Dreger: Leafs' play in last couple weeks hasn’t changed deadline approach
The National Hockey League's Trade Deadline is on Monday, Feb. 26, 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.
The Race for Ryan
Larry Brooks of The New York Post writes that the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning have both shown keen interest in Rangers blueliner Ryan McDonagh.
Brooks notes, however, that neither of the two teams sitting atop the Atlantic Division have come up with a legitimate offer for the Rangers to consider. Brooks believes McDonagh could be the difference in separating the Bruins and Lightning from each other.
Brooks adds that with a year remaining on his contract, the Rangers won't be pressured to move McDonagh before the trade deadline. While the Rangers will look to move pending free agents Rick Nash, Michael Grabner, Nick Holden and David Desharnais before the deadline, Brooks writes the team may hold onto McDonagh until the draft.
Loading Up Again?
TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun reported Monday that the Ottawa Senators have set a high price on centre Derick Brassard in trade talk.
According to Bruce Garrioch of The Ottawa Sun, the Pittsburgh Penguins are among the teams believed to be interested in Brassard as they look to load up for a third straight Stanley Cup run.
It's unclear, however, whether the Penguins would be willing to meet the Senators' current price of a first-round pick, a top prospect and a third piece, as reported by TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun.
Brassard said Monday he has not been approached by the Senators regarding a trade, but simply plans to let the process play out.
“I’ve gotten traded two times now. It’s part of the game,” Brassard told The Ottawa Sun. “Everybody has different situations with their contracts. Players are leaving everywhere and it’s pretty hard to keep the same core together. Whatever is going to happen on (Feb. 26th) is going to happen and you can’t really control anything.
“I’m not reading the paper or anything. Everyone has social media as soon as one guy knows, I think it’s everywhere. You can’t control anything you just have to play and try to do your best. We’ll see what’s going to happen.”
Garrioch reports the Senators are also receiving calls on Mike Hoffman, Zack Smith, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Cody Ceci and Dion Phaneuf - who all have term remaining on their contracts.
Time For A Move?
Aaron Portzline of The Athletic believes the return of Columbus Blue Jackets defenceman Ryan Murray could clear the way for the team to trade Jack Johnson.
Murray has been sidelined since Nov. 27, but is with the team on their current road trip and closing on his 2018 debut.
Johnson, a pending free agent, requested a trade from the Blue Jackets trade last month, citing a lack of ice time.
Portzline adds that the Toronto Maple Leafs, Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks are all in the market for a defenceman. He notes the Blue Jackets could receive a late first-round pick back in exchange for Johnson, but wonders if they would be better served taking back a pending free agent forward in a deal instead.
Johnson, 31, has two goals and seven points in 55 games this season.
Ken Wiebe of The Winnipeg Sun notes the Jets have been widely reported to be seeking a top-six winger to boost their lineup for a playoff run.
Wiebe believes Michael Grabner and Mat Zuccarello of the New York Rangers could both fit with the team, adding Zuccarello played under Jets head coach Paul Maurice in the KHL during the 2012 lockout. Other options listed by Wiebe include Senators centre Derick Brassard and Max Domi of the Arizona Coyotes.
While forward is the expected upgrade spot, Wiebe wonders if the Jets may look into adding depth on the blueline with Jacob Trouba sidelined and if Rangers defenceman Nick Holden, Jordie Benn of the Montreal Canadiens or Nathan Beaulieu of the Buffalo Sabres could fill the need.
Finally, the Jets are currently without goaltenders Steve Mason and Michael Hutchison due to injuries, leading Wiebe to think the Jets could pursue an experienced backup to serve behind Connor Hellebuyck for the stretch drive.