Columbus Blue Jackets
David Savard was a healthy scratch when the Blue Jackets played the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday (BSOH, BSSUN, NHL.TV).
The 30-year-old defenseman can become an unrestricted free agent after this season and could be of interest to teams if the Blue Jackets decide to trade him. By withholding him from games before the deadline, they can protect Savard against injury.
Boone Jenner and Riley Nash each was injured this week. The Columbus forwards were potential candidates to be traded before the deadline.
Jenner, who can become an unrestricted free agent after next season, had surgery to repair a broken finger Wednesday after being injured during a 4-2 win against the Lightning on Tuesday. He is expected to miss the rest of the regular season.
Nash, who can become an unrestricted free agent after this season, is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a sprained knee. He was injured during a 3-0 loss to the Florida Panthers on Sunday.
Savard has scored six points (one goal, five assists) in 40 games this season but could be attractive to other teams because of his physical play and effectiveness in his own end.
The Blue Jackets were 2-6-1 in their past nine games and fell to sixth place in the eight-team Discover Central Division, five points behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators. The top four teams qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Sam Bennett, who requested a trade earlier this season, said coach Darryl Sutter has changed the way he feels about playing for the Flames.
"I'm happy playing under Darryl," Bennett said Wednesday. "I think I've gotten more opportunity and I've been able to play my game a little bit more. When I'm playing more I'm playing better and can help the team have success. It definitely makes it fun and makes me enjoy coming to the rink when I have a big role. I've definitely been in a better mindset."
Bennett can be a restricted free agent after the season. His agent, Darren Farris, told Sportsnet on Jan. 30 that the 24-year-old center wanted to be traded.
Sutter, who replaced Geoff Ward as coach March 4, said he thinks Bennett's trade request is old news.
"We went past that the first time we talked to Sam here so that's out of the question," Sutter said. "Sam and I are on the same page, and away he goes."
Bennett has scored 10 points (four goals, six assists) in 37 games this season.
It remains possible that other teams remain interested and Bennett could be traded. The Flames also have pending unrestricted free agent center Derek Ryan and goalie David Rittich.
Calgary is tied with the Vancouver Canucks for fifth in the seven-team Scotia North Division, eight points behind the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens. The top four teams in the division will qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
New Jersey Devils
The Devils could make more trades before the deadline after sending forwards Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac to the New York Islanders for two minor-league prospects, a first-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft and a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft on Wednesday.
Goalie Scott Wedgewood and defensemen Ryan Murray, Sami Vatanen and Dmitry Kulikov each can be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
"My job moving forward is to continue to understand where we're at, and continue to get better," Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald said. "All we want to do is continue to do better and strive to get into the Stanley Cup Playoffs and then continually be a playoff team that thirsts for winning a Stanley Cup championship and get back to an elite level where this organization deserves to be."
New Jersey has nine picks in the 2021 draft, including six selections in the first three rounds. In addition to the Islanders' first-round pick, the Devils have New York's second-round pick and the Arizona Coyotes' third-round pick from trades last season.
The Devils are seventh in the eight-team MassMutual East Division, 14 points behind the fourth-place Boston Bruins. The top four teams in the division will qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Forward market shifts
The trade of Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac to the New York Islanders on Wednesday likely made an impact throughout the NHL, with teams who may have been looking at Palmieri now needing to search elsewhere.
The Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes are reported to be considering adding a forward, and the Montreal Canadiens, who lost forward Brendan Gallagher for at least six weeks with a broken right thumb, also would have flexibility under the NHL salary cap if they chose to add a forward.
Among the top forwards who remain possible targets are Taylor Hall of the Buffalo Sabres, Mikael Granlund of the Nashville Predators, Mike Hoffman of the St. Louis Blues, Nick Foligno of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Luke Glendening of the Detroit Red Wings. Each can be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
The Blackhawks have high hopes for Henrik Borgstrom, a forward who was part of the trade with the Florida Panthers on Thursday.
Borgstrom, forward Brett Connolly, defenseman Riley Stillman and a seventh-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft were traded to the Blackhawks for forward Lucas Wallmark and defenseman Lucas Carlsson.
Borgstrom is a restricted free agent who has scored 19 points (11 goals, eight assists) in 27 games this season for HIFK in Liiga, the top professional league in Finland. Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said Chicago wants to sign him for next season.
"We are receiving a very exciting, young player with a bright future in Henrik Borgström," Bowman said of the 23-year-old, who was born in Finland. "He is a high-end talent and we think he has the ability to be a big-time player for us."
Chicago has had success with European players discarded or passed over by NHL teams.
Forward Dominik Kubalik, third on the Blackhawks with 28 points (13 goals, 15 assists) in 40 games this season, was acquired in a trade from the Los Angeles Kings in 2019. Switzerland-born forward Pius Suter, who has scored 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) in 40 games, and Czech Republic-born forward David Kampf, who has nine assists in 40 games, each was an undrafted free agent. Finland-born goalie Kevin Lankinen, who has 14 wins to rank second among NHL rookies, was also signed as an undrafted free agent.
Borgstrom was Florida's first-round pick (No. 23) in the 2016 NHL Draft. He scored 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) in 59 games for the Panthers the past three seasons.