giordano.
Last year's Norris Trophy winner, Giordano has been ruled week-to-week with a hamstring injury after exiting Tuesday's game against the San Jose Sharks.
Giordano holds a two-minute lead in average in ice time over his next closest teammate, Travis Hamonic, this season. He has five goals and 27 points in 54 games while averaging 23:56 of ice time per game.
TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger said Thursday that Flames general manager Brad Treliving is believed to be willing to part with a defenceman in his pursuit of a top-six forward before the deadline. Should Giordano be out long-term, though, the Flames will likely be forced to change those plans.
Watch Dreger's full breakdown of the situation:
Taking His Time
Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin is planning to take his time over the next two weeks before deciding what direction to take his franchise at the deadline.
The Wild are six points back of the Calgary Flames for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference with two games in hand. Guerin told NHL.com he intends to allow his current roster the opportunity to make a push over their next nine games before Feb. 24.
"I'm still to be determined," Guerin said on his deadline plans. "We have [two and a half] weeks. I like our players. I like them as players. I like them as people. They love playing in Minnesota and a lot of them are signed. I'm not in a rush to put anybody out the door."
"I told the group and they all know they're getting a fair shake," Guerin added. "They're getting a great opportunity and I want to see them succeed. But we need results."
The Wild begin a stretch of four straight games against teams in playoff spots Thursday when they host the Vancouver Canucks.
Guerin noted, however, that with only one pending unrestricted free agent on his roster in captain Mikko Koivu, he won't run the same risk as other GMs in keeping players on expiring deals.
"I don't have to rush to do anything," Guerin said. "[In addition to] what I said before about liking the players and liking the people, they're signed, and I like being in that position."
TSN Senior Hockey Reporter Frank Seravalli surveyed executives around the league Wednesday to determine what the return for Ilya Kovalchuk could be if the Montreal Canadiens decide to move him before the deadline.
Kovalchuk, 36, has five goals and 10 points in 13 games since joining the Canadiens on a one-year, $700,000 deal last month.
TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun reported last week the belief from some teams was Montreal would accept no less than a second-round pick for Kovalchuk, but Seravalli's research suggests that the price tag won't be met over the coming weeks.
“I think a fourth-round pick is the best they’re going to get at this point,” one assistant GM told Seravalli. “But if we keep seeing these goals for the next three weeks …”
"A third or a fourth,” another said.
“That certainly seems reasonable under the circumstances,” another East executive said before adding, "I don’t think they can get a second-rounder.”
As Seravalli writes, players with term left on their deals are more likely to fetch second-round picks in packages with prospects. One general manager suggested the Canadiens would be best off re-signing Kovalchuk and hoping to see his success continue through next season.
He is currently listed at No. 3 on the TSN Trade Bait Board.