The NHL Trade Deadline is still a day away, but some major moves have already been made. It’s already been more entertaining than the NBA’s trade deadline, and names like Loui Eriksson and Kris Russell are still being tossed around in trade discussions. Potential Stanley Cup contenders, like the Chicago Blackhawks and the surprising Florida Panthers have collected chips that they think will get them over the hump. Other teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers, are unloading pieces to try and continue their rebuilds.
Chicago Lands Andrew Ladd
The Chicago Blackhawks were already the favorites to bring home Lord Stanley’s Cup, but after the addition of former Winnipeg Jets Captain Andrew Ladd (pictured), the Blackhawks would be a huge disappointment if they didn’t take home the hardware. They gave up a couple of prospects, most notably Marko Dano and a couple of picks, one being a first rounder, but the potential to win another Cup is well worth what they gave up.
Add in the quality depth in Dale Weiss and Tomas Fleischmann from the Montreal Canadiens, the Blackhawks have the deepest roster in the league, and it’s not even close.
It’s amazing how the Blackhawks continue to reload every offseason and every trade deadline, and now, they’re in the drivers seat to get a fourth Stanley Cup in seven years.
Florida Adding Some Flash
Hands down everyone’s surprise contender, the Florida Panthers have exceeded expectations. The young players have emerged and taken great steps in their development, and the ageless wonder that is Jaromir Jagr is playing his best hockey in years. But the Panthers needed a scoring punch, and they got two guys in Jiri Hudler and Teddy Purcell, who could help in that department.
Hudler is in a down year this season following a 2014-2015 campaign where he set career highs in goals, assists and points, but is still a gifted goal scorer and a change of scenery could work wonders. Hudler is a free agent following this year, and this trade is likely going to be a rental, but the price of a second and a fourth round pick isn’t too tough to swallow.
Teddy Purcell brings a solid two-way style of play that should fit well in what the Panthers do, which is play good defense and have solid goaltending. The Panthers are trying to hold off the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Boston Bruins in the Atlantic Division race, and these moves might just be enough to do it.
Additional Trade: The Panthers also received Jakub Kindl from the Detroit Red Wings, but he’s only played in 25 games this season.
Oilers Looking to Get Younger-Again
The Edmonton Oilers have been bad for a long time, but have probably the best young core in hockey with Darnell Nurse, Connor McDavid, Taylor Hall, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, but they still haven’t found any success.
And after trading the aforementioned Teddy Purcell, and fellow veterans Justin Schultz, to Pittsburgh, and Anders Nilsson, to St. Louis, all for draft picks or prospects, the Oilers are officially selling out to get the number one pick and draft prized prospect Auston Matthews (Edmonton currently holds the honor dubious honor of having the worst record in the league).
Unfortunately, the Oilers don’t really need any more offense, as it’s their defense and goaltending that has let them down over recent years, but with Matthews being just a notch below McDavid and Buffalo standout rookie Jack Eichel, he’s the obvious choice to go number one.
Hang in there Oilers fans, your time will come, eventually.
Toronto Keeps Wheeling and Dealing
A couple of weeks ago, the Toronto Maple Leafs traded a host of players, most notable Dion Phaneuf, to the Ottawa Senators in order to make cap space, presumably for Tampa Bay Lightning superstar Steven Stamkos.
Since that deal, Stammer has has announced his inclination to stay in Tampa, putting a huge damper on spirits north of the border. To make even more cap room, the team from The Six added the expiring contracts of once productive forward Milan Michalek, Jared Cowen and Colin Greening.
This isn’t the first time in the last calendar year the Leafs have moved on from bad contracts, as they unloaded Phil Kessel in an offseason deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Leafs more recently moved James Reimer, a goalie who almost became a Toronto hero when he almost lead to the Leafs to a huge upset over the Bruins in the playoffs, then the last 11 minutes of game 7 happened. Reimer was moved to San Jose, where he’ll look to help the Sharks improve on their goals against average, which is currently 18th in the NHL.
Where Will The Big Names Go?
Some of the biggest names yet to be flipped are Kris Russell, Loui Eriksson and Dan Hamhuis.
Russell is a solid two-way defenseman for the Calgary Flames. He’s more of a puck moving defenseman rather than one who goes out and gets his shots from the point, but he holds value on both ends of the ice, as he’s a willing shot blocker and tough defender despite being undersized at 5’10 175 pounds. the market for Russell includes the Bruins, Penguins and Los Angeles Kings.
While the B’s and Penguins desperately need help on the back end, the Kings have the luxury of having the best defenseman in the game in Drew Doughty, and Russell would only strengthen a strong defensive team.
Loui Eriksson always seems to find himself on the trade block at this time of year. He’s playing his best hockey in a long time, in a contract year, and is an integral piece to why the Bruins are in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race. Eriksson and the B’s have been talking about an extension, but a deal doesn’t seem too likely to get done.
The Bruins are in a tough spot with Eriksson. If they move him, they throw out any hope of making some noise in the playoffs, but if they keep him, he’s likely to walk in free agency. My money is on him staying in Boston until the end of this season, and he finds a new home over the summer.
Dan Hamhuis has seen his production plummet out in Vancouver in the last two years for the Canucks. He’s one of the few remaining pieces from the Canucks team that made it all the way to game 7 of the Stanley Cup against the Bruins before losing at home (and then the city threw a riot). He’s a stay at home defenseman and is an unrestricted free agent following this season.
He was rumored to land with Chicago until they got Christian Ehrhoff from LA, which means the Bruins are one of the only teams in the market for the 33 year old blue liner. Whoever gets Hamhuis won’t have to give up much, but it in all likelihood will be a rental for a postseason push.
Cover Photo via TheGlobeAndMail.com