When action resumes following the All-Star break, it is the unofficial start of NHL Trade Deadline season. In fact, with a relatively early deadline day of February 24th this year, things should pick up sooner rather than later. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch came prepared to handle the transition from All-Star exit to trade mania, reporting on a number of situations in his latest “Insider Trading” column. Garrioch begins with the further shift in the status quo of the Anaheim Ducks. Anaheim began the season hoping to return to being contenders with a talented mix of veterans and youngsters. However, it has not played out that way on the ice, as the Ducks hold the second-worst record in the Western Conference. Recently, a report came out that the team was willing to use their cap space to take on bad contracts if it meant that they could add prospects and picks in return. Garrioch now reports that the team is taking it one step further, perhaps in response to winning just three of their past 15 games. He hears from multiple league sources that the Ducks are preparing for a full rebuild and are at least willing to listen on just about every player. For a team with so few valuable impending free agents – Michael Del Zotto and Derek Grant lead the way – this shift in the status quo could make for a much bigger deadline in Anaheim. Ondrej Kase, who has previously been rumored to have fallen out of favor with the team, could be one possible casualty, as could defenseman Josh Manson, who has recently been linked to a few other teams. What about Rickard Rakell, one of the best value contracts in the league and a player that any contender would like to get their hands on? Or long-term players like Cam Fowler, Adam Henrique, and Jakob Silfverberg? Franchise faces Ryan Getzlaf and John Gibson and top defender Hampus Lindholm are likely off the table, but nearly anyone else in Anaheim over the age of 24 appears to be a candidate to move at the right price.
- Garrioch mentions a number of available players, many of whom won’t comes as much of a surprise, including L.A.’s Tyler Toffoli and Alec Martinez, San Jose’s Brenden Dillon, and the Rangers’ Chris Kreider (if the team can’t re-sign him). However, he states definitively that the New Jersey Devils’ impending UFA’s are also up for grabs. This means Andy Greene, Sami Vatanen, and Wayne Simmonds, three players who many were unsure the Devils would part with, could very well be on new teams in a month’s time. As for teams in the mix, Garrioch claims that the Islanders and Jets are leading the search for defense, while the Bruins, Blues, Flames, and Coyotes are the most eager to add forwards.
- The Ottawa Senators have ten impending UFA’s on the roster, but not all of them will survive the trade deadline. Garrioch reports that GM Pierre Dorion plans to sit down with each one before the deadline and discuss the possibility of an extension before putting them on the block. At this point in their rebuild, the Senators cannot afford to let valuable players walk away as free agents, meaning the likes of Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Vladislav Namestnikov, Ron Hainsey, Mark Borowiecki, and Dylan DeMelo and more need to have made a decision on their commitment to Ottawa soon or they could be sent packing.
- On the DeMelo front in particular, Garrioch reports that the Florid Panthers are the leading suitor for the 26-year-old defenseman, should Ottawa opt to move him. He mentions that that the Carolina Hurricanes are another team with definite interest. Garrioch adds that Florida is also looking for a backup goalie, which could potentially put former Panther Craig Anderson on their radar.
- As for one player who has made up his mind on his future with Ottawa, All-Star Anthony Duclair tells Sportsnet’s Luke Fox that he hopes to re-sign long-term with the Senators. The 24-year-old has excelled since arriving in Ottawa late last season and wants to continue to play a central role for the team through their rebuild:
I just want to focus and really end the season on a positive note like I did last year, and really make a statement to the management and the coaching staff that I want to be a big part of this rebuild. I’m still a young guy. When the change is gonna happen, when Ottawa’s gonna become a contender, I want to be part of that. So I’m working as hard as I can.