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NHL Trade Buzz: Hurricanes face tough decision on Ferland

Forward presents interesting dilemma for Carolina; Oilers trying to find room for Sekera's return

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

Welcome to the NHL Trade Buzz. There are 10 days remaining until the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline on Feb. 25 at 3 p.m. ET, and the buzz is picking up. Will Micheal Ferland be moved as a potential rental or will Carolina Hurricanes keep the forward to help their push to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs? With defenseman Andrej Sekera close to returning from a conditioning assignment, what will the Edmonton Oilers do to make room for him?

Here's a look around the League at the latest deadline doings:

 

Carolina Hurricanes

Forward Micheal Ferland has heard the speculation that he might be traded before the NHL Trade Deadline, but he is trying to stay focused on helping the Carolina Hurricanes qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2009.

The Hurricanes (29-22-6) are three points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference heading into a home game against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET; FS-CR, SNW, NHL.TV).  

"Yeah, it's tough obviously seeing your name all over the place and not sure what's going to happen," Ferland told the Raleigh News & Observer. "I think we've put ourselves in a good spot. I hope I stay here."

Ferland can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, so the Hurricanes must decide whether to sign him to a new contract, keep him for the remainder of the season without re-signing him, or trade him. There would be much interest in Ferland, a 26-year-old forward who has 31 points (15 goals, 16 assists) and plays with an edge.

It appeared initially as if the Hurricanes would move Ferland, but a 14-5-1 surge in their past 20 games has them back in playoff contention.

In an extensive Q&A with NHL.com on Sunday, Carolina general manager Don Waddell said he was considering keeping Ferland for at least the remainder of the season.

"Maybe he's our rental player," Waddell said. "You trade him and then you might need someone like that if you're still in the thick of things. So, you can look at it the other way and say, 'Well, we like him. We'd love to keep him. So, why do we even think about trading him?"

 

Edmonton Oilers

With Andrej Sekera's planned return from his conditioning assignment with Bakersfield (American Hockey League) on Tuesday, the Edmonton Oilers will have to make a corresponding move in order to activate the 32-year-old defenseman and put him on their 23-player roster.

The Edmonton Journal reports that the Oilers are tight against the NHL salary cap, but interim general manager Keith Gretzky said he there is nothing imminent regarding trades.

"We want to get rid of some existing contracts, but it's hard," Gretzky told the paper. "We'll try our best."

Gretzky said Sekera, who has been sidelined since tearing an Achilles tendon during an offseason workout, will rejoin the Oilers for their home game against the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday (9 p.m. ET; SNW, FS-A, NHL.TV).

No doubt Gretzky will continue to work the telephone through the weekend to try to make some room.

TSN's Darren Dreger reported Thursday that the Philadelphia Flyers had interest in acquiring Oilers goalie Cam Talbot as a potential mentor to rookie Carter Hart. Talbot, who can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, and Hart are summer workout partners, so it would seem to be a good fit for the Flyers from that perspective.

Video: SJS@EDM: Talbot stops Sorensen from point-blank range

The Flyers already have three goalies on their roster -- Hart, Anthony Stolarz and Mike McKenna -- plus Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth working their way back from injuries, so they'd probably have to move a goalie if they acquired another.

Edmonton (24-27-5) is six points behind the Minnesota Wild for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference but will have to climb past five other teams.

Gretzky isn't giving up on the postseason yet. He'd like to add some depth scoring at forward to help Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

Gretzky will have to make some difficult decisions in the coming days.

"We're not out of it, so we're looking to add, somebody with some term. We need wingers," Gretzky told the Journal. "It's more how we're playing rather than a drop-dead date (as a buyer or seller)."

 

Vancouver Canucks

Although the Vancouver Canucks' rebuild is ahead of schedule, general manager Jim Benning isn't going to abandon his plan for long-term success by sacrificing pieces of the future to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season.

In an extensive Q&A this week with NHL.com staff writer Mike Zeisberger, Benning said he won't give up draft picks or prospects for players on expiring contracts.

"We're not going to be selling assets to acquire rentals to push us ahead," Benning said. "We have a plan in place, and we're going to stick to the plan.

"Since I took the job here we've been trying to rebuild the team through drafting well and developing our players. And then when they're ready we try to give them a chance to play in NHL games with players who can help them and support them along the way on their journey. That's been our plan and I don't think it will change going into the deadline."

The Canucks, who have not qualified for the playoffs since 2015, have been one of the pleasant surprises this season. Vancouver (26-26-7) is tied in points with the Minnesota Wild for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference.

Benning values the opportunity to qualify for the playoffs and didn't rule out trading for a player who is signed beyond the end of this season.

"If we can make hockey trades player for player that we think will make us better, we'll look at that," he said. "But not sacrificing our future."

With 20-year-old rookie center Elias Pettersson leading the way, the Canucks' young nucleus is coming together, and Benning can sense the excitement growing in Vancouver. Pettersson leads NHL rookies with 26 goals, 27 assists and 53 points. Forward Brock Boeser has 39 points (20 goals, 19 assists) this season. The 21-year-old was a finalist last season for the Calder Trophy, awarded to the best rookie in the NHL.

"I've been out scouting and seeing the players we've been drafting," Benning said. "We talk to our fan base and we let them know these are going to be very good players moving forward. But it's not until they see with their own eyes these kids play that I think they become true believers."

 

Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars are looking to add scoring help and ready to be players in the rental market if the price is right.

Dallas general manager Jim Nill said it might take until closer to the NHL Trade Deadline to find out what that price will be, but he's willing to wait.

"We're very open to anything," Nill said in a Q&A this week with NHL.com staff writer Mike Zeisberger. "I think there are a lot of teams, because of how tight things are in the standings, they're waiting to see where it all goes. So, over the next two weeks that's something we're going to watch. We're very open to making a hockey trade if it's going to make us better. If we stay in the hunt the way we are, we're open to adding to our team."

That includes players on expiring contracts, even if that means giving up young players or prospects.

The Stars (29-23-5) are in the thick of the Western Conference race despite losing three of their past four games (1-2-1), including a 6-0 loss at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.

With 63 points, they hold the first Western wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs but are tied in points for third place in the Central Division with the St. Louis Blues, who have played one fewer game.

Dallas has allowed 2.56 goals per game, tied with the Boston Bruins for second in the NHL. It is averaging 2.54 goals per game, 29th in the NHL. The Stars have three forwards with at least 10 goals -- Tyler Seguin (24), Jamie Benn (19) and Alexander Radulov (15). That's the fewest of any team in the NHL, so adding another scoring forward would help.

"It's hard to score goals right now. You watch games, every team seems to be in playoff mode right now," Nill said. "Every game seems to be 2-1, 3-2 right now. It's hard to score goals. I think that's where our game is going a little bit. If we could add a little more scoring, you can never have enough of it."

 

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