In today’s NHL rumors rundown, there is more speculation on where defenseman Mattias Ekholm may wind up, with the Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers listed as potential favorites. There’s a list of the most likely potential trade targets for the Toronto Maple Leafs and there are comments from the Carolina Hurricanes on any potential interest in Eric Staal. Finally, are executives around the NHL expecting fewer trades at the deadline? If so, many less?
Potential Landing Spots for Ekholm
The rumored asking price of a first-round pick and two quality prospects isn’t scaring teams away from looking into 30-year-old defenseman Mattias Ekholm. Sportsnet’s Emily Sander recently listed the Winnipeg Jets, Boston Bruins, Canadiens, Maple Leafs and Flyers as five potential trade destinations.
Adam Vingan of The Athletic believes there’s potential for an interesting trade out of Boston when he writes:
Forward Jake DeBrusk, 24, scored 27 goals two seasons ago, but he could need a change of scenery. DeBrusk, who scored his first NHL goal against the Predators, has a $3.675 million cap hit through 2022, when he will be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.
“Ekholm for DeBrusk would be a great deal for the Bruins,” a league executive told The Athletic’s Craig Custance. “And I’d rather have DeBrusk than a late first-round pick.”source – ‘If the Predators trade Mattias Ekholm, which team would provide the best return?’ – Adam Vingan – The Athletic – 03/19/2021
He also notes that the Canadiens and Flyers have deep organizational depth and might be the most likely trade partners for the Nashville Predators. “Montreal’s Lehkonen is young enough to factor into the Predators’ long-term plans and help them now,” Vingan writes. He adds, “Throw in either Harris or Struble and Tuch with that first-round pick, and you have yourself a deal.”
Top Five Trade Candiates for Maple Leafs
James Mirtle and Jonas Siegel of The Athletic write that Dubas’ comments about looking for forward help is enough for them to suggest that the five top trade candidates of the team are all forwards.
|Siegel’s List||Mirtle’s List|
|Alex Iafallo||Mikael Granlund|
|Taylor Hall||Kyle Palmieri|
|Filip Forsberg||Tanner Pearson|
|Rickard Rakell||Bobby Ryan|
|Matt Nieto||Eric Staal|
Siegel picked Iafallo as his top target because the 27-year-old is a pending UFA with a mild $2.42 million cap hit. The scribe notes that he’s competitive and plays with tenacity and enthusiasm, while being productive (six goals and 17 points so far this season). Mirtle suggests Granlund is his No. 1 target and writes:
I’m bringing Granlund back up again here because I think he remains the most probably acquisition for Toronto. The Leafs front office has liked him as a player for a long time and looked at signing him in the offseason. He fits what they need. He fits their cap situation. He won’t cost a bundle in assets.source – ‘The Maple Leafs’ top 10 trade deadline targets: Taylor Hall, Eric Staal, Tanner Pearson and more’ – Jonas Siegel and James Mirtle – The Athletic – 03/17/2021
Are the Hurricanes Interested in Eric Staal?
The News & Observer’s Chip Alexander reports that Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour told media when asked about the possibility of the team being interested in Staal:
“That’s a question that’s probably for further up the chain than me, but I think we know he’s an awesome person…. I like our team right now. I don’t know why we would be looking at too much.”source – ‘How are the Hurricanes doing at the halfway point of this NHL season?’ – Chip Alexander – News & Observer – 03/19/2021
GM Don Waddell did say the team has a little bit of salary-cap space heading toward the trade deadline and Alexander notes Waddell is actively looking for ways to improve the team but that salary-cap considerations must be considered.
The Hurricanes are listed among the potential landing spots for Staal, especially in light of news that perhaps a trade to Canada is not as likely based on his age.
Fewer Trades at the Deadline?
Darren Dreger was on TSN 590 this week and noted that he’s had agents tell him that they expect the trade deadline to be quiet. He said, “I’ve had other general managers tell me that April 12th, what’s the under on the number of trade? 10? 10 and under on the number of trades?”
This could explain why there is a lot of chatter weeks out from the actual date of the deadline and why GMs like Dubas have been so open about his willingness to trade a top prospect. Could he be trying to open up more discussions than are actually out there?
We know money is tight for a lot of teams and the border is creating an issue, but we also have heard a ton of names out there as far as potential trades go.
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”