MORE DEADLINE COVERAGE: Top trade targets | Sharks could move Dillon
New York Rangers
Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton is expected to talk with forward Chris Kreider's agent "within the next couple of days," The Athletic reported. That should give each side some clarity on their chances of agreeing to a contract and help the Rangers decide if they are going to move Kreider before the deadline.
Kreider is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent July 1. The 28-year-old had 37 points (19 goals, 18 assists) in 51 games this season heading into New York's game against the Buffalo Sabres at Madison Square Garden on Friday.
The Rangers went through a similar process with forwards Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello last season before trading Hayes to the Winnipeg Jets and Zuccarello to the Dallas Stars prior to the deadline.
The Rangers (26-22-4) were nine points behind the Carolina Hurricanes for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference and have been transparent about their intentions to rebuild over the past two seasons.
Regardless of how the remainder of this season goes, their rebuild has progressed to the point that expectations will be high for them to return to the playoffs next season. So keeping Kreider could be beneficial if the sides can agree to a contract.
The Senators have 10 players on their roster who can become an unrestricted free agent July 1 but aren't planning to move all of them before the deadline.
"We're really happy with the way we're competing this year, we're happy we're in every game, and part of that is because of the veteran players we have here," general manager Pierre Dorion told TSN on Thursday. "We've had a plan since Day One and we do know want to keep some of them.
"At the same time, we do have a lot of picks already, we've got a lot of prospects coming … so getting picks and prospects just to make a trade this year isn't something we're probably going to look at. We're going to make sure we're going to get the right return if we're going to move players."
Among the Senators' potential unrestricted free agents expected to receive interest are forwards Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Vladislav Namestnikov, defensemen Dylan DeMelo, Mark Borowiecki and Ron Hainsey, and goalie Craig Anderson. The possibility remains that Pageau, DeMelo, Borowiecki and Hainsey could be re-signed, but Dorion has to listen all offers.
The Ottawa Sun reported that the Senators are believed to be seeking a first-round draft pick and a prospect for Pageau. The 27-year-old has an NHL career-high 20 goals this season.
"Everybody is really kind of feeling each other out and seeing if they're going to be in the playoffs or if they're going to be buyers or sellers," Dorion said. "There's been a lot of conversations, a lot about nothing."
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Maple Leafs' need to add a defenseman appeared to increase when they announced Friday that Cody Ceci will be out indefinitely with an ankle injury and will be reevaluated in one month. Toronto recalled Timothy Liljegren from the American Hockey League, but with Morgan Rielly also sidelined with a fractured foot since Jan. 12, it was already shorthanded at defenseman.
Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said Thursday that the progress in Rielly's recovery, which is expected to be assessed by the end of next week, would determine how he proceeds as far as acquiring another defenseman before the deadline. Losing Ceci for at least a month might impact that plan.
The 26-year-old has eight points (one goal, seven assists) in 54 games this season and is averaging 20:38 in ice time, fourth most among Maple Leafs defensemen.
"We could add a defenseman, but just to say that we did is not something we would do," Dubas said Thursday. "We would want someone to move the needle for us in the long run, not in the short run unless it was the perfect deal."
The Maple Leafs were not in a playoff spot heading into their game against the Anaheim Ducks at Scotiabank Arena on Friday. Toronto trailed the Florida Panthers by one point for third place in the Atlantic Division and was two points behind the Carolina Hurricanes for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning could seek a defenseman after losing two to injury this week. Jan Rutta sustained a lower-body injury against the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday, and Ryan McDonagh left the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday after blocking a shot.
Rutta is considered week to week. McDonagh's status will be determined after he is evaluated Friday. Losing McDonagh for any stretch with Ruuta also sidelined could push general manager Julien BriseBois to make a move to add a depth at the position.
McDonagh is second on Tampa Bay wtih an average of 20:40 in ice time (behind Victor Hedman at 23:38) and leads the Lightning with 95 blocked shots. With Rutta out Thursday, Mikhail Sergachev moved up to take his spot in the top defense pair with Hedman, and Braydon Coburn, who had been a healthy scratch for seven straight games, played for the first time since Jan. 14.
Los Angeles Kings
The trade that sent goalie Jack Campbell and forward Kyle Clifford to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday is likely just the beginning of moves the Kings will makes before the deadline. Los Angeles (19-31-5) is in last place in the Western Conference, and general manager Rob Blake reaffirmed his intention to stock up on pieces for the future.
The Kings received 24-year-old forward Trevor Moore, a third-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft and a third-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.
"We have to redo this roster, I understand that," Blake said during a conference call Thursday. "This is an opportunity for us to acquire as many assets at this deadline, similar to last deadline. I'm not sure you'll see it next year as much, just based off of contract status with our players. So we understand the need and focus to move forward."
Forwards Tyler Toffoli and Trevor Lewis, each in the final season of his contract and eligible to become an unrestricted free agent July 1, are likely to draw interest from playoff contenders. Toffoli, who won the Stanley Cup with Los Angeles in 2014, has 30 points (14 goals, 16 assists) in 54 games this season, and the 27-year-old could slot into a top-six role.
Lewis, who won the Cup with Kings in 2012 and 2014 and has eight points (three goals, five assists) in 42 games this season, would likely fit on the fourth line. The 33-year-old's ability to play center and wing adds to his value.
Los Angeles also could move defenseman Alec Martinez, who has another season left on his contract after this one before he's eligible to become an unrestricted free agent. A top-four defenseman, the 32-year-old has eight points (one goal, seven assists) and is averaging 21:32 in ice time in 37 games this season.
Although the Ducks are rebuilding, captain Ryan Getzlaf said he's all-in and does not want to be traded prior to the deadline.
"Honestly, I have no desire to try to chase a Cup somewhere else," Getzlaf, who won the Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007, told The Athletic. "I'd love to bring it back to Anaheim here before I retire. It would be awesome. Again, I can't predict the future and what's going to unfold here and what we're going to do."
Gelzlaf, who has one year remaining after this one on an eight-year contract, has a no-movement clause and said he has already expressed to general manager Bob Murray that he wants to remain with the Ducks. The 34-year-old leads Anaheim with 35 points (11 goals, 24 assists) in 52 games this season.
"Me and Bob have talked," Getzlaf said. "Years ago, when I signed this no-move clause, this wasn't a no-move clause to lock him into something that he didn't want to be a part of. We've had the same agreement since day one. If he ever felt that he needed to do something to move me, then he would come talk to me and we'd work through it. And vice versa."