Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek didn’t hold back on their reporting late this evening on “Hockey Night in Canada”. The duo behind “32 Thoughts” had plenty to contribute, starting with Friedman’s report on the Vancouver Canucks. With the Vancouver front office finally coming together, with Patrik Allvin being named GM of Jim Rutherford’s new-look front office, the Canucks are starting to get busy in trade talks. Although the .500 club is still in the Western Conference wild card race, the reality is that any true playoff success for Vancouver lies in the future. It should come as no surprise then that the Canucks are listening to trade offers – and not just for talked-about target J.T. Miller. Friedman reports that nearly any Vancouver forward could be had for the right price outside of captain Bo Horvat and young star Elias Pettersson. That includes Conor Garland, who the team just acquired themselves this past summer and signed to a reasonable five-year, $24.75MM deal. It is believed that the Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, New Jersey Devils, and New York Rangers are in pursuit of Garland, though there is likely no shortage of interest in the skilled forward, who has 102 points in 155 games dating back to the start of the 2019-20 season.
- The Florida Panthers are one of the biggest surprises of the season, currently leading the top-heavy Atlantic Division with a .744 points percentage that is also third-best in the NHL. The Panthers are expected to go all-in on a Stanley Cup run this season and specifically are hoping to land a legitimate top-four defenseman. As they go about working the phones, Marek reports that one major name they are dangling is Owen Tippett. The 2017 first-rounder still has yet to make his mark in the NHL, struggling to find enough consistency at the top level to stick in the Florida lineup. However, he is only 22 and still a well-regarded as well as well-liked prospect. Tippett will likely end up as the centerpiece to any big trade the Panthers make this season.
- With Jack Campbell playing at an elite level this season while Petr Mrazek has struggled with injuries and inconsistency, the latter has proven to be little more than a pricey backup for the Toronto Maple Leafs this season while the former will be the team’s offseason priority as an impending free agent. As a result, teams have begun to inquire about Mrazek’s availability. If Campbell does stay in Toronto, the team will have a proven starter and have some promising young options like Joseph Woll and Ian Scott behind him. Marek also adds that the Maple Leafs are in hot pursuit of undrafted OHL standout Mack Guzda, who would further boost the depth chart if Toronto can win a heated race for his services. This hypothetically makes Mrazek and his $3.8MM cap hit expendable, even though he just signed with Toronto this past summer. However, for now the Leafs are maintaining that Mrazek remains a part of their plans. Marek was not so sure about that, but does report that any decision on a Mrazek trade will have to wait for the offseason.
- Among the other suitors for Guzda are the Ducks, Hurricanes, Islanders, Rangers, Penguins, and Predators. (Notably, Guzda is a Tennessee native.) One of those teams is about to get much more serious in their pursuit, as well as in the trade market. Friedman notes that Anaheim is closing in on naming a general manager. While there are still several names in contention, he believes that Pat Verbeek is the odds-on favorite. Once a permanent GM is named, the Ducks will become a fascinating team to watch; they are both well within the thick of the Western Conference playoff race, yet also possess numerous high-value rentals.