“Will GM Brad Treliving and the Calgary Flames ’pull a Hextall’?”, wonders the Calgary Sun’s Eric Francis with mere days left before the NHL Trade Deadline. Francis is referring to Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall, who recently acted quickly to acquire goaltender Petr Mrazek from the Detroit Red Wings when his top two goalies went down with long-term injuries. Treliving and the Flames are now in a similar position, with their one experienced keeper, Mike Smith, out with a groin injury and a return not imminent. Calgary is currently working with two rookie goalies, David Rittich and Jon Gillies, as they try to keep up in the Western Conference playoff race. If Treliving, like Hextall, feels that he owes his team a true starting-caliber goalie, he could hit the rental market for some help down the stretch. Options could include Buffalo’s Robin Lehner, an impending RFA and likely the top available target, Arizona’s Antti Raanta, if the Coyotes are willing to move him, a reunion with Chad Johnson, or even a lesser option albeit with more experience such as Michael Hutchinson or Andrew Hammond. However, as Francis points out after his conversation with Treliving, if the team continues to put forward lackluster performances in front of their young goalie tandem, perhaps paying the steep price to bring in an upgrade won’t be worth it. The situation is one worth monitoring as the deadline fast approaches.
- One player expected to move before the deadline is career Canadien Tomas Plekanec. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that calls have been flooding in to Montreal GM Marc Bergevin, especially following the Derick Brassard news, inquiring into the cost of trading for the veteran center. Plekanec, 35, has seen his offense fall off dramatically over the past two seasons, but still plays a reliable two-way game and can still be an experienced asset for many teams. With the Canadiens far outside the playoff picture and Plekanec on an expiring contract, possibly headed for retirement, a deal will almost certainly be struck with an interested team. It seems the days are numbered on a relationship that began in 2003-04.
- The Vegas Golden Knights placed James Neal on injured reserve today, per beat writer Steve Carp. While Neal is simply suffering from an illness right now, an undisclosed illness has also kept teammate Shea Theodore out of the lineup for more than a week. With forwards Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and William Carrier also on IR and an unclear picture of when Neal will return to action, one has to wonder if the Knights will take a longer look at the forward market before the deadline passes them by.