With the NHL Trade Deadline just two days away, some key match-ups took place last night as several teams jockeyed for playoff position. The Columbus Blue Jackets – and new addition Matt Duchene – Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild, Calgary Flames, and Winnipeg Jets all picked up important wins, while the Vegas Golden Knights and Chicago Blackhawks suffered frustrating losses. Every result is amplified with the deadline this close and teams trying to figure out what do do before it passes. There are 22 teams in action tonight and each will be trying to gauge their team’s needs and playoff chances and how to address them before Monday afternoon. In that same vein, it will be all hands on deck for every club this weekend, which means several minor transactions are on the way. Track them all here:
- Heading to Columbus alongside Duchene yesterday was AHL defenseman Julius Bergman. However, he never actually landed in Columbus and may never suit up for the Blue Jackets. The team announced that Bergman has been reassigned to their affiliate, the Cleveland Monsters, where he can reasonably expect to play out the season. Then, Bergman is expected to return to his native Sweden next season. His move to the Blue Jackets was simply a way for the Ottawa Senators to open up an additional contract slot for the organization as they continue to deal at the deadline and hope to add multiple pieces in return.
- The Buffalo Sabres have recalled a pair of forwards and may have some ulterior motive for doing so. The Sabres announced that Danny O’Regan and Scott Wilson have been promoted from the AHL’s Rochester Americans. O’Regan, 25, has not played in the NHL all season and as a result is headed for Group 6 unrestricted free agency this summer. Wilson, 26, also has yet to make his NHL debut this season and has been buried in the minors of late. He has an additional year remaining on his contract at $1.05MM, but doesn’t appear to have a place in Buffalo’s long-term plans. Without any attachment to either player moving forward, it seems likely this call-up could be used to showcase the capable forwards. Whether the Sabres choose to buy or sell, there’s reason to believe both O’Regan and Wilson could have value to a variety of teams.
- In a corresponding move, CapFriendly reports that the Sabres have reassigned defenseman Lawrence Pilut to the AHL. The return of Casey Nelson has pushed Pilut to the No. 8 spot on the Buffalo blue line and the team clearly prefers he get some play time in the minors instead. The 23-year-old has shown some flashes of brilliance at times this season, but overall has yet to prove he is an everyday NHLer. Meanwhile, the team announced that winger C.J. Smith has also been sent to Rochester. He has played in 11 games with Buffalo so far this season but has been a point-per-game player in 41 contests with the Americans.
- Henri Jokiharju’s latest stint with the Blackhawks was short-lived as the team announced that he has been returned to Rockford of the AHL. He was recalled just yesterday but suited up when Carl Dahlstrom (flu) was unable to play. However, the 19-year-old played just 9:14. Jokiharju was a regular for Chicago early on but has not had the trust of head coach Jeremy Colliton to the point where they’ve decided he’s better off in the minors for the time being.
- The Senators have assigned defenseman Maxime Lajoie to Belleville of the AHL, reports TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie. The 21-year-old rookie surprised many with a strong start to his season with seven points in his first six games. However, he has cooled off considerably since then with only eight points over his last 49 contests while his ice time has dropped a lot as of late. A chance to go back to the minors and log some more minutes would certainly be beneficial for his development.
- The Philadelphia Flyers have recalled forward Corban Knight from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the AHL, according to Sam Carchidi of Philly.com. Knight, who has missed most of the season with a broken collarbone, was placed on waivers two weeks ago and sent down to get him some playing time. The 28-year-old has fared well in four games with the Phantoms, posting two goals and six points.
- The Anaheim Ducks have recalled star prospect Sam Steel from the San Diego Gulls of the AHL and have assigned forward Brian Gibbons there instead, according to Eric Stephens of The Athletic. Steel, the team’s first-round pick in the 2016 draft, had 15 goals and 32 points for the Gulls, but has struggled in Anaheim’s lineup in 13 games this season. The team hopes that after a significant time in San Diego, Steel can contribute the offense the team needs to turn around their season. Gibbons had just two goals and five points in 44 games for Anaheim this season.
- To make room for Ryan Dzingel on the roster, the Columbus Blue Jackets announced they have assigned defenseman Adam Clendening to the Cleveland Monsters of the AHL. The 26-year-old was faring well with Cleveland with three goals and 28 points in 33 games. However, he has appeared in just four games for Columbus this year with no points.