We don't need to remind you with a dramatic countdown that the trade deadline is just days away, and that several teams still need to figure out many elements ahead of Feb. 26: are they going to sell or buy? Are they making a push for the playoffs or heading towards fine tuning or worse, an entire retooling process and are they going to make a big splash at the deadline, potentially landing Buffalo Sabres' top forward Evander Kane, or New York Rangers veteran Rick Nash?
So many questions, and so little time to make a season-changing decision. The Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames and Pittsburgh Penguins are amongst teams looking to add a scoring punch ahead of the deadline, and some interesting options are still available on the trade block. As mentioned above, we are still waiting to see where Kane and Nash will end up in less than a week, but there are also Ottawa Senators' Mike Hoffman and Derick Brassard, and Montreal Canadiens' Max Pacioretty who could end up elsewhere.
The main issue with these four players is the price. Some teams, like the Flames for example, are still fighting for a playoff berth and have all of one guaranteed pick in the first three rounds of the next two entry drafts — their first in 2019. It surely makes it extremely difficult to go after the big fish at the deadline.
NHL insider Darren Dreger recently reported that the asking price for Kane was an NHL-ready player, a promising prospect, a high draft pick and a conditional one. His price tag then has an impact on the one placed on Nash's shoulders, as it was revealed that Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton is seeking "A first-round pick, a top prospect, and another lesser player or prospect or pick," reported TSN insider Bob McKenzie.
As for Hoffman, he seems to be on an off the market - some days we think he is on the move, others, GM Pierre Dorion wants to keep him on board. However, Dorion is expected to be asking a steep return for Brassard, while Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin seems unsure about everything he does lately.
"The Habs are going to ask for the moon for the player, or they'll simply choose to hang on to him for another season," wrote The Athletic's Kent Wilson.
However, there is now a cheaper, and maybe safer, option that has landed on the trade block. The Columbus Blue Jackets are reportedly open to the possibility of moving third-line winger Matt Calvert.
"There also will be interest around the league in left winger Matt Calvert, who is a top-notch penalty killer and “plus” fourth-line guy. Not sure what the value for Calvert might be — third-round pick? Fourth-round pick? — but if you're not going to re-sign him, it's best to get what you can. He, too, is a UFA this summer," explained The Athletic's Aaron Portzline.
Portzline also believes the Jackets GM should acquire some scoring punch and wonders if forwards Boone Jenner or Alexander Wenneberg might be available as trade bait.
Other cheaper options that could change the face of the trade deadline, just a few days before the big finale.