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NHL Trade Buzz: Foligno discusses future with Blue Jackets

Hoffman could be scratched for Blues against Golden Knights; Helm open to moving on from Red Wings

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / Columnist

Welcome to the NHL Trade Buzz. There are four days remaining until the 2021 NHL Trade Deadline (3 p.m. ET; April 12). Here's a look around the League at the latest deadline doings:

Columbus Blue Jackets

Nick Foligno said Wednesday he has spoken to general manager Jarmo Kekalainen about his future with the Blue Jackets. The forward declined to give details but indicated they would speak again if he could be traded.

"I'm sure if there's something that needs to be presented, then we'll talk," Foligno said. "Otherwise, I'm just going to go about my business the way I always have. It's definitely unique having your name out there in the situation that we're in as a team, but having said that, it's just, until I'm told otherwise, I'm just going to continue to do come here and do what I need to do and be the same person I always am. I don't want to give you too many clichés here, but it's hard for me to speculate on something."

Foligno is Columbus captain and ranks third in games played (598), goals (142), assists (192) and points (334) in its history. But he can be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, and the Blue Jackets are sixth in the eight-team Discover Central Division, three points behind the fifth-place Chicago Blackhawks and five behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators. The top four teams qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

They have more reason to sell now that forward Boone Jenner is out for six weeks with a broken finger sustained against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday. Forward Riley Nash is out 4-6 weeks with a sprained knee.

Defensemen Michael Del Zotto and David Savard also are pending UFAs. Del Zotto said Wednesday he'd like to stay in Columbus but understands the situation.

"Just trying to help this team every single day while I'm here, and whatever happens after that is out of my control," Del Zotto said.


St. Louis Blues

Mike Hoffman was a healthy scratch for the Blues against the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday, with St. Louis possibly protecting him from injury before a potential trade.

The Athletic reported Wednesday that Blues general manager Doug Armstrong has expressed interest in trading some of their pending unrestricted free agents. St. Louis was 0-6-1 in its past seven games and tied with the San Jose Sharks for fifth in the eight-team Honda West Division, five points behind the fourth-place Arizona Coyotes, entering play Wednesday; the top four teams in the division will make the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Hoffman signed a one-year, $4 million contract with the Blues on Jan. 11 after coming to training camp on a professional tryout, and he scored 21 points (nine goals, 12 assists) in 36 games. Forwards Tyler Bozak and Jaden Schwartz also are pending UFAs.

Tweet from @TheAthleticNHL: Blues GM Doug Armstrong has expressed interest in selling off his unrestricted free agents, sources tell @jprutherford.Could Mike Hoffman, Tyler Bozak and Jaden Schwartz be on the move before the trade deadline?


Detroit Red Wings

Darren Helm is open to leaving the Detroit Red Wings.

The forward has played his entire 729-game NHL career for Detroit, but the 34-year-old can be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. The Red Wings haven't made the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2015-16 and are last in the eight-team Discover Central Division. 

"It would be a lot of fun to play some playoff hockey again," Helm said Tuesday. "It'd be great to finish my career in Detroit as well. I'm open to anything. I do want to play another year, another year or two, so whatever gives me a better opportunity, I guess, to play more hockey." 

Detroit's other pending UFAs include goalie Jonathan Bernier; defensemen Jon Merrill, Patrik Nemeth and Marc Staal; and forwards Valtteri Filppula, Sam Gagner, Luke Glendening and Bobby Ryan.

Bernier (10 games), Gagner (five), Ryan (five) and Nemeth (one) have been out with injuries. Bernier, Gagner and Ryan practiced Wednesday; Nemeth did not. Coach Jeff Blashill said each is uncertain to play at home against the Nashville Predators on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET; BSDET, BSSO, NHL.TV).

Asked about potentially losing Gagner and Ryan, Blashill said, "It's never easy. But it's part of the business, and I think everyone understands that. Both of those guys are really good veterans. Those two specifically are both guys who understand what it takes to win."


Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins have a specific target.

"We would like a big, physical forward," general manager Ron Hextall told The Athletic on Wednesday. "We've said that right from the start. The right guy has to be out there at the right price. Sometimes you have to wait for something to come along that a team is willing to part with."

Hextall said the Penguins were looking for a center more actively about a month ago, but Jared McCann and Frederick Gaudreau have played so well that there isn't as much urgency now.

He also said he didn't like the past two games but won't overreact. The Penguins lost 7-5 at the Boston Bruins on Saturday and 8-4 at the New York Rangers on Tuesday. They went 2-for-3 on the penalty kill against the Bruins and 0-for-3 against the Rangers.

"I won't look at two games when I'm making moves," he said.

The Penguins allowed 10 goals and went 22-for-23 on the penalty kill in seven games, going 6-0-1 from March 20-April 1.


Minnesota Wild

The Wild are all in, in the sense that they feel they can beat anyone amid the parity in the NHL. But they aren't going to bet recklessly on pending unrestricted free agents.

"I'm not going to sell the farm just for a rental that's going to blow town in a couple months," general manager Bill Guerin said on "The Chirp with Daren Millard" podcast, which was released Tuesday. "We still want to build. We still want to accumulate prospects and draft picks and things like that, because we're kind of building on the go. But when I say that we are in all-in, yeah, we're all in because we want to win and we expect to win every night, and we expect our players to do the same."

The Wild don't need to do anything drastic. They were third in the eight-team Honda West Division, five points ahead of the fourth-place Arizona Coyotes, entering play Wednesday. The top four teams make the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Asked about trade talk around the League, Guerin said with a laugh, "Crickets. I mean, hey, look, there's calls being made. I'm sure other teams have things on the go. We don't have much on the go right now. It's just kind of quiet. But talking to different people every day. I don't expect us to be too active, but if something comes up that makes sense, yeah, we'll do it."


Toronto Maple Leafs

The Maple Leafs might not need goaltending help.

Coach Sheldon Keefe said Wednesday he had "no concern" Frederik Andersen is done for the season, though he had no update on the goalie, who remains out with a lower-body injury and missed his ninth straight game when the Maple Leafs played the Montreal Canadiens.

Andersen missed four games from Feb. 22-March 1, made 26 saves in a 6-1 win at the Edmonton Oilers on March 3 and did not play at the Vancouver Canucks the next night. He played six straight games afterward, going 1-5-0 with 3.84 goals-against average and .862 save percentage and hasn't been seen on the ice since the last game of that stretch March 19.

Since then, Jack Campbell was 6-0-0 with a 1.62 GAA, a .941 save percentage and one shutout entering play Wednesday. Michael Hutchinson was 1-0-1 with a 2.49 GAA and a .912 save percentage.

The Maple Leafs are first in the seven-team Scotia North Division, eight points ahead of the second-place Winnipeg Jets.

Keefe said he didn't think the players were distracted or worried about the deadline.

"They feel good with the idea that they could be in a spot to be strengthened even more than they are already," Keefe said.

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