The Carolina Hurricanes were seeking a top-nine forward when they traded away long-time defenseman Justin Faulk this summer. However, the best return they could find was a prospect forward, Dominik Bokk, and another established defenseman in Joel Edmundson from the St. Louis Blues. Now, the Hurricanes are more or less back in the same situation, trying to deal from their blue line depth for help up front. Even after moving Faulk and Calvin de Haan in the off-season, the additions of Edmundson, Jake Gardiner, and Gustav Forsling has created yet another logjam on defense. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Carolina is calling around to other teams and shopping veteran Trevor van Riemsdyk, as well as 23-year-old Haydn Fleury, who is no longer waiver-exempt, in hopes of landing a scoring forward in return.
However, they aren’t alone. LeBrun’s colleague Darren Dreger reports that the Buffalo Sabres are also making calls to dangle defenders in anticipation of their team getting healthy. Dreger states that Zach Bogosian and Marco Scandella will make their returns “right around the corner”, but first Buffalo will need to clear space. The red-hot Sabres likely want to avoid a major shake-up, such as moving the now-content Rasmus Ristolainen, but also likely aren’t keen to move recent additions like Brandon Montour and Colin Miller. The team can demote Lawrence Pilut and even Henri Jokiharju, but will still need to make room on the blue line. Dreger states that Buffalo is hoping to land both a top-six and bottom-six forward, so trading away a John Gilmour won’t get the job done. Bogosian, Scandella, and Jake McCabe seem like the most likely to be dealt at this point.
So who could take advantage of a market flush with capable defenders? Top contenders like the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning, and San Jose Sharks are all struggling defensively this season and have the depth of forwards to swing a deal. The Minnesota Wild are known to be open to moving several forward and could pursue a defenseman that they see as a long-term fit. The same could be said for other struggling teams, especially those with intriguing impending free agents, such as the Los Angeles Kings (Tyler Toffoli) and New York Rangers (Chris Kreider). The Hurricanes’ and Sabres’ competition to make a deal may even lower the acquisition costs for any interested teams. The trade market appears to be heating up early this season and the odds of a deal – or several – before the holiday trade freeze are high.