The once-mighty Boston Bruins find themselves in dire straits in the Eastern Conference standings. They’re clinging to the final wild-card playoff berth, with the Florida Panthers threatening to overtake them.
If that seems familiar, it’s because the Bruins were in similar circumstances in late-December. At one point they fell out of contention before an 8-1-3 performance in January combined with a Panthers slump vaulted the Bruins back into the playoff picture.
Since Feb. 1, however, the Bruins are winless in six of their last seven games. With the Panthers picking up points in five of their last nine, the Bruins have a tenuous grip on that wild-card berth. Read more
Toronto Maple Leafs winger Phil Kessel remains the subject of intense trade speculation leading up to the March trade deadline. Despite his hefty contract ($8 million-annually for the next seven seasons), there’s reports he’s attracting interest from several NHL teams.
On Monday, Leafs GM Dave Nonis told Sportsnet’s Hockey Central panel the 27-year-old Kessel lacks a full no-trade clause. Nonis admitted the Leafs “have teams we can trade him to,” claiming they have the flexibility to change their team. Despite having discussions with other clubs, Nonis notes stars like Kessel carrying expensive contracts tend to move in the off-season, “if at all.”
Sun-Sentinel.com’s Harvey Fialkov believes Kessel would love to play for the Florida Panthers, as he lives in South Florida during the summer. Fialkov notes the Panthers have depth in young talent to interest the Leafs, though he doesn’t believe Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon will part with defenseman Aaron Ekblad or forwards Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad or Brandon Pirri. Read more
The Montreal Canadiens entered this week perched atop the Eastern Conference standings. Despite their success thus far, there are some areas of concern. The Habs are among this season’s lowest-scoring teams while giving up a high number of shots-against per game. That’s prompted questions about their prospects for a lengthy playoff run.
Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin tends to work more quietly on trades than many of his peers. He has acquired playoff rental players in the past. In 2013 he shipped Erik Cole to Dallas for Michael Ryder. He pulled off the steal of the 2014 trade deadline, shipping a prospect and a draft pick to the New York Islanders for winger Thomas Vanek.
That’s why there’s growing anticipation Bergevin could pull off a significant move or two by this season’s trade deadline. It’s rumored he’s in the market for a scoring forward and a top-four defenseman. Read more
The most-anticipated rebuild of the Toronto Maple Leafs began on Feb. 15, when the Leafs shipped defenseman Cody Franson and forward Mike Santorelli to the Nashville Predators for center Olli Jokinen, a first-round pick and a prospect.
It’s no surprise pending free agents Franson and Santorelli were traded. The Leafs wanted to get something for them, rather than risk losing them for nothing in July. This deal will only spark more speculation over potential moves by the Leafs heading leading up to the March 2 trade deadline.
Much of the focus remains upon leading scorer Phil Kessel and team captain Dion Phaneuf. Both are bearing much of the criticism for the Leafs free-fall this season, and for the club’s poor record in recent years. Center Tyler Bozak is also believed on the trade block. Read more
The Buffalo Sabres and Winnipeg Jets rocked the hockey world this week with their eight-player blockbuster trade. Having swapped Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian for Tyler Myers and Drew Stafford, don’t expect the two clubs to be idle leading up to the March 2 NHL trade deadline.
Ted Wyman of the Winnipeg Sun notes the Jets were seeking a top-nine forward prior to Kane being sidelined by season-ending shoulder surgery. That need hasn’t changed by replacing Kane with Stafford. He also points out the Jets swapping Bogosian for Myers still leaves them with a glut of defensemen. Wyman expects they’ll try to move one of their depth blueliners for a checking-line forward. Read more
The Montreal Canadiens suffered a 4-3 overtime loss at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers Thursday night and remain in a tie for first place in the Atlantic Division with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
But things aren’t as good as they seem in Montreal. At 5-on-5, Montreal has the 21st worst Corsi For percentage, even behind teams like Carolina, Ottawa and Florida in the rankings. Montreal has been largely buoyed by the play of netminder Carey Price, who has been nothing short of outstanding this season. As they head towards the playoffs, however, the Canadiens are looking to improve. Read more
The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports Senators’ players don’t like to admit their club could be sellers. With 12 points between the Senators and a wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference entering Thursday‘s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, there’s little chance they can gain ground in the standings.
Garrioch anticipates the Senators will make some moves, though it remains to be seen how many. He notes there’s interest in gritty winger Chris Neil but wonders how badly GM Bryan Murray wants to move him. Struggling center David Legwand could be available but he has another season at $3 million remaining on his contract. If impending UFA defenseman Marc Methot isn’t re-signed before the deadline, Garrioch expects he could be dealt for a second-round pick. Read more
Anticipation is brewing in the Toronto media over potential moves by the Maple Leafs at the NHL trade deadline on March 2. The Leafs’ recent minor move (shipping Carter Ashton and David Broll to Tampa Bay for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2016) is considered by most observers the first of more deals to come by deadline day.
Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun believes the Leafs are poised to blow up the roster in preparation for another lengthy rebuild. He expects they could make as many as five trades leading up to deadline day. Simmons considers defenseman Morgan Rielly and winger James van Riemsdyk as their only untouchables.
The most likely to move are defenseman Cody Franson and forwards Mike Santorelli and Daniel Winnik. The trio are eligible for unrestricted free agency in July. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman claims the Leafs are nowhere close to re-signing them. Read more