Though the Vancouver Canucks are in post-season contention, there’s concern they could be poised for a second-half swoon similar to that which killed last season’s playoff hopes.
After playing reasonably well during the first half of the season, the Canucks entered Friday’s matchup against the Buffalo Sabres having won only eight of their last 20 games. They sat only one point ahead of the ninth-overall Los Angeles Kings.
The Vancouver Province’s Jason Botchford believes it’s time for the Canucks to make a trade if they want to clinch a playoff spot. He notes the club lacks speed, youth, scoring depth and size at forward. Read more
The Toronto rumor mill continues to churn with speculation over possible moves by the struggling Maple Leafs leading up to the March trade deadline. TSN’s Darren Dreger believes the next few weeks will determine if the Leafs become deadline buyers or sellers.
Over the weekend, the Toronto Star’s Kevin McGran cited a source claiming the Leafs were quietly shopping defenseman Dion Phaneuf, winger Phil Kessel and others exclusively to Western Conference teams. McGran claimed nothing was imminent, suggesting interested clubs could wait until the deadline to pursue Phaneuf and Kessel because of their hefty contracts. Read more
In recent days there’s been some buzz claiming the Dallas Stars could be interested in Toronto Maple Leafs defensemen Dion Phaneuf or Cody Franson. The basis for this was a report on the Stars needs by Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News.
Heika, however, didn’t say the Stars were actively interested in the pair, only that the club’s focus “seems to be on minute-munching defenders with size.” He merely listed Phaneuf and Franson among several blueline options (Arizona’s Zbynek Michalek and Ottawa’s Marc Methot being the others) who might be available leading up to the March trade deadline. Read more
With the 2015 NHL All-Star Game now history and teams returning to action on Tuesday, the focus shifts toward the approaching NHL trade deadline on March 2. It’s expected trade activity will increase over the next five weeks as more clubs fall out of playoff contention.
As the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch observes, only four teams – Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes and Edmonton Oilers – can be considered non-contenders and therefore sellers in the trade market. Between now and the trade deadline, Garrioch believes they will be joined by the Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers. Read more
Talk of the the Toronto Maple Leafs and Los Angeles Kings swapping toxic contracts by exchanging defenseman Dion Phaneuf and Mike Richards persists in the rumor mill. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes it could make sense for both clubs. He thinks the Kings might go for it but not the Leafs at this point.
Phaneuf, 29, is in the first year of a seven-year, $49-million contract with an annual cap hit of $7 million. Richards, 29, is in the seventh-season of a 12-year, $69-million deal worth $5.75-million per season. Read more
Heading into the NHL All-Star Break (Jan. 22-26) there’s growing speculation over the trade status of Colorado Avalanche forward Ryan O’Reilly. TSN’s Bob McKenzie last week reported the Avalanche aren’t actively shopping the 23-year-old forward but are gauging his trade value.
It’s reached the point where O’Reilly is mentioned daily in the rumor mill. The Avalanche are in need of defensive help. It’s widely assumed O’Reilly, the 2014 Lady Byng Trophy winner, could become a trade chip to land a top-two defenseman. As a disciplined two-way performer who can play center or wing, O’Reilly could be a much-prized trade target. Read more
The Carolina Hurricanes are on a hot streak of late, winning six of the last 10 games entering the All-Star break. Despite this improvement, however, the Hurricanes remain mired near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, sitting 19 points out of playoff contention.
It’s assumed Hurricanes GM Ron Francis will be a seller by the March 2 trade deadline. Defenseman Andrej Sekera, an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, could attract the most interest. The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson thinks Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford, who acquired Sekera during his tenure as Hurricanes GM, might come calling now that Olli Maatta is out for the season with a shoulder injury. Read more
The Arizona Coyotes shipping goaltender Devan Dubnyk to the Minnesota Wild signals the start of their long-anticipated roster rebuild. Following the trade, Coyotes GM Don Maloney told the Arizona Republic’s Sarah McLellan his club wasn’t waiting for the trade deadline to make moves, suggesting others could be coming soon.
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun believes pending unrestricted free agents Antoine Vermette and Zbynek Michalek will be moved by the trade deadline. He also feels blueliner Keith Yandle could be shopped at the trade deadline or during the off-season.
The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson also thinks the 33-year-old Vermette could be dealt, as well as winger Martin Erat, who’s also eligible for UFA status in July. The Calgary Sun’s Randy Sportak included Vermette on his list of potential trade candidates leading up to the March trade deadline. Read more