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NHL Trade Deadline Primer: Metropolitan Division rumor roundup

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Looking at the Buyers, Sellers, and Unknowns heading into the playoff-prep contest.

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Columbus Blue Jackets Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to keep up with the NHL’s trade deadline machine. Rumors — both real and fake — are everywhere, and on any given day a team can feel like they’re in the playoff hunt or not. It’s hard to sort through all the mess, so for the next four days, we’re going to go through the NHL’s trade rumor mill and parse out which forwards, defensemen, and goalies might actually see themselves on a new team come February 25th.

First up, the Metro Division. As a Tampa Bay Lightning blog, I would be remiss to ignore that some of these players talked about below might look very good in Blue and White. Let us know in the comments who piques your interest while reading through!

The Buyers

Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins don’t have many draft picks, but they have their first, meaning Jim Rutherford is going to do something bold. The team has already acquired Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann for Derick Brassard, Riley Sheahan, and a second. But it sounds like a defenseman is on their radar in the future.

Fans are not happy with Jack Johnson and are hoping he is part of the salary that goes back in a deal for a big defenseman. It would be the second deadline where Johnson has been rumoured to be on his way out. There was controversy last summer when it was revealed that the Blue Jackets wanted to trade Johnson away because he wasn’t going to be in the lineup for John Tortorella in the playoffs. When Johnson signed with Pittsburgh, a rival, he said some things and Torts returned the favor a lot louder.

  • Could Wayne Simmonds or Mats Zuccarello be a fit for Pittsburgh? [Pensburgh]
  • Olli Maatta’s injury changes things for Pittsburgh. [Pensburgh]

Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets will likely just be keepers this year more than buyers, but they might end up getting an extra guy or two if the price is suitable. They have been firm that they’re keeping to their long-term program and not spending major futures for a Cup run in a season they don’t feel ready to go all-in. Contrarily, they also have said that they plan to keep Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky for the playoffs, in case they do find magic in a bottle.

We know that that Panarin fired his agent and now shares the same representation with his goalie. That increased the speculation that the two would be a package deal. The Florida Panthers have been on the front of the headlines as one of the teams wanting their services next season. The team would even be willing to sell futures to get them now to secure contracts before the summer. Florida would be a perfect fit for the two: Roberto Luongo is fully on his way out of being a capable NHL starter, and giving Sasha Barkov some top-tier help up front never hurts.

  • A list of trade options for the Blue Jackets and why they will/won’t work in Ohio. [The Cannon]
  • Finally, Friedman notes that if CBJ goes after Matt Duchene, that Alexander Wennberg goes the other way. Also, Kevin Hayes has been talked about. [31 Thoughts #2]

New York Islanders

GM Lou Lamoriello will never reveal his hand, but it appears as though he wants to bring in a forward to help his overperforming corps. The team has hoards of future and recently drafted picks that could be used as trade bait. If it’s worth anything, Josh Ho-Sang won AHL Player of the Week last week. Lou traded a second-round pick for a fourth-line center in both years he bought for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Does he make it a hat trick? As cool as it would be, it sounds like Lou is looking at some higher-end players than a Tomas Plekanec or Brian Boyle. The Islanders have been among the names sniffing around for both Matt Duchene and Artemi Panarin.

Washington Capitals

The Caps sound like they’re going to be picky with who they target, and if they don’t get who they want, they won’t try to make up for it. The New Jersey Devils might choose to be aggressive at the deadline and make former Capitals forward Marcus Johansson available for trade. Elliotte Friedman says the Caps might get in on that action. I would be surprised if there isn’t a phone call. Forward seems like the only position the team is really looking at.

  • The Capitals are looking for their next underrated defenseman that could turn into gold. Weather and Business at 11. [31 Thoughts #17]
  • Capitals possibly checking in on Marcus Johansson. [Russian Machine Never Breaks]
  • GM Brian MacLellan might want to tinker with his seemingly flat team. [NHL dot com]

The Sellers

New York Rangers

The Rangers are sellers and it’s great. They have lots of possible trade targets and a young core that they would love to see expand and grow. Kevin Hayes is an expiring center with great numbers all around. He should definitely fetch a pretty penny anytime between now and the deadline. Mats Zuccarello is another pure rental who has always been attractive towards teams looking for a pop in the middle six. The problem for these two players is that they’re likely the backup option for the Duchenes and Panarins of the world. If a team wants to get ahead of the curve (like the Lightning and Ryan McDonagh last season), I wouldn’t be surprised if the Rangers did the deal and ran away with the spoils.

Another interesting piece that the Rangers might deal is Vladislav Namestnikov. The tenacious, skilled, and versatile center/winger has a year left on his deal and has drawn interest from bloggers as an underrated deadline acquisition.

  • A deep dive into Kevin Hayes’ future. [Blueshirt Banter]
  • Trade Deadline Survival Guide! [Blueshirt Banter]
  • Building a good NHL starts with creating a good AHL team. Right now, Hartford isn’t that, and bringing that squad up to speed will only help the rebuild. [Blueshirt Banter]

New Jersey Devils

The Devils are in the cellar, and are therefore sellers. Brian Boyle has been traded for a second-round pick once again, this time to Nashville. We already talked about the Marcus Johansson rumors. Unfortunately, beyond him, there isn’t much in terms of expiring contracts that the Devils have to sell.

The Undecided

Carolina Hurricanes

Quickly going through the expiring deals, there’s no word that Justin Williams gets moved. He’s the captain and among the founding fathers of the Storm Surge, despite what Don Cherry thinks. Next on the list is Micheal Ferland. The utility winger has grown a great reputation among the mainstream media since his trade from the Calgary Flames who want to compare him to the “market inefficiency” that is Tom Wilson. The Canes have been on and off in terms of whether they want to re-sign him, trade him, or just let him walk. They are in the playoff hunt, so why take that momentum away from the players and fans?

  • Both goalies are on expiring deals. Will a team come asking for playoff insurance between the pipes? [Canes Country]
  • The Nino Niederreiter trade means the Hurricanes don’t need to do anything drastic. [Canes Country]

Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers have Carter Hart and Cam Talbot (plus two more goalies on their active roster) for the rest of the season. Despite being within arms reach of a playoff spot, it looks like the team is going to move on from long-time Flyer Wayne Simmonds at the deadline. The question is now: where to, and how much do teams value the aging power forward? Michael Raffl is another forward who might fetch anything at a cheap-ish price. As for the only other UFA at forward, it doesn’t sound like there’s any interest in Jori Lehtera.