James O'Brien

Calgary Flames defenseman Kris Russell skates to his teammates after scoring against the Nashville Predators during overtime period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. The Flames won 2-1. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
AP

Flames’ Russell, Hudler figure into trade rumors

With Andrew Ladd traded, the gluttonous trade speculation machine wants more.

It’s unclear if Kris Russell should be in that mix, however. Yes, he’s out of the Calgary Flames lineup on Thursday, but this is the sixth game he’s missing with a lower-body injury. Ladd, on the other hand, was a healthy scratch.

Of course, tonight isn’t the trade deadline, so the Flames may also err on the side of caution with a potential asset.

The latest word seems to indicate that the offensively adept defenseman’s future in Calgary is more muddy than clearly over:

One cannot help but wonder if Russell is a little redundant on a Flames roster that’s heavy on scoring potential from the blueline with Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton and T.J. Brodie (plus Dennis Wideman, assuming he’s still part of the picture).

Granted, NHL teams can never get enough defensemen, particularly ones who are mobile like Russell. It’s reasonable for the Flames to shop him around, if nothing else.

Update: Russell isn’t even the most interesting Flames player to watch tonight, or so it seems, as Jiri Hudler could be on the move:

Hudler ended up playing and scoring a goal, so maybe that speculation was for naught?

Trade: Blackhawks land Andrew Ladd, Jets stock up for future

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Reunited and it feels so good, at least for the Chicago Blackhawks: Andrew Ladd is returning to the team he won a 2010 Stanley Cup with.

The Blackhawks traded for Ladd on Thursday, giving up the following reported package to the Winnipeg Jets: Marko Dano, a first-round pick and also a conditional draft choice.

That specific update comes from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and other reporters.

That conditional pick could end up being a third-rounder in 2018, apparently:

TSN’s Darren Dreger indicates that the Jets retained a significant chunk of Ladd’s salary:

Update: The Blackhawks confirmed the trade, and it appears that Matt Fraser and Jay Harrison were also part of the package sent to Chicago.

Blackhawks’ perspective

Ladd is a classic rental: his $4.4 million cap hit expires after this season.

It ultimately boils down to how Joel Quenneville wants to lean, but one would guess that Ladd will slot into a line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. If so, that gives the Blackhawks two powerhouse trios, as Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane have been lighting up the league.

Ladd can snipe and is also the sort of steely, physical presence who should fit with Hossa and Toews like a glove (or give Chicago outstanding support offense if they lean toward depth).

Here’s a quick look at what Chicago is left with, cap-wise:

Jets’ side

Once it was clear that Winnipeg wasn’t going to retain Ladd, the price was reportedly a first-rounder and a prospect. GM Kevin Cheveldayoff more or less got what he wanted.

Dano is an interesting piece, looking OK in his cups of coffee at the NHL level. He’s bounced around a bit, yet he has the sort of first-round pedigree that could fit in well with the development-minded, draft-leaning Jets.

WATCH LIVE: Nashville Predators at Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks players shake hands with Nashville Predators after the Blackhawks defeated the Predators 4-3 in Game 6 of an NHL Western Conference hockey playoff series Saturday, April 25, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP

The Nashville Predators pushed the Chicago Blackhawks quite a bit in their 2015 first-round playoff series, but their opponent obviously went on to bigger and better things.

The two Central Division opponents both have plenty of motivation to win tonight, even if their aims are a little different.

With a little help, Chicago might end Thursday atop the division. Meanwhile, Nashville just wants to strengthen its hold on one of the West’s wild card spots.

Even with Shea Weber‘s presence very much in doubt, there’s a lot of talent on the ice. It should be a fun one, which you can watch on NBCSN and also stream via the link below.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Leafs are indeed shutting down Lupul, Van Riemsdyk for the season

Toronto Maple Leafs James van Riemsdyk attends NHL training camp in Toronto on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2013. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)
AP
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What was reported earlier on Thursday appears to be true: James van Riemsdyk is done for the season.

He’s not the only Toronto Maple Leafs forward who won’t play another game during 2015-16, either, as Joffrey Lupul‘s out of the mix, too.

The team itself hasn’t sent out the official tweet, but it all appears to be a done deal, as you can see from at least two sources:

Whether Mike Babcock wants to admit that this is a tank-job or not, it’s easy to justify shutting each player down.

Even if they could try to play, why bother? The Leafs are fighting for lottery odds, not anything else at this point in the season. Every move is about loading up for the next draft or two.

The more interesting questions revolve around their futures with Toronto: will JVR or Lupul play for the Maple Leafs again?

JVR’s struggled at times, but his $4.25 million cap hit is pretty easy to stomach when you consider his potential as a quality power forward.

Both of their deals don’t expire until after the 2017-18 season, which could make Lupul’s $5.25 million cap hit tough to move and difficult to stomach as buyout. It might be worth it to Lou Lamoriello & Co, however, as Lupul only seems to struggle more each season.

(Cap numbers via General Fanager.)

PHT Morning Skate: Brent Burns chia pet – what took so long?

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

As you can see in the video above, Chris Chelios had fun (briefly) disrupting Nicklas Lidstrom’s intermission interview on NBCSN.

(You can see his puck drop ceremony at the bottom of this post.)

The value of playing the (draft) lottery. (Sportsnet)

Five possible trade deadline bargains. (The Hockey News)

The case for chasing Jeff Skinner in a trade. (TSN)

The chia pet Brent Burns, aka one of those “How did I not think of that?” ideas.