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Countdown to TradeCentre: Gavrikov trade already in place?

Vladislav Gavrikov Columbus Blue Jackets Vladislav Gavrikov - Getty Images

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.

Gavrikov trade only a matter of time?

Columbus Blue Jackets defenceman Vladislav Gavrikov remains out of the team's lineup for "trade-related reasons," but the wait for a deal may be coming to an end.

Aaron Portzline of The Athletic writes "it’s believed the Jackets have a trade in place that requires another transaction to take place first."

TSN Hockey Insider Chris Johnston reported last week that the Blue Jackets are looking for a three-asset return for Gavrikov, including a first-round pick, as the deadline approaches on March 3.

"I think there's still some 'sticker shock' on the price because the Blue Jackets are sticking, at least to this point, to a three-draft pick kind of return: a first, a third and a fourth at least one team was told this week and I think what makes that even tougher is the fact that this player is a pending unrestricted free agent," Johnston said on Insider Trading. "It doesn't sound like he's inclined to talk to whatever team ends up acquiring him about an extension at this point in time and so you'd be spending those three assets for a rental player who probably wants to become a free agent this summer."

The 27-year-old Gavrikov has three goals and seven assists in 52 games this season, his fourth with the Blue Jackets. He is currently listed at No. 3 on the TSN Trade Bait board.

He is set to become an unrestricted free agent following the season, as he plays in the final year of a three-year, $8.4 million deal ($2.8 million AAV) he signed in 2020.

In 256 career games with the Blue Jackets, Gavrikov has 15 goals and 58 assists. He was originally selected by the club in the sixth round (159th overall) of the 2015 NHL Draft.

Johnston added last Thursday that the practice of scratching players for "trade-related reasons" without a deal imminent - as with Gavrikov and Jakob Chychrun over the past 10 days - could come under review in the off-season. 

"And in the process of this, the Coyotes have started something new, right? The scratch for trade-related reasons without a trade coming soon after. I can tell you that there is some disgruntlement out there, some agents, some in the industry don't like this idea," Johnston said. "Jakob Chychrun has already sat three games for the Coyotes. Vladislav Gavrikov on Thursday will miss his second game for Columbus.

"At this point in time, sources say there's nothing close on either of these players. So, from a practical standpoint, I don't know what can be done to legislate it. Obviously teams can make their roster decisions as they see fit, but if one or both of these guys sit until March 3rd, I think we're going to see more conversation on this practice."

The Blue Jackets, who are just one point above the Anaheim Ducks for last in the NHL, are off until Thursday when they will host the Minnesota Wild.

Assessing the possibility of Kane to Toronto

Patrick Kane put his talents on full display for the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday, scoring a hat trick in the Chicago Blackhawks' 5-3 victory.

While it remains unclear whether the pending unrestricted free agent will be moved at the deadline, TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button believes Toronto is unlikely to land the winger either way.

The Maple Leafs made a major deadline splash on Friday night sending a package that included their 2023 first-round pick to the St. Louis Blues for Ryan O'Reilly and Noel Acciari. 

After moving key assets out for O'Reilly, the Leafs could also struggle to find a way to fit Kane's expiring $10.5 million cap hit under the salary cap.

Kane, who now has 14 goals and 41 points in 52 games this season, is reportedly yet to decide whether he wants to be traded at the deadline. The 34-year-old has a full no-move clause in his contract.

Watch Button's full breakdown on that situation and more.

ContentId(1.1921451): Button: 'Very low probability' Dubas could make a play for Patrick Kane

Meier Injured

Sitting atop the TSN Trade Bait board, Timo Meier has remained in the San Jose Sharks lineup and is now considered day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

Meier was injured in the Sharks' 4-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday and is considered questionable to face the Seattle Kraken on Monday.

It's unclear what impact - if any - the injury could have on the trade market for the pending restricted free agent.

TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun reported last week that different suitors had different requirements for a deal to land Meier. He said the New Jersey Devils want an extension in place to complete a trade, while the Carolina Hurricanes are open to adding Meier as a pending restricted free agent.

"It sounds like it depends on which team ends up in the lead position here on a trade, and we're talking about the fact that agent Claude Lemieux, who represents Meier, has not yet been given permission as of Tuesday afternoon to speak directly to the teams involved in trade talks with the Sharks," LeBrun said on Insider Trading. "The reason I say it depends is, for example, the New Jersey Devils, who absolutely would love to land Meier - there have been more talks in the last 48 hours between the Devils and the Sharks - they would want an extension to be part of this trade, they want to sign Meier as part of this.

"The Carolina Hurricanes, another team that has had talks with the Sharks in the last couple of days, they're a bit more open-minded I'm told, and they could make this trade without even talking to Lemieux or without even worrying about an extension at this point."

The 26-year-old has 31 goals and 52 points in 57 games this season, marking the third time in his seven-year career he's hit the 30-goal mark. He's currently signed at a cap hit of $6 million, with a $10 million qualifying offer required to retain his rights this summer.