The Jets would like to bolster their roster by the Feb. 26 trade deadline and they appear to be scouring the market for a top-six forward. Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is hoping to add some extra fire power up front and has been linked to the likes of Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello, who has one-year left on his contract, and Michael Grabner, a pending unrestricted free agent, and is exploring additional options. It’s unclear whom the Jets are willing to move, though league sources have suggested to TFP the Jets are in a position to give up draft picks and could move some of their younger forwards like Nic Petan and Marko Dano if the right deal presented itself. According to the Winnipeg Sun, the Jets may also be back in the market for a left-handed defenceman to add to the roster. The Jets have significant salary cap space that allows them to add a high-priced forward, if the opportunity arose. Rangers left wing Rick Nash is open to moving to a Canadian playoff market, and the Jets are one of just two Canadian clubs currently secured in the playoff position, along with the Toronto Maple Leafs, while the Calgary Flames continue to bounce in and out of the post-season picture, though they currently sit third in the Pacific Division.
The Senators have traded defenceman Dion Phaneuf and forward Nate Tompson to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for forwards Marian Gaborik and Nick Shore. The Senators have retained 25 percent of Phaneuf’s remaining contract. Speculation picked up during Tuesday night’s hockey games when Phaneuf was pulled from the Senators’ game against the Pittsburgh Penguins to start the third period. The Kings have had interest in Phaneuf going back to 2015 when he was with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Kings GM Rob Blake said: “Dion brings to our club a great deal of experience and leadership. He also plays with a physical edge which complements our line-up well. Nate has a good reputation of being a high-energy player on the ice. Both guys are also high character guys”. Phaneuf, 32, entered tonight’s Ottawa-Pittsburgh game having played in 955 career regular season games. He has recorded 133 goals and 345 assists for 478 points and 1,277 penalty minutes in his career with the Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs and Senators. This season, the Edmonton native, he picked up three goals and 13 assists for 16 points and 34 penalty minutes. A three-time All Star in 2007, 2008 and 2012, Phaneuf was originally drafted ninth-overall by the Flames in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. Thompson, 33, has registered 52 goals and 70 assists for 122 points and 309 penalty minutes in 593 career games with the Senators, Lightning, Ducks, Bruins and Islanders. The native of Anchorage, Alaska, has recorded four goals and seven assists for 11 points and 10 penalty minutes this season. He was originally drafted by the Bruins in the sixth-round (183rd overall) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.
The Leafs found themselves with an excess of wingers heading toward the trade deadline and today have moved on from one of them. The team has traded Nikita Soshnikov to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for a 2019 fourth-round pick. Soshnikov is technically still on injured reserve, though he has completed a conditioning stint in the minor leagues and from all accounts is ready to return to NHL action. The Maple Leafs had been at the 50-contract limit for some time, and needed to make a trade to open up room for some flexibility into the deadline. Moving Soshnikov not only gives them that flexibility, but also an asset in exchange for a player who would have a hard time cracking the lineup. The 24-year old winger has dealt with injury for much of the last calendar year, including a concussion suffered when he collided with Zdeno Chara at the end of last season. That has clouded his future, but there remains upside for the Blues. In Soshnikov, they’re acquiring a hard working winger capable of engaging physically and playing a few different roles on the team. Though he’s not guaranteed to score at the NHL level, he has shown that ability in the minor leagues and possesses a good shot with a quick release. Unfortunately, two things made a departure seemingly inevitable in Toronto. First, Soshnikov lost his waiver-exempt status earlier this season and would have likely been snatched up had they tried to pass him through. Second, his contract includes a European Assignment clause, meaning he could choose to go back to Russia if sent to the minor leagues. Though Soshnikov has not made any indication he would exercise the clause, it likely played into the Maple Leafs decision. The Blues will have to decide in the next few days whether Soshnikov is fit to return from injured reserve, and where he fits into their plan for the last part of the season. As a pending restricted free agent, his camp will surely be pushing for an opportunity to show that he can contribute in a meaningful way down the stretch.
After clearing waivers today, Chris DiDomenico is on his way to Chicago. The Senators have traded the forward to the Blackhawks in exchange for defenseman Ville Pokka. Both players can immediately be sent to the minor leagues, since that was where they were assigned when the trade occurred. DiDomenico was finally slipped through waivers after being claimed and then re-claimed by Tampa Bay and Ottawa earlier this season. With that came some flexibility, and Chicago has decided that was enough to pull the trigger to bring him into the Rockford picture. Whether he’ll get time at the NHL level is unclear, but he can now be moved up and down for the time being. Pokka on the other hand has yet to make his NHL debut, and didn’t look likely to make it anytime soon for the Blackhawks. The 23-year old defenseman was selected 34th-overall by the New York Islanders in 2012, and has shown good offensive ability in the minor leagues. Unfortunately, that has come with a lot of struggles in the defensive end and a lack of any real consistency on the ice. That sort of wildcard is exactly the kind of risk Ottawa is willing to take as they try to build their club back up. Interestingly, DiDomenico is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this summer and won’t help the Blackhawks at the NHL level in any meaningful way unless they re-sign him (provided the team doesn’t go on an incredible hot streak and slip into the playoffs this season). Whatever value he’ll bring this season to Chicago or Rockford was apparently enough to give up on Pokka, who clearly had been passed over several times by other prospects in the organization. Pokka is a restricted free agent and could become a Group VI UFA in 2019 if he isn’t given an extended opportunity at the NHL level between now and then.