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NHL Trade Deadline Primer: Central Division rumor roundup

With Duchene off the market, where will teams go to find centers?

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Nashville Predators
Jan 17, 2019; Nashville, TN, USA; Winnipeg Jets center Andrew Copp (9) are separated during a scrum after the whistle during the second period against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena.
Christopher Hanewinckel-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 tough to sort through all the mess, so for the next few 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.

Day three is the Central Division. There are a lot of buyers in this division. whether or not there should be is a different question. Looking at you, Chicago and Dallas.

The Buyers

Winnipeg Jets

The Jets have been linked to Mark Stone and the Ottawa Senators for weeks. I’m sure they would prefer to get a center like they did with Paul Stastny last year, but a winger like Mark Stone to play alongside Patrik Laine, pushing the likes of Jack Roslovic down to a third line where he can destroy worlds is a pretty good set up. Even without Dustin Byfuglien for part of the last month, the defense on the Jets has been rock solid.

Unfortunately for the Jets, by the sounds of the reports, they might have to take away from their current roster to get a deal done. This is from 31 Thoughts:

7. Winnipeg deflected requests for Adam Lowry and Jack Roslovic in its search for improvement. Nick Kypreos reported last Saturday the asks may spread to Sami Niku, just returned to AHL Manitoba. But one player the Jets will move — providing it makes sense for him and the team — is Nic Petan. Limited to 13 games, it is time for a fresh start.

Nashville Predators

How crazy would it have been if the Nashville Predators got Matt Duchene a little over a year after getting Kyle Turris in the deal that sent him to Ottawa? Unfortunately, Duchene is on the Blue Jackets right now and appears to be enjoying life. The Predators still want center depth, and teams are asking for Eeli Tolvanen in order to make it happen. The Predators are saying they won’t trade their prized prospect, so it’ll be interesting which side folds first.

As for trades they’ve already made, Brian Boyle has done pretty well so far in Nashville since coming from New Jersey in exchange for a second-round pick. He seems to be taking Smashville to heart.

  • Predators hoping for extensions from key RFAs in order to know how much they can spend come deadline day. [31 Thoughts #2]

Dallas Stars

The Stars are going to be big buyers this weekend. Their biggest pending UFA, Jason Spezza, doesn’t want to move and the team is in the first wild card spot with an ownership group clamouring for the team to do something in the postseason.

As a result, they’ve been in hard on Artemi Panarin as well as Mats Zuccarello from the beginning as they look for forward help for Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. Now that Panarin is reportedly off the market as a result of the Blue Jackets becoming buyers, don’t be surprised if they try to go after Mark Stone or any of the guys in New York. The big question comes if/when they fail to grab any of those pieces, where will they turn? Jim Nill’s job is probably on the line at this point.

The Stars also made a trade to upgrade their defense this morning, trading Connor Carrick and a third-round pick for Ben Lovejoy from New Jersey. Carrick was traded to Dallas from Toronto in exchange for a seventh-round pick.

Chicago Blackhawks

Do the Blackhawks still see themselves as buyers and able to contend for a Cup? They might as well while they’re paying Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews $21 million combined on the cap and Brent Seabrook is refusing to waive his no-trade clause.

The Hawks believe that they have a “logjam” when it comes to prospects on defense, and are willing to trade some very high-end pieces for a rental of some kind. For what return, we’re not really sure. One thing that Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet is confident in is that the team wants to trade Artem Anisimov as part of the deal.

The Sellers

Minnesota Wild

The Wild are in a playoff spot, but they’ve already started to sell off pieces. Nino Niederreiter is in Carolina, Charlie Coyle is in Boston, and Mikko Koivu is out for the season. Where do the Wild really fit in terms of contending for a Cup? If ownership is smart, they’ll allow GM Paul Fenton to sell away some contracts and try to replenish the team. That’s where the mood seems to be going and it’s honestly the smart move.

At the very least, Minnesota can trade Eric Staal. He’s on the last year of his deal and has 40 points in 61 games this season. Reports are that Staal doesn’t want to waive his no-trade clause because he likes it in Minnesota. He’s said himself that he’s rather stay where he’s comfortable so trading him could prove difficult. But if the Wild can find a team within the 21 teams he’s willing to leave for, they would be very smart to do it.

The Undecided

St. Louis Blues

There was a time when I said that the Blues should blow up their team. Trade captain Alex Pietrangelo, Vladimir Tarasenko, Jake Allen, Colton Parayko, you name it. It really felt like Doug Armstrong was leaning that way after several obviously frustrated quotes came from him throughout the summer and into the first months of the season.

But somehow, the Blues have turned it around. Ryan O’Reilly has solved the mystery that is Vlad Tarasenko and has him producing. The defense has a mix of young and old, but all with one cohesive plan: use size and mobility to limit chances to the middle. And finally, Jordan Binnington has been able to make the saves no goalie in St. Louis has been able to make in years. Suddenly, all those tight losses have turned into hard-fought wins.

So what do the Blues do at the deadline? They’ve been dead quiet on the rumor front for pretty much the entire month. There’s no sense trading any current players, and I don’t think GM Armstrong wants to mess with the chemistry and turn of form his team is currently riding. My guess is they stand pat, or grab one or two small extra pieces, and see where things go with this team.

The only UFAs of note are Patrick Maroon, Jay Bouwmeester, and Carl Gunnarsson. Maroon is a STL native and wants to stay close to his family, so he’ll probably re-sign with the club. Bouwmeester is ancient and playing like he is. I think it’ll be good for the Blues to rid themselves of his $5.4M price tag. And Gunnarsson has been on the IR for all but 18 games, so it doesn’t look like they need him.

Colorado Avalanche

Despite having one of the worst winters in recent memory in terms of falling off a points cliff, the Avalanche find themselves one point away from the playoffs with a two-point cushion on the teams below them. Still, the smart move here would be to sell and hope the Ottawa Senators give them a second-liner center by the name of Jack Hughes to play with Tyson Jost next year.

Patrik Nemeth has had his name thrown around by teams looking for insurance on the depth of their defense corps. Nemeth has looked fine as a 6/7 guy this season, but his possession numbers haven’t been great. It’ll take a team that is willing to ignore those flaws to acquire him. In related news, some Avalanche fans are hoping the team moves on from young defenseman Nikita Zadorov now before his value falls off. He, too, doesn’t produce the offense or defense required to help this team, and he takes a lot of penalties. Sven Andrighettos name has also been thrown around a bit. The 26-year-old winger will be a RFA at the end of the season. Personally, I think the Avalanche should keep him, but if he’s in demand and the return is good value, I see GM Joe Sakic making the deal.