Answer: Little pigs, Staal brothers, pieces in any suit worth wearing, rings in a circus, days until the NHL trade deadline.
Question: What comes in threes?
Friday’s roundup of the post-Ladd NHL trade rumours could make Loui Eriksson, Teddy Purcell, Dan Hamhuis, Eric Staal and Florida Panthers fans catch feelings.
What’s the deal with Loui Eriksson?
Boston Bruins president Cam Neely confirmed to 98.5 The Sports Hub Thursday that the club floated another extension offer to its second-highest scorer, narrowing the gap.
“There have been recent discussions,” Neely said. “[GM] Don [Sweeney] sent something [Eriksson’s] way. We haven’t gotten a response yet, but there have been ongoing discussions.”
After watching the less-productive Andrew Ladd score a first-rounder plus a prospect from Chicago, would the B's part with Eriksson for a first? Even at the risk of lessening its chances of a playoff berth? They should.
“I know Don’s talking to teams about a number of different things,” Neely said. “Not specifically Loui, but just, ‘How are we going to improve our club today and tomorrow?'”
What we don't know is how badly Eriksson wants to remain a Bruin when he could maximize his dollars and term on the open market.
"We're not quite there on term and dollars," Eriksson's agent, J.P. Barry, told Hockey Central at Noon. Barry will speak with the Bruins brass again Friday. "We have some work to do. I'm not sure if they're not able to get a contract done if they're going to keep him or trade him."
The Bruins are willing to offer four years, according to ESPN's Craig Custance.
Sell high, I say. But my job is not affected by the Bruins' playoff gate.
Blackhawks not done dealing yet, Vancouver
Stan Bowman does not play. And although the Chicago GM said after trading for Ladd Thursday night that he was content with his blueline, we're not buying it.
The Blackhawks taxed their top four so hard during their 2015 championship run, you have to believe they want more high-end talent. Trevor Daley and Rob Scuderi weren't it.
Chicago would love to pawn off a bad contract (Bryan Bickell and/or Scuderi) and squeeze out more cap space to add a D-man.
Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province looks at Chicago's reported interest in Dan Hamhuis and figures the Canucks would not receive a roster player in return. (Bowman made sure Winnipeg didn't either; the Jets reportedly wanted Teuvo Teravainen but settled on Marko Dano.)
"Instead, it would be for picks and prospects, and, in what is currently the most likely scenario, it would be one of each, and each would be high end," Botchford writes. "Plus, the Canucks are probably going to need to retain salary."
Vancouver GM Jim Benning has made his desire for a young defenceman public.
Florida got priced out on Ladd
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reports that the Jets offered their former captain six years at $6 million per, likely around Christmas, and that was too low.
Friedman wonders if a return to Winnipeg could occur in June.
"If the Jets get a bit of a haul for Ladd and they get him back, that might actually work out very well for them and him, depending what he wants to do."
Ladd said he wants to play well enough that Chicago considers keeping him, but Bowman would have to pull another rabbit out of his hat to make a $6-million cap hit work this summer.
The Panthers (and possibly the Kings) reportedly came closest to getting Ladd, but GM Dale Tallon was unwilling to part with defenceman Michael Matheson (their 2012 first-rounder) or Lawson Crouse (their 2015 first-rounder) plus a 2016 first-round pick to make it happen.
Reiterating one more note on the after-Ladd Jets: Name Blake Wheeler captain.
Montreal brass scouting Kings-Oilers
Some rumblings that impending Montreal UFA Dale Weise might not be dealt as once believed. The sides might take another crack at negotiating.
Friedman suspects GM Marc Bergevin set a hard price at a couple of draft picks for the winger. If he doesn't hit his price, he'll try to re-sign the player.
"A guy like [Alex] Galchenyuk could go, but only if they get a similar player back," Friedman reports. "He's not going to do it for a rental."
A whopping 20 NHL scouts attended Thursday's Oilers-Kings contest in L.A., four heavy-hitters from Montreal.
Surely some of those eyes were going to look at Edmonton trade bait Teddy Purcell and Justin Schultz, but both players were healthy scratches.
Sportsnet's Doug MacLean reported Thursday that Boston has had interest in Jordan Eberle for a while.
Garrioch reports that the Nashville Predators have been eyeing 22-year-old Nail Yakupov.
Staal feeling deadline pressure
“I don’t think I’ve played bad," Hurricanes captain Eric Staal said after Thursday's loss to the Maple Leafs. "I haven’t played as good as I can, but I’m not going to make any excuses. I’ve got to play better than I have.”
Coach Bill Peters said Staal is coping well, but he didn't deploy him in some critical situations. Staal skipped the morning skate and refused to address reporters' deadline queries after the game.
Surely the lack of negotiations and stress of an unknown future is weighing on him.
Maple Leafs more likely to keep Kadri
"I don't think he's untouchable, but he's moved himself into a position where he's not very touchable," Friedman said on Toronto centre Nazem Kadri.
Kadri had another impressive game Thursday, setting up P.A. Parenteau for a tap-in goal and delivering a damaging hit on Andrej Nestrasil. Some Hurricanes took offence to the check, but their coach was all for it.
"The puck's there. It's a hockey play. It's that time of year, an intense time of year," Peters said, as a stretcher was getting rolled into the 'Canes dressing room. "Take that out of the game and then we got rec league, right? Play hard."
Friedman said Friday that only a massive return could pry Kadri from the Leafs now, as the centre is inching closer to Morgan Rielly's near-untouchable territory.
Big Leafs, Habs injuries free cap space?
With season-ending injuries to Toronto's Joffrey Lupul and James van Riemsdayk and Montreal's Jeff Petry and Tom Gilbert all announced Thursday, one wonders if placing those players on LTIR would free up cap space to take on a bad contract in exchange for futures.
Ducks hunting for a wing
Anaheim GM Bob Murray said it's a "fair assumption" that he's looking to upgrade on the wing.
Jamie McGinn in Buffalo could be a good rental fit, Friedman reports.
"I’ve saved enough in my budget to do something if I think it would really help us," Murray said. "I’ve never been one to go out and trade my first-round pick. I get lots of calls asking me about the [Shea] Theodores, [Jacob] Larssons and [Nick] Ritchies of the world. I’m just not one to do that now. If I’m going to do something like that, it would be at the draft."
Murray emphasized he'll only deal if the price is reasonable and that some of the players he has interest in he'd like to keep for the future, too.
He also said negotiations have hit a stalemate with his impending restricted free agents.
"We’ve tried on a couple and got nowhere. Now is not the time to talk anymore," Murray said. "Nothing was going anywhere. It’s going to be an interesting summer around here, I’ll tell you that.
Check out Murray's full quotes here.
Salary cap has St. Louis singing the blues
When injured Brian Elliott and Steve Ott come off LTIR, the Blues will be forced to return a few players to the AHL just to slide under the cap. This doesn't leave much room to add on Feb. 29.
“It’s more economics than anything,” Armstrong told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “As a manager, you’re always saying this player would be a good fit for us. You can put him in there, jam him in and make it work. But right now, it’s more than a math equation than anything to make the salaries work in our system.”
Interest high for Trouba
"A guy that teams would love to get their hands on is [Jacob] Trouba in Winnipeg, but let's see what [GM Kevin] Cheveldayoff does. He's very measured. He waits things out. He's not be afraid to be patient," Friedman said of the impending RFA defenceman.
"But I do think there are teams — and I wouldn't be surprised if Boston's one of them — that if they could find a way to get to him now before more teams have the ability to do it, they'd love to do it."
Philly.com's Sam Carchidi believes Flyers defencemen Mark Streit and Nick Schultz could be attractive to playoff contenders.
Sabres backup goaltender Chad Johnson, who totes an affordable $1.3-millon cap hit, knows he's trade bait.
Toronto's P.A. Parenteau knows he's gone after Saturday's game in Montreal. One last chance to stick it to Michel Therrien?
The Fourth Period's Dennis Bernstein gauges the trade value of some key players with the help of some anonymous team executives. Jeff Skinner and Scott Hartnell are on the table, and Kris Russell might be a fit in L.A.