As we approach the final two-month stretch before the NHL’s Feb. 26 trade deadline, the chatter around the league continues to swell.
With marquee names like Max Pacioretty and Evander Kane floating around as potential trade bait, here’s a look at some of the most intriguing rumours regarding the NHL’s impending deadline.
Surging Bruins seeking a top-six winger, top-four defenceman
The Boston Bruins are sitting fairly comfortably in a playoff position, ranked second in the Atlantic Division with a few games in hand. They’re also housing one of the most dominant lines in the league in Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak. However, according to The Boston Globe‘s Fluto Shinzawa, general manager Don Sweeney is seeking another reliable scorer for his top six so that his club can keep that potent top unit together.
“It’s possible Anders Bjork will gain some traction. But until the rookie develops consistency, the Bruins will hunt for a first- or second-line right wing,” Shinzawa wrote, citing Bruins president Cam Neely. “It would give them the option of rolling a power line with Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak. Or they could drop Pastrnak to the No. 2 line with David Krejci to spread out their offensive firepower. They would prefer to keep David Backes on the third line.”
Shinzawa added that the club is also hoping to acquire a defenceman able to log significant minutes on the back end.
“Even if the Bruins extend their captain, they still have a need for a shift-gobbling defenceman to share time with Torey Krug and Matt Grzelcyk. Jeremy Lauzon and Jakub Zboril are left shots. But they are first-year pros who will need more experience. Ideally, the Bruins would like a left-shot version of Brandon Carlo“
Said Neely on the discussion regarding that latter need, according to the Globe: “We’ve talked about if we could ever find a guy that could eat up some minutes, move the puck well, skate well, but not necessarily have to be that offensive defenceman.”
Penguins could look to add multiple forwards to spark offence
Panic is setting in for the defending champions as the Pittsburgh Penguins currently rank third-last in their division at the season’s halfway point, a playoff berth beginning to look legitimately out of reach. There’s no question the black and gold are in need of a move to shake things up, as the loss of depth centres Nick Bonino and Matt Cullen has had a significant effect on the team’s overall offensive balance.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman offered his thoughts on the Penguins’ stance heading into the final months before the deadline, suggesting the club could potentially add both a centre and a winger before all is said and done.
“They’re looking to do things — they’re trying to get some offence in there. There’s no question about that,” Friedman said on Sportsnet 650’s The Program recently. “I think they’ve had some interest in Evander Kane. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re interested in (Max) Pacioretty. They’re looking. I think if they could, they’d add a winger and a centre.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if they could do both.”
Pittsburgh has received no more than four goals from any of their bottom six forwards through the first half of the season. That’s left them far more top heavy than the iterations that lifted the Cup over the past two seasons, when the team’s forward depth allowed them to play current second-liner — and scoring leader — Phil Kessel in the bottom six.
22-year-old Anthony Duclair may be on the move once again
Reports continue to circulate regarding Arizona Coyotes young gun Anthony Duclair, who would be on his way to his third NHL team in just four seasons should he be moved ahead of the 2018 trade deadline.
Coyotes beat writer Craig Morgan reported that Duclair has been on the trading block for a fair while, after The Athletic’s Craig Custance said on Thursday that Duclair’s camp recently requested a trade.
Head coach Rick Tocchet didn’t mince words when asked about Duclair’s dwindling ice time this season.
“You have to give effort,” Tocchet said, according to Morgan. “You’ve got to know the system. You’ve got to know where you’re going. It’s not on your own program. I’m not saying it’s just him. I’m not trying to pick on him.
“I just don’t think the effort’s there, quite frankly, on every night.”
After posting 20 goals in a breakout rookie season, Duclair posted just five goals and 15 points in 2016-17. He has eight goals and 14 points through 32 appearances for Arizona this season. Joe Smith, of the Tampa Bay Times, believes the young winger could be a potential “low-risk, high-reward option” for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Pacioretty’s time in Montreal likely nearing an end
With just nine goals scored in 2017-18 — his lowest goals-per-game pace in eight seasons — Max Pacioretty‘s name has been thrown around as a possible marquee target, either at the deadline or in the summer, for clubs craving improved offence.
Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reported the Montreal Canadiens‘ stance in late December.
“We know that Marc Bergevin, general manager of Montreal, is actively shopping Max Pacioretty,” Kypreos said during Hockey Night in Canada’s Headlines segment recently. “While an eventual trade may include draft picks and prospects, it’s been clear to other teams that Bergevin’s top priority is moving him for a top goal-scorer back — preferably a younger one.”
Fellow insider Friedman weighed in via Wednesday’s 31 Thoughts column:
“I think (Pacioretty) understands that his tenure is coming to end,” Friedman wrote. “The big question is if it happens at the trade deadline or the draft. GM Marc Bergevin is well aware he’d be selling low at this time, and getting Pacioretty with better centres and/or right-hand shots is going to benefit him big time. One thing that does happen when a name like his goes public? You get calls, then find out who’s nibbling and who’s serious.
“We’ll see if anyone causes Bergevin to jump, because I think he’s comfortable waiting.”