While the Maple Leafs have been linked to Red Wings center Luke Glendening, the team is also pursuing defensive depth in advance of the trade deadline, reports Postmedia’s Lance Hornby. Pittsburgh’s Ian Cole has been speculated as a fit for Toronto previously but it’s looking less likely that he will be moved now and while Matt Hunwick – who is believed to now be available – is familiar with their system, the remaining term on his contract may be a concern. The Leafs have room to fit someone in under the cap through LTIR this season but with their notable expiring contracts and core youngsters needing new deals fairly soon, a rental player may be the best way for them to go.
Elsewhere in the East:
- Penguins GM Jim Rutherford acknowledged to Jonathan Bombulie of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he came into the season hoping to hold onto their first-round pick but that he is open to moving it in advance of the trade deadline. That would be somewhat of a rarity for them as they’ve held one at the draft just once in the past five years. The player they took with that selection was Kasperi Kapanen back in 2014 who was dealt to Toronto just over a year later as part of the Phil Kessel trade.
- The Bruins have Canucks winger Thomas Vanek on their radar, reports Joe Haggerty of NBC Sports Boston. It’s believed that Boston is on the lookout for some depth on the wing and Vanek is the highest-scoring pending UFA that is likely to be moved by the deadline (his 40 points are two higher than Buffalo’s Evander Kane). Vanek carries a $2MM cap hit while the Bruins can add roughly $2.5MM in a full-season cap charge on deadline day, per CapFriendly.
- Blue Jackets defenseman Dean Kukan suffered an upper-body injury in today’s game against Pittsburgh, the team announced (Twitter link). If he is projected to miss any time, that may play an impact on Ryan Murray’s conditioning stint which just kicked off Kukan has held his own with Columbus since being recalled, posting four assists in nine games while logging just shy of 13 minutes per night. Also injured in the game was winger Nick Foligno, who the team noted (via Twitter) has a lower-body issue. While he has had a quieter year offensively compared to recent seasons, any prolonged absence would be a big concern for the Blue Jackets, who find themselves on the outside looking in at the postseason.