Emilie KaplanESPN7 minute read
The NHL trade deadline is March 3, and with just nine days to go, talks are heating up in the league. Here’s what I’m hearing about some of the dynamics going on behind the scenes…
We should have clarity on Kane’s decision this week. None of this has come easy for the veteran winger. Kane always imagined himself retiring as a Blackhawk. Only in the last few months – and maybe even weeks – has he been forced to accept that the vision may no longer be realistic. Based on conversations I’ve had with league sources, behind-the-scenes talks with Rangers were further along than reported. There was a path for Kane going to New York, his favorite destination if he left Chicago, and then suddenly he felt like he was being swept away – that’s why you saw him react so vulnerable to Vladimir Tarasenko’s trade.
Kane has been devastated by the reports of his hip injury, but it’s a real concern expressed by the teams. Kane is one of the greatest players in the league. He’s incredibly competitive and diligent in how he takes care of his body. Prior to his 30-year-old season, he switched to a bodyweight movement-based training method; many league players, including Auston Matthews, follow. There are a lot of things Kane is doing to prepare to get through the season. But he proved, especially with his hat-trick at home against the Maple Leafs on Sunday, that he can still be effective no matter what ails him and no matter what teammates he plays with.
So now Kane is recalibrating again. I believe he was asked to explore if going to Rangers is still an option. It’s not impossible, but would require some serious maneuvering. Kane must also consider what is available. I know the Carolina Hurricanes and the Dallas Stars are interested in him. I believe the Vegas Golden Knights and the Edmonton Oilers are too. There might be a mysterious team lurking. One of the reasons Kane enjoys playing in Chicago is that there is comfort and structure in place for him and his family. Kane must therefore decide if he can recreate the comfort and structure in one of these places and still give himself a legitimate chance to win. If he can tick those boxes, we’ll see him move on and into the next chapter. Otherwise, the Blackhawks prepared for Kane to come up to them and tell them he didn’t want to move at all.
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There was interest in Chicago captain Jonathan Toews. I know the Colorado Avalanche had been keeping tabs on him this season. The Seattle Kraken was also monitoring his game. But once Toews took time out this month to seek answers on why he still didn’t feel healthy – symptoms of long COVID and chronic immune response syndrome , he said – a move has become less likely. General manager Kyle Davidson confirmed to me that Toews will not be traded at the deadline.
This creates an interesting flexibility for Chicago’s reconstruction plans. Teams are only allowed to withhold salary from three players, and the Blackhawks expected to keep part of Toews’ $10.5 million cap in a trade. They will likely keep some of Kane’s $10.5 million in a potential trade. But how could they use the other two spots now that Toews won’t be traded? Davidson has made it clear to his peers that he is open for business. Call any player on their roster and make an honest offer, and they’re ready to listen. There’s a lot of league-wide interest in Jake McCabe, especially if his $4 million cap reached through 2024-25 is cut in half. I believe the Chicago request is a first-round pick, and more so for McCabe. There’s also been a lot of buzz about Sam Lafferty, who has finally found his speed in an NHL regular role, has an attractive cap of $1.15 million and is also under contract for next season. I believe the Blackhawks are looking for a second-round pick for Lafferty.
But even with Chicago trying to rebuild — rounding up as many prospects and draft picks as possible — Davidson isn’t trading players just to do it. He’s taken a lot of calls, but if asking prices don’t materialize, he’s comfortable retaining the two veterans – who have helped the team’s culture – and will also be attractive to teams there. next year.
What do the Bruins need?
The Boston Bruins have been the most complete and consistent team in the NHL this year. But they know a Presidents’ Trophy doesn’t guarantee playoff success, and they’re always looking to add more. They’re plotting something potentially big. Other teams tell me the Bruins called to ask if they would take Craig Smith ($3.1 million) which would help them clear some space.
While Boston has watched all the big names, including Timo Meier, their biggest need is left defense. Ideally, they can find someone of size, and that can play Charlie McAvoy – which would knock Matt Grzelcyk into the rotation. They have been monitoring Jakob Chychrun’s situation for a while now. I’ve heard from multiple sources that the Bruins have had advanced discussions on Vladislav Gavrikov from Columbus, but may be waiting to make another trade before they can consummate this trade. And if Gavrikov doesn’t work, I believe they have contingency plans.
Expect lightning to do something
For the past three years, Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois has publicly stated the same thing at this time: He has no ceiling space to make moves. And for two years, he understood, making a splash with Blake Coleman in 2021 then Brandon Hagel in 2022. This year, he sings the same tune, and when I met him in Tampa last week, he insisted on me: “Really, this year I don’t have the cap space or the assets to do a Coleman or Hagel type deal.”
The Lightning don’t have first- and second-round picks in this year’s draft, nor do they have their 2024 first-round pick. Still, I find BriseBois hard to believe. He is one of the most cunning managers in the league. He will find a way to make something to help his team. BriseBois told me that defense is not a need. They feel they have 10 NHL-ready blue liners in their NHL roster and with the AHL Syracuse Crunch. I’ve heard from other teams that the Lightning are ready to move Cal Foote, who has only played 25 games this year, in part because of the emergence of Nick Perbix.
Realistically, the Lightning are looking at a forward of the final six who can adapt to their identity and culture (like Nick Paul, another pick-up for them last season). I also think they would like to add an element of speed, which is why Chicago’s Sam Lafferty and his cost certainty for next season makes sense. But again, when it comes to BriseBois, expect the unexpected.
Surprise teams before the deadline?
I asked an assistant general manager to tell me the surprise team that could be the main character on trade deadline day. “The Seattle Kraken,” the assistant general manager told me. “I think they have explored a lot of possibilities to add to their roster. They always have the big picture in mind to build in the right way, but I think they see an opportunity this year and can go for it. “
There have been rumors that Carson Soucy might be available. He was retired against the Sharks on Monday after receiving a kicked puck. Soucy, 28, is an unrestricted free agent this summer and there have been no extension talks yet. But it would be a big surprise if Soucy was moved; Removing a veteran defenseman from a playoff team is bold.
Latest news on canes and the wild
The Carolina Hurricanes and Minnesota Wild are both looking for scoring help, but both teams are getting creative. The Wild have been reluctant to give up their lofty picks or rental prospects as they still navigate their buyout squeeze-fund crisis – nor do I think they’re convinced this is their year to go all-in. .
Meanwhile, the Hurricanes tend to do business differently than the rest of the league. Although they have the most headroom and flexibility among the top contenders due to Max Pacioretty’s LTIR designation, they have prices that don’t always match what the market says, and they stick to it. hold. While they watch Kane and Meier, I wouldn’t be surprised if their acquisition is an off-the-radar player with duration. Rods don’t usually make rentals or short-term decisions. They also tend to do business at the 11th hour. So while many teams have moved ahead of the deadline, Carolina is expected to be active on March 3.