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Trade Coverage

NHL Trade Buzz: Flames looking to hold on to draft picks

Oilers might just be getting started after dealing Talbot, Spooner; Islanders in comfortable spot ahead of Deadline

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / Staff Writer

Welcome to the NHL Trade Buzz. There are nine days remaining until the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline on Feb. 25 at 3 p.m. ET, and the buzz is picking up. How do the Calgary Flames view the spending of assets at this deadline, having gone through the 2018 NHL Draft without a pick in the first three rounds? The Edmonton Oilers moved Cam Talbot and Ryan Spooner in separate trades. What might Edmonton do next? Are the Rangers open to re-signing forwards Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello, who each could become an unrestricted free agent July 1, as opposed to trading them?

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


Calgary Flames

The Flames are looking to improve their chances for a run at the Stanley Cup, but general manager Brad Treliving said he is more mindful than ever of the price it takes to add players, given Calgary's experience at the 2018 NHL Draft.

Calgary did not have a pick in the first three rounds of the 2018 draft, making its first of five selections in the fourth round, at No. 105.

The Flames' picks in the first, second and third rounds in 2018 were previously invested in strengthening the team on the back end, with the first two picks traded to the New York Islanders for defenseman Travis Hamonic on June 24, 2017, and the third-round pick traded to the Arizona Coyotes on June 17, 2017, for goalie Mike Smith.

"You hate doing it, to be perfectly honest with you," Treliving said in an interview with which will post Sunday. "But we knew what we were doing at the time, making those decisions, and it was no surprise to us at the draft where we were.

"We felt it was worthwhile, allowing us to solidify our team."

Treliving suggested he wouldn't like to repeat the early inactivity of the draft last year.

"It's miserable sitting at the draft table watching every pick come off the board and looking at your staff and thinking at some point they may just sucker (punch) you," he said. "So, I'm kidding a little, but you run them (scouts) all over the world for 12 months of the year and the one day they get to sit and make some choices, well, they just sit and kind of stare at you.

"The effect (trading away picks) has on your team long-term can be significant. There are other areas where you can continue to augment your reserve list. You can look at European free agents, college free agents, junior free agents and so on. And we'll continue to be aggressive in those areas but certainly having lived through a draft last year where Friday night and the first part of Saturday where we just kind of sat there, well, we were certainly trying hard to put another pick back into the drawer, but it didn't work out. You don't want to go through that very often and quite frankly as an organization, you can't because it eventually catches up with you."

It doesn't mean the Flames (34-16-7), who have 77 points and are in first place in the Pacific Division and Western Conference, won't be active in the next nine days.

Video: PHI@CGY: Andersson cranks slapper for first NHL goal

If they choose to barter them, the Flames have young, appealing assets and depth at defense with Rasmus Andersson, who is 22 years old, Oliver Kylington (21) and Juuso Valimaki (20) and a high-end prospect in 20-year-old forward Dillon Dube.

Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers swapped goalies with the Flyers on Friday, trading veteran Cam Talbot to Philadelphia for Anthony Stolarz

But this could be the start of a busy nine days before the deadline for the Oilers (24-28-5), who have lost three straight and nine of 10, and entered Saturday seven points behind the Minnesota Wild for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.

Video: Analyzing Oilers trading Talbot to Flyers for Stolarz

The Oilers traded forward Ryan Spooner to the Vancouver Canucks for forward Sam Gagner on Saturday. Spooner, who was acquired from the New York Rangers for forward Ryan Strome on Nov. 16, has five points (three goals, two assists) in 41 NHL games this season, while Gagner rejoins the Oilers for whom he was the No. 6 pick in the 2007 NHL Draft and played the first seven seasons of his NHL career. Gagner, like Spooner, was in the minor leagues at the time of the trade and had three points (one goal, two assists) in seven games with Vancouver.

Sportsnet reported that Markus Lehto, the agent for forward Jesse Puljujarvi, had a brief conversation with Bob Nicholson, the CEO and vice-chairman of the Oilers Entertainment Group, about what is best for his 20-year-old client. Puljujarvi has nine points (four goals, five assists) in 46 games and is averaging 11:57 of ice time per game, but he played just 9:31 in Friday's 3-1 loss at the Carolina Hurricanes.

"Are we reaching the point that for the team and for the player, it might be actually beneficial for going different paths, different routes?" Lehto said to Sportsnet.

Puljujarvi, the No. 4 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, has 37 points (17 goals, 20 assists) in 139 NHL games and would likely be an intriguing buy-low trade candidate for teams around the League.

As for Friday's trade, moving Talbot before the deadline helps the Oilers save cap space they'll need when veteran defenseman Andrej Sekera is scheduled to return to the roster before Edmonton's game against the Arizona Coyotes at Rogers Place on Tuesday (9 p.m. ET; FS-A, SNW, NHL.TV).

Sekera, who sustained a torn Achilles tendon while training this past offseason, has been skating since before Christmas. Most recently, he has been on a conditioning assignment with Bakersfield of the American Hockey League that will end Saturday.

"We need to get rid of money. That's our biggest thing," Oilers interim general manager Keith Gretzky told Sportsnet.

Tweet from @FriedgeHNIC: Once Talbot plays for PHI, Flyers will set an NHL record using 8 goalies in one season

Talbot, who can be an unrestricted free agent July 1, likely had his fate to be traded before the deadline sealed when the Oilers signed goalie Mikko Koskinen to a three-year, $13.5 million contract extension on Jan. 22.
He could become the eighth goalie to play for the Flyers this season and will have the opportunity for a fresh start as well as a possible mentoring role with 20-year-old Philadelphia goalie Carter Hart.

Talbot and Hart, who is from Sherwood Park, Alberta, a suburb of Edmonton, have trained together in the past.

In return, the Oilers received Stolarz, a 25-year-old goalie who was 4-3-3 with a 3.33 goals-against average, .902 save percentage and one shutout in 12 games with the Flyers this season.

Stolarz signed a one-year, two-way contract on July 18, 2018, and will either be a restricted free agent or a Group 6 unrestricted free agent July 1 if he does not play 10 of Edmonton's final 25 games this season, Sportsnet reported.


New York Islanders

The Islanders will be fine if they stand pat through the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline, general manager Lou Lamoriello said Saturday.

In a story by deputy managing editor Brian Compton, Lamoriello suggested there's no reason for the Islanders (34-17-6) to abruptly change course considering they are in first place in the Metropolitan Division, three points ahead of the Washington Capitals, heading into a game against the Edmonton Oilers at Barclays Center on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; MSG+, SNW, SNP, NHL.TV).

"I'm very comfortable with this hockey team," Lamoriello said. "I think the commitment that they've made to each other to have success and the amount of respect they have for each other and how happy they are because we've had a different person each and every night come forward to do what's necessary."

Compton wrote that the Islanders have soared to the top of the division by focusing on defense after losing their captain, center John Tavares, who signed as a free agent with the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 1. Under new coach Barry Trotz, New York has allowed an NHL-low 131 goals through 57 games.

Lamoriello said he is monitoring the trade market and having discussions with other general managers.

"The communication between teams, no matter what your needs might be or what you might be looking for, you want to know exactly what's going on in the League, so communication does not change," Lamoriello said.

The Islanders have won four of their last five games and are 20-5-2 since Dec. 15.


New York Rangers

Contract discussions have started between the Rangers and the agents for pending unrestricted free agents Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes, the New York Post reported Saturday.

It's the first report of talks between the Rangers and Zuccarello's and Hayes' camps. The Rangers (25-24-8), who embarked on a rebuild late last season, are nine points out of the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

Hayes is third on the Rangers with 40 points (13 goals, 27 assists) in 48 games. Zuccarello is right behind him with 35 points (nine goals, 26 assists) in 43 games and has been among the League's hottest players with 20 points (five goals, 15 assists) in his past 13 games since Jan. 12.

The Athletic reported again Saturday that each player will be moved prior to the deadline.

That report also suggested that Zuccarello and Hayes could be headed to teams in the Western Conference, though general manager Jeff Gorton is not afraid to make trades with teams in the Eastern Conference, as he did last season when he traded forward Rick Nash to the Boston Bruins, defenseman Ryan McDonagh and forward J.T. Miller to the Tampa Bay Lightning and forward Michael Grabner to the New Jersey Devils.

The decisions and drama in New York in the next nine days could make the Rangers one of the most intriguing teams as the deadline approaches.


Winnipeg Jets

Winnipeg, which reached the Western Conference Final last season after adding center Paul Stastny prior to the deadline, is believed to be looking for additional forward help this season. 

And it just so happens that the Jets play the Ottawa Senators, who are weighing whether to trade forwards Matt Duchene and Mark Stone, at Bell MTS Place on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; TVAS, SN360, SN1, NHL.TV).

Jets center Mark Scheifele, who was Stone's teammate with Canada at the 2012 World Junior Championship and the 2016 World Championship, said he didn't care to indulge in any speculation but regards Stone as an elite player.

"I played on a line with him at the World Championship," Scheifele said. "He was a fun guy to play with. He does it all. He does all the right things. He does everything you want in a player. 

"Obviously, he's a great player and would make any team better. But I'm not the GM."

Stone leads the Senators with 57 points (26 goals, 31 assists) in 57 games. Duchene is second with 54 points (26 goals, 28 assists) in 48 games.

Jets coach Paul Maurice said the days leading up to the deadline have changed over the years.

"If we weren't living in the world we're living in, where every rumor isn't just in the hometown paper anymore ... well, now every single rumor is out there so it's tough to get excited about anything," Maurice said. "Now, the first thing anybody (looks at) is who's got an expiring contract on a team that's not making the playoffs, so that guy's going. So, I don't feel it (excitement) and I don't feel it in the room."

Winnipeg (36-19-3) is first in the Central Division and tied with the San Jose Sharks for second in the Western Conference with 75 points.

The Senators did not hold a morning skate Saturday. But after practice Friday, Duchene said all the speculation leading up to the trade deadline has not caused him stress.

"Closure is nice, but at the same time I understand this is part of the process," Duchene said, the Ottawa Sun reported. "I'm glad I'm going through it at this age. I've been through a lot in this league, ups and downs, successes and failures, and that stuff prepares you for this kind of thing.

"All those things have prepared me to just stay in the moment. I'm not stressed, I'm not anything. "

The Sun also reported that Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff watched the Senators practice in Winnipeg on Friday and left for a time to chat with Pierre Dorion, Ottawa's GM.

Dorion has been in Winnipeg since Thursday, when the Jets played the Colorado Avalanche. He stayed for the American Hockey League game on Friday between Manitoba and Chicago.


[RELATED: NHL Trade Buzz: Hurricanes face tough decision on Ferland]

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