Columbus Blue Jackets
The question had been whether the Columbus Blue Jackets could find suitable trade partners for forward Artemi Panarin and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, given that both can become unrestricted free agents on July 1, and each unwilling to negotiate a contract this season.
Now it looks like the Blue Jackets are going in the other direction - by adding instead of subtracting before Monday's deadline.
The Blue Jackets traded for one of the top targets on the market Friday, acquiring center Matt Duchene from the Ottawa Senators along with defense prospect Julius Bergman for prospects Vitaly Abramov and Jonathan Davidsson, and a first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. If Duchene, who also can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, signs a contract with the Blue Jackets, Ottawa will receive an additional first-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.
For Duchene, the travel at least will be easy, with the Blue Jackets in Ottawa for a game on Friday at Canadian Tire Centre (7 p.m. ET; TSN5, RDS, FS-O, NHL.TV). The Blue Jackets then play on Saturday at home against the San Jose Sharks (5 p.m. ET; FS-O, NBCSCA, NHL.TV). Duchene, who has 58 points (27 goals, 31 assists) in 50 games, has been traded twice in the past two seasons, both times facing his old team in his first game with his new team.
The Blue Jackets (33-23-3) have slipped of late, losing their last two games, and falling out of a playoff spot. They are now fifth in the Metropolitan Division, one point behind the Carolina Hurricanes for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference, though they have two games in hand on the Hurricanes. They are two points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for third place in the Metropolitan, also with two games in hand.
That has, perhaps, lit a fire under general manager Jarmo Kekalainen.
Though the trade for Duchene does not necessarily prevent the Blue Jackets from trading away Panarin and/or Bobrovsky, the team appears comfortable trying to make a push this season unless the proposed return is "substantial," according to the Athletic's Aaron Portzline. And it's even possible they aren't done adding yet, as TSN's Darren Dreger and Portzline tweeted.
Adding Duchene gives the Blue Jackets a formidable group of forwards. In addition to Panarin, who leads Columbus with 67 points (24 goals, 43 assists) in 56 games, the Blue Jackets also have Cam Atkinson, who leads the team with 32 goals and is second with 55 points and Pierre-Luc Dubois, the 20-year-old center who has 51 points (22 goals, 29 assists), as well as Josh Anderson, Boone Jenner, Nick Foligno, and Alexander Wennberg, who has 23 points (2 goals, 21 assists) this season, but had 59 points (13 goals, 46 assists) two seasons ago.
Before acquiring the 28-year-old, the Blue Jackets were 10th in the NHL in goals per game, at 3.19, and there's no question that adding an offensive player with the talent and skills of Duchene should provide Columbus a nice boost, though it's not yet clear how his acquisition will change the team's lines.
General manager Jarmo Kekalainen called Duchene, "a tremendous skater, exceptional in the face-off circle and a proven goal-scorer and point producer in our League."
The Blue Jackets still have yet to win a round in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the franchise's 17-year history. They have made the playoffs four times, in 2008-2009, 2013-2014, and the past two seasons, losing in the Eastern Conference First Round in each of those instances.
But maybe this could be their year.
That's what the team and Kekalainen appear to be banking on the present, with the decision to add Duchene three days before the trade deadline. It's a signal to the players, the division, and the rest of the NHL that the Blue Jackets are going for it this season. They don't know what the future will hold with Panarin, Bobrovsky and Duchene, and so for the Blue Jackets, it's all about the now.
New York Rangers
The dominoes have started to fall.
And that's where the New York Rangers come in.
With Matt Duchene traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday and now off the board, teams looking to acquire offensive skill up front could turn to a couple of available New York Rangers forwards in Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello.
Both Hayes and Zuccarello are set to become unrestricted free agents on July 1, making them attractive to teams looking for rentals down the stretch and in the postseason. And there's the possibility that they could be moved in a joint deal, according to TSN's Darren Dreger.
Hayes has 42 points (14 goals, 28 assists) in 51 games this season. Zuccarello has 37 points (11 goals, 26 assists) in 46 games and has been playing his best hockey since Jan. 12 with 22 points (seven goals, 15 assists) in his past 16 games.
The Rangers (26-26-8) are in the middle of a rebuild and are 10 points behind the Carolina Hurricanes for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference, with four teams between them and the Hurricanes. The Rangers have two games before the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline, facing the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden on Saturday (1 p.m. ET; ESPN+, MSG, MSG+, NHL.TV) and the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena on Sunday (12:30 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, NBCSWA, MSG, NHL.TV).
The question now is whether Hayes or Zuccarello will play in either game - or whether they could be on the move, either separately or in a package deal.
The Washington Capitals are at it again.
For the fifth consecutive season, the Capitals have traded for a defenseman before the trade deadline, picking up Nick Jensen and a fifth-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft from the Detroit Red Wings on Friday, in exchange for defenseman Madison Bowey and a second-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.
Jensen, a right-shot 28-year-old, has 15 points (2 goals, 13 assists) this season in 60 games with the Red Wings.
Last season, the Capitals acquired Michal Kempny from the Chicago Blackhawks on Feb. 19, 2018, ahead of the deadline. Kempny played a major role in helping the Capitals win the 2018 Stanley Cup.
That trade was far less of a bombshell than the one they made the previous season, picking up Kevin Shattenkirk from the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 27, 2017. But the trade for Shattenkirk didn't work out as well as the one for Kempny, ultimately, with the Capitals losing in the Eastern Conference Second Round to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
On Feb. 23, 2016, Washington acquired defenseman Mike Weber from the Buffalo Sabres; and the season before, the Capitals made a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes to acquire Tim Gleason on Feb. 28, 2015.
The Capitals (34-20-7) sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division, two points behind the New York Islanders, who have a game in hand, and four points ahead of the Penguins. Washington, which beat the Toronto Maple Leafs, 3-2, on Thursday, has two games before the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline on Monday at 3 p.m. ET. The Capitals play against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center on Saturday (1 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, MSG-B, NBCSWA, NHL.TV) and host the New York Rangers on Sunday (12:30 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, NBCSWA, MSG, NHL.TV).
The Red Wings (23-29-9) are 15 points out of the second wild card in the East.
Jensen is in his second full season in the NHL, after playing 49 games in 2016-2017 and 81 last season. He is fourth on the Red Wings in time on ice, playing 20:48 per game.
One of Jensen's strengths is on the penalty kill, where he leads the Red Wings in time on ice. That could be particularly helpful for a Capitals unit that sits at No. 22 in the NHL on the penalty kill at 78.6 percent.
While trades are starting to come to fruition around the NHL, one player may potentially be staying put.
"We are still looking to re-sign Alex Edler and we are in good conversations with his agent," Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning said on Friday. "We'll continue to talk and hopefully we can get something done."
Edler, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, is in the final season of a six-year contract that he signed on Jan. 18, 2013.
The 32-year-old defenseman has 20 points (5 goals, 15 assists) in 38 games this season, but is on injured reserve and has been out with a concussion since Feb. 4. He has been with the Canucks for the entirety of his 13-year NHL career and has said multiple times this season that he would prefer to remain with the Canucks.
Benning also touched on the status of defensive prospect Quinn Hughes.
"He has to make the decision on whether or not he wants to turn pro and as soon as he does, if he wants to turn pro, he will be on the next plane out here," Benning said.
Hughes was selected with the No. 7 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft by the Canucks. He plays for the University of Michigan.
The Canucks (26-27-8) remain in playoff contention. They are two points back of the Minnesota Wild for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference, though there are three teams (Colorado Avalanche, Arizona Coyotes, and Chicago Blackhawks) in between them and the Wild. The Canucks play next on Saturday against the New York Islanders at Rogers Centre (10 p.m. ET; CITY, SNE, SNO, SNP, MSG+, NHL.TV).
For Charlie Coyle, a change of scenery might be the best thing. Especially when that change brings him home.
Coyle, a native of Weymouth, Massachusetts, a suburb south of Boston, was traded to the Bruins on Thursday from the Minnesota Wild for forward Ryan Donato and a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.
"It definitely was," Coyle said on Thursday, of playing for the Bruins being a goal as a kid. "I think when you're a little kid playing and falling in love with the game, you've got the big dreams and you want to play. I'm watching more Bruins games growing up in the Boston area, so that's what you envision when you're playing street hockey in your house or in practice or just skating on the pond when you're younger.
"You envision you're playing for the hometown team … so obviously it's a cool moment right now, and I don't think it's fully hit me. But I'm pretty excited."
Video: A more in-depth look at the Charlie Coyle trade
There's also a familiar face waiting for Coyle with his new team. Coyle played with Bruins forward Chris Wagner on the South Shore Kings when they were younger and continues to work out with him in the summer.
Coyle will make his Bruins' debut when Boston plays the St. Louis Blues at Enterprise Center on Saturday (4 p.m. ET; NHLN, FS-MW, NESN, NHL.TV) in the team's final game before the trade deadline. He plays his first game at TD Garden as a member of the home team on Tuesday when the San Jose Sharks visit (7 p.m. ET; SNE, SNO, SNP, NESN, NBCSCA, NHL.TV).
The 26-year-old, who had 28 points (10 goals, 18 assists) in 60 games this season with the Wild, is likely to be used as the third-line center in Boston, behind Patrice Bergeron on the first line and David Krejci on the second. While with Minnesota, he said he was playing about half the time at center, half at wing, and mostly at wing toward the end.
"I started to find my stride this year," Coyle said. "I felt comfortable. … I don't know what's going to happen [in Boston]. I'll obviously talk to the coach when I get the chance and see what his thoughts are, and we'll go from there."
Wherever he plays, he's just trying to make sure he adds to a team that's currently on a roll. The Bruins (36-17-8) have won seven consecutive games, moving them into second place in the Atlantic Division. They are 18 points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning in the division, and four points ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs, though the Maple Leafs have a game in hand.
"You certainly don't want to hold them down," Coyle said. "They've been playing very, very well. I caught the game last night actually on TV, and they're just finding ways to win. They've got a lot of confidence in their game right now and I just want to come in and add whatever I can to that and keep that good feeling, that good confidence growing. And I'll be able to do that."
And he knows it'll be exciting. When the idea of playing at TD Garden was brought up, Coyle said, "You've got me smiling just thinking about it. I'm really not sure. It's going to be a lot of emotions."
The Florida Panthers want to be ready in case there's a chance to move Mike Hoffman.
According to Pierre LeBrun from TSN and The Athletic, the Panthers asked Hoffman and his agents to submit the 10-team no-trade list that the forward is entitled to under the terms of his modified no-trade clause.
Hoffman could be an attractive pickup for a team in the race. The 29-year-old forward has 50 points (26 goals, 24 assists) in 59 games this season after landing in Florida following a pair of trades last summer. Hoffman was sent from the Ottawa Senators to the San Jose Sharks, and then flipped to the Panthers on June 19 of last year. The Panthers acquired him along with a seventh-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, in exchange for a fourth-round and fifth-round pick in 2018 and a second-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.
The Panthers (26-25-8) were originally expected to be contenders in the Atlantic Division this season. Instead, they're 10 points behind the Carolina Hurricanes for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.
That could make Hoffman expendable.
Hoffman, who has scored 20 or more goals in five consecutive seasons, is not a rental, as he has one year remaining on the four-year, $20.75 million contract (average annual value $5.1875 million) he signed with the Senators on July 27, 2016.
The Panthers have one game remaining before the trade deadline, hosting the Los Angeles Kings at BB&T Center on Saturday (5 p.m. ET; FS-F, FS-W, NHL.TV).
[RELATED: NHL Trade Buzz: Bruins not comfortable despite dealing for Coyle]