The National Hockey League trade deadline is approaching at a rapid pace, with under 2 months until the big day. There are some major question marks this season - largely surrounding which teams will buy, and which teams will sell.
Teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks are expected to make the playoffs, yet they are on the outside looking in, at the bottom of their respective divisions.
Will their general managers make trades to bring them back in, or will they sacrifice the season and sell off? Jim Rutherford is certainly cooking something up, as he has been for awhile now. Injuries have hampered his ability to pull the trigger. As for Stan Bowman, we don't have much information. Normally an extremely busy GM, we haven't heard much about him for awhile now.
The same goes for other teams on the bubble. One particular team that has a huge decision to make is New York. The Islanders, that is. For awhile, they seemed to be a lock for the playoffs, and with several players upping their game this year, and the confirmation of a new arena in Belmont Park, it seemed all but certain that they could lock up John Tavares long term. Yet, no contract has been signed.
It is now being reported that Tavares' camp doesn't want to negotiate until the season is over, and if the season ends badly once again, there's a very real possibility that he leaves for nothing at all. Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reported this news - and added that the Isles' management is beginning to get nervous.
Tavares is having a career-year. His 50 points in 42 games puts him on pace for just shy of 100 points. His career-high is 86 points.
They absolutely can't lose him for nothing - but trading him at the deadline signals that they've given up on the season, when they may still have a chance. If things continue downwards as they have been for the Islanders, the decision may become easier. Now - who will actually make the trade is anyone's guess. Most playoff teams have a number one and likely number two centre, so a good bet would be a team looking to have first dibs at signing him to an 8 year deal.
The Montreal Canadiens are obviously the team that comes to mind - although any team that makes this deal would probably try to do a sign-and-trade in order to not risk tons of high-quality assets for nothing.
DUCLAIR ON THE MOVE
It's well-known now that Anthony Duclair has requested a trade away from the Arizona Coyotes - however, it reportedly happened way back in November and the Coyotes have yet to find a suitable deal for their young winger.
TSN insider Darren Dreger had a scoop on where they are at with trade negotiations.
“But yesterday I was told it was heating up, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Duclair gets traded – I can’t say in the next couple of days, but I would say that he could be traded within the week.”
And there you have it - while anything can happen, the fact that we're all of a sudden hearing in January that Duclair requested a trade and it's coming to the forefront of trade conversations means that talks have indeed picked up. With the trade deadline quickly approaching, a trade this week to get ahead of the competition is very likely, and if Dreger is reporting this, it's because the possibility is more likely than not.
The kid still has a ton of skill and speed. At only 22-years-old, he may be a low-risk, high-reward acquisition for any team.
It was reported earlier this week that the New York Rangers may have interest in bringing back their former draft pick and top prospect. We'll see if anything comes out of that.
That's definitely a situation to keep an eye on as the week goes by.