Breaking: Huge development in Vanek trade talks, trade imminent

It’s going down. The trade deadline’s leading scorer has been pulled from the lineup.

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According to a report from Sportsnet broadcaster and Vancouver Canucks insider Dan Murphy, Canucks veteran Thomas Vanek will NOT play tonight as his team takes on the Arizona Coyotes.

Check out this succession of reports from Murphy earlier this afternoon:

The 34-year-old Vanek is the leading scorer amongst trade deadline rental options, narrowly edging out Buffalo Sabres' Evander Kane by a single point. Vanek, a lot offseason signing by the Canucks, has a stellar 17 goals and 41 points in 61 games with the Canucks this season, playing mostly alongside Canucks youngsters Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser.

Vanek has been linked to several teams in trade chatter, with the most likely targets being the Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks and Winnipeg Jets. With the Bruins landing former New York Rangers star Rick Nash earlier today, it appears that that avenue has closed, but the Kings, Sharks, Ducks and Jets all seem to be pushing hard for Vanek. As with any trade though, it all comes down to the ask and the return.

Reports on Vanek's trade value have fluctuated wildly, but it's expected that the Canucks are seeking a 2nd and a 4th round pick in exchange for the Austrian sniper.

UPDATE: Canucks insider and Sportsnet 650 reporter Rick Dhaliwal reports that Vanek has been removed from tonight's game for precautionary reasons. No trade imminent. Still... with the rental market thinning out and with the Canucks looking to restock with young and picks, don't be surprised if Vanek is moved before tomorrow's 3pm ET deadline.

Jackets land Letestu in three-way trade

The Columbus Blue Jackets have acquired center Mark Letestu in a three team trade with the Edmonton Oilers and Nashville Predators.

In case you missed it, Letestu was traded by the Oilers to the Predators earlier today for forward Pontus Aberg. Predators general manger David Poile then flipped Letestu to the Blue Jackets in exchange for a 4th round pick.

To summarize:

Blue Jackets acquire: Letestu Oilers acquire: Aberg and a 4th round pick Predators acquire: 4th round pick

The 33-year-old Letestu was one of the biggest names on the rental market heading into tomorrow’s trade deadline, and with him, Derick Brassard and Tomas Plekanec now all off the market, things are getting tight for teams looking to acquire a center.

In 60 games with the Oilers this season, Letestu has eight goals and 19 points. This will be the veteran’s second spin around with Letestu, as he was a member of the club from 2012-2-15. 

Habs trade Plekanec

In a shocking development, the Montreal Canadiens have traded forward Tomas Plekanec to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a package of picks and prospects.

According to a report from TSN's Pierre LeBrun, the Habs have retained 50% of Plekanec's salary in the trade:

LeBrun is also reporting this morning that there were three teams in the running for Plekanec's services, but that the Leafs ultimately stepped up to pay the price:

The 35-year-old center who has played his entire career with the Habs' organization has just six goals and 24 points this season, but was a perennial 15-25 goal scorer for years in the NHL. He's just two seasons removed from a 54 point performance and could find himself reinvigorated playing for a young, fast and uptempo Leafs squad. 

As for the return, the Habs acquire two mid-level prospects in Kerby Rychel and Rinat Valiev.

The 23-year-old Rychel was acquired by the Leafs from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for defenseman Scott Harrington back in the summer of 2016. Since then, Rychel has played a season and a half for the Leafs' farm team the Toronto Marlies, but has yet to earn himself an NHL callup. The former first round pick (19th overall in 2013) has 10 goals and 30 points in 55 games with the Marlies this season. His AHL teammate, Valiev is a prototypical shut-down defender. The 22-year-old Russian has five goals and 15 points in 40 games with the Marlies this season.

Bruins land Nash

In case you missed it, the Boston Bruins made a splash on the trade market earlier today, acquiring star forward Rick Nash from the New York Rangers.

The Rangers acquire Spooner, Matt Beleskey, prospect Ryan Lindgren a 1st round pick and a 2nd round pick in exchange for Nash.

The 33-year-old Nash was perhaps the biggest trade target on the NHL's open market and with him accepting a trade to the Bruins, it's expected that other trade deadline dominos will fall within the next 24 hours. How does his trade affect the market for other rental players like Vancouver Canucks forward Thomas Vanek or Detroit Red Wings defenseman Mike Green

While he's not the 40+ goal scorer that he used to be, Nash is still a very effective player. The veteran winger has 18 goals and 28 points in 60 games so far with the Rangers this season. While it's unlikely that he sees time with the Bruins' top line of Patrice Bergernon, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, Nash seems like a perfect fit to play alongside Bruins #2 center David Krejci.

It's believed, at this point, that both teams have retained salary in the deal, as well. Sportsnet insider Elliotte Friedman reports that the Rangers have retained 50% of Nash's salary, while the Bruins have retained 50% of Beleskey's salary.