Brian Gionta may have been invisible at the Olympics, but he still managed to catch the eye of one NHL team. The USA captain failed to record a point, took only 16 shots, and cleanly lost several face-offs in an effort that seemingly had quieted the talk of his NHL comeback. However, WGR 550 in Buffalo is reporting that Gionta is finalizing a deal to join a team for the remainder of the season. Gionta must sign by the trade deadline Monday to be eligible for postseason play, but WGR’s Paul Hamilton spoke with agent Steve Bartlett, who says to expect a deal with a “playoff-bound team” sometime this weekend. Despite a lackluster performance in Pyeongchang, Gionta is less than a year removed from an 82-game, 35-point campaign with the Buffalo Sabres in 2016-17 and was eager to re-sign with Buffalo this off-season, only to be rejected by the new administration. Having worked out during the year, including skating with the AHL’s Rochester Americans, Gionta is ready to go. The only question is whether he plays like he did with the Sabres last year or with Team USA last week.
- The St. Louis Blues announced that they have activated Nikita Soshnikov off of injured reserve and he could soon make his debut for the team. Soshnikov was acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs last week for a fourth-round pick, but was on IR when traded (because of course he was “injured”, the Leafs weren’t just circumventing roster limits) and remained there after the move. With the Blues on a three-game losing streak and playing poorly for weeks now, maybe Soshnikov can be the injection into the St. Louis lineup that gets the team back on track. The 24-year-old has been a near point-per-game player in the AHL this season, but without the same success at the NHL level.
- With Soshnikov and Eric Fehr now out of town, the Leafs’ lineup has opened up enough to finally give Josh Leivo some play time. TSN’s Mark Masters reports that Leivo is in the lineup for tonight’s game, his first game action in months. The 24-year-old is no longer waivers-exempt, so Toronto has refrained from trying to move him to the AHL at any point this season. As a result, Leivo has skated in only 12 NHL games this season, the last of which came back in December. When Leivo takes the ice tonight against the Boston Bruins, it will be his first game action of 2018. Despite being cold and having little production to show for his limited ice time this season, its no coincidence that Leivo is finally getting into a game just prior to the trade deadline. While it’s been disputed whether or not he has asked for a trade out of Toronto, Leivo could easily just be in the lineup tonight for the purposes of being showcased to other teams.