The IIHF World Championship gets underway in just a few weeks and USA Hockey has announced the first group of players that will be suiting up for them. GM Chris Drury released 17 names that will be taking part, including captain Patrick Kane. The group is an impressive list of NHL stars that could very well bring home the country’s first gold medal at the tournament in nearly 60 years. The roster so far is as follows:
With the trade deadline quickly approaching, we will be profiling several players in the weeks ahead that have a good chance to be dealt by February 25th.
Incremental fourth line upgrades are rarely exciting but several playoff-bound teams will be looking to make them over the next week. With that in mind, Detroit center Luke Glendening is once again in trade speculation and could soon find himself on the move.
Glendening is in the second season of a four-year, $7.2MM deal that’s slightly front-loaded. The total salary over the final two years of the deal is $3.2MM. There isn’t any form of trade protection in the contract.
Heading into the season, it seemed likely that Glendening would bounce between the third and fourth lines and play his usual checking role. Instead, he has been asked to play a more substantial role as he has been a fixture on the third line while even dabbling in Detroit’s top six from time to time. As a result, he’s on pace for career highs across the board offensively while still being one of the stronger players at the faceoff dot in the league; he ranks tenth league-wide in faceoff percentage (56.2%) among players with at least 500 draws taken this season.
60 GP, 9 goals, 11 assists, 20 points, +8 rating, 15 PIMS, 84 shots, 15:47 ATOI, 41.6 CF%
With two years left on his deal after this one, Glendening is someone that non-contenders could, at least in theory, look to add to upgrade their bottom six with an eye on next season. That said, the likeliest suitors are those that are looking to win now and want a faceoff/penalty kill type of specialist.
In the East, Toronto has been linked to Glendening already and had interest in him last season as well. Their fourth line center situation hasn’t been the greatest this season with rookies Par Lindholm and Frederik Gauthier having varying degrees of success in that role. Head coach Mike Babcock is also familiar with him from his days in Detroit. However, a $1.8MM AAV without any sort of offset may be too much of a premium for a team that’s pegged to be very tight to the Upper Limit beyond this season. Columbus has had all sorts of issues with center depth as of late and could certainly view him as some stability at that spot. Boston hasn’t really replaced Riley Nash (who is now with Columbus after leaving as a free agent) and while their eyes are set on more of an impact pivot at this stage, that could change if the top names go elsewhere.
Out West, Colorado isn’t interested in rental help but would like to make some sort of upgrade. They’re near the bottom of the league at the faceoff dot and would slot in nicely on their fourth line. Dallas could be in the market for depth down the middle with Martin Hanzal potentially done for the year and Jason Spezza (who has seen some time at center this season) set to become a free agent this summer. With St. Louis all of a sudden looking like possible buyers, Glendening could be the type of small upgrade they target while leaving the core parts of their roster intact.
Likelihood Of A Trade
Between his faceoff prowess and positional versatility, Red Wings GM Ken Holland should be fielding quite a few calls on Glendening if he hasn’t done so already. However, the odds of a trade getting done will likely come down to whether or not they’re willing to pay down part of the contract (they can retain up to 50%) or take a player back to offset money that way. While the 29-year-old would certainly help some contenders, his cap hit is high for someone that’s primarily going to be a fourth liner on those teams. If Detroit’s willing to do that, there’s a good chance he’ll be on the move with the Red Wings picking up a pretty good return for Glendening’s services.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
With the trade deadline fast approaching, we continue our look at the situation for each team over the coming weeks. Where do they stand, what do they need to do, and what assets do they have to fill those needs? As we continue with the Atlantic Division, here is a look at the Detroit Red Wings.
By every metric, the Detroit Red Wings should be total sellers at the deadline and they have a laundry list of notable UFA’s to move. Yet, the team claims they would prefer to re-sign starting goaltender Jimmy Howard, top-six forward Gustav Nyquist, and dependable defenseman Nick Jensen. There is also word that veterans Thomas Vanek and Niklas Kronwall are happy in Detroit and unwilling to waive their No-Trade Clauses. That doesn’t leave much on the table.
In most cases, these rumors could be dismissed as the team simply trying to up the offers on their available rentals. But not in Detroit. The fatal flaw of the current Red Wings franchise and GM Ken Holland is total, unapologetic loyalty to long-time players. If a team says they won’t move someone or will only do so for a first-round pick, this is the one team worth believing. It could be a quiet deadline in Detroit.
23-28-7, seventh in the Atlantic Division
Deadline Cap Space
$5.06MM in full-season cap hit, 0/3 used salary cap retention slots, 48/50 contracts per CapFriendly
Upcoming Draft Picks
2019: DET 1st, DET 2nd, NYI 2nd, DET 3rd, DET 4th, DET 5th, BUF 5th, CLB 5th, DET 6th, DET 7th
2020: DET 1st, DET 2nd, DET 3rd, DET 4th, DET 5th, DET 6th, DET 7th
Of course, the aforementioned players are the top trade chips that the team has. Howard and Nyquist are having great years and are surely drawing plenty of attention. Will Detroit get the first-round pick they desire to move either? That remains to be seen. Jensen and Kronwall could both step in as a solid bottom-pair addition for a contender, while Vanek would fill his frequent role as a capable depth addition to any forward corps. The fact remains that if any of these players want to stay in Detroit beyond this season, the Red Wings are unlikely to move them, extension in place or not.
So looking elsewhere, Luke Witkowski is a UFA that the Red Wings don’t seem as attached to. The market may be limited for the versatile skater, but if a team wants to take a shot, Detroit will be willing to move on. Recently waived and demoted, Martin Frk is in need of a change of scenery. Frk is a restricted free agent this summer and any number of teams might like to get a look at how he fits in their system down the stretch. The one-dimensional forward is more valuable now that he has cleared waivers and can be sent back and forth. Wade Megan, Dylan McIlrath, Brian Lashoff, and Harri Sateri are all free agents as well who could be targeted as deep depth additions.
The Jonathan Bernier signing looks like a mistake so far and the Red Wings seem eager to re-sign Howard rather than give Bernier the starting job. If another team is willing to take on the remaining two years of Bernier’s contract, Detroit would move him. Luke Glendening is another term player who could be on the move. He is still well-liked by the organization, but if the market is there they could move him. As always, if there was any way to move Justin Abdelkader or Danny DeKeyser, you would think Detroit would pull the trigger. Then again there’s that whole loyalty thing…
1) Cap Space: For several years now, the Red Wings have had one of the highest payrolls in the NHL, yet have been one of the league’s worst teams. That’s not a good mix. The flip side of wanting to re-sign top free agents, like Howard and Nyquist, is that you’re not opening up any more cap space. If Detroit wants to be players on the free agent market this summer, they need to try to move out some of their more cumbersome cap hits if possible.
2) Picks and Prospects: The Red Wings have a lot of good talent in the AHL and some others still at the junior and collegiate level. Adding picks, especially 2019 picks in a deep, talented draft class, is always helpful, though. However, there should room for some camp battles next season, particularly up front, so some pro-ready forward prospects would also be helpful.
For all the talk of an Artemi Panarin trade, The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun cautions that the Columbus Blue Jackets keeping the star forward as an “own rental” is a very real possibility. Lebrun believes that it is all a cost-benefit analysis for the team, “because there’s almost no chance GM Jarmo Kekalainen simply sells off Panarin without also trying to replace him in some fashion via a separate transaction.” The Blue Jackets are on a four-game winning streak and, with a win last night over the Washington Capitals, leapfrogged their rivals in points percentage to put them on pace to finish second in the Metropolitan Division. Columbus is still searching for it’s first playoff series win in franchise history and is not going to give up all hope of that accomplishment this season when they have played so well all season and could earn a home ice advantage in the first round. As LeBrun notes, that means that if the Blue Jackets do in fact trade away Panarin, they would only do so knowing they could acquire another player of similar ability for a favorable price. LeBrun believes that Kekalainen continues to monitor the situation in Ottawa, as Senators forwards Matt Duchene or Mark Stone would be the most likely targets. However, if the Senators’ asking price for either Duchene or Stone is too similar to the return on a Panarin trade, the Blue Jackets lack incentive to shake up their roster for only a minor gain in trade capital. Most likely, this means that Panarin could stay in Columbus as an “own rental” rather than be traded if, of course, the Blue Jackets remain hot through the deadline, but also if the demand from Ottawa is more of a flip of trade assets from a Panarin deal. If the Blue Jackets cannot walk away from the deadline with both an immediate replacement from Panarin and significant future piece, it’s possible that the star scorer isn’t going anywhere until this summer.
- LeBrun also touches on another team having to tackle a cost-benefit analysis. The Minnesota Wild are in a tough spot; the team has been in playoff position all year, but have just one win in their past seven games since the season-ending injury to captain Mikko Koivu. At this rate, the Wild are going to miss the playoffs, as the Vancouver Canucks, Colorado Avalanche, and Arizona Coyotes are right on their tail. However, even a slight improvement could be enough for Minnesota to clinch the final wild card spot. But does that mean they shouldn’t also be sellers? LeBrun writes that without considerable improvement before the deadline, first-year GM Paul Fenton will need to seriously consider trading his most valuable rental piece, Eric Staal. Staal’s absence, especially in light of the loss of Koivu, would likely see the team fall out of playoff position. Yet, his presence likely isn’t enough to get them through the first round anyway. For what it’s worth, LeBrun adds that Staal has not made it easy on the Wild to move him. The veteran center’s trade protection includes a ten-team no-trade list, which LeBrun reports is primarily contenders. This could force Fenton’s hand when it comes to making a decision on Staal. However, even if Staal is open to a move, the team will have to consider the repercussions on their season. The return on the trade in future value would have to be worth the immense risk of missing the postseason, even with little hope of advancing.
- In updating TSN’s Trade Bait List, Frank Seravalli writes that interest is picking up on Ottawa Senators forward Ryan Dzingel. While the media, and seemingly the Senators themselves, have been primarily focused of Matt Duchene and Mark Stone, Seravalli notes that Dzingel is enjoying a career year and teams are taking notice. With his trade value at a new high, his cap hit still low, and no sign of an extension, Dzingel is certainly on the block and is a valuable asset and Seravalli feels that the chatter points toward a trade. He has moved Dzingel up to No. 19 on the list.
- Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that Los Angeles Kings forward Kyle Clifford is a person of interest for the Toronto Maple Leafs and the two sides discussed Clifford during the recent Jake Muzzin negotiations. Toronto could go back to Clifford in their pursuit of a physical, bottom-six forward before the deadline. Like the reported interest in Luke Glendening, the only problem for Toronto when it comes to Clifford is term and salary. Clifford has just one year remaining at $1.6MM, but even that might be difficult for the cap-crunched Maple Leafs to spend on a probable fourth-liner. It remains a good potential fit, but the Leafs will likely look for pure rentals before returning to Clifford, unless the Kings are willing to retain salary.
With the trade deadline fast approaching, we continue our look at the situation for each team over the coming weeks. Where do they stand, what do they need to do, and what assets do they have to fill those needs? As we keep going with the Atlantic Division, here is a look at the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have already made a major move. GM Kyle Dubas got a jump start on the deadline market and acquired Los Angeles Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin two weeks ago. It was a much-needed addition of a top-pair caliber defender to a team that had concerning depth. However, Toronto also surrendered their 2019 first-round pick and arguably two of their top five prospects in the process.
With a major asset added and significant trade capital lost, should Dubas and the Maple Leafs refrain from making any more moves? Absolutely not. Toronto has the luxury of cap space this season and it will be a very, very long time before that happens again. The team must be mindful of entry-level bonuses and the cap impact next year if they carry over, but should take advantage of this opportunity to spend. As good as the team has been this season, there are still holes in the lineup that can be filled. The Leafs are also trying to hold off the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens in the divisional race, but almost surely will face one or the other in the first round of the postseason and then, if they’re lucky, the league leading Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round. The Atlantic Division is stacked and if Toronto wants to take advantage of a strong roster and ample cap space before an impending salary crunch potentially reshapes their roster this summer, they should be all-out buyers at the deadline. A Stanley Cup title is within reach, but reinforcements would certainly help.
34-18-3, second in the Atlantic Division
Deadline Cap Space
$20.09MM in full-season cap hit, 1/3 used salary cap retention slots, 46/50 contracts per CapFriendly
Upcoming Draft Picks
2019: TOR 2nd, TOR 3rd, STL 4th, TOR 4th, TOR 5th, DAL 7th, TOR 7th
2020: TOR 1st, TOR 2nd, TOR 3rd, TOR 4th, TOR 6th, EDM 7th, SJ 7th, TOR 7th
The Maple Leafs are more likely than not going to make several smaller moves as the deadline approaches rather than another Muzzin deal. Fortunately, that means that the team can likely get away with making young roster forwards Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson and top prospect defenseman Rasmus Sandin untouchable.
However, everything else will still be on the table. That includes more draft picks, although the team’s second-round selection this year will likely be difficult to pry away after losing their first-rounder already. More so, it includes several other intriguing prospects that belong to the team. Some believe that another high-end defensive prospect, Tim Liljegren, is also an untouchable for the Leafs, while others say that he can be had in the right deal. If Toronto is pursuing one of the top names at their positions of need and no longer has a first-round pick this year to offer, Liljegren could be the next-best thing to sellers. Fellow AHL defenseman, Calle Rosen, is having quite a year for the Marlies and could also draw interest. 2017 second-round pick Eemeli Rasanen, currently skating in the KHL, is an interesting trade possibility, as is OHL standout Mac Hollowell, a fourth-round pick last year.
Up front, Jeremy Bracco has established himself as the next impact young forward for the Maple Leafs, if he can survive that long. Bracco, a 2015 second-round pick, is enjoying a point-per-game campaign with the Marlies that is sure to have caught some eyes around the league. Toronto would hate to part with an affordable scoring option for next season, but offering up Bracco could go a long way in trade talks. Trevor Moore could also fight for a spot on the Leafs next year, but is older and has less upside and would hurt less to part with. Semyon Der-Arguchintsev is an intriguing junior prospect to keep an eye on, too.
The Maple Leafs are hoping that Boston College goaltender Joseph Woll, a 2016 third-round pick, will turn pro after his junior year and provide some upside and talent in the AHL. However, does that make Woll untouchable? If Toronto thinks he may return for his senior season at BC, they could be willing to move him. The team may also feel more strongly about another goalie prospect, WHL star Ian Scott, as their keeper of the future, making Woll more expendable. It’s doubtful that the team moves Woll, but there are factors that could convince them to part with the promising netminder for the right return.
Then there is a subset of the players that Toronto is hoping to use as trade chips at the deadline. While there are positions of need at the deadline, cap space moving forward is the most important asset for Toronto. The Maple Leafs have a near-impossible cap crunch coming this off-season and could benefit from moving out expensive long-term contracts for extraneous players. Defenseman Nikita Zaitsev is the main target; the 27-year-old has five seasons remaining at $4.5MM AAV and has regressed greatly this season. The Leafs will move him if at all possible. Forward Connor Brown, signed through next season at $2.1MM, has also seen his production slip this year and could be used in a hockey deal for a similar style rental.
1) Fourth-line Center: Last season, the Maple Leafs traded for Tomas Plekanec at the deadline. The year before, it was Brian Boyle and Eric Fehr. This is a team that loves to strengthen their checking line, particularly down the middle, and that is a need once again this season. It could be a need that is met very cheaply by any number of veteran two-way centers on expiring contracts. Players that fit that description aren’t often hard to come by. In fact, Fehr may even be available again if the Minnesota Wild fall out of the playoff race. Toronto has been connected to the Detroit Red Wings’ Luke Glendening, but the term on his contract is a concern. Another interesting possibility is the Chicago Blackhawks’ Marcus Kruger.
2) Right-shot Defenseman: Even after acquiring Muzzin, there is still talk that the team would like to add a natural right-handed defenseman. The team has decent depth in right shots in Zaitsev, Igor Ozhiganov, and Justin Holl, but the thought is that they could acquire an upgrade to that group, effectively making them all backup options in the postseason. How much trade capital the Leafs want to spend on a yet another defenseman remains to be seen, but a physical veteran like the New Jersey Devils’ Ben Lovejoy or the New York Rangers’ Adam McQuaid would be a good fit.
3) Depth Forward: Reiterating the intro, if there is cap space available – in consideration of bonus overages – the Leafs need to use it. Another rental forward, even without an obvious fit in the lineup, would come in handy. The team has previously been linked to the Carolina Hurricanes’ Micheal Ferland and the New York Rangers’ Mats Zuccarello, among others. If they can make it work to add another scoring forward like that, they may as well pull the trigger. Any team in the Atlantic Division can use all the help they can get surviving the postseason.
The Toronto Maple Leafs showed interest in Detroit Red Wings forward Luke Glendening last season, but ended up adding Tomas Plekanec at the deadline instead. That interest hasn’t waned according to Frank Seravalli of TSN, who reports that the Maple Leafs have “kicked the tires” on Glendening again. Seravalli suggests a deal would need the Red Wings to retain salary on the fourth-line center, who carries a cap hit of $1.8MM in each of the next two seasons.
The 29-year old Glendening is an excellent faceoff man and penalty killer, and is actually having the best offensive season of his career. Receiving more minutes than ever before, Glendening has 18 points in 54 minutes, on pace to easily cruise by his career-high of 21. That has also come with a surprisingly good +9 rating, despite still seeing heavy defensive zone deployment and losing the possession battle badly.
Toronto currently employs a pair of natural centers on the fourth line, with Frederik Gauthier usually playing in the middle with Par Lindholm on his wing. One of those two would likely be taken out of the lineup in favor of Glendening, a favorite of Mike Babcock since his days with the Red Wings. There’s no guarantee that Glendening would actually have a bigger impact than either of those two on the ice, though his leadership and work ethic has long been admired around the league.
The question them comes down to price, and Seravalli suggests that it would start with a second-round pick given the recent Brian Boyle trade. The Maple Leafs have already sent their first-round selection to Los Angeles for Jake Muzzin, and are also short a sixth-round pick in this year’s draft. Toronto obviously believes this is a year they can compete for the Stanley Cup, but have to be careful about sending away too many draft picks before they’ve even won a playoff round. Still, if Detroit is willing to retain salary on Glendening he could give the team a little more cost certainty on the fourth line for the next few years when cash will be tight.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images
The Detroit Red Wings are off to a 1-5-2 start in 2018-19, the worst record in the NHL. They have yet to win one game in regulation, but already have two losses of four or more goals. The team is among the worst in the league in goals for and goals against, with rookie forward Christoffer Ehn as the only player on the roster sporting a positive rating. There is simply little to like about Detroit so far this season.
Despite all of this, The Detroit News’ Ted Kulfan says not to expect any major changes, at least not yet. In fact, Kulfan actually encourages the team to hold on to head coach Jeff Blashill, who many expected to be the first to go if things went south this year. Kulfan points out that Blashill is in the final year of his contract and almost certainly not returning next season, but assistant and expected replacement Dan Bylsma is unlikely to have any better luck with this current roster and may as well get a fresh start with a refurbished lineup in 2019-20. Kulfan’s suggestion seems to be one that the Red Wings have seemingly already adopted; Bylsma has long been expected to take over for Blashill, who has been on the hot seat for some time, but no move has been made. A tough start to a season expected to be spent in the basement of the league is not going to change their plan so easily.
Kulfan implies that the team’s best plan of action, and the one they will most likely follow, is to first get healthy, evaluate their roster once it more closely resembles their off-season estimation, and then only after that begin to consider trading away pieces ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline. The Red Wings have little incentive not to test the market value of their impending free agents – Gustav Nyquist, Thomas Vanek, Jimmy Howard, and Niklas Kronwall – as well as others like Luke Glendening, Trevor Daley, or Jonathan Ericsson, but the team can afford to be patient with those decisions this season. In terms of their more prized younger players, don’t be surprised to see Detroit hold off on trading any of those such players, unless they are blown away by an offer such at the Tomas Tatar trade last year.
It could be a quiet season in Detroit and will almost certainly be a disappointing one. However, if the franchise is going to get back on track any time soon, avoiding any more mistakes is the first step. Patience and well-thought out roster decisions are a necessity this season.
Red Wings center Luke Glendening was linked to the Maple Leafs towards the trade deadline as the team was seeking fourth line center help and head coach Mike Babcock is certainly familiar with him from his own time in Detroit. However, MLive’s Ansar Khan notes that former Toronto GM Lou Lamoriello wasn’t as enamored with the 29-year-old which was why they were only offering up a late-round pick for his services.
With the Leafs still not quite set at that fourth line center spot – rookie Par Lindholm appears to be an early contender for the position, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Red Wings circle back to see if new Toronto GM Kyle Dubas would be willing to offer a bit more now. Red Wings GM Ken Holland has acknowledged that they may need to clear a little bit of payroll off their books and moving Glendening – who has three years left with an AAV of $1.8MM – should allow them to get under the Upper Limit regardless of Henrik Zetterberg’s situation while filling a need on Toronto as well.
Elsewhere out East:
- After being active near the trade deadline last season, NBC Sports’ Adam Gretz suggests that the Rangers may be a team to watch for on the trade front again in 2018-19. New York has a pair of notable forwards that are slated to be unrestricted next summer in winger Mats Zuccarello and center Kevin Hayes and with the team firmly committed to a rebuild, those two could very well be on the move in the coming months.
- Maple Leafs winger William Nylander remains unsigned and is the most prominent restricted free agent remaining on the market. In an appearance on the Steve Dangle podcast (video link), Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston suggested that it may still be a few more weeks before a deal gets done. He viewed the opening of training camp (September 13th) as an artificial deadline to get something done and that it’s certainly possible that it could go a day or two beyond that as well. Nylander’s case has been well documented already and it will be interesting to see if Toronto can reach a long-term agreement or if they opt for a bridge deal to keep his cap hit down in the short-term.
Although the St. Louis Blues are dangerously close to the salary cap ceiling and the defending Stanley Cup champs of the past three years, the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, are within an uncomfortable distance, the Detroit Red Wings are the only team who have surpassed the NHL’s $79.5MM limit at this point in time. When the team re-signed franchise center Dylan Larkin to a five-year, $30.5MM contract last week, his $6.1MM salary boosted Detroit’s payroll for the coming season to $82.772MM for just 21 players. The Red Wings currently sit more than $3.2MM over the salary cap with a roster that contains just six defenseman. While the NHL CBA allows teams to surpass the cap by 10% in the off-season – up to $87.45MM – the Red Wings must clear enough space to begin the season under the cap.
Once the season is underway, the salary cap is unlikely to be much of an issue. Johan Franzen, who last played in October of 2015, has been sidelined with post-concussion symptoms for the past three seasons and is almost surely not going to return to the Detroit lineup. His $3.955MM contract on the long-term injured reserve will wipe out all of the Red Wings’ cap overages. Additionally, it remains a very real possibility that captain Henrik Zetterberg may also be on the shelf this year and possibly done with his hockey career altogether, with a nagging back injury reportedly making his availability over the final two years of his contract an “unknown”. If Zetterberg doesn’t play, his $6MM cap hit added to Franzen’s on LTIR would give the Wings more than enough space.
However, injured reserve transactions cannot be made until after the official start of the NHL season. This has previously caused teams to trade away players unlikely to ever play again due to health, with the Chicago Blackhawks’ Marian Hossa as the latest example, even though their cap hits can be absorbed. A team tight against the cap, like Detroit, may struggle to manipulate their roster enough to fit those injured players under the cap on day one. As such, the easiest way that the team could get under the cap prior to the start of the season would be to find a taker for Franzen’s contract. The Wings would have to part with a pick or prospect, but may be able to unload the deal to a team far from the cap ceiling. If Detroit is certain that Zetterberg is also done, they could do the same with his contract, although a higher cap hit means parting with greater trade capital.
Barring an injured player salary dump, the Red Wings are likely left with the reality that they must trade a roster player in the next two months. The team may be able to sneak players like Martin Frk and Luke Witkowski through waivers before the season begins, but it would not result in enough savings to make a difference. Detroit would be unlikely to expose anyone else to waivers simply to clear space briefly. As such, it appears as if someone must go. While Red Wings fans and leadership alike might like the idea of shipping an aging defenseman like Niklas Kronwall or Jonathan Ericsson away or trying to sweet talk some team into taking on the behemoth contract of Frans Nielsen or Justin Abdelkader, it would be a surprise to see any team with interest in that foursome. The likes of Danny DeKeyser and Trevor Daley may also be immovable for a team rife with poor contracts. Instead, impending free agent Gustav Nyquist or two-way center Darren Helm are the most likely candidates, while a player like Luke Glendening heading elsewhere paired with some clever waiver action could do the trick. There is also a chance that, if he proves to be healthy, some team might be interested in Zetterberg.
It’s never a great situation for a team to be forced into trading away assets simply to become cap compliant for one day, but trading away an older player would nevertheless be a step in the right direction for a team that has never truly embraced a rebuild. Opening up salary with a trade, as well as an LTIR placement for Franzen, would allow the Red Wings some flexibility to test out some young players this season while building around their established young core, headlined by Larkin. The salary cap crunch could prove to be their ally long-term, but in the short-term the team is left with little option but to make a move and hope for the best.
The Boston Bruins continue to get healthier as NBC Sports’ Joe Haggerty reports that Rick Nash could play as early as Sunday, although the team may also wait for their first playoff game next week. Nash has missed 10 straight games with what was listed as a upper-body injury. However, Nash confirmed to Haggerty that he has been dealing with a concussion and is starting to feel better.
The 33-year-old was a key trade deadline acquisition for Boston, but has only appeared in 11 games so far for the Bruins. He has three goals and three assists in that span and has a total of 21 goals this season between the Bruins and New York Rangers.
The Bruins also announced that Riley Nash is out for the weekend. The Bruins forward took a puck to the head last week and required 40 stitches inside and outside of his ear to repair the damage. He has missed three straight games while having a breakout season. The 28-year-old has 15 goals and 26 assists this year, both career highs. No word if he will be available for the playoffs next week.
- MLive’s Ansar Khan reports that although Detroit Red Wings forward Luke Glendening was originally believed to be out for the season, the forward will be active for tonight’s season finale. Out with an upper-body injury, he missed one game after being forced to leave Tuesday’s game against Columbus during the second period.
- Fox Sports’ Jon Rosen reports that Los Angeles Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin is skating, although he will not play in tonight’s regular season finale. The 29-year-old blueliner has missed four games with an upper-body injury. Rosen adds that head coach John Stevens wouldn’t say for sure whether Muzzin would be ready to play for the first game of the playoffs next week.
- Tom Gulitti of NHL.com tweets that forward Marcus Johansson is close to being ready to return to the ice, but still isn’t 100 percent. The 27-year-old winger has not played since Jan. 23 with a concussion, but could be ready for the playoffs next week if all goes well. After a 24-goal season a year ago with the Washington Capitals, Johansson has managed to appear in just 29 games this year, putting up just five goals. A healthy Johansson could be a big boost to the Devils.
- The Vegas Golden Knights announced that center Reilly Smith will be a game-time decision for tonight’s game against the Calgary Flames. Smith, who has been out with an upper-body injury has missed 15 straight games. If he plays, the team’s first-line center might just be looking to get some work in before the playoffs start.
- Arizona Coyotes’ Dave Vest reports that forward Christian Dvorak, who has missed the last three games with a lower-body injury, will not play in tonight’s regular-season finale. He finishes his season with 15 goals and 37 points.