For all the talk of an Artemi Panarin trade, The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun cautions that the Columbus Blue Jackets keeping the star forward as an “own rental” is a very real possibility. Lebrun believes that it is all a cost-benefit analysis for the team, “because there’s almost no chance GM Jarmo Kekalainen simply sells off Panarin without also trying to replace him in some fashion via a separate transaction.” The Blue Jackets are on a four-game winning streak and, with a win last night over the Washington Capitals, leapfrogged their rivals in points percentage to put them on pace to finish second in the Metropolitan Division. Columbus is still searching for it’s first playoff series win in franchise history and is not going to give up all hope of that accomplishment this season when they have played so well all season and could earn a home ice advantage in the first round. As LeBrun notes, that means that if the Blue Jackets do in fact trade away Panarin, they would only do so knowing they could acquire another player of similar ability for a favorable price. LeBrun believes that Kekalainen continues to monitor the situation in Ottawa, as Senators forwards Matt Duchene or Mark Stone would be the most likely targets. However, if the Senators’ asking price for either Duchene or Stone is too similar to the return on a Panarin trade, the Blue Jackets lack incentive to shake up their roster for only a minor gain in trade capital. Most likely, this means that Panarin could stay in Columbus as an “own rental” rather than be traded if, of course, the Blue Jackets remain hot through the deadline, but also if the demand from Ottawa is more of a flip of trade assets from a Panarin deal. If the Blue Jackets cannot walk away from the deadline with both an immediate replacement from Panarin and significant future piece, it’s possible that the star scorer isn’t going anywhere until this summer.
- LeBrun also touches on another team having to tackle a cost-benefit analysis. The Minnesota Wild are in a tough spot; the team has been in playoff position all year, but have just one win in their past seven games since the season-ending injury to captain Mikko Koivu. At this rate, the Wild are going to miss the playoffs, as the Vancouver Canucks, Colorado Avalanche, and Arizona Coyotes are right on their tail. However, even a slight improvement could be enough for Minnesota to clinch the final wild card spot. But does that mean they shouldn’t also be sellers? LeBrun writes that without considerable improvement before the deadline, first-year GM Paul Fenton will need to seriously consider trading his most valuable rental piece, Eric Staal. Staal’s absence, especially in light of the loss of Koivu, would likely see the team fall out of playoff position. Yet, his presence likely isn’t enough to get them through the first round anyway. For what it’s worth, LeBrun adds that Staal has not made it easy on the Wild to move him. The veteran center’s trade protection includes a ten-team no-trade list, which LeBrun reports is primarily contenders. This could force Fenton’s hand when it comes to making a decision on Staal. However, even if Staal is open to a move, the team will have to consider the repercussions on their season. The return on the trade in future value would have to be worth the immense risk of missing the postseason, even with little hope of advancing.
- In updating TSN’s Trade Bait List, Frank Seravalli writes that interest is picking up on Ottawa Senators forward Ryan Dzingel. While the media, and seemingly the Senators themselves, have been primarily focused of Matt Duchene and Mark Stone, Seravalli notes that Dzingel is enjoying a career year and teams are taking notice. With his trade value at a new high, his cap hit still low, and no sign of an extension, Dzingel is certainly on the block and is a valuable asset and Seravalli feels that the chatter points toward a trade. He has moved Dzingel up to No. 19 on the list.
- Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that Los Angeles Kings forward Kyle Clifford is a person of interest for the Toronto Maple Leafs and the two sides discussed Clifford during the recent Jake Muzzin negotiations. Toronto could go back to Clifford in their pursuit of a physical, bottom-six forward before the deadline. Like the reported interest in Luke Glendening, the only problem for Toronto when it comes to Clifford is term and salary. Clifford has just one year remaining at $1.6MM, but even that might be difficult for the cap-crunched Maple Leafs to spend on a probable fourth-liner. It remains a good potential fit, but the Leafs will likely look for pure rentals before returning to Clifford, unless the Kings are willing to retain salary.