As the Vancouver Canucks’ season descends further and further into an inescapable disappointment, TSN’s Darren Dreger states on “Insider Trading” this evening that no impending free agent in Vancouver is off limits to suitors. However, that doesn’t mean that all current impending free agents will remain as such through the trade deadline in just over five weeks. Dreger notes that the Canucks would prefer to re-sign forward Tanner Pearson, who is coming off a career year in 2019-20. Negotiations on a new contract have not yet begun, but GM Jim Benning would like to start talks as soon as possible in order to have a clear picture ahead of the deadline. If there is no meeting of the minds on a potential extension and seemingly little chance of progress ahead of the deadline, the Canucks will have to trade Pearson. The two-way winger is their most valuable rental trade chip, as depth options Brandon Sutter, Sven Baertschi, and Jordie Benn have lofty cap hits relative to their value and veteran defensemen Alex Edler and Travis Hamonic have No-Movement Clauses that they may not be eager to waive. If the Canucks can’t re-sign Pearson before the deadline, or at least get a handshake agreement in place, trading him to a contender is their best chance of leaving the deadline with a nice haul of picks or prospects without having to move a term player.
- The rival Calgary Flames are currently buyers and their biggest need is a winger, but Pearson doesn’t meet their most important criteria. TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports that Calgary GM Brad Treliving is on the hunt for a right winger and, more specifically, a natural right-handed shooting right winger. The Flames’ best right-shot forward is Elias Lindholm and, while he has played on the wing many times before, the team prefers his fit at center. Unfortunately, that leaves the club with a lack of top-six caliber righties to put on the wing. Josh Leivo, Brett Ritchie, and the recently-waived Dominik Simon (a lefty) have not been the answer. The team also prefers to keep top-nine lefties like Andrew Mangiapane and Dillon Dube on the left side if possible and certainly do not want both on their off side. As a result, Calgary is seeking a trade partner. Seravalli does not address whether the Flames are only seeking rentals or if, seeing as the righty problem isn’t going away, they are looking at all options. The team already faces some difficult Expansion Draft decisions in regards to its deep forward corps, so a term acquisition could prove problematic. Among rentals, New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri and Nikita Gusev or Detroit’s Bobby Ryan stand out as the few top available options at a shallow position on the market.
- Seravalli notes that another team with a very specific need could be the Washington Capitals. While Washington has received a stellar performance in net from rookie Vitek Vanecek, pressed into the starting role temporarily while Ilya Samsonov was sidelined, both Samsonov and Vanecek lack a crucial component to playoff success: experience. Seravalli wonders if the Capitals trust the young tandem enough to ride them into the playoffs, with veteran Craig Anderson as the third-string, or if the team needs to make a trade. Bob McKenzie echoed this same concern on NBC Sports on Wednesday. Experienced rental options include Devan Dubnyk, Antti Raanta, Jonathan Bernier, and possibly Pekka Rinne. But the question becomes whether or not any of these older goalies are an upgrade to Vanecek based only on experience, as only Rinne has outplayed him this season.
- While it should come as no surprise to anyone who has reviewed their salary cap status, Bob McKenzie appeared on NBC Sports’ broadcast on Wednesday night and essentially stated that the Boston Bruins have the cap flexibility to do whatever they want at the trade deadline. He added that the team is in this situation “by design” and that GM Don Sweeney is open to any and all possibilities. The Bruins have dealt with injuries on defense and at forward and have experience concerns on the back end and scoring issues up front, so fans were happy to hear McKenzie say they could add a prominent defenseman or forward, “or both”. Currently pressed by injuries, the Bruins have just under $3.5MM in cap space which still prorates to nearly $8.7MM at the deadline, per CapFriendly. However, the Bruins banked cap space earlier this season when they had fewer injuries and could still get healthier before the trade deadline. With no one on the injured reserve eating up cap space at the deadline, CapFriendly estimates that Boston could have upwards of $12.7MM in prorated cap space. For context, that could be enough to add top-priced rental Taylor Hall and a defenseman like Ryan Murray while staying under the cap. The Bruins will be a team to watch over the next five weeks.