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Frank Seravalli

TSN Senior Hockey Reporter

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Goodbye and good riddance to January, the least active January for NHL trades since 2010.

Hello there to February, where the rubber meets the road for the 2018 trade deadline. Fewer than four weeks remain until TradeCentre on Feb. 26.

Conversations between general managers are beginning to percolate following All-Star Weekend, with the parity-filled standings starting to crystallize for buyers and sellers. Some GMs plan to take as much time as necessary to make a final determination one way or the other.

Two new names joined TSN’s Trade Bait board in Carolina Hurricanes centre Derek Ryan and Maple Leafs winger Nikita Soshnikov.

In their quest for a third-line centre to replace Nick Bonino, the Pittsburgh Penguins are believed to be sniffing around on Ryan, a pending free agent. Ryan, 31, is on track for 19 goals and 45 points centreing Carolina’s third line. He is also 11th in the league in faceoff win percentage (56.3) among centres with a minimum of 300 draws taken.

The Penguins could also be interested in bringing back centre Mark Letestu for another tour of duty, although he remains a possibility to re-sign with Edmonton.

Fulfilling their biggest need with a relatively inexpensive but effective Ryan or Letestu would allow GM Jim Rutherford to be a player in the Evander Kane sweepstakes. The belief is Rutherford is also seeking a winger with scoring punch for the Pens’ top two lines.

Kane, the mercurial Sabres winger, remains atop the Trade Bait board for the fourth consecutive week – and his first-year GM Jason Botterill served as Rutherford’s assistant in Pittsburgh.

Letestu, Ryan and Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau are the only three NHL centres on the board, which is dominated by left wingers.

Two players – Sabres netminder Robin Lehner and Blackhawks defenceman Cody Franson – dropped off the board to make room for Ryan and Soshnikov.

For Soshnikov, it’s simply a numbers game. He clearly isn’t ahead of any of the Leafs’ current regulars, as evidenced by the three games he’s played since his contract created a call-up in November, and he may not be ahead of some others in Toronto’s pipeline. The Maple Leafs are also one of three teams at the 50-contract limit.

There were plenty of other minor trend movements for others on the board. Here is TSN Hockey’s Top 30 Trade Bait, whose raking seeks to blend prominence of players with likelihood of a trade:

 

The Top 30

 
Player Pos Age 17-18 Cap Hit GP G PTS Past 17-18 Clause
1. Evander Kane, BUF LW 26 $5.25M 50 16 36 UFA  
2. Mike Green, DET RD 32 $6M 49 5 26 UFA NTC
3. Patrick Maroon, EDM LW 29 $1.5M 47 13 26 UFA  
4. Mike Hoffman, OTT LW 28 $5.19M 48 12 30 2 years M-NTC
5. Thomas Vanek, VAN LW 33 $2M 50 14 36 UFA  
6. Max Pacioretty, MTL LW 29 $4.5M 50 16 31 1 year  
7. Michael Grabner, NYR LW 30 $1.65M 49 21 26 UFA  
8. Alex Galchenyuk, MTL LW 23 $4.9M 50 12 28 2 years  
9. Zack Smith, OTT LW 29 $3.25M 34 3 12 3 years M-NTC
10. Ryan McDonagh, NYR LD 28 $4.7M 45 2 24 1 year M-NTC
11. James Neal, VGK LW 30 $5M 49 22 34 UFA M-NTC
12. Mark Letestu, EDM C 32 $1.8M 48 8 16 UFA  
13. Rick Nash, NYR  LW 33 $7.8M 50 15 25 UFA M-NTC
14. Ian Cole, PIT LD 28 $2.1M 38 2 9 UFA  
15. Jordan Kyrou, STL C/RW 19 $894K 0 0 0 3 years Slide
16. Aaron Dell, SJS G 28 $625K 22 2.51 .917 UFA  
17. Derek Ryan, CAR C 31 $1.45M 48 11 26 UFA  
18. Andrew Shaw, MTL C/RW 26 $3.9M 43 10 19 4 years  
19. Jean-Gabriel Pageau, OTT C 25 $3.1M 44 7 16 2 years  
20. Erik Gudbranson, VAN RD 26 $3.5M 32 1 3 UFA  
21. David Perron, VGK RW 29 $3.75M 43 12 42 UFA M-NTC
22. Jack Johnson, CBJ LD 31 $4.35M 50 2 7 UFA  
23. Nick Holden, NYR LD 30 $1.65M 45 3 9 UFA  
24. Nikita Soshnikov, TOR RW 24 $736K 3 0 0 RFA  
25. Petr Mrazek, DET G 25 $4M 16 3.01 .906 RFA  
26. Nic Petan, WPG C 22 $863K 6 0 0 RFA  
27. Blake Comeau, COL RW 31 $2.4M 47 9 21 UFA  
28. Sam Reinhart, BUF RW 22 $3.54M 50 10 20 RFA  
29. Dion Phaneuf, OTT LD 32 $7M 46 3 15 3 years M-NTC
30. Tyson Barrie, COL RD 26 $5.5M 35 4 28 2 years