The Carolina Hurricanes struck arguably the biggest trade of the regular season so far when they acquired Nino Niederreiter from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Victor Rask earlier today. However, GM Don Waddell is likely far from done. Not long after the deal was announced this afternoon, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun stated that the Hurricanes are still looking to add to their roster. LeBrun speculates that the team will add another top-six forward and will try to tap into their surplus of defensemen and defensive prospects to do so. The Hurricanes have the NHL’s longest playoff drought at nine seasons and would very much like to get back to the postseason this year and are well within striking distance of that goal past the midpoint of the season. While the team has succeeded in many areas this season, they continue to have struggles with scoring and, as LeBrun points out, could desperately use another talented forward. Yet, at the same time, the Hurricanes are also reportedly open to moving one of their most successful scoring forwards this season, Micheal Ferland. Ferland is on pace for a career season in his first year in Carolina, but the two sides had been unable to come to terms on an extension. Following the addition of a very similar player in Niederreiter, Ferland’s time in Carolina could soon be coming to an end. Between listening to offers on one highly-sought after rental forward and actively in pursuit of another top name on the market, the Hurricanes promise to remain in the rumor mill through the trade deadline next month and should have some more fireworks in store.
- Another team desperate to make the playoffs this season are the Edmonton Oilers. While the Oilers are reportedly willing to move a number of assets for long-term forward help, the hype surrounding a possible Jesse Puljujarvi trade appears to be cooling off and GM Peter Chiarelli may opt for adding an affordable rental rather than making another high-risk trade. In his latest “31 Thoughts” column, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman names the Oilers as a suitor for the New York Rangers’ Mats Zuccarello. The veteran winger has been hot lately and could certainly help with Edmonton’s scoring woes down the stretch. As Friedman points out, and the Oilers surely know as well, Zuccarello also should not be too expensive to acquire. The Rangers received a second-round pick and middling prospect from the New Jersey Devils at the trade deadline last season for Michael Grabner, who was in the midst of a season not dissimilar from Zuccarello’s this year and was also an impending free agent. Chiarelli and company would likely be happy to give up a package such as that to add much-needed help up front.
- William Nylander is finally under contract and playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs, but it’s been a slow start for the young forward in his return to action and an equally disappointing result for his team since his return. Making too much of that could be a mistake, but facing an impending salary cap crunch and mounting Stanley Cup expectations, GM Kyle Dubas and the Leafs brass have little room for error. Count former Toronto GM Brian Burke among those who would jettison Nylander as soon as possible if they were in Dubas’ shoes. Burke said on Sportsnet today that the front-loaded nature of Nylander’s contract should allow the team to move him and he expects that trade to occur this off-season. Burke acknowledges that Nylander is a talented player, but doesn’t agree with his nearly $7MM yearly cap hit and feels he is too similar to other players on the Leafs’ roster and considers him to be a costly “surplus player”. Whether Dubas and company agree with that assessment remains to be seen, but a Nylander trade this summer is certainly not out of the question.