Could the Florida Panthers create a package deal to land Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky from the Columbus Blue Jackets prior to the trade deadline this year, and how do they do it? -- @k_corpstein
I won't go as far as to say it will happen, but I think there's a remote chance it could happen, especially with the news last week that Panarin switched agents and is now represented by Paul Theofanous, who also represents Bobrovsky. NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes, also represented by Theofanous, reported that on Twitter.
Video: CBJ@VGK: Panarin pots goal off Fleury's miscue
The big thing that could hold up such a blockbuster trade before the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline at 3 p.m. ET on Feb. 25 is the fact that Panarin has stated his desire and intention to become an unrestricted free agent. The Panthers are not currently in position to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs, so if they tried to acquire Bobrovsky and Panarin in the same trade they would be doing so for next season and beyond. I can't imagine they would be keen on giving up significant assets -- and it will take significant assets -- to acquire both players if they're both not going to sign contract extensions with them before they can become UFAs. If Panarin wants to go to the market July 1, the Panthers would have just as good of a chance to sign him then.
The New York Islanders are hot and looking like they can sustain their performance level. With teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks floundering, are the Islanders actually getting bandwagon fans? -- @mikeybox
I'm not sure what one has to do with the other. Fans of the Penguins and Blackhawks will remain fans of the Penguins and Blackhawks. They're not going to switch allegiances to the Islanders, especially when the Penguins are currently in position to make the playoffs and the Blackhawks have played their way into the mix.
However, sports fans in general love an underdog story. The Islanders have been the best underdog story in the NHL this season. They were last in the League in defense last season. They lost their best player, John Tavares, to free agency and got nothing in return for him. New coach in Barry Trotz. New general manager in Lou Lamoriello. Unheralded goalies in Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss; Lehner is even trying to rebuild his life and his career. And yet here they are, first place in the Metropolitan Division, the best defensive team in the NHL, with Lehner and Greiss who each could legitimately be considered Vezina Trophy contenders even though they've essentially split the 56 starts. They should be getting bandwagon fans. Hey, even New York Rangers fans booed Tavares when the Toronto Maple Leafs played at Madison Square Garden on Sunday. The Islanders are a great story. We all should be talking about them more.
Is it both possible and reasonable for the Winnipeg Jets to provide their 2019 first-round pick, Jack Roslovic and either Nic Petan or Kristian Vesalainen to receive either Matt Duchene or Mark Stone from the Ottawa Senators? If so, what are the odds this deal takes place? -- @RoscoPablo
I couldn't give you odds on such a deal taking place because we still don't know if the Senators are going to trade either Duchene or Stone. They still could sign one or both to new contracts. However, if the Senators determine its best for them to trade the two forwards, this is the type of trade I'd expect and the type of return they should be trying to get. It would likely be a late first-round pick from the Jets, but if you're in rebuilding mode, you need to acquire as many high draft picks as you can and make them count. Roslovic, who was the NHL's First Star of the Week ending Feb. 3 after scoring five goals in four games from Jan. 28-Feb. 2, has terrific upside as a two-way center and he's 22 years old. He'd fit in perfectly with the Senators and they would have a chance to grow with him as a first- or second-line center. He's currently playing second-line right wing with the Jets. I'd want Vesalainen, 19, over Petan, 23, because Vesalainen has higher upside and could eventually become a top-six NHL forward.
Video: ANA@WPG: Roslovic scores PPG on breakaway
What do the Minnesota Wild do in the upcoming weeks? Buy? Sell? Eric Staal on the market? -- @TJRinger1
The answers are to be determined. I spoke with Wild general manager Paul Fenton last week about this topic. He said he needs more time to evaluate the team without center Mikko Koivu, who had surgery to repair a torn ACL and meniscus in his right knee Friday and is out for the season, and defenseman Matt Dumba, who is still out with no timeline for his return following surgery he had to repair a ruptured right pectoralis muscle Dec. 26. It could come down to deadline day for the Wild, who have six games between now and then, including a pivotal game against the St. Louis Blues at Xcel Energy Center on Feb. 24.
As much as I want to write the Wild should sell regardless, that's a hard sell. I could say they should find takers for all of their pending UFAs (forwards Eric Staal, Eric Fehr and Matt Hendricks, and defensemen Brad Hunt and Anthony Bitetto), and perhaps even make further alterations (forward Charlie Coyle and defenseman Jared Spurgeon have one more year left on their contracts), but if the Wild are in position to make the playoffs after playing the Blues, you can understand if they want to go for it. Ask the 2016-17 Nashville Predators and the 2011-12 Los Angeles Kings what can happen in the playoffs even as a lower seed. They were the last teams in in the Western Conference, each reached the Stanley Cup Final and the Kings won the Stanley Cup. I don't think the Wild can do that, but if they're in position to get in, I can see them going for it. That's not what I would do, but I wouldn't be able to blame the Wild if that's what they do.
With Corey Crawford almost ready and Collin Delia playing so well and now under contract through 2021-22, do the Chicago Blackhawks ask Cam Ward to waive his no-movement clause? Do you carry three goalies? Do you send Delia down? -- @ny1bullsfan
Crawford indicated that he's close to returning Monday, when he practiced with the Blackhawks for the first time since sustaining a concussion Dec. 16. The Blackhawks should already be talking to teams about trading Ward, who is on a one-year contract, but the backup goalie market isn't hot. The Blue Jackets might want a veteran to play with Joonas Korpisalo if they trade Bobrovsky, but that's about it among teams in the playoff race unless there's an injury coming. Remember, too, that the Detroit Red Wings could be trying to shop Jimmy Howard and the Philadelphia Flyers have both Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth who could be available. The Vancouver Canucks stopped short of looking at that market and instead gave up a seventh-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft to get Marek Mazanec from the New York Rangers. Mazanec hasn't played in the NHL since the 2016-17 season, but he's a short-term stopgap for Vancouver until Thatcher Demko gets healthy again. The Blackhawks could also waive Ward and send him to Rockford of the American Hockey League. I would keep Delia in Chicago.
With how well Mika Zibanejad, Mats Zuccarello and Chris Kreider have been playing together, do you see the latter two still being dealt before the deadline? -- @shanerenefalcon
Yes to Zuccarello. No to Kreider, unless the Rangers are blown away by an offer. That line has been awesome with 51 points (22 goals, 29 assists) in New York's past 12 games when all three players were in the lineup. Zuccarello has points in 11 of his past 12 games (five goals, 14 assists). However, the Rangers can't and won't be fooled into thinking they should keep Zuccarello past the deadline because of that line. They're thinking big picture, and if they can get back a package that maybe includes a second-round pick and a prospect for Zuccarello, they should pull the trigger. Kreider is different because he has one year remaining on his contract. If the Rangers are thinking about trading him, more teams could jump into the market for him after the season.
Video: TOR@NYR: Zibanejad stakes Rangers to early lead
Do you think the New Jersey Devils will have any problem signing Jeremy Davies (2016 draft pick) this summer? He is a nominee for the Hobey Baker Award and it sure seems that prior winners never end up signing with the teams that originally drafted them (Jimmy Vesey, Will Butcher). -- @rudshar98
This is a good way to end the mailbag because it highlights a player, Davies, who helped his school, Northeastern University, win the 2019 Beanpot Tournament by defeating Boston College 4-2 at TD Garden on Monday. Davies is a junior defenseman at Northeastern. He was the Devils' seventh-round pick (No. 192) in the 2016 NHL Draft. He is one of 83 nominees for the Hobey Baker Award this season. I asked Davies in a text message if he plans to sign with the Devils after his season at Northeastern is finished. "I haven't put much thought into that yet, so I am not sure," he said. There's little doubt that Davies has come a long way since his draft year and that with another strong season at Northeastern he could position himself to become an unrestricted free agent in the same way Vesey did after playing four years at Harvard University and Butcher did after playing four years at the University of Denver. That has to be enticing. If he signs with the Devils, they might have a seventh-round steal on their hands.