With the Winnipeg Jets continuing to slide further and further from playoff contention this season, the team will have to begin entertaining trade offers. While impending free agents like Dmitry Kulikov, Luca Sbisa, and Gabriel Bourque could be the most likely trade casualties, Mike McIntyre of the Winnipeg Free Press writes that the team is receiving considerable interest in top line winger Kyle Connor. Normally, a player like Connor, who is skating more than 20 minutes per night and leading the team in goal scoring at the age of 23, would be untouchable. However, the Jets are deep up front and in desperate need of a new cornerstone on defense and the possibility of landing an elite young player or prospect who could fill that void may have them at least listening to offers for Connor. The division rival Colorado Avalanche are reportedly leading the hunt, with 2019 No. 4 overall pick Bowen Byram being the core piece that would head to the Jets. A young defenseman of Byram’s caliber would be a huge addition to the Winnipeg pipeline, but would not be able to play a top-pair role for a few years still to come. Is that enough to part with a player like Connor? McIntyre is skeptical and reiterates that in no way are the Jets shopping their young star. After all, they just signed Connor to a seven-year, $50MM extension back in September. However, given their disappointing season and bleak outlook on the blue line, it cannot be ruled out that the right price – Byram or otherwise – could entice the Jets to move Connor.
- A difficult season for Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere continued not only in his last game, but in his last practice as well. Gostisbehere, who has missed 13 games this season due to injury and has struggled even when healthy, drew back into the Flyers’ lineup on Thursday night. The team proceeded to drop an embarrassing 5-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils, in which the pairing of Gostisbehere and Justin Braun were of little help. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Ed Barkowitz recounts that Gostisbehere’s frustration boiled over in practice on Friday. The blue liner whiffed on a shot late in practice and responded by hurling his stick over the glass and storming off the ice. While Barkowitz makes no mention of any possible discipline for Gostisbehere as a result of this incident, there is a strong chance that he will take a seat for Saturday’s match-up against the Washington Capitals. While it may seem like Gostisbehere is wearing out his welcome in Philly with lacking results and now visible distress, head coach Alain Vigneault did acknowledge to Barkowitz that the team likely erred in rushing Gostisbehere back from his knee surgery rather than allowing him to serve a rehab stint in the AHL. But with the deed done, both sides have to live with the current situation. Or do they? Gostisbehere remains a hot name on the trade market and with the Flyers fighting for a playoff spot and needing help up front, a trade seems like a strong possibility. Gostisbehere is only 26 and has three years remaining on his current contract, but this seems like a situation where both sides might benefit from a fresh start. With each of their next five games coming against an Eastern Conference team currently in playoff position, a crucial stretch for the Flyers’ own postseason hopes, perhaps a Gostisbehere deal will come sooner rather than later.
- The Flyers are one of a number of teams who could benefit from bringing in a center at the deadline. However, TSN’s Frank Seravalli points out that this is the weakest position in the current trade market. The top available option is Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who some believe the team would rather re-sign than deal. Beyond that, the only other two centers on TSN’s Trade Bait List are Nashville’s Kyle Turris, and his remaining four years and $24MM, and Detroit’s veteran pivot Valtteri Filppula. Beyond that, Seravalli lists impending UFA’s Derek Grant of Anaheim and Nate Thompson of Montreal and younger players like San Jose’s Barclay Goodrow and Ottawa’s Chris Tierney as the top options. Once Pageau is off the board – or worse, if he isn’t traded at all – it is slim pickings down the middle on the trade market. Seravalli lists the Oilers, Capitals, and Jets as teams joining Philadelphia in the pursuit of a center, but not all of these teams will leave the deadline happy.