Struggling Canadian teams should be busy at NHL trade deadline

The Hockey Central at Noon crew really liked the Chicago Blackhawks bringing Andrew Ladd back to the team for the playoff run and how the salary cap contributed to him leaving in the first place.

Dale Weise would rather not be dealt but the Montreal Canadiens winger understands the interest and emotion surrounding the NHL trade deadline.

“I think it’s good, it keeps it exciting for fans,” Weise said Friday. “Everyone loves this time of year as a fan.”

Weise and winger Tomas Fleischmann, both eligible to become unrestricted free agents July 1, are the Canadiens most likely to be dealt by general manager Marc Bergevin before the deadline at 3 p.m. ET on Monday.

It should be a busy time for Canadian teams as all seven are out of playoff positions with prospects bleak for making the post-season.

All should be in selling mode, although the Ottawa Senators probably did their big deal when they acquired former Toronto Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf in a nine-player trade Feb. 9.

Among Canadian teams, the biggest names rumoured to be on the market include Vancouver Canucks defenceman Dan Hamhuis, although he’d have to waive a no-trade clause, Calgary Flames forward Jiri Hudler and Edmonton Oilers winger Teddy Purcell.

On Thursday, the Jets dealt captain Andrew Ladd to the Chicago Blackhawks for promising Marko Dano, a 2016 first-round pick and a conditional 2018 third rounder. There’s a chance GM Kevin Cheveldayoff will also move defenceman Jacob Trouba.

The Leafs have also been busy ahead of the deadline, moving Roman Polak, Nick Spaling and Shawn Matthias, and likely aren’t done dealing. Goalie James Reimer and forward P.A. Parenteau, who is having a strong bounce-back season, could also go as Toronto looks for prospects and draft picks for its rebuild.

Toronto also has plenty of salary cap space, giving it the ability to take on a big contract in the short term as part of any deal.

Hamhuis spoke this week of his reluctance to leave Vancouver, but a few months in a new city as a “rental” player may be enticing if it means a shot at a Stanley Cup. He could always re-sign with the Canucks for next season.

Vancouver GM Jim Benning will likely try to move veteran winger Radim Vrbata, an impending UFA. He already made two minor deals, sending prospect Hunter Shinkaruk to Calgary for Markus Granlund and dealing a 2017 fifth-rounder to Edmonton for KHL defenceman Philip Larsen.

The Flames could be busy with Hudler, an impending UFA, and goalie Jonas Hiller reportedly on the block. Defenceman Kris Russell, although he missed time with a lower-body problem, may also go.

Edmonton’s seemingly perpetual rebuild could see Purcell and defence veteran Justin Schultz move on. However the expectation is GM Peter Chiarelli will wait until the draft in June to make a bigger move involving some of the Oilers young talent, including Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle or Nail Yakupov.

In Montreal, a season that fell apart when star goalie Carey Price was injured in November sees the Canadiens as likely sellers. A year ago, they were on a buying spree at the deadline, but this time only a run of injuries could limit the selloff to Weise and Fleischmann.

Impending free-agent defenceman Tom Gilbert may have drawn a draft pick, but his season ended this week with surgery.

“I’ve never really been in a situation like this where I’ve been on a team that’s outside the playoffs and my contract is expiring and I’m a UFA,” said Weise, a strong skater and checker enjoying his best NHL campaign. “It’s weird to hear it, but it’s been going on for a month now, so I’m getting used to it.”

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