After years of mediocrity, the NHL’s Canadian teams have come to play in 2019-20 and are at the forefront of many of the trade deadline’s biggest story lines. However, perhaps the even bigger surprise than the Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks being buyers is that the Toronto Maple Leafs could end up as sellers. In a very Canada-centric segment of TSN’s “Insider Trading”, Bob McKenzie reports that, following a difficult week, the Leafs have begun to receive calls on pending UFA defenseman Tyson Barrie, the team’s big off-season addition. McKenzie notes that this could have just as much to do with a suddenly barren defense market as it does with other teams doubting Toronto’s playoff chances, but regardless the team has not closed the door on a possible deal. Barrie has been a poor fit with the Maple Leafs but could benefit a number of other teams down the stretch and in the postseason. The team has seen the high prices that sellers have received so far and could be enticed to make a move of their own. However, McKenzie does note that Toronto is not expected to move Barrie without receiving a defenseman with term in exchange or without a second deal in place to flip picks and prospects for that elusive top-four right-shot defender.
- The Vancouver Canucks already made a big splash with the acquisition of Tyler Toffoli, but they remain interested in the New Jersey Devils’ Wayne Simmonds as well, a target of theirs since last summer. However, Pierre LeBrun reports that the two sides have not been able to work out the salary cap details in a way that would make the addition work for the strapped Canucks. He suspects that this due to the likelihood that Brock Boeser will return from injury prior to the end of the regular season and the team must account for that cap increase. Seemingly at an impasse, talks are dead for the time being. However, Vancouver could circle back closer to the deadline if Simmonds still has not been dealt and the Devils are willing to be more flexible.
- Yet again, the Ottawa Senators are one of the primary sellers at the deadline. While their offerings this year pale in comparison to last, they could still turn a nice profit with their current pieces. The insiders note that Vladislav Namestnikov is a healthy scratch tonight (and for the foreseeable future), as the Senators have at least four concrete offers on the table for the versatile forward. Toronto, Winnipeg, Colorado, and Columbus are named as the teams known to have interest, but there are likely more in play. Additionally, value veteran Tyler Ennis could be a nice depth piece for a contender and Edmonton is reportedly the front runner for his services. However, the biggest trade chip in Ottawa is center Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and the news tonight is that the two sides have actually begun formal extension talks. While the Senators continue to field offers, it is believed that they have set a high asking price and would prefer to re-sign Pageau. LeBrun even wonders if they would risk keeping him past the deadline without a new deal if the camps are close, especially given the departure of homegrown talent at this time last year.
- The Montreal Canadiens have a suspicious healthy scratch of their own tonight in Artturi Lehkonen, who has remained out of the trade deadline limelight until now. The 24-year-old winger can be streaky, but is on pace for a career high in points this season nonetheless and still has one year left on his contract before becoming a restricted free agent. It remains to be seen if this decision is even related to a possible deal and, if so, whether Lehkonen is for sale by himself or rather part of a bigger deal. Despite the newfound confusion surrounding Lehkonen, the focus in Montreal remains on Ilya Kovalchuk. The veteran scorer is definitely drawing interest, but LeBrun reports that a framework for a one-year, bonus-laden contract extension is also in place if the Habs opt to keep him. Kovalchuk has proven to be a tremendous fit in Montreal and the team may want to hold on to that positive note in an otherwise disappointing season.