The Nashville Predators made a splash yesterday when they acquired both Brian Boyle and Cody McLeod to strengthen their bottom-six. However, many continue to speculate that the Preds are not done and in fact remain one of the top players for the market’s most valued rentals forwards. That may not be so, though. NHL.com’s Dan Rosen cites an interview with GM David Poile on 104.5 The Zone in Nashville today in which he spoke about the additions of Boyle and McLeod, the return from injury for center Kyle Turris, and his hope of improvement from young winger Kevin Fiala. “If those guys can do it, we’re probably not making any more moves,” Poile stated. It seems that the veteran executive is willing to wait on pulling the trigger on another trade before he can see if the team improves internally. Poile has never been afraid to make a move at the deadline, but is also a careful dealer. “It’s a little bit of an arms race these couple weeks before the trade deadline and I don’t want to say I would react to what another team does. I mean, first and foremost, you’ve got to take care of your own team,” Poile continued, but did add that “nothing is out of the realm of possibilities… I’m making calls. I’m receiving calls. I’m just looking for an opportunity to improve our team. If that comes our way between now and Feb. 25, I’m all in.”
- One team that will play it safe at the deadline, and understandably so, are the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs have lost four games straight and eight of their last ten and have fallen out of a playoff spot, all the way to 10th-place in the Western Conference, behind both the Vancouver Canucks and St. Louis Blues for the final wild card slot. Colorado still has the talent to right the ship and reach the postseason, but their total lack of secondary scoring and their inconsistent goaltending have put them in a tough spot. GM Joe Sakic is not about to mortgage the future at the trade deadline when his team may has such serious needs and may not even make the playoffs. Sakic told The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers that he believes the team can get back into playoff position and he may look at some minor trades to help them along, but Colorado’s top trade capital is off the table. This includes both of the team’s first-round pick in 2019, their own and the Ottawa Senators’, the latter of which has strong odds of being the No. 1 overall pick. Also included in the untouchables are top defensive prospects Cale Makar and Conor Timmins and top forward prospects Shane Bowers and Martin Kaut. As such, any sellers dealing with Sakic and company should not expect an overwhelming offer for their rental players and, as a result, Avs fans should not expect fireworks at the deadline.
- The Anaheim Ducks are desperate for a shake-up. The team has just two wins in their last 19 games, including a current five-game losing streak, and have plummeted to 14th in the Western Conference. The team also has more cap space committed to their roster for next season than any other team in the NHL and are equally desperate for help alleviating that cap crunch. The result is that Ducks players not previously thought to be available are popping up on the rumor mill. It seems almost anyone on the Anaheim roster could be had in the right deal, but Adam Henrique is currently the most talked-about name. TSN’s Frank Seravalli recently moved Henrique up to No. 15 on the Trade Bait List; he had previously been off the board completely. Henrique signed a five-year extension with the Ducks back in July and will carry a $5.825MM cap hit beginning next season. Although Henrique is second in scoring for Anaheim, his 27 points through 54 games is significantly behind his production rate from last season after coming over from the New Jersey, as well as his scoring pace in most seasons with the Devils. With the Ducks in search of both re-shaped roster and a lesser payroll, the underacheiving Henrique could be on his way out of Anaheim before ever playing a full season with the team.
- TSN’s Trade Bait List also reflects another intriguing change on the trade market. Carolina Hurricanes winger Micheal Ferland, once though to be as good as gone, has fallen down the board to No. 9 overall. While still a high ranking, Seravalli notes that trade talks surrounding Ferland have cooled as the ’Canes may prefer to hold on to him. Colleague Darren Dreger recently reported the same thing, believing Carolina could use Ferland as their “own rental”. The Hurricanes are currently three points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets in pursuit of the final Eastern Conference wild card spot, and have played one more game than Columbus and the Buffalo Sabres. However, when your team has holds a league-worst nine-year playoff drought, you jump on any chance you have to get back to the postseason. Ferland is now looking increasingly likely to stay in Carolina as the team tries to make the most of their stretch run and secure a playoff berth, but their play leading up to the deadline will be the deciding factor when it comes to Ferland’s future this season.