Welcome to the NHL Trade Buzz. There are three 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:
Sabres forward Taylor Hall might be more than a rental player if a team acquires him before the deadline. Sportsnet reported Thursday that Hall is willing to consider signing a contract with a team that trades for him. That would potentially add to the value Buffalo can receive for the 29-year-old because a team might be willing to give up more for a player under contract beyond this season.
Hall signed a one-year, $8 million contract with the Sabres on Oct. 11 and can become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. He is expected to sit out his third straight game for precautionary reasons when Buffalo hosts the Washington Capitals on Friday (7 p.m. ET; MSG-B, NBCSWA+, NHL.TV).
Although Hall has struggled this season, scoring 19 points (two goals, 17 assists) in 37 games, he might benefit from a change of scenery and would be a valuable addition for a team seeking a forward to play on its top two lines. Hall scored 52 points (16 goals, 36 assists) in 65 games last season for the New Jersey Devils and Arizona Coyotes and has topped 20 goals six times in his 11 NHL seasons. He won the Hart Trophy as the League’s most valuable player in 2018 after setting NHL career-highs with 39 goals, 54 assists and 93 points in 76 games with New Jersey.
The Panthers might be getting calls from teams interested in trading for goalie Chris Driedger, but general manager Bill Zito doesn’t seem interested in moving the potential unrestricted free agent.
“I get calls about guys, well, not too many about ‘Sasha’ (forward Aleksander Barkov) or whatever. But you get calls about everybody,” Zito told NHL.com. “We’ll address long-term and short-term needs for our team but won’t look to tear apart this team unless there are really compelling reasons, and [Driedger’s] a significant part of this team.”
Driedger has excelled sharing the Panthers net with Sergei Bobrovsky this season, going 11-5-2 in 18 games. He is second in the NHL among goalies with at least 10 appearances with a .930 save percentage and fourth with a 2.05 goals-against average. But after Florida signed top goalie prospect Spencer Knight to a three-year entry-level contract March 31, “TSN Insider Trading” reported teams were checking in to see if Driedger is available and that Zito is taking a wait-and-see approach.
One point behind the Carolina Hurricanes for first in the eight-team Discover Central Division, the Panthers are a top contender for the Stanley Cup, so it would be understandable if Zito doesn’t want to make a trade that weakens their goalie depth unless they can strengthen another area in the process.
The Blackhawks could continue to be active prior to the deadline, general manager Stan Bowman said Thursday.
Chicago has made two trades in the past week. It acquired the rights to restricted free-agent forward Henrik Borgström, forward Brett Connolly, defenseman Riley Stillman and a seventh-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft from the Florida Panthers for forward Lucas Wallmark and defenseman Lucas Carlsson on Thursday.
Chicago acquired forward Vinnie Hinostroza from the Florida Panthers for forward Brad Morrison on April 2.
“I don’t think you go into it figuring you’ll make four trades this week,” Bowman said. “We’re having a lot of conversations now. I’m not sure it’s going to materialize into an actual deal. There’s a lot of talk between now and the deadline, I think it’s starting to pick up, I’ve had several calls today, and probably continue that on over the next few days. Not hesitant to make more trades, but if this is the way it ends for us, that’s fine as well.
“We’re not here to just try to get on the board, we’ll try to do things that we think fit into our long-term picture.”
The Blackhawks are in fifth place in the eight-team Discover Central Division, two points behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators. The top four teams qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
A disappointing season has the Flames considering all options before the deadline, meaning no player is untouchable, but general manager Brad Treliving doesn’t want to overreact.
“Certainly, any player can be moved,” Treliving told TSN in a story published Thursday. “You hear that all the time in our business, but we certainly have players right now that we think are good players but are underperforming. … In terms of what moves we may or may not make, I think anybody that watches our team or knows our team knows who the top players are. We’re certainly not going to do things just out of emotion right now because the season hasn’t gone the way we intended it to go.”
Calgary (16-21-3) expected to contend for the Stanley Cup this season, but is tied with the Vancouver Canucks for fifth in the seven-team Scotia North Division, eight points behind the Montreal Canadiens for the fourth and final Stanley Cup Playoff spot in the division. Replacing coach Geoff Ward with two-time Stanley Cup winner Darryl Sutter on March 4 hasn’t helped. The Flames are 5-10-1 since then, including losses in their past four games.
So the spotlight now is on the possibility of changing the players.
“We’ve got a trade deadline that’s upon us on Monday, so we’ll look at seeing what if anything takes place there and then we continue to work at it every day,” Treliving said. “I’m not going to start making any big proclamations about the direction of the team. We’ve got 30 per cent of our schedule left here so that’s the focus, is on the ice right now.”
NHL.com staff writers Tracey Myers and Tim Campbell contributed to this report.