It’s expected Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello will be one of the NHL’s busiest executives the rest of the way. He has nine pending unrestricted free agents (UFAs) on the current roster, and it makes no sense to hold onto any of them if prospects and/or draft picks can be had in return.
Contending teams looking to pick up some scoring potential (we see you, Nashville and Minnesota) will no doubt be kicking tires on Vancouver Canucks winger Radim Vrbata, whose contract expires this summer.
A 30-goal man last season, the veteran’s production has dipped (11 goals and 11 assists through 50 games) and coach Willie Desjardins hopes new linemates (Derek Dorsett and Brandon Sutter) can get him going. He’s scored just one goal in his past 17 outings, and the consensus is he’d fetch no more than a second-round pick if/when he’s shopped.
GM Jim Benning maintains that the playoffs are still the priority this season, but let’s be real; the Canucks sit five points behind Anaheim for the final spot in the Pacific, and the Ducks have a game in hand. Plus, Vancouver will have to leapfrog Arizona as well.
Nothing imminent as far as I can tell, but the clock is ticking on Justin Schultz in Edmonton. Like Cowen with Ottawa, it is time for both the player and organization. A deal will happen, it’s just a question of when.
“This is a transaction that wasn’t for today,” Lamoriello said. “This gives us the opportunity to do things.”
It paves the road for the Maple Leafs to go after Stamkos on July 1, should he hit the market, without any financial or salary cap barriers.
The most appealing defenders available at the deadline are likely to be Keith Yandle and Dan Hamhuis
And with Byfuglien off the market, the most appealing defenders available at the deadline are likely to be Keith Yandle and Dan Hamhuis.
There was a rumour this week that Plekanec asked for a trade. Plekanec laughed when @GagnonFrancois and I asked him saying he did not.
— BrianWilde (@BWildeCTV) February 6, 2016
Vrbata, 34, and Dan Hamhuis, 33, are prime UFA assets and a team in contention would covet a quick-shot winger to augment its offence, while the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins are among many seeking a proven top-four defenceman. And with the level of desperation heightened at the deadline, the Canucks would do backflips if Vrbata could command a high draft pick or prospect.
The prices have been set. Calls are being made. The other shoe could drop at any time.
“You never know,” Lamoriello said. “In your mind you have something you’d like to see transpire. Then you just have to see where it goes from there. If there was anything imminent, it would be done. That’s the best way to approach it. It’s no different for anybody. It just depends on the guys somebody is looking for.”
The indications are Ladd’s camp may have turned down a six-year, $36-million deal at the start of the season. You have to wonder if he could get that kind of cash on the open market but the belief is one of his comparables is the seven-year, $42.5-million deal signed by Ryan Kesler in Anaheim.
If the Sharks are to make a big move, it will almost certainly involve Patrick Marleau. The 36-year-old forward’s agent has reportedly been exploring options for Marleau, who earlier in the season was willing to accept a trade to either the Kings, Ducks or Rangers. New York, in particular, has been scouting the Sharks frequently in recent weeks.
When asked on Friday in Nashville if he expected to be with the Sharks after the deadline, Marleau replied: “I just worry about playing.”
Chuck Gormley of CSN Mid-Atlantic thinks the Capitals are in the market for a defenceman and that Vancouver Canucks rear guard Dan Hamhuis would be a good fit.
He mentions that Hamhuis is in the final year of his deal and would cost the Capitals a pro-rated $700 thousand against the cap for the remainder of the season.
Gormley wonders if the Capitals would part with their first round pick in the deal and if that would be enough of a return for the Canucks.
On how the mindset of Chiarelli would be that despite having a generational talent, along with other pieces, none of this will fall into place until the Oilers get a No. 1 defenseman:
“No, and that’s exactly what he’s thinking. Look, if it was as simple as moving a forward like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to the Islanders for Travis Hamonic, the deal would have been made a long time ago. But clearly Garth Snow doesn’t want that. He wants either a good young defenseman very similar in contract and whatnot in age to come back his way, or he wants the team that wants Travis Hamonic the most to find a defenseman as part of potentially a three-team trade before Travis Hamonic gets moved.
“But I still think the Oilers have a keen eye on what Garth Snow and the Islanders are up to.”
The more hockey people I talk to about Drouin, the more I hear they are turned off by his holdout
— Adrian Dater (@adater) February 5, 2016