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Countdown to TradeCentre: Devils circling back on Markstrom?

Jacob Markstrom Calgary Flames Jacob Markstrom - Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images

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.

Devils still interested in Markstrom?

The Jacob Markstrom sweepstakes took a turn Friday when the veteran netminder told reporters Calgary Flames’ management could have handled trade talk surrounding him “a lot different.”

“I think everyone in here, every player in here, I really respect them. Everything that’s been going on and not going on…how everyone in this room has handled everything, I think has been really good, you know? The whole situation and everything, am I happy about that? No, I’m not. And I think it could have been handled a lot different from up top,” Markstrom said Friday when asked whether he's been able to tune out the rumours. 

The veteran goaltender has been mentioned in trade speculation for weeks and is the No. 9 player on TSN’s Trade Bait Board

One team that’s had interest in Markstrom is the New Jersey Devils. TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun reported on the Feb. 13 edition of Insider Trading they New Jersey looked into dealing for Markstrom and it appears the Devils are once again looking into the possibility of a trade.

On Friday, LeBrun wrote in The Athletic that the Devils re-engaged with the Flames on Markstrom and are now willing to make a deal without the Flames having to retain salary, which was thought to be a “sticking point” for them last time around.

However, LeBrun writes that even with the Devils now willing to take on all of Markstrom’s contract – he carries a cap hit of $6 million through the 2025-26 season – trading him could be a difficult decision for Flames general manager Craig Conroy. Calgary enters play Saturday having won four straight games and sits seven points out of the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

LeBrun adds a conversation between the two teams could also be re-visited in the off-season if nothing gets done before March 8.

Markstrom, 34, is 20-15-2 this season with a goals-against average of 2.56 and a .914 save percentage.

Oilers to add at forward?

LeBrun wrote Friday in The Athletic he believes the Edmonton Oilers won’t leave the trade deadline “empty-handed” at forward.

LeBrun points out the Vegas Golden Knights, who sit one point ahead of the Oilers in the Pacific Division, are also looking to add up front, and could target one of the higher-end players thought to be available, such as Jake Guentzel, Vladimir Tarasenko or Tyler Toffoli, among others.

The Golden Knights are currently without forward Mark Stone and expect him out through the end of the regular season, meaning they can use his $9.5 million cap hit to add at the deadline and not need salary retained or be forced to complete a trade with a third-party broker. LeBrun writes this could be difficult for the Oilers, who will likely need either retention or a third team to bring in a significant piece.

Because of this, LeBrun thinks the Oilers are willing to be patient and let the market come to them as next Friday approaches. He adds the team has also looked into bringing in a defenceman, having been in on blueliner Chris Tanev before the Calgary Flames traded him to the Dallas Stars earlier this week.

Guentzel skates as deadline nears

Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jake Guentzel is taking part in the team's optional morning skate Saturday wearing a white no-contract jersey, according to team reporter Michelle Crechiolo.

The 31-year-old is the No. 2 player on TSN's Trade Bait list and is currently on the injured reserve list with an upper-body injury. He is not eligible to come off the list until March 10, two days after next week's trade deadline. 

The veteran winger told The Athletic's Rob Rossi this week that he's trying to focus on what he can control leading up to the deadline.

“I think you tell yourself to focus on what you can control. That’s what I’m trying to do. But, yeah, that’s not always easy to do, right? Like, it’s not just about you and playing hockey. There’s your family. People become friends. There’s a community, you know?” he said.

“I’m fortunate — all of that has happened to me here. That’s made it feel like home.”

Guentzel is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and has a cap hit of $6 million this year.

He has 22 goals and 52 points in 50 games this season.