Countdown to TradeCentre: Canucks picking up the phone on Demko?
The NHL's March 3 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.
Canucks getting calls on Demko?
Emily Kaplan of ESPN reports the Vancouver Canucks have been contacted by at least four teams regarding the availability of goaltender Thatcher Demko.
According to Kaplan, the Canucks haven't said no to any of those interested teams and she adds the team could receive a significant haul for the goaltender on the trade market.
Demko has been sidelined since Dec. 1 with a lower-body injury. He was initially given a timeline of six weeks for recovery, but he has yet to resume skating.
The 27-year-old has a 3-10-2 record this season with an .833 save percentage and a 3.93 goals-against average. He is signed through the 2025-26 season at a cap hit of $5 million.
The Canucks, who traded captain Bo Horvat to the New York Islanders last week, enter play Wednesday sitting 14 points back of a playoff spot. Based off points percentage, the team would have seventh best odds in the draft lottery if the season ended today.
Flyers are 'not there yet'
Philadelphia Flyers head coach John Tortorella penned a letter to season ticket holders on Monday, stating the team is still building towards where he wants them to be.
Tortorella, who has led the Flyers to a 21-22-9 record to date in his first season, said he's been happy with the team's progress to date, but work remains to be done.
“Now, I’m not going to lie to you — and I want to be clear about this — we’re not there yet,” Tortorella wrote. “This year was the first step in building the future of the Flyers and restoring our reputation as one of the most respected teams in hockey.
"We're in the thick of the season right now, and we're going to see how our group responds to the challenges that lay ahead with a grueling schedule. Its a grind. but all of that is extremely important to see what we have and what we need to move forward. That excites me because I can promise you this - the answers to those questions will come.
"You and I will find out together and well be an even tougher team for having gone through it. That's because we're in the midst of establishing an identity. Not just any identity — but an identity that reflects the city of Philadelphia and the proud history of the Flyers organization."
Gustav Elvin of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes that the letter stops shy of mentioning the word rebuild, but seems to indicate that the team is in a transition period as they approach the trade deadline.
The Flyers sit six points back of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with four teams between them and the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have three less games played.
Winger James van Riemsdyk is currently the lone Flyer listed on the TSN Trade Bait board, as he plays out the final year of his contract, carrying a cap hit of $7 million. The team has just two other pending unrestricted free agents on their active roster in veteran defenceman Justin Braun and forward Patrick Brown.
If the season ended today, Philadelphia would have the ninth-best odds in the NHL Draft Lottery, which Elvin believes is a worst-case scenario for a team in need of high-end young talent.
Penguins Looking to Add?
Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ron Hextall is considering a move to shake up his roster as the playoff race heats up.
“When I look at our team on paper, I like our team,” Hextall told reporters Sunday. “When I look at some of the games in the results, I don’t like it as much.
"So sometimes you get better when you make a move with a certain player that fits better, whether it’s internal or external.”
The Penguins have been buyers in each of the past two deadlines, adding Jeff Carter in 2021 and Rickard Rakell last year. Pittsburgh, however, has not moved a first-round pick since their deal to acquire Kasperi Kapanen, among others, from the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2020.
Hextall said Sunday he would prefer to hold on to his first-round pick again this year in any deadline deal.
“I would say that’s not on the table,” Hextall said. “I haven’t been asked for that, certainly. … There’s not a lot of teams right now that are looking to jump and kind of get down in the fine strokes here. But, certainly, the talk is picking up. And in terms of first-round picks for getting salary out, I don’t see that being an option for us.”
The Penguins enter play Tuesday holding the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. They're tied in points with the New York Islanders, who are outside the playoff picture, but have three games in hand. Pittsburgh is also three points back of the Washington Capitals for the top wild-card spot with four games in hand.
TSN Hockey analyst Martin Biron joined SC with Jay Onrait on Monday night to discuss thin goaltending market ahead of this year's trade deadline.
Biron weighed in on why the Canucks are considering dealing Thatcher Demko, what the Sens should do with pending UFA Cam Talbot, and whether teams should teams be eyeing Coyotes netminder Karel Vejmelka.
Watch the full segment below.