Ryan Whitney

Trade Bait: Ryan Whitney

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The NHL’s trade deadline is Wednesday, April 3. Following is a player that may be moved. For more “Trade Bait,” click here.

Earlier this season, the Edmonton Oilers’ chances of trading offensive defenseman Ryan Whitney were probably slim-to-none. About a month ago, that still seemed to be the case.

It was pretty hard to comprehend a $4 million defenseman not being able to even make the lineup on a team that’s not even an obvious contender. Whitney admitted it several weeks ago, too.

“They’re paying me a lot of money and I’m not playing,” Whitney said.

The 30-year-old has made a better case for himself lately, even though he’s still an occasional healthy scratch for Edmonton. Whitney has scored five of his 10 points in the last six games, strengthening the argument that he can be a useful offensive threat.

Whitney told the Edmonton Journal that he was surprised by his latest scratch on Monday and he also understands that he might be auditioning for a new team starting tonight.

“Me being scratched last game probably means something, but I’m here and I want to play as well as I can for the team and myself,” Whitney said. “In their minds, I’m battling for that sixth spot and doing what I can. Hopefully, that changes here or somewhere else. I’d like to be confident I’ll play a lot wherever I am. We’ll see.”

Since signing his soon-to-expire six-year, $24 million deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins, he’s already been traded two times, so it’s not outrageous to wonder if it will happen again.

There haven’t been too many strong rumblings about potential suitors, however.

After healthy scratch, Severson vows to play ‘next 80 games’

Jimmy Hayes, Damon Severson
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Damon Severson was a healthy scratch on Saturday.

It’s the last game he wants to miss this season.

“I had a good chat with a few people and just pretty much said, ‘I want to be in the next 80 games,’” Severson said, per The Record. “I sat out my game and that’s all I want to be out for for the year.”

Severson is one of the Devils’ most important young players. But this is also the 21-year-old defenseman’s sophomore season, and that’s when slumps can occur.

Hence, the early message he was sent by the coaching staff.

Severson is expected to be back in the lineup tonight when New Jersey hosts Nashville.

“He doesn’t have to be perfect,” coach John Hynes told reporters. “We’d just like to see him have a high compete level. We know he’s ready to go. We had a couple of good meetings with him. He’s in a good spot mentally. I know he’s ready to roll.”

Virtanen to make NHL debut tonight versus Kings

Jake Virtanen
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Jake Virtanen, the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft, will make his NHL debut tonight when his Canucks meet the Kings in Los Angeles.

The 19-year-old winger was a healthy scratch for Vancouver’s first three games of the regular season. He had two goals and two assists in six preseason games.

“I can’t wait,” he told reporters. “My energy is high. I want to get a couple of hits on my first shift.”

Big and physical with goal-scoring ability, the consensus is that Virtanen will remain in the NHL and not be returned to junior after he’s played nine games. That consensus could always change based on his play, of course.

The Canucks — who won last night in Anaheim — did not have a full skate this morning, so it’s unclear who will come out of the lineup. The best guess is rookie Jared McCann, who’s been playing third-line center.

If McCann does come out, the Canucks could move Brandon Sutter to third-line center and Virtanen could take Sutter’s spot on the first line with the Sedin twins. Or, there could be more extensive line juggling.