Rick Nash is a Bruin. Derick Brassard is a Penguin. Tomas Plekanec is a Maple Leaf.
And Erik Karlsson is still a Senator. Well, for now, at least.
While there was a flurry of deals done in the days before the trade deadline, the are still plenty of players remaining on the market who could get moved before Monday at 3 p.m. ET.
Will the Senators and Canadiens trade their respective captains? Will the Capitals and Jets try to keep up with what the other contending teams have done? And will anyone be willing to take a chance on Evander Kane and Thomas Vanek? Here are some pressing questions ahead of the deadline.
Has any deal made anyone a contender?
Rick Nash gives a Boston team that has relied on one line some secondary depth and Tomas Plekanec should allow Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock the ability to roll four lines. But of all of the deals so far, the one that stands out the most is Pittsburgh’s acquisition of Derick Brassard. It cost the Penguins a first-round draft pick and fourth-line winger Ryan Reaves, but now a team with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin has arguably the best third-line centre in the NHL. I smell a three-peat.
Will Erik Karlsson be traded?
While I still don’t understand why Ottawa would trade away a two-time Norris Trophy winner who will likely have his name on the trophy three or four more times, the time for re-signing Karlsson has come and gone. So where could he end up? The destination that makes the most sense is Tampa Bay. The only problem is this could turn into a complicated three- or four-way deal if Ottawa insists on packaging Bobby Ryan in the trade. If so, chances are we won’t see Karlsson moved until the summer. The same goes for New York’s Ryan McDonagh, who has term on his existing deal.
Will anyone take a chance on Evander Kane?
Now that Nash is off the board, the Sabres winger becomes the biggest rental available at the deadline. But he comes with more than baggage than you can fit into a suitcase. If it was just about the stats, every team in the league would be lining up for a 26-year-old winger who has 20 goals and 40 points this season. But it’s more than just that with Kane, which is why teams might be more interested in Vancouver’s Thomas Vanek or Edmonton’s Patrick Maroon, despite their potential impact.
Will the Golden Knights go all-in?
Under normal circumstances, you would expect that the best team in the Western Conference would be one of the biggest buyers at the trade deadline. But Vegas isn’t a typical first place team. GM George McPhee acquired Reaves in a three-way deal with Pittsburgh and Ottawa last week. But if doesn’t want this magical run to end, he might have to change the long-term plan and give up a prospect or two.
Will Marc Bergevin be allowed to trade Max Pacioretty?
Trading Plekanec was one thing. But after having the P.K. Subban and Mikhail Sergachev trades blow up in his face, should Bergevin be allowed to trade the team’s captain? I wouldn’t allow it. Then again, the Habs might not have a choice. If the Los Angeles Kings offer up Tyler Toffoli, a first-rounder and prospect Gabe Vilardi — or a similarly ridiculous package from another team — you have to let Bergevin pull the trigger. Still, it could be the last trade he makes.
Will any of the contenders resist making a bad move?
We’re looking at you, Winnipeg. The Jets have typically stayed quiet at previous trade deadlines, mostly because they were never in a position to really contend. This year is different and yet it doesn’t have to be. Though the Jets were reportedly in on Brassard and Plekanec, there is really no reason why GM Kevin Cheveldayoff needs to do anything. The team is tied for first place in the Central Division, has Mark Scheifele back healthy and has gone 7-3-0 in its last 10 games.
Will Washington try to keep up with the Joneses?
With the Penguins and Bruins having given up first-round picks for immediate help, the pressure now turns to the Capitals to up the ante. The problem is that Washington has gone down this road many times before in acquiring Kevin Shattenkirk or Martin Erat without much in the way of positive results. Maybe this year the Capitals should stand pat. Who knows, it might finally lead to a championship.
Will Calgary get a goalie?
Rookie Jon Gillies has won back-to-back games for the Flames, but with Mike Smith still out with a lower-body injury and backup goalie David Rittich unable to hold down the fort, Calgary could risk a playoff spot if unless it finds a proven goalie at the deadline. The Flames are in fourth place in the Pacific Division, but only two points ahead of the 10th-place Kings, who have a game in hand. Philadelphia was in a similar situation and picked up Petr Mrazek, who has gone 2-0 since then. Acquiring Buffalo’s Robin Lehner could be just as costly, but not as costly as missing the playoffs.
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