With the NHL trade deadline now just days away teams are starting to make lineup decisions that will keep potential targets off the ice to protect them from injury.
Let’s just take a minute to take a quick trip through the NHL and check in on some of the more prominent names.
Oduya held out for Senators, but Erik Karlsson plays
The Ottawa Senators are in complete fire sale mode after sending Dion Phaneuf to the Los Angeles Kings a couple of weeks ago and Derick Brassard to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday, and there remains a very good possibility that the rest of the team could be playing somewhere else by Monday.
The Senators play the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon and will be without veteran defenseman Johnny Oduya.
Oduya, a free agent after the season, figures to be on the move before Monday and the fact he is being held out of the lineup on Saturday afternoon is a pretty good sign that something is brewing. Coach Guy Boucher said before the game that it is not an injury related scratch, and when pressed for why Oduya was not playing he simply said “I have to keep him out.”
That usually means a trade is imminent.
The other defenseman in Ottawa that everyone is talking about — actually, the only defenseman in Ottawa that anyone is talking about — is Erik Karlsson. With each passing hour it seems more and more likely that his time with the Senators could be coming to an end.
He is, however, in the lineup for Saturday afternoon’s game.
Right now the front-runners to land him seem to be the Tampa Bay Lightning, but it was reported earlier this week by Pierre LeBrun at The Athletic that Nashville Predators general manager David Poile checked in on him.
You know which team would be a fun possibility for Karlsson? The Vegas Golden Knights.
Tomas Plekanec sits for Montreal
When the Montreal Canadiens take on the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night they will be without Tomas Plekanec who is being held out of the lineup as a healthy scratch. Like with Oduya, this is almost certainly a sign that the Canadiens are prepared to move the veteran center, and could perhaps be closing in on a deal.
Plekanec has spent his entire career with the Canadiens and been an extremely productive two-way player. But at age 35 his production has clearly dropped the past couple of years. In 60 games this season he has six goals to go with 18 assists.
He has a pretty big cap hit so unless the Canadiens are willing to retain some salary they probably should not expect a huge return. If Michael Grabner, a speedy 25-goal winger brings a second-round pick and a prospect then Plekanec will almost certainly go for less.
He could be a fallback option for a team that did not land Brassard. The Winnipeg Jets, looking to upgrade their center depth, were reportedly in on Brassard and should still be in the market for another center. Plekanec could be an option there.
Joel Ward on the trade block
Here is a new name to add to the trading block.
San Jose is one of the teams on the playoff bubble in the Western Conference, sitting in second-place in the Pacific Division with a three-point cushion over the teams on the outside, but they could be looking to move the 37-year-old Ward.
He is having a tough season offensively with only five goals and six assists in 46 games, but he is one of those veterans that general managers love at this time of year. He has a great track record for play in the postseason and has a history of scoring big goals, so perhaps somebody can think he can step in and help fill out the bottom of their lineup.