The trade deadline has passed, but for the Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens and any other team that still has holes and question marks throughout its roster, the focus now turns to the summer where most of the heavy lifting will occur.
Where will Erik Karlsson end up?
It wasn’t surprising that the Senators were unable to move their captain at the deadline, considering that trades like these usually occur at the draft. But now that Tampa Bay has Ryan McDonagh, who’s likely to make a push for Karlsson? The answer is the team that just lost its No. 1 defenceman. The Rangers shed US$4.7 million in trading McDonagh and have Mats Zuccarello’s $4.5-million salary coming off the books in 2019, when Karlsson’s next contract kicks in. Plus, with three first-round picks and a ton of newly acquired prospects, they can offer Ottawa the kind of package that few other teams can.
Can Montreal flip Max Pacioretty for a centre?
Like Karlsson, Pacioretty wasn’t moved at the deadline. But unlike Karlsson, whose time in Ottawa appears to be over, it doesn’t necessarily mean Pacioretty will be moved in the summer. The first thing the Canadiens have to do is decide what direction they are going. Is the team rebuilding or, with Carey Price and Shea Weber both signed to long-term contracts, does it try to re-tool on the fly. If it’s the former, Pacioretty could be gone for picks or prospects. If it’s the latter, you keep Pacioretty as the captain and hope that Price and company can rebound.
Who will get the No. 1 overall pick?
As of Tuesday, the Arizona Coyotes had an 18 per cent chance of winning the draft lottery and picking first overall, followed by Buffalo (12.5 per cent), Ottawa (10.5 per cent) and Vancouver (9.5 per cent). Of course, as Edmonton Oilers fans know by now, anything can happen in a lottery. A year ago, New Jersey won the No. 1 pick and moved up four spots, while Philadelphia moved up to second from 13th, and Dallas moved up to third from eighth. According to scouts, Swedish defenceman Rasmus Dahlin highlights a top-heavy draft that also includes NHL-ready wingers in Andrei Svechnikov, Brady Tkachuk and Filip Zadina.
How many changes do the Oilers need to make?
Here’s the problem for the Oilers: they are probably not as bad as they showed this season and yet they probably are not as good as they were a season ago. Based on that simplistic evaluation, Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli has his hands full this summer? He cannot afford to miss out on the playoffs again. But does that mean he starts messing with core pieces again and tried to trade Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to Arizona for defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson? Or does he cross his fingers and hope that the team gets lucky once again at the draft?
Should the Canucks bring back the Sedin twins?
While the Rangers and Red Wings were busy acquiring picks and prospects, Canucks GM Jim Benning’s hands were tied at the trade deadline. He was unable to get anything of value for Thomas Vanek and didn’t move the Sedin twins, who said that they want to end their careers in Vancouver. But when exactly is that? No question, there’s value in having Henrik and Daniel around to help Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser and prospects such as Olli Juolevi, Elias Pettersson and Jonathan Dahlen. And because they will likely cost half of the combined $14 million they earned this season, Vancouver could have the cap space to sign James van Riemsdyk or another free agent.
Will anyone take a chance on Ilya Kovalchuk?
It was shortly after winning gold at the Olympics that Kovalchuk told reporters he planned to end a six-year absence and return to the NHL. Despite his age — he turns 35 next month — the former Rocket Richard Trophy winner could be the most sought-after free agent. After all, it’s not like he forgot how to score. Kovalchuk had five goals and seven points in six games at the Olympics and is leading the KHL in scoring this season with 31 goals and 63 points in 53 games. If I’m the San Jose Sharks, I’m finding a way to sign him.
Will Toronto replace Roman Polak?
The Maple Leafs had hoped to land a right-shot defenceman at the deadline, but the best options either played on the wrong side (Ryan McDonagh and Jack Johnson) or were too expensive (Mike Green). For now, the team will continue with Ron Hainsey, Jake Gardiner and Polak. Consider the latter to be a stopgap while 18-year-old Timothy Liljegren continues to develop in the minors. That is, unless Toronto uses the $11.4 million saved by not re-signing James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak and Leo Komarov on a potential free agent such as Washington’s John Carlson or New Jersey’s John Moore.
Does Chicago need to break up the band?
The Blackhawks traded 23-year-old Ryan Hartman to Nashville at the deadline for a package of draft picks, but that didn’t solve the team’s problem — an aging group of core players who are becoming more and more overpaid every year. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are both earning $10.5 million this season, but only one of them is deserving of that kind of money anymore. Meanwhile, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are not looking like the top pairing defence that they were a year or two ago. With little room under the cap, someone has to go.
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