Trade deadline: Canadian outlook
“Wherever Jakob Chychrun winds up, he now holds the unofficial world's record for appearing in trade rumors.” — Stan Fischler
There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.
Look at me going all Oscar Wilde on y’all.
But here we are. Just a smidge under two-and-a-half weeks until the National Hockey League’s trade deadline and the talk around our Canadian markets is just picking up. That’s a good thing, but for varied reasons in each port.
Let’s dig a bit deeper into where teams sit and what to expect (or not).
General Manager (for how much longer we wonder?) Pierre Dorion has hinted at being a buyer come March 3rd.
Given the state of the kitchen cupboard, there’s not much to empty into the market. Frankly it’s just crumbs at this point heading out that aren’t likely to fetch much back in return.
If playoff gunners are after low-tier help there’s always an Austin Watson or Nick Holden to add depth but not a whole lot more.
Injured veteran Cam Talbot or defenceman Travis Hamonic might net you something a little zestier but don’t expect more than a third- or fourth-round pick in the exchange.
If Dorion truly wants to swing for the fences there are a few youthful pieces that might bring that much-needed defensive help. And make that – quality defensive help. The days of bringing in guys like Victor Mete or Holden or Michael Del Zotto or Josh Brown, or, or, or . . . you get the idea . . . have to be over. The only way the organization takes another step is to bolster its blueline. That could mean tossing in prospects like Shane Pinto or Ridley Greig.
Ouch. Yeah, but to get you gotta give.
There also could be interest in former first-rounders Lassi Thomson and Jacob Bernard-Docker. In this corner’s estimation though, neither have been given a fair and lengthy shot up with the big club. That I don’t get. Thomson turns 22 this fall, Bernard-Docker 23 in the summer. It’s well past time both landed a protracted look.
And given their lack of NHL-ishness, if you were to deal either, you’d be selling low on both guys.
As far as Ottawa? As my dad (ominously) liked to say: “We’ll see . . .”
So, we’ll see.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
We fully expect Canada’s Team to add Timo Meier, Jake Chychrun, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Bobby Orr by the deadline.
It is the way of things, no?
Toronto is always tied in with just about every rumbling and this year’s no different. We know what they need: competitive grit, be it on defence or up front. (A goalie and another star Top-6 forward wouldn’t hurt either, but hey, you can’t have everything).
My targets would be Lawson Crouse from Arizona and Vladislav Gavrikov from Columbus.
They still have to face Tampa in Round 1 for about the 25th year straight, so, umm, best of luck.
Welcome to the cat-bird seat. Les Habitants are sitting pretty pretty.
Forwards Jonathan Drouin, Sean Monahan and Evgenii Dadonov are available and are free agents come summer (Monahan’s injury status could stall anything on that front though).
The big tickets available include rugged d-man Joel Edmundson and rugged (great skater too) Josh Anderson. The price on those two just keeps getting greater and greater.
The goods are so good Montreal improves for the future, that even Marc Bergevin couldn’t screw it up.
First, a tip of the hat to the Jets operation for a season that we over here had never predicted. They’ve been dynamite.
Toews has been a hot rumour as an add (that’s precluding the highly expected move to ‘Canada’s Team’) and fits the Jet identity as a hard and tireless worker.
Keep in mind that Jets GM Kevin Chevaldayoff is one of the league’s more/most conservative hockey managers.
What to do, what to do, what to do?
Calgary is a team with too many questions to properly deal with (goaltending, lack of scoring depth, lack of connection between coach and talent) through the trade route.
For all their problems though, this team scares others with lengthy playoff ambitions. If Jacob Markstrom comes to life, Jonathan Huberdeau starts finding the net again and MacKenzie Weegar plays like he can, Calgary will be a tough out.
If, if, if.
As is the case with Toronto, Edmonton’s licking its chops on defensive aid. Could be Gavrikov, so says the rumour mill. Won’t be Orr; he’s going to the Leafs.
Given the wide-openness of the West – kind of like the setting for Yellowstone – a smart play to help the back end would push the Oilers to the front of the line.
From the front of the line we go to the back.
Now that Bo Horvat’s out the door (and fitting in quite nicely in Long Island), next up is Luke Schenn. Toronto? Tampa? Boston? Calgary?
After that – Tyler Myers? Brock Boeser? Conor Garland? Stan Smyl? Harold Snepsts? Jere Gillis? Mike Walton?
Take your pick.
THOUGHT, SEEN AND HEARD: From the great hockey scribe Stan Fischler: “Wherever Jakob Chychrun winds up, he now holds the unofficial world's record for appearing in trade rumors.”
Will somebody please get it over with and deal with the poor guy already.” . . . The Leafs get raked over the coals for their drafting record. One year they should get credit is 2017 when picking Timothy Liljegren at No. 17. He’s come into his own this year . . . Two future Ottawans also went that first round – Josh Norris at 19 to the Sharks and Erik Brannstrom at 15 to Vegas . . . After winning back-to-backs, Ottawa’s win percentage in the Conor Bedard sweepstakes has dropped to 3.5. Columbus leads the pack with a 25.5 per cent chance . . . Speaking on the Jackets, former Senator Todd White is now a pro scout for the club . . . Chris Neil’s jersey retirement ceremony is set for Feb. 17th . . . Now this was kind of interesting – Tampa beats Colorado (Cup finalists last season) twice in the last week. “Like a fine wine . . ..”
SENATOR’S WEEK AHEAD:
Friday, Feb. 17: Chicago at Ottawa (7 pm)
Sunday, Feb. 19: St. Louis at Ottawa (2 pm)
Monday, Feb. 20: Ottawa at Boston (1 pm)
PHOTO: Courtesy TSN.ca