As far as market-setting deals go, the Ben Chiarot-to-Florida trade this week had an interesting return. A physical, complementary defenceman on an expiring contract, the Panthers gave up a 2023 first and a prospect for Chiarot, days after Colorado traded less (2023 second and a prospect) to acquire Josh Manson -- also a physical rental defenceman.
And the biggest names remain available.
What will the Chiarot deal mean to Anaheim as they explore trading Hampus Lindholm, the best blueliner potentially available among rentals? How about Mark Giordano, who has a modified no-trade list? The Kraken wanted a first-rounder from Calgary last summer to not take him in the expansion draft, and that was too much for the Flames. How much more, or less, could he go for now than Chiarot?
These are one-month plus playoff rentals, after all, so the price point is somewhat capped.
And, of course, Jakob Chychrun remains a possible trade asset out of Arizona, a young defenceman with plenty of term left on his deal. The ask there is reportedly the equivalent of three first-round selections, either in picks or prospects.
Meantime, Claude Giroux played his 1,000th game for Philadelphia Thursday night and the clock is now ticking on his trade. And we haven't even got to the goalie market yet, which remains entirely unpredictable.
Here is the latest buzz around the league.
ARE THE PANTHERS THE FAVOURITES TO LAND CLAUDE GIROUX?
Now that the Flyers captain has reached his 1,000th career game he'll be held out of Philadelphia's Friday and Sunday games ahead of an expected deal.
The favourites to land him remain the Florida Panthers, even though they don't have a first-round pick in either the 2022 or 2023 drafts anymore.
"The Panthers giving up a first-rounder and the prospect to Montreal in that (Chiarot) deal, what was left for a Philly trade? (Owen) Tippett's name's been out there. (Grigori) Denisenko's name has been out there. I'm sure Philly has asked about the likes of (Aleksi) Heponiemi and (2021 first-rounder Matthew) Samoskevich. I think this is trending towards Florida. I think it's likely going to be Florida. But other teams are interested: Colorado and St. Louis," Friedman noted on The Jeff Marek Show.
THE STATUS OF THE GOALIE MARKET
It's no secret who the goalie-needy teams are. Edmonton has been featured in this space all season and are back to relying on Mikko Koskinen to carry an extensive workload again. Toronto is attached to this market as well, with Jack Campbell injured after struggling and Petr Mrazek battling the puck. Erik Kallgren's back-to-back strong starts may give the Leafs new hope they can get through this period to a healthy Campbell again, and expend assets elsewhere at the deadline. Minnesota has been spiralling for some time and the goalies haven't helped that. Washington was in on Marc-Andre Fleury, though he may not want to go to a Penguins rival. And now Vegas, crashing down the standings and with Robin Lehner injured, are part of this discussion.
Lehner's injury status is a topic of interest right now, given his uncertainty. He hasn't played in 10 days and while a report surfaced that he had a broken knee cap that could force him to miss the rest of the regular season (and thus allow his $5 million AAV to go on LTIR), local Vegas reporters indicated it may not be that dire yet.
Regardless of who's in the market for a netminder, the options for difference-makers are thin. It starts and, possibly, ends with Fleury. Semyon Varlamov is an outside possibility and he comes with an extra year on his contract. That may be it as far as starters with a proven track record go.
Still, with nothing guaranteed at the position and the in-season goalie trade market as undefined as it is, how this will play out is anyone's guess.
"When you look at this year's goalie market I would be surprised if Marc-Andre Fleury gets traded for a first-round pick," Daily Faceoff's Frank Seravalli told Halford and Brough. "I know that's the ask from Chicago. But I think that market has to come down to the point where it is palatable for someone to say 'you know what we'll take the chance.'"
"I'm wondering if there's sort of a market inefficiency that exists there just because there aren't a lot of goaltending trades made and if you think about it if your goaltending is no good that's the one trade you should be making every time if you feel like that player is the difference maker."
PETRY, CHYCHRUN, LINDHOLM, GIORDANO AND THE DEFENCE MARKET
Let's start with the more unique option from this group in Jakob Chychrun.
Turning just 24 at the end of the month, Chychrun represents a solid, long-term investment and someone who could shore up a top pair for years to come. He's cost-effective too, making just $4.5 million against the cap through the 2024-25 season. In theory, he should be able to draw back the most return in trade and the market for him should involve a lot of teams since, in this case, even those who will miss the playoffs may want to add him.
Muddying the waters a little is that Chychrun sustained a lower-body injury that was originally reported as a 2-4 week stint on the sidelines. More recent reporting, however, has it more likely around the two-week mark, so Chychrun could be back before long after all.
"Chychrun's situation is unique. Columbus has been around there, too," Elliotte Friedman said on The Jeff Marek Show Thursday. "When a guy gets hurt around this time of year if you're in the playoffs a lot of times you'd punt on this and deal with it in the summer. But teams like Anaheim and Columbus have been around this and you're sitting there saying 'geez if I don't do this I may lose him.' And that's part of the added challenge of this whole situation."
A Chychrun trade, however, is not necessarily as urgent to complete as some others.
Another, older defenceman who also has term on his deal has been speculated as Jeff Petry's career arc likely no longer aligns with Montreal's plan ahead. Petry, 34, is having a heck of a down season, but was among the more reliable and productive blueliners in the four years prior. If he can get back to that level in an improved situation he could make a real difference somewhere -- and he has a $6.25 million AAV through the 2024-25 season.
There is some risk here given age, cap hit and play this season. But the Habs won't be selling low on him -- they have time.
"We'll trade Jeff Petry if we can," Canadiens GM Kent Hughes said Thursday. "But we're only going to do that if it's a deal that makes sense for us and makes sense for Jeff."
The rest of the notable names are rentals.
Hampus Lindholm tops the list of impact blueliners, a No. 1 in a lot of situations around the league, and certainly a top pair option with a left shot. There's been some question if the Ducks could still re-sign the 28-year-old and keep him as part of their emergence out of the rebuild, but they hesitated to give out too much term and as the deadline nears there is less reason to believe that will be the chosen course.
Lindholm would surely be the top target if he were to test free agency in July and shouldn't have much problem getting term elsewhere. Given what Chiarot was just traded for, the price to acquire Lindholm by the deadline should be stiff and the list of suitors long. But how much higher, really, can the price get for a player who's likely to test free agency anyway?
How the two prices for Chiarot and Lindholm compare will be fascinating.
And how about Giordano?
"I think a number of teams have been in touch with Seattle. They're still asking for a first-round pick," Seravalli said. "I believe Giordano's preferred destination is to go home and play for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Now, they're a team that's certainly interested. I don't think they're interested at the first-round pick price."
Giordano was made a healthy scratch this week in an asset-protecting move by the Kraken.
One other name that has been mentioned around the trade market for a few months has been John Klingberg in Dallas, but as the Stars have recovered and are in a decent position to reach the playoffs (one point out with four games in hand), GM Jim Nill said his focus is on pushing ahead and not selling off.
"Let's be clear, I'm not calling teams about him," Nill told NHL.com about Klingberg's status. "Again, if someone overwhelms me with a proposal, hey, I'm going to do what's best for the team.
"We've talked to some people and you always have to look at things. But our focus is on making the playoffs. That's very important to our franchise. John's a big part of that and we'll just move forward."