The NHL's Mar. 21 Trade Deadline is approaching and teams are making decisions on whether to buy, sell and decide 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. And follow TradeCentre on TSN and through Deadline Day for all the updates.

The Race for Middleton 

In his first year as NHL regular, San Jose Sharks defenceman Jacob Middleton has become a hot commodity on the trade market.

TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun reports the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins are all believed to be among the suitors for Middleton, who has appeared in a career-high 42 games this season.

Despite a lack of NHL experience, the 26-year-old won't come cheap, with LeBrun reporting the Sharks are looking for a second-round pick and an additional asset for the pending restricted free agent. 

"A number of playoff teams from the East continue to check in with San Jose on Jacob Middleton. The price is right, $725,000 is his cap hit, he’s had a wonderful year, he’s a great story, he was signed to an AHL deal by San Jose and this year he’s played a Top-4 role alongside Erik Karlsson, alongside Brent Burns," LeBrun said Tuesday on Insider Trading. "Here is the asking price from San Jose as I know it: a second-round pick, plus another pick or a prospect in that package, pretty high price similar to the Josh Manson deal.

"The Toronto Maple Leafs are among the Eastern Conference teams that I’m told have checked in on Jacob Middleton. I think the Leafs have some interest, all kinds of reasons why his physicality on the left side would be of use to Toronto. Boston and Tampa also in there, I believe."

Middleton has three goals and nine points while averaging 19:05 of ice time per game this season after appearing in just 14 NHL games previously. He was selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the seventh round of the 2014 Draft and made his NHL debut with the Sharks in 2019.

TSN Hockey Insider Chris Johnston said Tuesday the Maple Leafs' pursuit of the defenceman does not necessarily close the door on upgrading at other positions as well.

"Toronto’s interest there is a reminder every day is a new day, because it was just a week and a half ago that Kyle Dubas said to the reporters that he felt that he just had room for one move at the deadline, to add one player and I don’t believe that’s any longer the case," Johnston said. "And look, a lot has played out for the Leafs in the last 10 days, obviously Jack Campbell has gone with injury, they’ve had some trouble at that position and my sources suggest the Leafs are still looking at upgrades at all three positions in their lineup.

"To make any of this money work of course, they’re going to have to trade someone off their roster if they do make multiple additions, but that does seem to be at least a possibility here with six days to the deadline."

Copp Watch

After keeping him out of the lineup Tuesday, it appears Winnipeg Jets won't be taking the asset management route with Andrew Copp as they decide whether or not trade the pending unrestricted free agent.

TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger reports Copp, who is dealing with an upper-body injury, was held out for precautionary reasons in the Jets' 7-3 win over the Vegas Golden Knights, but could be back in the lineup as soon as Friday.

Dreger adds that Jets, who moved to within two points of Vegas for the final wild-card spot with a game in hand Tuesday, have yet to make a decision on Copp's fate.

"Yeah, because the Winnipeg Jets are still in the playoff mix, so Kevin Cheveldayoff and the Jets are going to have to make that decision obviously before three o’clock eastern on Monday," Dreger said. "Now, Copp is out of the lineup for precautionary reasons, but health isn’t a big concern to Copp or the Winnipeg Jets, they expect he will be back in the lineup on Friday, so what do you do? Do you hold him as an own rental and let him potentially walk, leave the organization for free at the end of the season or do you take what you can get at the trade deadline?

"I know Colorado, the New York Rangers and the Boston Bruins are among those with interest."

Copp has 13 goals and 32 points in 54 games this season after posting 15 goals and 39 points in 54 games a year ago.

Carrying a cap hit of $3.64 million, the 27-year-old is listed at No. 17 on the TSN Hockey's Trade Bait board.

Next to Move?

The Colorado Avalanche made the first move on the defence market Monday in acquiring Josh Manson from the Anaheim Ducks.

It appears that Montreal Canadiens pending UFA Ben Chiarot could soon be the next blueliner to come off the Trade Bait board.

TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun points to the Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes and St. Louis Blues, among others, as suitors for Chiarot, though it's unclear if any of those three teams are willing to meet the Canadiens' asking price on the 30-year-old.

"The Flames have a prospect by the name of Jakob Pelletier that is of great interest to the Canadiens. I just don’t know if the Flames …don’t think they want to move him," LeBrun explained Tuesday. "The Hurricanes don’t have a first-round pick; you may remember they used that in an offer sheet on Jesperi Kotkaniemi, so can they lure the Habs with a prospect or two? St. Louis doesn’t want to pay the price of a first-round pick, which is the price, so can they find another way? So, all these things are happening here as the Habs keep to their high price on Ben Chiarot.

TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger added that the Minnesota Wild, who acquire forward Tyson Jost on Tuesday, also have interest, but again may be scared off by the Canadiens price. There's also the possibility, Dreger adds, that the two could swing a separate deal that sees the Canadiens land a forward.

"I would say that the Minnesota Wild also have interest in Ben Chiarot, but like many teams around the NHL, the Wild do not like the asking price on Chiarot," Dreger said. "In the meantime, you’ve got the Montreal Canadiens and the Wild continuing to discuss 6-foot-3 college centre Jack McBain from Boston College.  Now, McBain has made it clear to the Wild, he is not going to sign with them, so he could become an unrestricted free agent in August. The asking price for Jack McBain is a second-round pick and that does not scare the Montreal Canadiens, provided that they, or another team that acquires his rights, can get him signed."

McBain, a third-round pick of the Wild in 2018, has 19 goals and 33 points in 24 games with Boston College this season. The 22-year-old represented Canada at the Olympics last month, scoring one goal and adding an assist in four games.