The Tanner Pearson saga in Vancouver has been full of twists and turns and the ride isn’t over just yet. Early this month, reports emerged that the Canucks preferred to re-sign rather than trade the impending free agent Pearson. The two-way forward excelled in Vancouver last season and GM Jim Benning and company seemed more interested in keeping him around rather than shipping him off, even as arguably their most valuable rental chip. However, at the time contract talks had not yet occurred and this led to the assumption that the Canucks would have to move Pearson if terms of an extension could not be reached before the trade deadline. Two weeks later, it seemed the decision had been taken from the Canucks. Pearson suffered a lower-body injury and was given a four-week timeline for his recovery, meaning he would be injured through the deadline and much more difficult to trade, if not impossible in a quiet, cap-strapped market. The only silver lining was that perhaps the two sides would be more amenable to an extension with Pearson missing considerable time in his already-shortened contract year. Now, everything has changed yet again. Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports that Pearson is already preparing to resume skating and is expected to return to action ahead of the deadline. After receiving a second opinion on his injury, Pearson’s timeline was moved up and could return to his status as a viable deadline acquisition. As for the possibility of an extension instead? Johnston states that the two sides still have not had any contract talks and he believes that the Canucks will have no choice but to trade a soon-to-be healthy Pearson before the deadline if no contract terms are in place. Time is running out to keep the extension option open, as the deadline is now just two weeks away.
- One player who definitely won’t be leaving Vancouver: Travis Hamonic. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that the Carolina Hurricanes have been seeking a veteran, stay-at-home right-handed defenseman and inquired about Hamonic. They were told that he is not available. The Canucks signed Hamonic just before the season started to a one-year, short-money deal, but the key piece of the contract for the respected vet was a full No-Movement Clause. Hamonic wants to stay at home in western Canada and is not expected to waive his NMC. Perhaps an offer from the Edmonton Oilers is the only chance that Hamonic is on the move before the deadline.
- The Toronto Maple Leafs’ situation in net is certainly murky right now, but Friedman did his best to provide some clarity. He reports that starter Frederik Andersen is not currently participating in any on-ice work. Instead, he is undergoing “different evaluations” on his nagging lower-body injury and is sidelined indefinitely. Yet, Friedman also notes that Toronto is not actively searching the trade market for another goaltender either. Jack Campbell has played well since returning from his own injury, Michael Hutchinson has been stellar when forced into action this season as well, and the team just recently added some more net depth via trade in Veini Vehvilainen. The Leafs seem content to roll with this trio for now in anticipation of Andersen eventually returning to action. With limited cap room, the team can ill-afford to add another netminder that they may not need. Unless Andersen lands on Long-Term Injured Reserve, expect the Maple Leafs to stand pat in net.
- After adding Eric Staal, even at a surprisingly affordable cost, the Montreal Canadiens may be done dealing. GM Marc Bergevin told the media that he is not looking to open up cap space for any further moves, limiting Montreal’s ability to make another addition. With Staal on the roster, the Habs’ deadline cap space is currently projected to be around $2.25MM. However, that number is inflated due to Paul Byron’s current taxi squad status. As Byron spends game days on the NHL roster and only off days on the taxi squad, his $3.4MM cap hit will chip away at that space, likely leaving the Candiens with closer to $1.75MM at best by the deadline. Bergevin noted that “anything is possible” but unless faced with a hockey trade that he cannot pass up, Montreal is limited to adding only a minor salary to the roster without reversing course on the decision not to seek options to create more cap space.