The NHL’s roster freeze kicks in tonight and as Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun writes, it’s likely that there won’t be any sort of significant movement between now and then. Multiple league executives told Garrioch that the sense is that teams are content to get through the holidays before really starting to entertain any potential trades.
Part of the problem right now is that cap space is at a premium for a lot of teams (16 teams either have someone on LTIR or are less than $1MM under the cap which doesn’t allow for much wiggle room) while only a handful of teams could be classified as sellers as things currently sit in the standings. Add those two elements together and it’s not difficult to figure out why the trade market is quiet at this stage.
Garrioch also provides some other notes from around the league:
- The Vegas Golden Knights are looking at former Philadelphia head coach Craig Berube (currently the head coach with AHL Chicago) and current Montreal associate coach Kirk Muller as potential options to be their inaugural bench boss. Garrioch expects that GM George McPhee will be looking for a good communicator to work with their roster and both of those coaches fit that bill. He also suggests Rick Bowness, the associate coach in Tampa Bay, as a potential option and notes that his experience with an expansion team (Ottawa) would be an asset.
- Add the Toronto Maple Leafs to the list of teams looking for an impact defenseman. The problem for the Leafs (and any other team) is that as many as half the teams around the league are looking for blueline help. Given where Toronto is in the standings as well as where they are in their rebuilding process, it’s more than likely that they’d be looking for a longer-term fit than a rental player.
- The Kings are looking to add another goaltender with Jonathan Quick still out for several months but haven’t discussed Ondrej Pavelec with the Jets since the GM meetings. Ottawa’s Andrew Hammond was also on their radar a while back but doesn’t appear to be now. GM Dean Lombardi told reporters last week that he won’t overpay to bring in another netminder. They have about $1.5MM in cap space at the moment per CapFriendly.
- Arizona has been looking to move center Martin Hanzal but teams remain unsure about what the Coyotes are looking to get in a return. Hanzal, a pending unrestricted free agent, has 10 points in 26 games this season and would slide in as a third option on a lot of teams. Garrioch notes that the sense is that the price will involve a quality prospect and at least a second round pick if a deal gets done. With a cap hit of $3.1MM, Hanzal is likely to be one of the cheaper impact rental players on the block which should help draw interest from several teams.