The New Jersey Devils swung two deals over the weekend, trading veteran defenseman Andy Greene to the New York Islanders for defenseman prospect David Quenneville and a second-round draft pick in 2021, and Blake Coleman to the Tampa Bay Lightning for forward prospect Nolan Foote and a first-round pick in 2020 that originally belonged to the Vancouver Canucks. A solid haul for a Devils team looking to stockpile future assets.
On Monday, the Canucks acquired coveted winger Tyler Toffoli from the Los Angeles Kings for forward Tim Schaller, the rights to forward prospect Tyler Madden, a second-round pick in 2020 and a conditional pick in 2022. It was a surprising move at the time, but more clarity was provided after it was revealed that star winger Brock Boeser could miss the rest of the season with an upper-body injury.
Things ramped up big-time on Tuesday:
— The Winnipeg Jets acquired depth defenseman Dylan DeMelo from the Ottawa Senators for a 2020 third-round pick.
— The Washington Capitals landed top-four defenseman Brenden Dillon from the San Jose Sharks for a 2020 second-round pick and 2021 conditional third-round pick. The Sharks retained 50 percent of Dillon’s $3.27 million cap hit.
— The St. Louis Blues acquired depth defenseman Marco Scandella from the Montreal Canadiens for a 2020 second-round pick and 2021 conditional fourth-round pick. The Canadiens retained 50 percent of Scandella’s $4 million cap hit.
— The Vegas Golden Knights are reportedly finalizing a trade with the Kings for two-time Stanley Cup champion defenseman Alec Martinez that could involve two second-round picks going to Los Angeles. It’s worth noting Martinez has one year left on his contract after this season that carries a $4 million cap hit. The deal may not be announced until Wednesday.
The three defensemen moved were pending unrestricted free agents, which gives Blackhawks a better feel of what they could get in return for Erik Gustafsson.
The activity is likely far from over in the Western Conference.
The Colorado Avalanche are one of the favorites to come out of the West but have been decimated by injuries to key pieces as of late.
Top-six center Nazem Kadri (leg) is expected to be out until mid-to-late March. Versatile winger Matt Calvert (oblique strain) will miss multiple weeks. Starting goaltender Philipp Grubauer’s (lower-body injury) timeline is still up in the air. And two-time 80-plus point-getter Mikko Rantanen reportedly broke his collarbone on Monday and could be sidelined for six to eight weeks, which could end his regular season.
The Avalanche are projected to have $26.9 million in cap space going into the trade deadline, so money is clearly not an issue. Their prospect pool is also loaded, highlighted by defenseman Bowen Byram and forward Alex Newhook, both of whom were taken in the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft at No. 4 and No. 16, respectively. The Avalanche still own their first-round pick in 2020, too.
If the Blackhawks declare themselves sellers, they could be an attractive trade partner for a team like Colorado, who isn’t looking to take on longer-term contracts that would interfere with extensions for Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar down the road.
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For one, the Blackhawks have two No. 1 goaltenders in Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner, both of whom are set to become UFAs at the end of the season. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman wrote in his weekly 31 Thoughts column on Tuesday that he believes Colorado has checked in on Crawford, but it remains unclear how the Blackhawks will handle their goaltending situation.
Brandon Saad won’t necessarily be on the trade block with one year left on his contract after this season, but would the Blackhawks consider attaching him with one of their goaltenders to sweeten their own return? The Blackhawks will certainly have options.
"I've been doing it long enough where you get some really interesting ideas as you get closer to the deadline," GM Stan Bowman told NBC Sports Chicago on Feb. 7. "General managers tend to be more open-minded at that time of year of things you never thought that people would propose. I'm not expecting anything. I'm just going to let it play out the way it does and we'll take it as it comes."
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