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NHL Trade Buzz: Senators plan to sit Duchene, near decision on Stone

Want to avoid injury risk prior to Deadline, according to report; Blue Jackets mulling options

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / Columnist

Welcome to the NHL Trade Buzz. There are six days remaining until the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline on Feb. 25 at 3 p.m. ET, and the buzz is picking up. The Ottawa Senators plan to sit center Matt Duchene to protect their asset and expect to know soon whether they will sign or trade forward Mark Stone.

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


Ottawa Senators

The Senators plan to sit center Matt Duchene to avoid injury risk before the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline, TSN reported. 

And they hope to know in the next 48 hours whether forward Mark Stone will sign a new contract with them, the Ottawa Sun reported.

Tweet from @DarrenDreger: Plan is to not risk injury therefore Duchene not expected to be in the lineup for the Sens on Thursday. May have played last game with Ottawa.

Each can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, and the Senators (22-32-5) are last in the NHL with 49 points, 20 behind the Montreal Canadiens, who hold the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. Their next game is against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; MSG+, RDS2, TSN5, NHL.TV).

"I haven't thought about it much at all. I'm focused on the task at hand," Duchene said after the Senators lost 8-7 to the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Monday. "If I've said it once I've said it a million times, it's fun to come to work here every day and play with these guys. We have an outstanding group, probably the best group of guys, head to toe, I've ever played with. It's easy to get lost in kind of that togetherness we have."

Stone is Ottawa's leading scorer with 61 points (28 goals, 33 assists). The Senators made him an offer last week, and his camp asked for time to think about it, the Sun reported. If Stone decides to stay, the Senators will rebuild around him. If not, they will trade him for assets to use in their rebuild.

Duchene is Ottawa's second-leading scorer with 58 points (27 goals, 31 assists). He has decided not to sign an extension and the Senators have decided to trade him, according to multiple reports.

Forward Ryan Dzingel, Ottawa's fourth-leading scorer with 44 points (22 goals, 22 assists), also is a pending UFA.

The Winnipeg Free Press reported Monday that Senators general manager Pierre Dorion met with Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff in Cheveldayoff's suite during the second intermission of an American Hockey League game between Milwaukee and Manitoba at Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg on Sunday. The meeting increases speculation in the Jets' interest in Duchene, Dzingel and Stone.

Asked if he'll be happy once there's a resolution, one way or another, Duchene said, "Yes and no."

"I'm kind of just taking it one day at a time," Duchene said. "It's either game day or it's not. When it's not, you look forward to the next game day. Simple as that." staff writer Tracey Myers contributed to this report

Video: OTT@WPG: Stone nets PPG to open the scoring


Columbus Blue Jackets

Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella has said he wants his players looking up in the standings, not down.

But where is general manager Jarmo Kekalainen looking with the NHL Trade Deadline approaching and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and forward Artemi Panarin headed toward unrestricted free agency?

Columbus (33-22-3) is third in the Metropolitan Division with 69 points, four behind the second-place Washington Capitals. The Blue Jackets played the Capitals close in the Eastern Conference First Round last season; four of the six games went to overtime. They're 3-1-0 against them this season. Wouldn't home ice be nice in the first round this time?

But Columbus is also tied in points with the Pittsburgh Penguins, who hold the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference, and the Montreal Canadiens, who hold the second wild card.

What if the Blue Jackets end up in the second wild card spot and have to play the Tampa Bay Lightning? Tampa Bay (45-11-4) leads the NHL with 94 points, 15 more than anyone else, and defeated the Blue Jackets 5-1 at Nationwide Arena on Monday.

What if the Blue Jackets miss the playoffs altogether?

Kekalainen said last week he was more concerned with the return in a potential trade. Bobrovsky is a two-time winner of the Vezina Trophy as the best goalie in the NHL. Panarin is Columbus' leading scorer with 67 points (24 goals, 43 assists). 

"It's more about the outcome of the whole deal -- for now, the near future and into the more distant future," he said. "That's the deciding factor, not where we are in the standings."

That said, it could get even more dicey before the deadline. Columbus visits the Canadiens at Bell Centre on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET, TSN2, RDS, FS-O, NHL.TV), plays at Ottawa on Friday, and then is home against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday. staff writer Tracey Myers contributed to this report


Detroit Red Wings

Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist is a pending unrestricted free agent who could give a contender scoring on the wing, but he has control over whether he will leave Detroit.

"Right now there are plenty of scenarios that could play out," Nyquist said Tuesday. "It has to work for either side. That's about as much as I will say. We will see what happens.

"I have my no-trade clause, so if I get traded, obviously I have to waive it for that team. So that would have to be a decision I would have to make."

The Red Wings have interest in signing Nyquist to a new contract, but it depends on what he wants and what he could bring in a trade. 

It will be interesting to see how contenders value Nyquist.

The 29-year-old has 48 points (15 goals, 33 assists) in 59 games this season and is likely to surpass the NHL career high of 54 points (27 goals, 27 assists) he set in 2014-15. But he has eight points (four goals, four assists) in 35 career playoff games.

The Red Wings (23-29-8) are 28th in the NHL with 54 points, 15 behind the Montreal Canadiens, who hold the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. They play the Chicago Blackhawks at Little Caesars Arena on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN).


San Jose Sharks

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson has been supportive of goalie Martin Jones.

"I laugh when people jump to conclusions and say, 'This guy's not playing well,'" Wilson said in January. "Well, maybe we're not playing the right way, and it reflects on his game. But we believe in him, and last time I looked, he's got [22] wins. That's kind of what it's all about."

Jones has 28 wins now, second in the NHL.

Problem is, he has an .896 save percentage, fifth-lowest in the League among goalies who have played at least 30 games.

That number isn't skewed much by the Sharks' early season struggles, either. Since Dec. 2, the Sharks have gone 23-7-3. Only the Tampa Bay Lightning (26-4-3) have done better. Jones leads the NHL with 19 wins but has a .902 save percentage (ranked 45th) in that span.

Backup Aaron Dell is struggling too. He's 7-6-0 with an .892 save percentage this season.

The Sharks are potent offensively, second in the NHL in shots per game (34.0) and third in goals per game (3.65). They're stingy defensively by at least one measure, second in the League in fewest shots allowed per game (28.6). But they aren't getting enough saves, last in the NHL in even-strength save percentage (.897).

Can they afford that in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, when the game gets tighter?

It's easy to say the Sharks should rent a pending unrestricted free agent like Jimmy Howard, who has 17 wins and a .913 save percentage for the rebuilding Detroit Red Wings this season. 

But the Sharks are committed to Jones, who is signed through 2023-24 and went to the Stanley Cup Final with the San Jose in 2016. His career save percentage in 42 career playoff games: .926.

Howard has never been past the second round, has played six playoff games since 2013 and has a .918 career save percentage in 48 playoff games.


[RELATED: NHL Trade Buzz: Potential trade between Senators, Jets gaining traction]

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