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Countdown to TradeCentre: Pettersson extension key to Canucks’ deadline plans

Patrik Allvin Elias Pettersson Vancouver Canuucks Patrik Allvin Elias Pettersson - The Canadian Press

The NHL's March 8 Trade Deadline is approaching, and teams are making decisions on whether to buy or sell, and on which players can make the biggest difference and hold the greatest value. Check out today's trade rumours and speculation from around the NHL beat.

Pettersson deal gives Canucks clarity

The Canucks and Elias Pettersson reached an eight-year contract extension Saturday, keeping him in Vancouver through the 2031-32 season with an $11.6 million cap hit.

According to TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun, the Canucks were hoping to discuss an extension with Pettersson last summer but the 25-year-old centre was not ready to give the green light to his representation to engage in negotiations. This made Canucks management entertain the idea of trading Pettersson ahead of the March 8 deadline despite sitting in a playoff position, with the Carolina Hurricanes among the list of interested teams.

However, according to LeBrun, trade rumours were not the tipping point that brought the two sides together this week.

“It’s not so much the trade threat, but the noise itself of how this story I think began to weigh on Pettersson. And the other thing is Jim Rutherford, the president of hockey operations for the Canucks, really stressed to Pat Brisson, the agent for Pettersson, how important it was to get an answer. To understand if Pettersson wanted to be in Vancouver long-term so that the Canucks can approach this trade deadline knowing all those facts. That was really the part of it that finally hit home for Pettersson I’m told,” LeBrun said Saturday.

LeBrun adds that members of other organizations around the league feel Pettersson’s $11.6 million cap hit is “pretty fair for a player of his stature” and is not a contract that is likely to hinder Vancouver going forward. As of now, Pettersson will be the fifth highest-paid player in the NHL next season, behind Artemi Panarin ($11.64 million), Connor McDavid ($12.5 million), Nathan MacKinnon ($12.6 million) and Auston Matthews ($13.25 million). 

The Sundsvall, Sweden native has 29 goals and 75 points in 62 games so far this season, his sixth with the team.


Possible suitors for Vatrano

Anaheim Ducks forward Frank Vatrano is the No. 7 player on TSN's Trade Bait Board and is in the midst of a career-season with a modest $3.65 million cap hit on a deal that runs through next season. 

As The Athletic's Eric Stephens noted on Sunday, Vatrano is an attractive asset and his production gives Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek food for thought head of Friday's deadline: With Anaheim well back of a playoff spot, should the team hang onto him heading into the final year of his deal, or cash in now while his value is high? 

Stephens notes the New York Rangers are shopping for a top-six forward and could be interested in a reunion after acquiring Vatrano at the deadline two years ago. Stephens adds the Hurricanes could also be a fit, and Verbeek has scouted both the Rangers and Hurricanes recently. 

Vatrano has twice been dealt at the deadline during his nine-year NHL career. The first time came when the Boston Bruins shipped him to the Florida Panthers in 2018, and the other was four years later when the Rangers acquired him from Florida in 2022. He went on to have 13 points in 20 playoff games that season as the Rangers advanced to the Eastern Conference final.

The 29-year-old was an All-Star for the first time in 2023-24 and has 29 goals and 48 points in 60 games so far. 


Coyotes unlikely to take on big contracts

Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong told Stephen Whyno of the Associated Press and Tom Gulitti of Sunday that while Arizona is open to helping facilitate deals between other teams, they aren't likely to take on big contracts like they've done at past deadlines.

"We're probably a little sensitive to it right now just because we've done it so much and we set records about taking on bad deals," Armstrong said.

Sitting well out of a playoff position, Armstrong said the team plans to go into next Friday as sellers. He added the team and pending unrestricted free agents know where things are at during this stage of the season, among them veteran defenceman Matt Dumba and forward Jason Zucker.

Dumba is the No. 8 player on TSN's Trade Bait board and has four goals and nine points in 56 games so far this season. Zucker, with eight goals and 23 points in 50 games, comes in at No. 39 on Trade Bait. 


Eberle, Wennberg candidates to stay?

Forwards Jordan Eberle and Alexander Wennberg represent the 14th and 24th spots on TSN’s Trade Bait board, respectively. As pending unrestricted free agents with the Seattle Kraken seven points shy of the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference with two teams to leapfrog, both players seem like probable trade candidates ahead of next Friday’s deadline.

Or maybe not?

LeBrun wrote in The Athletic on Friday that the Kraken have engaged in contract extension discussions with each player’s camp. LeBrun adds there is still a chance one – or both – are traded, but it’s noteworthy that each side has talked extension.

Eberle, 33, has 14 goals and 35 points in 56 games so far this season, his third with the team.

Wennberg has nine goals and 25 points in 60 outings and like Eberle, has been with the franchise since it began play in the 2021-22 season.