The interest in Buffalo Sabres left wing Evander Kane will continue to pick up steam now that the holiday roster freeze has come to an end. Several teams have expressed interest in Kane, who is almost a guarantee to be traded between now and the Feb. 26 trade deadline. The Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, Tampa Bay Lightning, Vegas Golden Knights, St. Louis Blues, San Jose Sharks and New York Islanders are among the teams interested in Kane. Kane, 26, has a $5.25 million salary cap hit, though his actual salary is $6 million this season. Sabres GM Jason Botterill is believed to be looking for a big return for Kane that includes a first-round draft pick, a top prospect and either another high draft pick or high-level prospect.
The Montreal Canadiens have been looking for a puck-moving defenceman since the off-season, along with a top-center, and when Kris Letang’s name surfaced last week prior to the holiday roster freeze, it didn’t come as a shock to see the Habs linked to him. On Saturday, during the “Headlines” segment on Hockey Night in Canada, Nick Kypreos reported the Penguins may be trying to moving one of their big assets, naming Letang as the likely candidate.Letang, 30, has four-years left on his contract, which comes with a $7.25 million annual salary cap hit. He also owns an 18-team trade list, of which the Canadiens are believed to be on it. If the Habs were to acquire Letang, they’d have almost $27 million tied up in four defenceman – Letang, Shea Weber, Jeff Petry and Karl Alzner – which is a significant amount to spend on a team’s blueline. The Penguins have expressed interest in forward Alex Galchenyuk multiple times in the past, TFP can confirm, and it could be assumed Pittsburgh would want him in any deal involving Letang. To date, however, Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin has been reluctant to move Galchenyuk to the Penguins, multiple league sources have told TFP, but that could change if Letang were coming back as part of a deal. Letang’s health history – he’s suffered a stroke and has battled concussions – will make a move with any team difficult.
The Ottawa Senators have generated a lot of interest in a number of their players, though it’s unclear if a trade is imminent. The Senators have attracted interest in forwards Mike Hoffman, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Zach Smith, among others, this month, along with defenceman Cody Ceci. While it might be unlikely to see the Senators part with Ceci, unless it’s a significant trade, the Senators could shake things up and move one of their forwards. The Senators sit second-last in the Eastern Conference with an 11-16-8 record and have just two wins in their last 10 games. With the playoffs looking more and more out of reach, management may be inching closer to packing it in and focusing on the 2018-19 campaign. However, with only blueliners Johnny Oduya and Chris Wideman set to become unrestricted free agents in the summer, Ottawa’s moves involving roster players, for the most part, may be better served for the off-season. The Edmonton Oilers, Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues are among the teams reportedly interested in Hoffman.
The St. Louis Blues are among the teams in the market for a top-six forward, as GM Doug Armstrong is scouring the League looking for depth up front. The Blues have been linked to Buffalo Sabres left wing Evander Kane and Ottawa Senators sniper Mike Hoffman, though a trade is not believed to be imminent. Armstrong, who recently signed a four-year contract extension, has some salary cap space to play with, primarily due to the LTIR relief pool, though any major move for an impact forward with term left on his contract would likely include a roster player leaving the Blues. It’s unclear whom else the Blues are eyeing, though their search will likely pick up steam in the coming weeks. The Blues currently sit third in the Central Division with a 23-14-2 record, tied in points with the second-place Winnipeg Jets, who have one game in hand.
The New York Islanders’ successful bid to construct a new arena at Belmont Park overshadowed the club’s recent struggles to retain a playoff berth. With only three victories in their last 10 games entering Tuesday’s contest against the Buffalo Sabres, the Isles (42 points) cling to one of the wild-card berths in the Eastern Conference. Shaky goaltending is the prime culprit. The Isles tandem of Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss combined for a league-worst 3.50 goals-against per game. Compare that to the powerful Isles offense (second overall at 3.56 goals-for per game) and it’s easy to see where their weakness is. Halak, the 32-year-old veteran starter, has won 10 of 19 starts but also carries a .906 save percentage and bloated 3.01 goals-against average. Greiss’ numbers (nine victories in 17 starts, with a 3.83 GAA and .883 SP) are much worse. Newsday’s Arthur Staple observes Halak’s performance has improved of late. He’s 5-2-2 in his last nine starts, allowing two goals or less in five of those games. However, his history of injuries and streaky play make him a dicey gamble over the remainder of the season. If GM Garth Snow seeks an upgrade in net, he should consider calling the San Jose Sharks. Backup Aaron Dell’s numbers (seven wins in 10 starts, 1.94 GAA, .935 SP) are superior to those of Halak and Greiss. He’s an unrestricted free agent in July and won’t unseat Martin Jones as the Sharks’ starter anytime soon. The Mercury News’ Paul Gackle believes Sharks GM Doug Wilson should consider using the 28-year-old Dell as a trade chip. While such a move could be risky if Jones struggles or becomes injured, Gackle feels it’s worth it if the return helps them return to true contender status this season. Offense is a significant issue for the Sharks, slumping to 20th (2.76 goals-for per game) this season. Wilson is usually among the most active GMs near the trade deadline and could seek a scoring winger. While the Isles aren’t likely to part with any of their top-six forwards, perhaps Snow could offer up young forward Joshua Ho-Sang for Dell. The 21-year-old Ho-Sang has offensive potential but can’t seem to stick with the Isles. He might benefit from a change of scenery the way former Isle Nino Niederreiter did after he was shipped to Minnesota in 2013.