NHL Trade Deadline Primer: Panthers should resist urge to move Driedger

The NHL Trade Deadline is Monday, April 12 at 3 p.m. ET. As we get closer to the deadline we will take a look at some individual players who could be moved by then. We continue today with Florida Panthers goalie Chris Driedger.

The Florida Panthers are one of the major surprises for the 2020-21 NHL season, steamrolling toward a playoff spot and hanging around in the race for the top spot in the Central Division.

Their two All-Star building blocks (Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau) are having great years again, while they are finally getting some support around them thanks to the shrewd offseason pickups of Carter Verhaeghe, Patric Hornqvist, and Anthony Duclair.

It is a good team, and while the injury to defenseman Aaron Ekblad is significant, there is reason for optimism with this group.

But while the Panthers should be in the market to add, especially on defense in the absence of Ekblad, the most trade chatter surrounding the team seems to involve them potentially moving goalie Chris Driedger.

With Sergei Bobrovsky signed for the next six years at $10 million per year, and 2019 first-round draft pick Spencer Knight recently signing his first pro contract, it is assumed that Driedger will be the odd-man out. Especially as he will be eligible for unrestricted free agency after this season. In theory, it would make some sense to move him. But it really is not that simple because the big elephant in the room here is that Driedger has been the most productive goalie on the roster for two years now.

In 16 games this season Driedger has a .927 save percentage, which comes after his .938 mark in 12 games a year ago. Sure, those are extremely small sample sizes, but he has outplayed the big-money goalie (Bobrovsky) and the prized prospect (Knight) is a complete unknown.

Going into the playoffs with only Bobrovsky (whose play has not matched his contract in two years and has a history of postseason struggles) and a completely unproven rookie as your goalie options seems risky. Why willingly give up a pretty good safety net that might actually be your best goalie?

Especially when…

What a trade might look like

… Driedger probably has more value to the Panthers as a player than he does as a trade asset.

Goalies in general tend to bring back smaller trade returns, and there are not really a ton of teams that would seem to be realistic trade partners. So that alone is going to make the return smaller. Add in the fact that Driedger is 26 years old, only has 31 games on his NHL resume, and is an unrestricted free agent after this season you are probably only looking at a mid-round pick or something similar as the basis for a trade.

The only thing that would make sense is you can find a way to make a “hockey trade” and get a comparable defender back in return to help replace Ekblad.

The most logical landing spots: Edmonton, St. Louis

Here is a “let’s throw some ideas at the wall and see what sticks” suggestion: The Blues have some major concerns in goals. They have seemingly been trying to trade Vince Dunn for more than a year now. The Panthers need a puck-moving defenseman with Ekblad sidelined.

Is there a package here centered around Dunn and Driedger that works for both teams?

Wild Card team: Washington

For the same reason that I could see them kicking the tires on Jonathan Bernier. They have an outstanding team that should be competing for the Stanley Cup. But will they get enough from Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek? They have been adequate this season. Not great. Not bad. Just fine. How much do you trust that unproven duo in the playoffs?

Team I want to see just for fun: Colorado

Philipp Grubauer has been great this season, but he has had to take on a significant workload due to the backup situation behind him. Pavel Francouz has not played this season, while the duo of Jonas Johansson and Hunter Miska has only appeared in seven games, winning just two of them. Those two have combined for a sub-.890 save percentage this season, with Miska currently owning an .838 mark in his five appearances. The Avalanche have every possible ingredient you want to see in a Stanley Cup contender, so a little extra goalie depth would be nice to have.

NHL Trade Deadline Prediction

He stays right where he is in Florida. It is simply the most logical conclusion. Unless the Panthers can get a defenseman back in return it makes far more sense to keep a really productive goalie on the roster going into the playoffs when you are not entirely sure if you have another one to replace him. Especially when you might still be able to move his free agent rights for a late-round pick after the season. Keep the goalie.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Scroll Down For:

    Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

    Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

    BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

    The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

    “That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

    Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

    “It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

    In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

    “It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

    Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

    In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

    “We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

    Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

    Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

    Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

    Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

    Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.


    The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

    Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).


    Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

    Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

    Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

    Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

    The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

    Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

    “We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

    Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

    The Predators’ next home game is now scheduled for Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

    The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

    Rangers trade Ryan Reaves to Wild for 5th-round pick in 2025

    Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

    ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New York Rangers traded enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick.

    Reaves had been a healthy scratch for eight of the past 12 games for the Rangers. He gives struggling Minnesota some extra muscle and a veteran presence.

    The 35-year-old is signed through only the rest of this season at a $1.75 million salary cap hit. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games of his second season with New York.

    Reaves has played in 869 NHL regular-season and playoff games for the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers. He was with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18 when the reached the Stanley Cup Final.

    Toronto’s Morgan Rielly placed on long-term injured reserve

    Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

    TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenseman Morgan Rielly on long-term injured reserve with a knee injury.

    Rielly was hurt in a collision with with New York forward Kyle Palmieri early in the third period of Toronto’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders at home.

    Rielly has no goals and 16 assists in 20 games this season and is averaging 23 minutes of ice time.

    Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said following practice that the 28-year-old Rielly doesn’t need surgery, adding there’s no firm timeline for his return beyond the minimum 24 days and 10 games required for going on long-term injured reserve.

    Toronto’s defense is also missing Jake Muzzin with a neck injury and T.J. Brodie with an injured oblique.