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NHL Trade Buzz: Avalanche, Bruins eye Rangers' Kreider

Rantanen injury impact for Colorado; Jets add DeMelo, seek more help at defenseman

by Amalie Benjamin @AmalieBenjamin / Staff Writer

Welcome to the NHL Trade Buzz. There are six days remaining until the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline on Monday at 3 p.m. ET, and has all the important news, rumblings and analysis heading toward the deadline.

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

New York Rangers

The Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche have emerged as front-runners for Rangers forward Chris Kreider, according to TSN.

The Avalanche are in need of reinforcements with forward Mikko Rantanen out for weeks after sustaining an upper-body injury in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday. 

The Bruins have been considered a good landing spot for the pending unrestricted free agent all season, given their need for a second-line forward to help with scoring beyond their top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak.

The Avalanche (33-18-7) were third in the Central Division and five points ahead of the Calgary Flames and Arizona Coyotes for the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.

The Bruins (37-11-2) have a one-point lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic Division.

The Rangers acquired forward Julien Gauthier from the Carolina Hurricanes for defenseman Joey Keane on Tuesday. 

Gauthier has 37 points (26 goals, 11 assists) this season for the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League. 

The Rangers are rich with defenseman prospects with K'Andre Miller, Nils Lundkvist, Yegor Rykov, Libor Hajek and Matthew Robertson. They do not have nearly as much depth at forward, and 22-year-old Gauthier should help shore that up, in addition to perhaps acting as insurance should they opt to trade Kreider or lose him as a free agent on July 1. 


Colorado Avalanche

Forward Mikko Rantanen will be out weeks after sustaining an upper-body injury in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday, crashing into the boards after being tripped by Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak.

Colorado goalie Philipp Grubauer, center Nazem Kadri, and forwards Matt Calvert and Colin Wilson are out, each with a lower-body injury. In addition to reportedly being front-runners to acquire Chris Kreider from the New York Rangers, the Avalanche could be in the market for a goalie. 

Rantanen is fourth on the Avalanche with 41 points (19 goals, 22 assists) in 42 games this season, having missed 16 games with an injury from Oct. 25-Nov. 29. 

The Avalanche (33-18-7) were third in the Central Division, behind the St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars. 


Winnipeg Jets

The Jets, who are in a tight playoff race in the West, are still shopping after acquiring defenseman Dylan DeMelo in a trade with the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday.

General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said the Jets have room under the NHL salary cap and are in the market for defensemen, and TSN reported that the Jets could be looking for help at forward, though the prices could be prohibitive ahead of the deadline.

As for whether Winnipeg would consider trading for more players in the final year of their contract, as DeMelo is, the GM said, "We're going to be open to everything here. Unlike other years where you have lots of things locked in, and we made rental acquisitions with the full knowledge that we were probably going to be up against the cap moving forward, the climate is a little bit different here right now. … We have less than a week here from the deadline perspective, and we'll keep forging ahead with different tasks and due diligence and potential different opportunities."

The Jets traded a third-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft for DeMelo, who has 10 assists in 49 games this season. They are tied with the Nashville Predators and trail the Calgary Flames and Arizona Coyotes by three points for the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. 

Tweet from @DarrenDreger: Cheveldayoff may not be done adding to his blue line, however, DeMelo definitely helps. The Jets are also in the market for a forward, although prices remain high, so no guarantee that happens.


Washington Capitals

Brenden Dillon was acquired by the Capitals in a trade with the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday for a second-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, which was previously held by the Colorado Avalanche, and a conditional third-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft. San Jose also retained 50 percent of the defenseman's salary.  

The trade comes one day after Dillon, who can become an unrestricted free agent after this season, became emotional speaking about the pending deadline following the Sharks' 5-3 loss to the Florida Panthers. 

Tweet from @NBCSSharks: Brenden Dillon got emotional when asked if this was possibly his last game as a Shark.

"I don't know. Kind of see what happens," Dillon said, his voice cracking as he teared up. "I like being here. I try to plan hard every night. It's kind of out of my control."

Dillon, who has 14 points (1 goal, 13 assists), was in his sixth season in San Jose. 

The trade shores up the biggest need for the Capitals. Dillon is a left-shot defenseman who can play on his off side. He should come in handy for the Capitals, who are tied for 14th in the NHL in goals allowed per game at 3.02. 

The Capitals (37-17-5), who trail the Pittsburgh Penguins for first place in the Metropolitan Division, play the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NBCSWA, TSN2, RDS). 


Vancouver Canucks

The Canucks acquired forward Tyler Toffoli from the Los Angeles Kings on Monday in a trade for forward Tim Schaller, forward prospect Tyler Madden, a second-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft and a conditional pick in the 2022 NHL Draft.

But the Canucks might not be done.

According to The Athletic, Vancouver has interest in New Jersey Devils forward Wayne Simmonds, and another move is a possibility before the deadline. 

The Canucks (32-22-5) are third in the Pacific Division, one point behind the Edmonton Oilers and Vegas Golden Knights. They are one point ahead of the Calgary Flames and the Arizona Coyotes for the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.

Vancouver general manager Jim Benning said the trade was directly related to forward Brock Boesser possibly missing the rest of the season with a rib cartilage fracture. Boeser, who has 45 points (16 goals, 29 assists), has not played since Feb. 8.

"It's an eight-week injury," Benning said Tuesday. "So we wanted to make sure that you know we had ourselves covered. Our players have worked hard this year, our coaches have worked hard, for fans we want to stay in the race here coming down the stretch, and so we felt like this was something we could do now."


Los Angeles Kings

The Kings traded Tyler Toffoli to the Vancouver Canucks on Monday, but more moves could be coming. 

Asked about that possiblity, general manger Rob Blake confirmed the Kings have been having discussions with other teams. Toffoli was sent to Vancouver for forward Tim Schaller, forward prospect Tyler Madden, a second-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft and a conditional pick in the 2022 NHL Draft.

"Obviously we've got work to do here and we're listening to a lot of different things," Blake said. "But it's hard to pinpoint other moves right now."

Another player who could be on the move is defenseman Alec Martinez, who has this season and next remaining on his contract. The Kings traded goalie Jack Campbell and forward Kyle Clifford to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 5. 

The Kings (21-33-5) are last in the Western Conference.

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