Roundtable: Creating NHL trades; second half predictions

Create an NHL trade for the April 12 deadline

James O’Brien, NHL writer:

To Bruins: Taylor Hall
To Sabres: David Krejci, 2021 third-rounder, 2022 second-rounder, 2023 first-rounder

From the Bruins’ perspective, they get the supporting cast member the Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak line can really use. Hall and Krejci carry similar cap hits, too, to the point that Buffalo could easily retain the difference between the two (or more). Boston’s window isn’t going to be open forever. Theoretically, the Bruins could make other additions on top of this trade.

The Sabres gain a few things. Frankly, extending Taylor Hall doesn’t solve their problems. Getting a nice package (the specifics of those picks can obviously change) would give fans some hope. By asking for future first-rounders, the Sabres can bet on the Bruins’ window closing faster than Buffalo expects. If the Bruins drop like the Sharks did, then maybe they’d get the sort of pick Ottawa received from the Sharks when the Erik Karlsson trade backfired? Essentially, Buffalo receives those returns a) for Hall and b) to absorb Krejci’s cap hit.

Sean Leahy, NHL writer:

To Islanders: Taylor Hall
To Sabres: 2021 first-round pick, 2022 second-round pick, Michael Dal Colle

With the draft being a big unknown considering the state of our world, why wouldn’t Lou Lamoriello give up a No. 1 for the second straight deadline to add? The pick will help the Sabres rebuild from however you want to describe their mess and Dal Colle — a pending RFA — could probably use the change of scenery at this point.

Marisa Ingemi, NHL writer:

To Bruins: Rickard Rakell
To Ducks: Jake DeBrusk, second-round pick

Just for the chaos factor. I’m not sure the Bruins will actually give up on DeBrusk, but it sure feels like he is getting the Danton Heinen/Reilly Smith/Ryan Donato/Frank Vatrano/Blake Wheeler treatment in Boston. Notice a trend? It would be kind of on brand to trade one of their former future goal scoring sensation when he starts to trend downward.

The Bruins also have history with the Ducks; just a year ago they sent David Backes and Heinen there, in different trades, and added Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase from them. Rackell has been sort of connected to the Bruins for a bit, and ironically enough he might help while they figure out if Kase is ever going to string some games together in Boston. Rackell has scored 30 goals in a season and they can handle his $3.9 million cap hit.

They also love to just trade all of their draft picks so tough to imagine a deadline where they don’t do that.

Adam Gretz, NHL writer: 

To Boston: Mattias Ekholm, Erik Haula
To Nashville: John Beecher, Urho Vaakanainen, first-round pick

The Bruins get a top-four defender that is signed through next season and some forward depth, while Nashville kicks off its inevitable rebuild with two young players and a first-round pick. The Bruins farm system is not great, but Beecher and Vaakanainen both have potential to be NHL players, with Beecher potentially being a very good player. He would bring some speed and strength to Nashville’s farm system.

The key for Boston would be getting Ekholm. I know scoring depth is a big concern for them, but they also never adequately replaced Torey Krug or Zdeno Chara from this offseason and Ekholm would be around for another full season at a very affordable number against the salary cap. They should also have enough salary cap space to make another move to address the forward spot.

Michael Finewax, Rotoworld Senior Hockey Writer/Editor: 

To Bruins: Taylor Hall
To Sabres: Jake DeBrusk, 2021 first-round pick

Hall isn’t likely to sign in Buffalo again (who would want to) and the Sabres might as well get something for the $8 million they signed him for on a one-year deal. He could star on the second line with David Krejci setting him up as he wouldn’t be facing the opponents top line, that being reserved for the Pastrnak, Marchand and Bergeron line. The Sabres get a young player in DeBrusk who has shown in the past he can score as well as a first round pick. I think the money will work as the Bruins have enough space under the cap by April 12.

Jake Abrahams, Managing Editor, NHL content:

To Flyers: Mattias Ekholm
To Predators: First-round pick, second-round pick, Nolan Patrick or Oskar Lindblom

The Flyers are missing Matt Niskanen and need to solidify their leaky defense. Plus, they have more young forwards than they can protect in the expansion draft. For the Predators, this would jumpstart a rebuild and give them a useful roster player in return.

[Your 2020-21 NHL on NBC TV schedule]

Getty Images

Two predictions for the second half

James O’Brien, NHL writer:

1. We’ll see a few teams operate at full capacity, at least by the playoffs. No, that’s not the greatest idea.
2. The Penguins not only make the playoffs, they also end up getting through the East bracket.

Sean Leahy, NHL writer:

1. This may not happen until summer, but Rikard Gronborg will finally get his shot as an NHL head coach … in Vancouver.
2. There will be playoff hockey in Buffalo … but only because that’s where the North Division champion will be based during the Stanley Cup Semifinals and Final (if they make it to Round 4).

Marisa Ingemi, NHL writer:

1. The Blue Jackets rebound to be a playoff team.
2. Winnipeg has at least one dramatic playoff upset.

Adam Gretz, NHL writer:

1. Minnesota upsets somebody in the First Round of the West Division playoffs.
2. Connor McDavid tops Auston Matthews in the goal scoring race.

Michael Finewax, Rotoworld Senior Hockey Writer/Editor: I was going to say there would be more snow cancelations in the United States for games than all games in Canada but that is already true so I predict…

1. Connor McDavid will reach 100 points.
2. Alex Ovechkin will not be in the top-20 among goal scorers this season

Jake Abrahams, Managing Editor, NHL content:

1. Darryl Sutter leads the Calgary Flames into the postseason.
2. The Boston Bruins miss the postseason.

Scroll Down For:

    Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

    Getty Images
    2 Comments

    ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

    The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

    The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

    Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

    The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.

    Lightning donate $2 million to Hurricane Ian relief efforts

    tampa bay lightning
    Scott Audette/Getty Images
    2 Comments

    TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

    The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.

    “This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”

    Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.

    Maple Leafs sign defenseman Rasmus Sandin to 2-year deal

    Rasmus Sandin
    Julian Avram/Getty Images
    2 Comments

    TORONTO — Rasmus Sandin has signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the club announced on Thursday.

    The 22-year-old from Sweden was the 29th overall selection in the 2018 draft. Sandin had 16 points in 51 games with Toronto last season. He’s played in 88 career regular-season games, with six goals and 22 assists, and has one goal in five playoff games.

    “Got a great set of tools,” fellow defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “With experience, I think they’re only going to get better.”

    The signing comes as the Leafs’ blueliners been hit hard by injuries. Muzzin has been dealing with a back issue, and Timothy Liljegren recently had surgery for a hernia.

    Toronto then lost Jamie Benn (groin) and Carl Dahlstrom (shoulder) in Wednesday’s 3-0 preseason victory over the Montreal Canadiens, pressing forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Alexander Kerfoot into defensive roles for two periods.

    Back with Wild, Fleury welcomes big workload as clear No. 1

    marc-andre fleury
    David Berding/Getty Images
    2 Comments

    ST. PAUL, Minn. — With his ever-present smile, tireless approach and long list of accomplishments in the net, Marc-Andre Fleury has always embraced a heavy workload.

    The Minnesota Wild sure haven’t shied away from leaning hard on their new – and 37-year-old – goalie. After arriving in a deadline-day trade in March and re-signing with the Wild in July, the guy everyone calls “Flower” is still fully abloom as he begins his 19th season in the NHL.

    “They say, `You play,’ I play, unless maybe I’m hurt or something,” Fleury said. “But other than that, I like playing.”

    Wild general manager Bill Guerin initially planned to bring back both Fleury and Cam Talbot, who made the All-Star team and went 13-0-3 in his last 16 regular season starts before being benched in favor of Fleury for the first-round playoff series against St. Louis. The Wild lost in six games, after Talbot got the cold start in the elimination game and gave up four goals on 26 shots.

    Guerin changed his mind, though, after signing Fleury to a two-year, $7 million contract. Realizing Talbot’s frustration from the lack of postseason action, he didn’t want to risk any tension or discontent. Talbot was traded to Ottawa for Filip Gustavsson, who will be the No. 2 goalie while top prospect Jesper Wallstedt gets more development in the AHL.

    Gustavsson has only 23 career regular-season starts, nearly 200 fewer than Talbot, so it’s a good bet that Fleury will get the majority of the games.

    “I was ready to share the load with him, but things didn’t work out and happy to be having the chance to play maybe a bit more. It’s fun to play. It’s more fun than sitting on the bench,” said Fleury, who went 28-23-5 in 56 combined starts for Chicago and Minnesota last season with a 2.90 goals against average and a .908 save percentage.

    The Wild reconvened for training camp last week, beginning their quest to recapture the mojo they enjoyed last season while setting franchise records for points (113), wins (53) and goals (305). The only team that finished ahead of them in the Western Conference was Colorado, which went on to win the Stanley Cup, but they never met the Avs in the playoffs because the Blues got to them first.

    There’s a strong chemistry in place, at least, to build upon.

    “We still have a lot of guys here who were here last year. We’re just trying to make it even better, just trying to listen to everybody,” center Joel Eriksson Ek said. “We want to set a standard and a way for how hard this team’s going to work.”

    The Wild start the regular season by hosting the New York Rangers on Oct. 13.

    COMINGS AND GOINGS

    The most significant roster move of the summer amongst the skaters was the inevitable salary-cap-driven trade of second-leading scorer Kevin Fiala to Los Angeles. Fiala had a career-high 33 goals and 52 assists last season. Guerin otherwise dabbled mostly in two-way contracts in free agency for depth. Former Anaheim center Sam Steel signed with Minnesota last month, one day after defenseman Dimitry Kulikov was dealt to the Ducks.

    MORE POWER

    The Wild were done in during the playoffs by abysmal special teams. They went just 4 for 24 on the power play against the Blues, and head coach Dean Evason had the team working on that on the first day on the ice. The penalty kill that lagged last season was a focus of the second practice.

    “It has to get better, no question,” Evason said.

    BLUE LINE SHUFFLE

    Captain Jared Spurgeon has been placed with Jonas Brodin on the first pair on defense, and Jake Middleton has joined Matt Dumba on the second unit. Dumba and Brodin are close friends who’ve been paired together for several seasons.

    “Dumbs is a shooter too,” said Middleton, who re-signed for three years and $7.35 million. “It’s pretty exciting. I can get some cookies passing him the puck. That’d be a big plus. I think it’ll work well. He loves hitting guys too. He plays a gritty game as well so I think we’ll be a good combo.”

    UP FRONT

    With Jordan Greenway recovering from offseason surgeries, Tyson Jost will get the first chance to skate with Eriksson Ek and Marcus Foligno. The departure of Fiala has opened at least one spot for a rookie to make the team, with 2020 first-round draft pick Marco Rossi in line for it.

    ON THE SLATE

    This is the first time in eight years the Wild will play their regular-season opener at home. After three more games at Xcel Energy Center, they don’t hit the road until a five-game trip that starts Oct. 22 at Boston. The Wild have a season-long nine-game homestand from Feb. 9-21.