32 Thoughts: A note on every team to open trade deadline week

On this edition of Saturday Headlines, Elliotte Friedman breaks down Elias Pettersson's long term deal with the Canucks, the Lightning being the frontrunner for Noah Hanifin and the Penguins' preference for prospects over picks for Jake Guentzel.

• Why the Elias Pettersson contract got done when it did
• How the Winnipeg Jets are trying to connect with their fans
• A look at every NHL team as we count down to the trade deadline

Longtime American statesman Howard Baker had a famous line: “The most difficult thing in any negotiation is making sure that you strip it of the emotion and deal with the facts.”

That’s why it was such a great sign for the Canucks that Elias Pettersson had jokes: “I always wanted to stay here, but you don’t give up your cards on negotiations, right?” 

The smile after signing his eight-year, $92.8M extension revealed so much more than general happiness in the moment. It showed how the weight evaporated from his shoulders. No more stress, no more uncertainty, no more unknown. No hard feelings.

Not just for him — also for his teammates and the organization.

In his mind, there was plenty of time for Pettersson to commit. Free agency wasn’t a reality until July 2025. But the Canucks didn’t see it the same way. They tried their best to respect his wishes, not to publicly push his buttons. 

But after seeing how things unfolded one province east with Matthew Tkachuk, they wanted an answer and desired it by this deadline. Early last week, Jim Rutherford and Patrik Allvin met with Pettersson near the team’s dressing room before a practice. They made their case. They thought it was affecting his play. They thought it was affecting the team. They thought an extension would bring massive positivity to help end the Canucks’ first slump of the season. They brought up Tkachuk, and they brought up that, if Pettersson did not show a desire to commit, they would consider trading him.

(Was Rutherford serious? I personally think there’s no way he’d trade Pettersson in a year the Canucks could win the Stanley Cup. Most people I asked agreed, but a few more senior people said if anyone had the “brass ones” to do it, Rutherford would be on a very short list. I do think Pettersson at least had to consider the possibility. When the 1998-99 NBA lockout was settled, longtime writer Chris Sheridan asked then-commissioner David Stern, “When you said you would cancel the entire season, were you bluffing?” He replied, “You didn’t pay to see.”)

When Pettersson disclosed he was thinking of committing, Rutherford told him to sleep on it. The next day, he called and said, “Let’s do it.” The deal was done in days. 

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Like the player, the Canucks focused on the positive. They didn’t discuss any negatives or the pressures applied. This was a win-win, and you don’t dwell on anything but that. They praised Pettersson for making it possible.

I’ve seen situations — including my own — where contracts are signed, but hard feelings linger. My rule is that if you take the money, you made your choice. But we’re human, and that’s not always easy. Nothing on Saturday indicated there’s going to be a lasting problem. 

Everyone was prepared when Pettersson provided approval. The organization and agents (JP Barry, Pat Brisson) moved quick. This is not insignificant. One of Allvin’s first comments during the media availability was, “This is something that actually started two years ago…building that relationship with Elias, showing him the vision.”

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Pettersson made it very clear before the season he wanted to win. But it goes deeper than that, not only about what went right on the ice, but how effective the organization worked from top-to-bottom. Several sources said he needed to be convinced it wasn’t just the players who showed the highest level of commitment. Allvin was talking about proving that to Pettersson. When the ball was on the five-yard line, no fumble in the biggest moment.


During their championship heyday, the Toronto Blue Jays had an executive named Bob Nicholson. (This is not the Oilers’ version, but a completely different person.)

In 1991, they became the first Major League team to draw four million fans in one season, a feat repeated in the World Series years of 1992 and 1993 (average attendance then was 50,098.) By 2002, that number dropped almost 60 per cent, with an average crowd of 20,221. 

Nicholson said something I haven’t forgotten. When Joe Carter was blasting dramatic home runs, Blue Jays’ research indicated they could fill an 80,000-seat stadium. That was the true demand for tickets. 

They weren’t down 30,000 fans per game. It was double that. 

I remembered this story the other day while thinking about Winnipeg. It’s clear Jets owner Mark Chipman is concerned. Other team governors say his worry is real. Twice this season, he’s pounded the alarm Nicki Minaj-style about ticket sales.

Chipman did something else, too. He played bad cop to Gary Bettman’s good cop. Normally, the commissioner lets the local guy look good. In this case, Bettman (and Bill Daly) were the ones overflowing with positive vibes. It was kind of funny to watch as a detached — although very interested — observer.

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“I’m not sure why people are now speculating that somehow we’re not going to be here,” Bettman said. “Anybody suggesting the agenda is other than focused on Winnipeg is silly. That’s why I’m mystified at the tension that seems to have developed here.”

“This is a team widely regarded around the league as a model franchise,” Daly added. “We wish we had 32 of these.”

It’s no surprise that is the NHL’s message. It does not like moving franchises. Look at the never-ending fight in Arizona. Even Atlanta’s move to Manitoba was a last-resort. It’s clear the NHL sees this more as an attractive fixer-upper than a condemned building. 

There are, essentially, two ways to build your fanbase. The first is to win. Winning is your best marketing tool. After an exciting run to the Western Conference Final in 2018, the Jets slid down the ladder. There was a kind of staleness. That’s going to hurt. But, if you’ve watched their games recently, there’s a revitalized energy in the arena. 

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Thanks to two critical contract signings and some shrewd moves, the Jets woke up Monday first in the west (second in the NHL) in points percentage. That puts bums in the seats. Everyone loves a winner.

But, as Brian Burke loves to say, you don’t win every year. You don’t even come close to winning most years. So, what are you doing to make your fans happy? You have to make them feel wanted, appreciated and entertained. Even if you’re losing, you need them saying, “I want to see that again.”

When the Jets returned from Georgia, they famously announced a sellout in 17 minutes — a streak that lasted 332 games. At CBC, we loaded up on their games with the idea they would be no worse than every Canadian’s second-favourite team. (It was a good strategy.) The Jets were white-hot, an awesome story, a victory for Canada and everyone wanted a part of it. 

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It reminds of another story from those Blue Jays glory days. One of their salespeople once said something along the lines of, “We didn’t even have to pick up the phone. We just waited for it to ring. Then, it stopped ringing, and we were in trouble.”

My career began with the arrival of the Toronto Raptors, my first beat. It was an awesome education, learning not only about the NBA, but how to build a franchise. Their situation is not totally analogous to the Jets’, but the Raptors knew they had novelty years of fans buying tickets before being expected to win. People wanted to see Michael Jordan, as 36,131 did in 1996. 

They worked hard to make it an experience. (Music during play and a basketball court is much easier than ice to create between-whistle entertainment. We can’t all have Cindy Crawford scoring 100-footers at intermission.) They worked hard to reward their fans, listen to their concerns. Particularly in the disastrous 16-66 third season, when there was real worry about where things were going, they bent over backwards to make people happy. Vince Carter arrived that summer, which changed the franchise, but the Raptors knew they had to work at it, and did. 

I don’t live in Winnipeg, so I’m not as immersed in this, but I would recommend listening to teammate Sean Reynolds’ Tuesday radio hit last week with Jeff Marek. In recent interviews, Chipman alluded to some customer dissatisfaction. His comments — and Bettman/Daly’s message — reveal the plan: rebuild the foundation with your fanbase first before thinking about anything else. 

Chipman, Josh Morrissey and Mark Scheifele visited with a former season-ticket holder on Monday, a fan who built a huge outdoor rink.

“An example of (Chipman) trying to get players in a situation to interact with some of the great fans and be a part of this community,” Morrissey said. “It was a lot of fun.”

That buys goodwill. You cannot underestimate the impact of a player giving this kind of time. The Jets’ run to the top of the West in their first 57 games is an opportunity, not only to compete for the Stanley Cup, but to connect with the people. 


Almost 56 years ago, the Professional Hockey Players’ Association — which represents those outside the NHL (AHL and ECHL) — was born. Thirty-two years ago, Larry Landon took over as executive director and moved the offices from Portland, Ore., to his home in Niagara Falls, Ont. 

“No staff,” he laughed, during a conversation last week. “We moved from Portland to my basement. Now, we own our building. Three stories. Everyone has their own office, no cubicles. We’re proud of that. Where we are today, and the direction we are heading.”

Landon had both hips replaced, and recent spinal cord surgery. It’s his goal to mentor his successor through ECHL CBA negotiations (expires June 15, 2025) and AHL negotiations (Aug. 30, 2025). And then, it’s time. Landon is going to step down, as of Dec. 30, 2025.

Coming out of COVID, those leagues look healthy, which is a very good thing. The ECHL’s newest team, the Tahoe Knight Monsters, will be co-owned by Tim Tebow. 

Strong union leadership is just as important as a strong commissioner. Players need it. Interviews are underway for a replacement. What is the PHPA looking for?

“Some knowledge of the sport of hockey, negotiating skills, a willingness to travel,” Landon answered. “You need to be in the players’ faces so they know who you are. You have to understand how to manage time. You’re going to have days where your phone and email will be full of messages, and it’s important to respond to them.”

The PHPA would like to maintain its autonomy while being affiliated with the NHLPA (a similar setup exists in Major League Baseball). Because it owns its office building, which is cost-effective, willingness to be in Niagara Falls is critical, too. The union recently sent out a feedback questionnaire to its membership, and is waiting to accumulate data on what matters to the players. But Landon has a general idea.

“Health insurance for them and their families is hugely important,” he answered. “Playoff shares. Can we move the markers?”

Interviews are underway for his replacement. There is an email account to answer inquiries (hockeyops@phpa.com). The search committee meets March 19. A new candidate is desired by June 16, as summer meetings are scheduled shortly thereafter.

“It’s been a heck of a ride,” Landon said. “There are so many great hockey people and hockey families. I’m going to miss it.” 


Days before the deadline (Thank Heavens), figured the best idea was to go through every team — provide a quick summary of what’s out there. Remember two key things: there’s a lot I don’t know (both in hockey and life) and situations change. Last year, Tyler Bertuzzi was off the market one week and traded the next. You plan, God laughs.

In reverse order of points percentage:

1. Chicago Blackhawks: The Blackhawks did much of their pre-deadline work keeping Jason Dickinson, Nick Foligno and Petr Mrazek. I’ve heard some interest in Colin Blackwell and Connor Murphy, but the latter is injured, which crushes the possibility. Blackwell makes sense, he’s been a good depth piece in several places. Chicago can also facilitate three-way deals, using its cap freedom to make things work — grabbing extra picks or players in the process.

On an unrelated matter, how lucky have we been recently with number retirements? Chris Chelios’s speech was excellent — going from Dick Butkus to Bob Probert to Chicago’s first-responders, etc. He knows absolutely everyone, and apparently, the after-party was bananas, featuring John McEnroe and Patty Smyth. Broadcast host Pat Boyle said Chelios revealed a great story: that a 2010 injury to Brian Campbell opened an opportunity for the Hall-of-Famer to be re-acquired for a run to the Stanley Cup. But he declined because he didn’t think it fair to the players already there. Finally, as a television person, I wanted to shout out the Blackhawks’ production crew, who did an magnificent job with the video packages. 

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2. San Jose Sharks: The Sharks and Blackhawks are all but guaranteed to be one-two in the draft lottery, with Anaheim 11 points ahead of San Jose and 12 atop Chicago. The Sharks have been open for a business for a while. It had been quiet around them, but they are trying to move as many of their seven UFAs — six forwards and Kaapo Kahkonen — as possible. There’s been talk about players with more term (Mario Ferraro and Mikael Granlund), but that’s a costlier price. 

3. Anaheim Ducks: The price for Frank Vatrano is high. He’d be perfect in many places, but someone reminded that, a year ago, there was interest in Henrique, but GM Pat Verbeek made it clear if he didn’t get what he wanted, he could wait. UFAs Sam Carrick (Edmonton with interest), Adam Henrique (Colorado, Edmonton and others) are much more likely. As of last week, I wasn’t expecting anything in-season with John Gibson, although the goalie market is shrinking with Marc-Andre Fleury and Juuse Saros unlikely to move. As for Trevor Zegras, Verbeek’s made it clear some teams can’t do what he wants. Plus, there’s a sense the Ducks want to see how he plays when he gets back. Is there a commitment to playing the way they want him to play? (He definitely tried before being injured.) Never give up on talent too early.

4. Columbus Blue Jackets: Since John Davidson came out and said Boone Jenner isn’t going anywhere, that market’s dried up. The Blue Jackets have a ton of young talent, and will look to fortify around it, although that seems more an off-season goal. Sensibly, the new leader will be given latitude on how to proceed, beyond some obvious current possibilities. There are teams really breaking down Elvis Merzlikins, figuring how much a fresh start will help him. There’s also a season-long defensive backlog to address, with Ivan Provorov added to the list of available blueliners. 

5. Ottawa SenatorsIt’s hard to say if Chris Tanev’s trade increases Ottawa’s chances of getting him in July, as Dallas will try to sign him. Ottawa is pondering two critical decisions: who will be their coach and whether or not to alter the core. I believe the Senators will consider something substantial, although it is likely that’s punted into the summer. You must get those choices correct, you are limited in-season, and GM Steve Staios’s process reflects that: the word on him is that he’s being cautious. That’s why names like Jakob Chychrun got out, because the Senators need to know their worth.

Vladimir Tarasenko is a consolation prize for whoever doesn’t get or cannot afford Jake Guentzel. Tarasenko will lead this process, providing Ottawa with an idea of what he will consider. There has been some interest in Erik Brannstrom. They wanted to avoid plunging into the goalie market, but it needs to be investigated now. I don’t buy into Brady Tkachuk rumours at this time. But it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that with years of losing, frustrations and fissures mount in every direction. This year began with a lot of promise, and everyone is disappointed. Remember: winning heals everything. Best of luck to Josh Norris, it’s enough injuries for him. 

6. Arizona Coyotes: GM Bill Armstrong collects draft picks like Thanos collects Infinity Stones. They have 25 the next two years, with 78 spots taken on their 90-player reserve list. Again, a lot of focus on the UFAs, but watch Nick Bjugstad and Alexander Kerfoot. Teams crave centres, and particular credit is due Bjugstad, who re-invented himself after being a 2022 playoff scratch in Minnesota. I thought about Matt Dumba and Toronto, since the Maple Leafs gave him a look before committing to John Klingberg, but there was pushback on that idea. Dumba likes big stages, though. There’s at least one team that took a run at Nick Schmaltz last year. Who knows how the arena situation will play out, but the Coyotes need to be aware of who might be unhappy with the uncertainty, and how that affects what to do. 

7. Montreal CanadiensThe Canadiens aren’t forcing anything. There’s nothing critical on the front-burner. David Savard prefers to stay, so Montreal can sit back and say, “Make us consider it.” The only concern I heard about him was a fit with teams who like to play really up-tempo. The season-long goalie wait appears likely to drag into the summer. Jordan Harris would be intriguing, as he’s a talented young player on a suddenly crowded blue line. There’s definitely a disappointment they held Arber Xhekaj. Wish I had more, but there’s nothing screaming any urgency like, say, a 2 am smoked meat at Dunn’s. 

8. Buffalo Sabres: GM Kevyn Adams has told teams he wouldn’t be afraid of a larger hockey deal — but you’ve got to convince him it makes sense right now. Otherwise, that idea will get moved to the offseason. He’s rebuffed requests to discuss Alex Tuch (my guess is Bruins and Rangers). Like many others, the Sabres are preparing to move their UFAs, working on Erik Johnson for a while and I’ve wondered if Kyle Okposo makes any sense for Manhattan. File this under “stay tuned for larger discussions”. 

9. Minnesota Wild: The Wild decided to keep Marc-Andre Fleury regardless of what happens this week, as the longtime friendship with Bill Guerin overpowered trade possibilities. While they are not interested in big prices for short-term rentals, I’ve learned not to underestimate Guerin’s willingness to swing for the upper-deck, although as I write this, I’m not aware of anything. They are working on an extension for Zach Bogosian, who has found a role. Brandon Duhaime is a sneaky-good depth add for someone. 

10. New Jersey Devils: According to several sources, the Devils have not surrendered on Jacob Markstrom. If he is not traded to them this week, they will try again this summer. They’ve decided he is their target in goal. I’m also not convinced Tyler Toffoli is going anywhere. The price is high, and negotiations continue. It’s poker, so we will see where we are in a few days, but the Devils like him, and I don’t think they wish to easily give up their playoff pursuit, no matter how tough their trip through southern California was. In addition to a goaltender with term, they have to be considering a defender too, but those are very hard to find. They’ve dangled Alexander Holtz, but resisted Dawson Mercer. 

11. Seattle Kraken: There is no one more careful than Ron Francis. The most coveted Kraken is Adam Larsson, but I’d be shocked to see that. In general, Francis has indicated he likes his blue line and doesn’t wish to tinker with its backbone: Larsson, Will Borgen, Vince Dunn and Jamie Oleksiak. I don’t sense any real interest to part with playoff superstar Yanni Gourde, either.

There’s been extension talk with Jordan Eberle, and the Kraken seem prepared to keep him even if it’s not done by Friday. (Game 1,000 for Eberle could be next Tuesday. He’s at 996. Man, I’m old.) You’ve heard a lot of the UFA names: Justin Schultz, Tomas Tatar, Alexander Wennberg — although they are talking to him, too. It’s been a hard transition for Brian Dumoulin. Wild-card: the louder Tanev, Brandon. He’s had some low-minute games lately, and other teams like him. 

12. Pittsburgh Penguins: With 10 minutes to go on Saturday night, the Penguins led Calgary 3-1. Seventy minutes of hockey time later, they’d lost 4-3 to the Flames and 6-1 to Edmonton. With Sidney Crosby, it’s never over, but that’s going to be enough for management. GM Kyle Dubas has told teams he prefers two prospects for Jake Guentzel, rather than, say, a prospect and a first-rounder, which fits with his stated plan of getting younger, but NHL-ready talent. Retention and/or taking money alters the equation, but that’s the preference.

Big question: will Pittsburgh give anyone permission to talk extension with the talented winger? That could open the market, because teams who are not in position to win this year — but hope to be next year — may enter the fray. Current contenders include Vegas, Florida, Carolina with Edmonton and Vancouver as longer shots. Complete and total wild card: Nashville, simply because they are looking for offence and surging. But that could be my late-night, fried brain imagining things. The Penguins will honour Brian Rust’s no-trade and not ask him to consider waiving. Teams really like him. Reilly Smith is another to watch and there’s been interest in Alex Nedeljkovic. Aside from the biggest names, the Penguins will consider plenty.

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13. Calgary FlamesAnother owner said he felt badly for Calgary that Markstrom spoke up ahead of Miikka Kiprusoff’s number retirement, because those events are so critical to a team and its fans. I don’t see one as ruining the other. Smartphones have turned us into excellent multitaskers, people can process both. It was a terrific ceremony with great stories and a lot of emotion. After Hours with Scott Oake, Ryan Leslie, Kiprusoff and friends was dynamite — I’d never heard Kiprusoff talk that much.

As for the deadline, the Flames quietly think they are better than they get credit for, and wanted to get to the playoffs to drive someone crazy with Markstrom in goal and Hanifin/Tanev on defence. They made a late pitch to keep Tanev (three years at $4.5M?), but things were too far down the line. Much to the defenceman’s relief, that saga is over. I haven’t watched Artem Grushnikov enough to make an honest assessment, but a few things are clear. First, this is a player Calgary likes and targeted (once Dallas eliminated their top three prospects from conversation). Like Pittsburgh with Guentzel, the Flames valued a slightly older prospect than a 2024 first-rounder, basically choosing two seconds and a conditional pick, rather than a first for Tanev. I’ve heard quite a bit now that teams are not crazy about late first-rounders this June, and this is more confirmation. A couple scouts who know Grushnikov better than I do said his ceiling is a left-handed version of the player they traded — although they made it very clear he needs AHL time and should not be rushed.

Second, even though Tanev doesn’t miss many games, the Flames felt not trading him was walking a tightrope because no one eats pucks like he does. Third, if Edmonton, Toronto or Vancouver was going to get Tanev, they were going to have to blow Dallas out of the water. Things may have changed, but, at one recent time, the Canucks also offered a second and a prospect, while Toronto was offering multiple picks — although the best of them wasn’t in the immediate future. The Oilers were the team that I believe put a first-rounder on the table, but included a contract Calgary didn’t wish to take.

What’s next? Noah Hanifin is locked-in on Tampa Bay, but if that was so easy to do, it would be done already. I don’t believe that’s the only team he’d sign with, but does Calgary get to a point where it says enough is enough and does what it can without his approval? Markstrom’s disappointment is that he felt he should never have been approached about the possibility of a trade if the Flames were going to change their minds and keep him. What shouldn’t be ignored is despite all of the noise, the team is playing hard — including Markstrom. They just beat Winnipeg, Boston, Edmonton, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh. Ryan Huska deserves a lot of credit for getting buy-in after going from assistant coach to head coach on the same team. That’s very, very hard to do. And Oliver Kylington played 20:31 against the Penguins, his highest since returning. Excellent to see.

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14. St. Louis Blues: Honestly, there may be no more Jekyll-and-Hyde team than St. Louis. There are games where they look dangerous, and other games where they look awful. The Blues have tested the market on several players during the season, that’s not new. But they’ve set a high bar on the one who interests most — Pavel Buchnevich. Apparently, GM Doug Armstrong says something along the lines of, “You can ask, but you’re not going to like the price.” This is his biggest decision. Could see teams like Edmonton and Vegas asking, but there are no doubt more.

There’s like for Brandon Saad, but if there’s any question, it’s the second full season remaining on his contract. If there was only one more year, the odds would be much higher. I like Oskar Sundqvist as a depth piece for teams that need it. The Blues would like to remove one of the salaries from their defence, and there’s been almost nonstop noise around Jordan Kyrou. Scott Perunovich needs to play 13 more games or he will be an unrestricted free agent. Talented, young player who’s been hurt. 

15. Washington Capitals: They pulled off a stunning rally against Philadelphia, then suffered as bad a loss as they have all season against Arizona. Brian MacLellan met with the media on Saturday and read from the Pittsburgh playbook: “We’re looking for opportunities to find more young players.” Heard they checked in with Calgary on Hanifin, but not sure how likely that is. No one knows Anthony Mantha better than Ken Holland. The Capitals also have a new talent ready in goal: Clay Stevenson at AHL powerhouse Hershey. That’s a surplus area for them, and will be interesting to see what they do with it.

The big news on the weekend was waiving Evgeny Kuznetsov, as he was cleared to practice upon returning from the Player Assistance Program. While he and the organization discussed a fresh start earlier this season, it’s hard to see how that can be accomplished without a buyout. The other option is Kuznetsov going the Filip Zadina route, depending on what another team may be willing to pay him. But that seems a long shot. 

16. New York Islanders: Saw all the social media chatter around Brock Nelson and wondered if there was anything to it. One exec joked Lou Lamoriello would rather gnaw off a limb than trade Nelson. It’s very hard to know what’s up with Lamoriello, but there are two things about his history: he doesn’t add rentals unless he thinks he can win, and he doesn’t give up unless all is lost. I do not see them giving up. They are six back of Detroit and Tampa with games in hand, and just climbed over three teams. They’ve been looking for another scorer for some time, that hasn’t changed. 

17. Tampa Bay Lightning: I do believe the Lightning are as interested in Hanifin as he is interested in them, and are looking for defensive help anyway because Mikhail Sergachev is out. When I was younger, I loved a boxer named Marvellous Marvin Hagler. In 1986, he fought an undefeated John Mugabi, who won 24 of his first 25 fights by knockout or technical knockout. Hagler knocked him out, and I remember when Mugabi was staggered and backing up, the commentators saying, “We’ve never seen him like this.” That’s why I find it hard to feel Tampa’s pulse.

Julien BriseBois has never been GM during a time the Lightning had to consider retreat. They’re still full of future Hall-of-Famers to be discounted at your peril, but they look more vulnerable than they have in a decade. They don’t have high picks or too many coveted prospects. That’s a factor in the Hanifin conversations. 

18. Philadelphia Flyers: This is going to be red meat for John Tortorella, but the Metropolitan Division chasers think they can catch the Flyers. Something to keep an eye on: does Philadelphia add an inexpensive goalie or forward to boost themselves? I could see Daniel Briere and Keith Jones considering it, something to reward the players who’ve given their all. It would go over huge in the room. Toronto is keeping Martin Jones off waivers because of the Flyers. The price is high for Scott Laughton, creating doubt they really want to move him. With Sean Walker there is a difference on term (five years vs. four, possibly) and with Nick Seeler, it sounds like there’s a difference in AAV. But that’s what happens at this time, everybody looks at their hand and sees who folds. I think they’ve looked at Zegras but don’t see a match. 

19. Nashville Predators: What a story this is. The Predators players could have folded after the U2 cancellation, but are undefeated since and in the playoffs as we stand. That’s a big compliment to their group. We should get a Tommy Novak extension announcement, which is great for Nashville but bad for several teams that wanted him — including the Rangers and Vancouver. It’s possible he isn’t the only one to get a new deal, as they’ve gone from sellers to keepers to potential buyers. And Roman Josi is ramping up another Norris-type season.

20. Detroit Red Wings: The Red Wings locked-up Michael Rasmussen, have discussed doing so with David Perron and are believed to be working on the same with Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider — the younger cornerstones. So, Steve Yzerman is taking care of family business, as Michael Corleone would say. Patrick Kane might not have an extension before the deadline, but that’s not a reason to freak out. He’s very happy and playing extremely well. Jeff Marek’s been all over them looking for a defenceman with edge. I wondered if they’d pursue Guentzel, but a few people reminded me Yzerman is not crazy about term, especially for 30-year-olds. He’s trying to move Justin Holl. I see him doing something to make sure the Red Wings get in.

21. Vegas Golden Knights: Jack Eichel could be back this week. Mark Stone is out for the regular season and we will see about the playoffs. (Peter Forsberg missed the final two rounds of the playoffs after suffering a spleen injury in 2001; Jesperi Kotkaniemi was supposed to be out for the season following one in March 2020, but returned for the bubble that summer.) A healthy William Carrier is a big piece, too. The Golden Knights will be aggressive as they crave a repeat. Maybe not one winger, but two — and definitely a try for top of the market: Buchnevich, Guentzel, Smith, etc. They like how they look at centre and on the blue line, while this goalie tandem won it all in 2023 (after Laurent Brossoit was injured).

22. Los Angeles Kings: Their wins over Vancouver and New Jersey were as good as they’ve looked all season. They’ve been very inconsistent, incredibly so. The injured players — Mikey Anderson, Viktor Arvidsson, Carl Grundstrom, Adrian Kempe — are expected back before the end of the regular season, so no LTIR stashing. There is definitely a sense they want to keep Matt Roy, a pending UFA, through the deadline. Arthur Kaliyev, in and out of the lineup, isn’t guaranteed to move. They’ve been looking for some edge, but there’s not a lot of space to do it. Not expected to do anything major.

23. Colorado Avalanche: The more I watch the social media stuff with Gabriel Landeskog, the more I think he’s going to try and play. They’re all-in anyway, but if they have reason to believe he could go, there’s even more of a push. Everyone knows the big need is a second-line centre. They are chasing short-term options (Henrique), medium-term options (Bjugstad, Kerfoot) and options we haven’t figured out yet. Justus Annunen snared his first career shutout last Thursday. Are they convinced he’s the right backup? They were on the Fleury train before it never left the station. 

24. Carolina Hurricanes: Carolina’s got a pretty simple rule: we don’t pay much for rentals. It works, in general, and they are a consistently good team. I always wonder, though, when do you break your own rules? They lost the Eastern Conference Final last year because they couldn’t score. Yes, Andrei Svechnikov was out, but you can’t have enough goals. Guentzel, Tarasenko, Toffoli (if available) would be perfect for them. This team is good enough to win the Stanley Cup. If I were them watching the Final last year, I’d be kicking myself, feeling we could have given Vegas a bigger fight.

The Hurricanes have an excellent prospect pool and could make a move any team would be content with. They’ve overcome craziness in goal and Frederik Andersen is about to return. There have 10 UFAs, including a big chunk of the blue line, so this lineup could look very different. (The Martin Necas situation definitely is coming to a head.) They take their shots at the best — Eichel, Matthew Tkachuk, now Pettersson — which is excellent, but sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone.

25. Edmonton OilersWatch when Cody Ceci scores to make it 5-0 Edmonton over Pittsburgh. The bench goes bonkers. Players aren’t dumb. They know it’s money out, money in. If they add, Ceci could be a cap casualty. That was their way of showing support. As mentioned earlier, Edmonton is believed to have offered a first rounder to Calgary for Tanev, but a player had to go. The same possibility exists with Philadelphia in a pursuit of one of their defencemen.

Edmonton’s going to ride Stuart Skinner, who was excellent on Saturday in Seattle. So the question becomes: which player do the Oilers prioritize with their best assets? It appears to be a defenceman, but they are looking at a few options. They don’t seem to believe they’ve got a great shot at Guentzel. They’ve talked to Anaheim about a double-deal with Carrick and Henrique. They like Toffoli, but, as written earlier, I’m not convinced he’s going. They could add multiple pieces, the challenge is trying to figure out the biggest.

26. Toronto Maple LeafsThe Maple Leafs keep losing defencemen. Conor Timmins gets sick, Timothy Liljegren is hurt, so is Mark Giordano. They go out and get Ilya Lyubushkin. Of course, he gets hurt in his first game. Name a defenceman, they’ve looked at him: the Seattle guys, Dumba (unlikely), Edmundson, Ferraro, Hanifin, Jensen, Savard, Seeler, Tanev, Walker, Zadorov, etc., etc. They’d like a more permanent, long-term solution, but that’s a big price if even available.

They have also looked at a depth forward/centre. When Nick Robertson was sent down, he was told it was purely for roster reasons and he’d be back, a rationale he accepted in the short term. I see a team with holes, but, as Bill Parcells always says, “You are what your record says you are,” and this year’s Maple Leafs have done a great job, considering the craziness on defence and in goal. 

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27. Dallas Stars: Trading for Tanev locks in the Stars as one of the top Stanley Cup contenders. Logan Stankoven made an instant impact, as they hoped. Maybe there’s a small move for depth. There was some suggestion they might deal Radek Faksa to create flexibility, but Peter DeBoer really trusts him. The only thing they need to acquire is a new nickname for Stankoven. ‘Stank’ is just horrible.

28. Vancouver CanucksThe big win was Pettersson. Tyler Myers’ injury is not long-term, he’ll be back before the playoffs. They will look at forward adds (reportedly Toffoli and Jordan Greenway, who they’ve liked for some time). There’s also a Phil Kessel decision looming. They’ve considered Guentzel — it’s aggressive, but not sure how possible. It hasn’t been an easy start for Elias Lindholm, and another team wondered if there’s any chance the Canucks would flip him, but I don’t sense that’s the plan.

29. Boston Bruins: The phrase “hockey deals” has been thrown around with the Bruins. They don’t have much high-end draft capital, but they do have players. So it makes sense that if they’re going to make changes, it will involve their NHL roster or those close to it. The reason you’re hearing Linus Ullmark’s name is the calendar will force Boston to make a decision. They’ve begun discussing an extension with Jeremy Swayman and Brandon Bussi soon requires waivers. Something’s going to have to give.

Like several other teams considering moving a goalie, the Bruins have to decide when is the optimal time to do it. All of a sudden, Fleury and Saros are off the market, and Markstrom’s future is uncertain. So, if someone craves a netminder now, Boston’s in a position to deliver. There are two flaws to this, however. First, the Swayman/Ullmark combo gives the Bruins their best chance to win right now, and second, Ullmark has some control over this. If it involves a team he can say no to, he’s earned the right to block.

They’ve contacted Calgary about Hanifin, but I’m not sure where that stands beyond the Lightning. They’re definitely testing the market on some roster players. It’s hard to predict where this ends up, but there’s possibility of a bigger hockey trade or something as simple as added depth for the postseason.

30. New York Rangers: I butchered something on the podcast I wanted to correct here. Chris Drury’s two deadlines are dramatically different. In 2022, he made four deadline deals, adding Vatrano a few days beforehand. Last year, he took massive swings with Tarasenko and Patrick Kane. Once again, they’ve got a really good team, with holes created by injury. They liked Tommy Novak, who will be staying in Nashville. They asked about Alex Tuch, and they’ve considered Vatrano. Do they pay Anaheim’s high ask for him? He’s got another year at $3.65M.

There are a few directions they can go. There are other good scorers at higher numbers (Reilly Smith, old friend Buchnevich), more challenging to make work. They prefer not to trade their top prospects, but they have their picks (although we’re seeing late first-rounders this season drop in value). You’ve heard Kaapo Kakko’s name out there. Watching their fourth line on Saturday, I wonder if the Rangers believe that can work in the playoffs. There are depth players they know: Colin Blackwell, Kevin Rooney. I’ve wondered about Tyler Johnson, but that’s a bigger salary.

Apropos of nothing, Matt Rempe and Adam Edstrom came off the ice together at the team’s morning skate on Saturday. Their stalls are next to each other. There were a bunch of reporters. Rempe turned to Edstrom and said, “I think they’re waiting for you.” Classic. 

31. Winnipeg Jets: They sent Gabe Vilardi home to get checked out, so we’ll see if it’s anything serious. (Hope not.) Winnipeg’s made a big move (Sean Monahan) that’s working very nicely, a credit to them for finding such a seamless fit. If a Vilardi injury forces something, an Anthony Mantha-type makes sense to me. Other than that, hard to see anything major unless they feel a need to upgrade the blue line, something they’ve kicked around. The Jets like their defensive depth, and have mentioned keeping a close eye on Ville Heinola’s AHL return from early-season injury.

Rick Bowness believes in roles and identities. You can see he is, for the most part, very comfortable with where everyone slots and when they are going to be on the ice. (Cole Perfetti would be an exception, but that one might take time to sort out.) Fans want to see Nik Ehlers more often with Mark Scheifele, but, having watched Bowness for a long time, I can see why he’s careful with this. Ehlers is creative, but unpredictable, and in the postseason the coach will not like that. Notice how Bowness broke up that duo after a giveaway against the Sabres. They were losing to both Carolina and Buffalo this weekend, and won twice. Not a strategy you want to get used to, but it’s clear strong goaltending has them believing in themselves. 

32. Florida Panthers: This very fun to watch legit Cup contender has decisions to make. They’ve got cap space, but don’t have draft capital. The Panthers have been asked about Anton Lundell, and when you can win, you are forced to consider these things. I get mixed responses to Hanifin, with some sources saying definite interest, but others saying it won’t happen and they’ll chase defensive depth instead. So, I’m not much help there.

I do think they’ll chase a forward in the Guentzel/Tarasenko mold. The one thing they’ve discussed is how a team with good internal chemistry can be changed by a big deadline addition. They went through it with Claude Giroux, and how that affected the players whose roles changed.

Also, do they go through the deadline with three major UFAs unsigned? Generally, I’d say a team trying to win goes for it and I’d expect the Panthers to do the same. GM Bill Zito’s seen it from both sides and isn’t afraid to wait. The phrase you get with Sam Reinhart is “there’s a deal to be made.” There’s been talk with Gustav Forsling, seemingly less so with Brandon Montour. These are all critical pieces of the puzzle. If they hit the market there will be plenty of interest, but the Panthers are banking on geography and success turning them into Tampa East as a player haven. 

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