A list of the top 10 most intriguing players:
- Evander Kane, LW / Buffalo Sabres
The price tag on Kane is high, and the Sabres hold all the cards – for now. If a team is willing to cough up a first-round pick, a roster player, a top prospect and an additional asset, they can get their hands on Kane pretty easily (CAP HIT: $5.25M)
- Mike Green, D / Detroit Red Wings
The Wings are starting to take calls on Green, who will be an unrestricted free agent July 1. He’s a rental acquisition for contenders in need of a right-shooting veteran on the blueline. He won’t come cheap, but he’s the top rental D out there (CAP HIT: $6M)
- Thomas Vanek, LW/RW / Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks may try to hold on to Vanek and sign him to an extension, but many believe they’ll trade him prior to the deadline. His low cap hit also ups his value, which is for Vancouver’s benefit (CAP HIT: $2M)
- Erik Gudbranson, D / Vancouver Canucks
All signs point to the Canucks trading Gudbranson by the deadline. He’s a UFA at season’s end and doesn’t look to be in Vancouver’s future plans, especially after they tried to trade him before the season started (CAP HIT: $3.5M)
- Mike Hoffman, LW / Ottawa Senators
Hoffman continues to generate plenty of interest and the Sens could gain from moving him, as the return would be fruitful and Ottawa is already focusing on refurbishing its roster for next season. (CAP HIT: $5.1875M)
- Patrick Maroon, LW / Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers will look to obtain an asset or two for Maroon by the deadline. He’s a big body who can assist in providing depth-scoring on a contending team (CAP HIT: $1.5M)
- Dion Phaneuf, D / Ottawa Senators
Phaneuf has played well for the Senators since joining their squad and is simply a potential casualty of a team looking to save some money. He has a 12-team trade list, and talks have already begun (CAP HIT: $7M)
- Max Pacioretty, LW / Montreal Canadiens
The Canadiens will continue to take calls on their captain, but it still seems like a stretch that any trade involving Pacioretty will be made during the season. But if the right offer pops up, you never know (CAP HIT: $4.5M)
- Jack Johnson, D / Columbus Blue Jackets
This is most certainly an odd case, given how Columbus plans to contend for the Stanley Cup, but Johnson wants to boost his chances of generating a better contract with more playing time elsewhere (CAP HIT: $4.375M)
- Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D / Arizona Coyotes
The Coyotes have said they don’t want to move OEL, but we haven’t heard much lately and have you to wonder how much serious thought is now being put into fielding offers for a blueliner in need of a change of scenery (CAP HIT: $5.5M)
Trade calls for Detroit Red Wings defenceman Mike Green should pick up steam in the very near future, as all signs point to the team moving the veteran by the Feb. 26 trade deadline. Green, 32, comes with a $6 million salary cap hit and a full no-trade clause – while the Wings have not yet approached his camp about providing a list of teams he’d accept a trade to, that is expected soon and he will have a say in where he ends up, if dealt. During Tuesday night’s “Insider Trading” segment on TSN, TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun reported the Wings may be willing to retain part of Green’s salary to help facilitate a trade. If Detroit eats part of Green’s contract, they’d likely factor that into the price tag for him, which could cost up to three assets – a combination of a young NHL roster player or high-end prospect, and draft picks. The Calgary native is in his third season with the Red Wings. To date, he’s tallied five goals and 20 assists for 25 points. Several teams are believed to have interest in Green, including the Los Angeles Kings, Dallas Stars, Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Islanders.
The Pittsburgh Penguins don’t have much salary cap space to play with, but with the little space they do have, they may use it on a bottom-six forward. Penguins GM Jim Rutherford is believed to be looking for “forward depth,” according to TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie, who reported the news on Tuesday night’s “Insider Trading” segment on TSN. The Penguins have just over $935,000 worth of cap space, currently, and that number will double by the Feb. 26 trade deadline, but that doesn’t give them much space to acquire a hefty contract, even if those figures are pro-rated. McKenzie suggests a player like Edmonton Oilers centre Mark Letestu, who started his NHL career with the Penguins, could be a player Rutherford targets in the coming weeks. The Penguins have also inquired about Buffalo Sabres left wing Evander Kane, but his asking price is too high for Pittsburgh’s liking, and his $5.25 million cap hit would require at least one roster player going back to the Sabres. Penguins defenceman Ian Cole is still being used as trade bait and he could be swapped for a bottom-six forward, though the team acquiring Cole, a pending unrestricted free agent, like Letestu, may end up flipping him elsewhere.
In a season of surprises, from success in Vegas to disasters in Ottawa and Edmonton, we bring you the Winnipeg Jets — Canada’s best National Hockey League team. That’s right. The patient, draft-and-develop, trade-averse Jets have finally arrived. They’re big, deep, and fast with goaltending, an excellent defence, and talent up front that for the most part is only going to mature and improve. The Jets are in first place in the Central, despite the fact Mark Scheifele — their best player, though Blake Wheeler fans may argue — has been on injured reserve since Dec. 27. He could be out another month. So it’s up to the captain Wheeler, having a career year at age 31, a fast-maturing Patrik Laine, and a focused Jacob Trouba to get this club to the finish line. Along with the rest of a lineup that is way deeper than most of us gave the Jets credit for when we were making our pre-season predictions. What is suddenly making head coach Paul Maurice so smart, after many folks questioned why he got a new three-year deal heading into the season? The talent at his disposal, that’s what. He’s never had horses like this — plus a goalie. Trouba and Josh Morrissey have settled into the Jets shutdown pairing all year — two young players developed in-house. Big Buff has always been a risk-and-reward player, and in the past the Jets had to roll the dice and play him a ton.
The Blue Jackets have claimed veteran forward Jussi Jokinen off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings. Jokinen, 34, has registered 187 goals and 365 assists for 552 points, including 63 power play goals, with 371 penalty minutes and a cumulative +2 plus/minus rating in 923 career NHL games with the Kings, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes, Tampa Bay Lightning and Dallas Stars. This season, he has tallied 1-5-6 and six penalty minutes, while winning 58 percent of his faceoffs taken (65-of-112) in 32 games with Los Angeles and Edmonton. He has also notched 17-15-32 and 20 penalty minutes in 54 career Stanley Cup Playoff games. GM Kekalainen said: “Jussi Jokinen is a player we know very well. He can line up at center or either wing, is good in the faceoff circle and can play on the power play and kill penalties. He has been a very good player in the National Hockey League for many years and we believe he will add great experience and versatility to our lineup”. Jokinen was selected by Dallas in the sixth round, 192nd overall, at the 2001 NHL Draft. He made his NHL debut with the Stars in 2005-06 and tallied 17-38-55 in 81 games as a rookie. He spent parts of three seasons in Dallas before joining Tampa Bay during the 2007-08 season. He joined the Hurricanes in 2009 and went on to rack up a career-high 30-35-65 in 81 games with the club in 2009-10. He was traded to Pittsburgh in April 2013 and the following season recorded the fourth of his five 50-plus point campaigns with 21-36-57 in 81 contests. Prior to signing with Edmonton as a free agent last summer, he spent the previous three years with the Panthers. In 2015-16, he led the club in assists and was second in points with 18-42-60 in 81 games to help Florida capture the Atlantic Division title.