NHL Trade Buzz: Bennett happy playing for Flames since Sutter named coach

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Welcome to the NHL Trade Buzz. There are four days remaining until the 2021 NHL Trade Deadline (3 p.m. ET; April 12). Here’s a look around the League at the latest deadline doings:

 
Calgary Flames

Sam Bennett, who requested a trade earlier this season, said that coach Darryl Sutter has changed the way he feels about playing for the Flames.

“I’m happy playing under Darryl,” the center said Wednesday. “I think I’ve gotten more opportunity and I’ve been able to play my game a little bit more. When I’m playing more I’m playing better and can help the team have success. It definitely makes it fun and makes me enjoy coming to the rink when I have a big role. I’ve definitely been in a better mindset.”

The 24-year can be a restricted free agent after the season. Bennett’s agent, Darren Farris, told Sportsnet on Jan. 30 that Bennett wanted to be traded.

Sutter, who replaced Geoff Ward as coach March 4, said he thinks Bennett’s trade request is old news.

“We went past that the first time we talked to Sam here so that’s out of the question,” Sutter said. “Sam and I are on the same page, and away he goes.”

Bennett has scored 10 points (four goals, six assists) in 37 games this season.

It remains possible that other teams remain interested and Bennett could be traded. The Flames also have pending unrestricted free agents in center Derek Ryan and goalie David Rittich.

Calgary is tied with the Vancouver Canucks for fifth place in the seven-team Scotia North Division, eight points behind the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens. The top four teams in the division will qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

 
New Jersey Devils

The Devils could make more trades before the deadline after sending forwards Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac to the New York Islanders for two minor-league prospects, a first-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft and a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft on Wednesday.

Goalie Scott Wedgewood and defensemen Ryan Murray, Sami Vatanen and Dmitry Kulikov each can be an unrestricted free agent after the season.

“My job moving forward is to continue to understand where we’re at, and continue to get better,” general manager Tom Fitzgerald said. “All we want to do is continue to do better and strive to get into the Stanley Cup Playoffs and then continually be a playoff team that thirsts for winning a Stanley Cup championship and get back to an elite level where this organization deserves to be.”

New Jersey has nine picks in the 2021 draft, including six selections in the first three rounds. In addition to the Islanders’ first-round pick, the Devils have the Islanders’ second-round pick and the Arizona Coyotes’ third-round pick from trades last season.

The Devils are in seventh place in the eight-team MassMutual East Division, 14 points behind the fourth-place Boston Bruins. The top four teams in the division will qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

 
Forward market shifts

The trade of Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac to the New York Islanders on Wednesday likely made an impact throughout the NHL, with teams who may have been looking at Palmieri as an offensive upgrade now needing to search elsewhere.

The Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes all are reported to be considering adding a forward, and the Montreal Canadiens, who have lost forward Brendan Gallagher for six weeks with a broken right thumb, also would have flexibility under the NHL salary cap if they chose to add a forward.

Among the top forwards who remain possible targets are Taylor Hall of the Buffalo Sabres, Mikael Granlund of the Nashville Predators, Mike Hoffman of the St. Louis Blues, Nick Foligno of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Luke Glendening of the Detroit Red Wings. Each can be an unrestricted free agent after the season.

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