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.
Dealing From a Position of Strength?
Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon announced his wish list ahead of the trade deadline in no uncertain terms on Tuesday.
"I'd like to acquire a veteran D if I could to play with (Aaron) Ekblad and settle things down a bit back there," Tallon told NHL.com. "We need to be more consistent on the blue line."
Ekblad is currently paired with Michael Matheson on the team's top duo, but Tallon said Matheson has had consistency issues throughout the season.
"(Riley) Stillman's been really good," he said. "Matheson has been good some nights, not so good other nights. We need to have less ups and downs back there."
Matheson has six goals and 16 points in 46 games this season while averaging 19:04 of ice time. Stillman, 21, has four assists and is averaging 19:55 of ice time in 19 games since being called up from the AHL's Springfield Thunderbirds.
TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun suggested Tuesday that the Panthers have been receiving calls on winger Mike Hoffman, adding the team may be willing to move the winger for defensive help.
"We mentioned with the Oilers before the trade deadline that a top-six forward would be top of their list in terms of potentially buying. I can’t tell you this particular player will be on their radar but I can tell you some teams have shown interest in Mike Hoffman of the Florida Panthers," LeBrun said on Insider Trading.
"Now the Panthers of course are sitting in a playoff spot so it’s not like they’re shopping players or trying to get rid of players, but I do think they would listen on Mike Hoffman. They asked for his 10-team no-trade list in late December, it was submitted and I think at the bottom line with Florida is this they are a high-scoring team, they have young players coming up the pipeline, Owen Tippett comes to mind, who can fill in if they ever dealt Hoffman. The bottom line is Florida needs a defensive addition on the back end. That’s what would make it happen. It doesn’t mean they’ll move him, this could be something that plays out until the end of the year."
Hoffman, 30, has 19 goals and 42 points in 52 games with the Panthers this season. He's currently slated to become an unrestricted free agent this July and carries a $5.187 million cap hit.
The Panthers, who lost in overtime to the Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday, currently sit third in the Atlantic Division with a one-point lead over the Toronto Maple Leafs, with one game in hand.
Time to Strike?
TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie said Tuesday he expects the Toronto Maple Leafs to ramp up their search for a backup goaltender after Monday's collapse against the Florida Panthers.
Michael Hutchinson allowed three goals on 13 shots upon replacing the injured Frederik Andersen against the Panthers as the Maple Leafs blew a 3-1 lead. Andersen has been ruled day-to-day with a neck injury, leaving Hutchinson to start Wednesday's game against the New York Rangers.
"I would expect the Toronto Maple Leafs hunt for a backup goaltender has intensified after last night’s game against the Florida Panthers," McKenzie said on Insider Trading. "The good news is that Freddie Andersen is day-to-day so maybe it may not be as serious as originally looked. And the other good news is that in his last four starts, and I stress starts, as a backup, Michael Hutchinson has gone 4-0 but you still get the feeling that last night was a tipping point for the Leafs in terms of getting an upgrade in net.
"In his last three relief performances, Michael Hutchinson has not been good. Three goals on 13 shots last night, four goals on 17 shots against Florida a couple of weeks ago and three goals on 16 shots in a relief performance against Edmonton on Jan. 6. A couple of those were winnable games, they’re not getting what they need so they’ve got to go out and look but with the cap considerations and the market being what it is, it’s going to be a difficult needle to thread."
TSN Senior Hockey Reporter Frank Seravalli listed six potential targets for the Maple Leafs to upgrade their backup on Tuesday, writing that Anaheim Ducks veteran Ryan Miller may be the best fit for Toronto. Miller has a 6-5-2 record with a 2.86 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage in 14 games this season with the Ducks, who are expected to be sellers at the deadline. As Seravalli notes, the Leafs could squeeze Miller's $1.125 million cap hit into their lineup without making a significant move.
The deal, however, could come down to whether Miller has the Maple Leafs on his six-team no-trade list or is willing to waive it for them. Seravalli writes that "some close to Miller think this may be his last year, and, at 39, he may be willing to take one more run at an elusive Stanley Cup."
Kevin Kurz of The Athletic writes that the struggling San Jose Sharks will almost certainly trade defenceman Brenden Dillon this month, with fellow pending unrestricted free agents Melker Karlsson and Aaron Dell potentially on the move as well.
The tougher decision for the Sharks, Kurz writes, will be whether to deal veterans Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, who both signed one-year deals to re-join the Sharks this season.
Kurz writes this year may be the last chance for either player to chase their first Stanley Cup and wonders if that could lead to either, or both, accepting a move.
Thornton owns a full no-trade clause in his contract, but should he be willing to accept a trade, Kurz points to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vegas Golden Knights and Boston Bruins as potential landing spots to help provide those teams with centre depth in their bottom-six.
Thornton, 40, has two goals and 22 points in 54 games this season with the Sharks, his 15th with the club since being traded from the Bruins in 2005. He became the 14th player in NHL history to record 1,500 points on Tuesday with an assist against the Calgary Flames.
Marleau does not have any trade protection in his one-year, $700,000 but Kurz believes any team acquiring would require assurances he'll report after declining to play for the Carolina Hurricanes following a June trade from the Maple Leafs. Potential fits for Marleau, Kurz writes, include the Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Vancouver Canucks and Washington Capitals.
Marleau, 40, has 10 goals and 20 points in 50 games since signing with the Sharks in October. The 22-year veteran has 561 goals and 1,186 points in 1,707 career games.