Here is the March 24 edition of the mailbag. Each week, an NHL.com writer will answer your questions asked using #OvertheBoards.
What’s the probability of Patrik Laine being traded before the NHL Trade Deadline and what team will most likely trade for him? — @WPGJoe
Put the probability at zero, making the answer to the second part moot.
Laine has scored 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in 23 games for the Columbus Blue Jackets since they acquired him and forward Jack Roslovic in a trade with the Winnipeg Jets on Jan. 23 for forward Pierre-Luc Dubois and a third-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft. Laine is not lighting it up and can be a restricted free agent after this season, but one thing seems certain and that’s the Blue Jackets sacrificed a lot to bring Laine to Columbus and won’t be giving up on that move this quickly. It’s also believed that they were more than eager to select Laine in the 2016 NHL Draft but could not convince the Jets to trade their pick or pass on such a goal-scoring talent so he could fall to Columbus at No. 3.
In terms of Laine’s possible availability, you don’t need to know any more than that.
If you were Philadelphia Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher, what is your plan before the trade deadline and what do you do with Carter Hart? — @theashcity
The April 12 deadline is less than three weeks away and the Flyers are facing a dilemma. In its past 13 games, Philadelphia is 4-8-1 and has allowed 57 goals, issues that have changed the entire picture of its season. A 2-1 overtime loss to the New York Islanders on Monday was the first time the Flyers allowed two or fewer goals in a game since a 3-0 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Feb. 28. They are two points behind the Boston Bruins for the fourth spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the MassMutual East Division. The Flyers need help on defense, but can they find a defenseman, or even two, before the deadline that would help them improve their chances for the postseason?
I expect the cost will be high, but is it worth squeaking in and then having to run the gauntlet of powerhouse opponents in the playoffs? Maybe, but if that’s the chosen course, it’s going to require a lot of hard thinking about the future and what’s to be sacrificed for this season. I can’t see the Flyers blowing everything up and being sellers, either, because they have too many good players on the roster.
As for Hart, who’s 8-8-3, remember he’s 22 years old and it’s unlikely his 3.85 goals-against average and .875 save percentage are long-term trends. So if it were me, it’s unlikely I’d do anything with him other than make sure he has a lot of support and that he continues to focus on improving every day.
Any thoughts about what moves the New Jersey Devils may make over the next couple weeks as trade deadline looms? Thoughts on Kyle Palmieri, Sami Vatanen, etc. Also, what’s the chances of them adding Aarne Talvitie and/or Tyce Thompson before the season ends? — @benkraml21
Eight points behind the Bruins for fourth in East, the Devils are more likely sellers than buyers before the deadline. They have multiple possibilities to reshape their team if they are willing to deal potential unrestricted free agent forwards Palmieri, Nikita Gusev and Travis Zajac. Among defensemen, Vatanen, Ryan Murray and Dmitry Kulikov can each become a free agent after the season and have value on the trade market. There’s a strong possibility forward Tyce Thompson, the Devils’ fourth-round pick (No. 96) in the 2019 NHL Draft who completed his junior season at Providence College, and forward Aarne Talvitie, selected in the fifth round (No. 160) of the 2017 NHL Draft who finished his junior season at Penn State, will turn pro before long.
Will the Winnipeg Jets ever get their 1.0 records back? Have they ever requested? Not hard to do, see Charlotte Hornets. — @stevpenni
It’s unlikely and it has never been requested. The Jets’ 1.0 statistics and records since 1979-80 belong to the Arizona Coyotes, who relocated from Winnipeg to Phoenix in 1996. You reference the Charlotte Hornets/New Orleans Pelicans situation, but that was after the expansion Charlotte Bobcats collaborated with the NBA and the Pelicans to transfer all statistical information, records and history of NBA basketball in Charlotte to the renamed Hornets. It’s not the same for the NHL teams in question.
Keep in mind that as much as it may irritate some Jets fans, the 2.0 team that moved from Atlanta to Winnipeg in 2011 is free to celebrate past Winnipeg hockey history. It’s done so successfully with events like the 2016 RBC Heritage Classic, the 2019 Tim Hortons Heritage Classic (in Regina, Saskatchewan), and the Winnipeg Jets Hall of Fame.
What’s going on with Jonathan Toews? — @DannyDriscoll
Toews announced through the Chicago Blackhawks on Dec. 29, 2020 that he would not be joining them for training camp after experiencing symptoms that left him “feeling drained and lethargic.” The captain did not have a timetable for a return and hasn’t played this season.
Few other details are known, though general manager Stan Bowman answered a fan’s question about the 32-year-old center on the “Blackhawks Insider” podcast March 19.
“I don’t have much of an update,” Bowman said. “He’s obviously not back with us, so he’s not really ready to play hockey, but he seems in good spirits and I know he’s liking watching the team and the way we’ve come out to start the season. For the most part, it’s been all positive. I’m in the same category as everyone: We want him to be feeling great, not only to help our team but just to be back to himself. I don’t think he’s not quite there yet but hopefully he will be soon.”
Chicago (15-13-5) is fourth in the Discover Central Division.