As we close out January, we’re still waiting for the rush of trade deadline moves to start. It’s been awfully quite on the market for some time, and as Craig Custance of The Athletic (subscription required) writes, that might be because of John Tavares. It’s not so much that Tavares is available in trade, but that if he is really going to hit the open market in July, teams want to make sure they have enough cap space to take a run at him.
Custance mentions the San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues and Montreal Canadiens as potential players in free agency for Tavares, though those are all speculative at this point. All three could turn into big factors at the trade deadline—in different ways—and could be delaying their decisions as long as possible. For now, we’ll just have to hold tight and wait for the first real foot to drop in the rental market.
- Speaking of the St. Louis Blues, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet included a note about Jordan Schmaltz in his latest 31 Thoughts column, writing that the AHL All-Star is basically blocked from making an impact at the NHL level. That’s because of the Blues’ impressive depth on the right side, and it could lead to him being a trade chip in the next few weeks. Again, that’s just speculation, but Schmaltz certainly would hold substantial value. A first-round pick of the Blues in 2012, Schmaltz has found nothing but success in the collegiate and minor pro ranks, but has received just 13 games of NHL experience to this point. He’s also heading into restricted free agency this summer as he finishes his entry-level contract, and holds arbitration rights.
- Taylor Hall has been fined $5,000 for his hit on Kyle Okposo last night, avoiding suspension. Hall hit Okposo into the boards from behind, resulting in a minor penalty and will have this incident added to his record with the Department of Player Safety. While Okposo suffered no apparent injury on the play and was back at Sabres’ practice today, it easily could have resulted in more serious damage. Now, only Hall’s wallet will feel that pain.