NHL Trade Deadline: Players who could be on the move Monday

The 2021 NHL trade deadline is Monday, April. 12 at 3 p.m. ET. There were a flurry of deals over the weekend, so let’s take a look at who’s left and who might be dealt before this afternoon.

Mattias Ekholm, D, Predators (30 years old / signed through 2021-22 / $3.75M cap hit): As Juuse Saros keeps juicing the Predators’ win-loss record, defensemen like Ekholm keep slipping down various “trade bait” boards.

It makes sense that the Predators might get cold feet about trading Ekholm, as he checks oh-so-many boxes. Blueliners as defensively adept as Ekholm simply don’t hit the market (trade or free agent) very often. When given the opportunity, Ekholm’s also revealed some offensive upside, too. Combine those skills with his bargain cap hit and the notion that you can get two playoff runs out of his current deal, and it’s easy to see why he’s so sought-after. And he might just end up too valuable for the Predators to trade.

Rickard Rakell, LW, Ducks (27 years old / signed through 2022 / $3.789M cap hit): Rakell would be the Ducks’ most marketable trade asset right now. Not only because he is an excellent top-six winger, but also because he is signed through the end of next season at a very affordable salary cap number.

The Ducks are in a tough spot where they are more than a couple of players away from contending in the near future and it might make sense to cash in on Rakell now while his value is as high as it is going to be. He seems like the kind of forward that could excel in a new environment, similar to the one Tyler Toffoli did when he was traded away from the Kings.

[Trade deadline primer: Rakell, Ducks could both use a change]

Mikael Granlund, C, Predators (27 years old / UFA this summer / $3.75M cap hit): Yes, Nashville is taking ownership of the final playoff spot in the Central Division, but shouldn’t the correct decision for the development of team be to sell whatever assets it can? Maybe there’s heat on David Poile finally and his job as the only GM in franchise history may not be so secure. Granlund can provide some secondary scoring for a playoff hopeful and long-term benefits of a deal could prove more valuable than taking a swing at the postseason.

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James Reimer, G, Hurricanes (33 years old / UFA this summer / $3.4M cap hit): Petr Mrazek is back, which means Carolina has three serviceable goaltenders available. One has to go, and the way Alex Nedeljkovic has emerged (plus his age, 25, and RFA status) he’ll be staying in Raleigh. Mrazek, 29, is a UFA this summer like Reimer, and comes with a slightly cheaper cap hit ($3.125M). GM Don Waddell said he may use one as a trade chip, which would be beneficial to strengthen the rest of the roster as the playoffs approach.

Chris Driedger, G, Panthers (26 years old / UFA this summer / $850K cap hit): The mix of Spencer Knight signing, Sergei Bobrovsky’s contract still having five years remaining, and Driedger able to be a UFA this summer puts him on the trade bait list. He’s emerged as a viable starter for the Panthers in 18 appearances this season.

Driedger’s status as a rental and his cheap cap hit makes him an attractive option for playoffs teams looking to add to their goaltending depth. But should the Panthers be eager to flip him for futures or ride this out with him and Bob and be fine with letting him walk in free agency?

[Your 2020-21 NHL on NBC TV schedule]

Alex Iafallo, LW, Kings (27 years old / UFA this summer / $2.425M cap hit): Iafallo is a very good “middle six” player that could play on any team’s second-or third line and make a positive impact. Could the Kings re-sign him before he reaches the open market? Or could they get enough in return in an NHL trade deadline deal that makes a move worth it? [UPDATE: Iafallo is staying in LA after signing a four-year, $16M extension.]

Jamie Oleksiak, D, Stars (28 / UFA this summer / $2.14M cap hit): Oleksiak is a huge defenseman with solid experience. He’s mostly been lingering around average, although he enjoyed a startling burst of offense when Rick Bowness allowed him to take some chances. Could be an interesting possibility if the Stars shop him at the NHL trade deadline.

Jonathan Bernier, G, Red Wings (32 years old / UFA this summer / $3M cap hit): Back from injury, Bernier could be good insurance for a playoff team, and the Red Wings will be looking to add to their slew of picks this offseason (10 in the opening five rounds).

Mike Hoffman, LW, Blues (31 years old / UFA this summer / $4M cap hit): Hoffman had his first multi-goal game since February over the weekend, but it’s not be the most successful stint in St. Louis. After scoring 29 goals last season, he has 11 in 37 this season and has been healthy scratched by Craig Berube. The Blues are making a playoff push, but have a difficult remaining schedule. Doug Armstrong has a big decision to make.

[Trade deadline primer: Mike Hoffman could use a change of scenery]

Luke Glendening, C, Red Wings (31 years old / UFA this summer / $1.8M cap hit): He is not going to provide much in the way of offense but NHL GMs love to trade for players like Glendening ahead of the NHL trade deadline because they value their defensive play so much. Is his defensive play good enough to warrant that? It only takes one general manager to think it is.

Ryan Dzingel, LW, Senators (29 years old / UFA this summer / $3.375M cap hit): The Senators reacquired Dzingel earlier this season and he really does not have much long-term value to them given where their rebuild is and the fact he is an unrestricted free agent after this season.

Scott Laughton, C, Flyers (26 years old / UFA this summer / $2.3M cap hit): This would probably depend on whether or not GM Chuck Fletcher believes his struggling team can claw back into a playoff spot. Laughton would be a popular trade chip given his age (26), cheap contract, versatility, and the fact he has been pretty productive with 20 goals and 24 assists in 82 games over the past two seasons. [UPDATE: Laughton will not be moving after signing a five-year, $15M extension.]

[2020-21 NHL Trade Tracker]

Jake DeBrusk, LW, Bruins (24 years old / signed through 2022 / $3.675M cap hit): This is an interesting one because the Bruins need more scoring depth, not less, and DeBrusk is still at an age where he should theoretically be considered part of the Bruins’ future. He has also been pretty good over the first three years of his career. But he has been mentioned in trade speculation for most of the season and could be part of a larger deal. The problem is that moving DeBrusk now would be risky because his value is probably at its lowest possible point. That is not a good way to get value in trades.

Mattias Janmark, C, Blackhawks (28 years old / UFA this summer / $2.25M cap hit): Given the way the Central Division playoff race is starting to shake out the Blackhawks are far from a lock at this point, and Janmark is another short-term contract that could be flipped ahead of the NHL trade deadline for a pick. [UPDATE: Janmark will be heading to the Golden Knights as part of a three-team trade.]

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Elvis Merzlikins, G, Blue Jackets (26 years old / signed through 2021-22 / $4M cap hit)
Joonas Korpisalo, G, Blue Jackets (26 years old / signed through 2021-22 / $2.8M cap hit)

Jarmo Kekalainen is in sell mode with Nick Foligno, Riley Nash, and David Savard exiting town over the weekend. Among his remaining options, what to do in goal is a question that needs answering. Teams are always looking for goalie depth, and he has two options for teams to consider with Daniil Tarasov waiting in the wings. Both have a year left, but Merzlikins is the richer option between his cap hit and the $5M in salary he’s owed next season versus $3.4M for Korpisalo.

Josh Manson, D, Ducks (29 / signed through 2021-22 / $4.1M cap hit): A few years ago, Manson ranked as one of the NHL’s most underrated defensemen. His game has slipped in recent years, though. You can see it even in his deployment, as his ice time average dropped from 22:18 per game in 2018-19 to 20:38 per night last season, and all the way down to 17:30 this season. Not ideal on a Ducks team that’s basically asking John Gibson to save them most nights. That said, Manson’s experienced without being too old, is a right-handed shot, and some might hope that he merely needs a change of scenery. (If you need a laugh, consider the reported asking price of “first-round pick and top prospect” for Manson, as Pierre LeBrun reported for TSN.)

Antti Raanta, G, Coyotes (31 years old / UFA this summer / $4.25M cap hit): There is a catch when it comes to acquiring Raanta at this year’s NHL trade deadline. He’s been a solid goaltender, but injuries have hindered him from keeping hold of the No. 1 job in Arizona. If he can stay healthy when he returns, all is good. But when did you know of NHL GMs taking risks as opposed to being ultra-conservative?

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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    Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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    Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

    The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

    Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

    After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

    Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

    Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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    MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

    But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

    “I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

    Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

    “I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

    Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

    Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

    Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

    All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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    SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

    Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

    The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

    Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

    Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.

    Kuzmenko signs 2-year extension with Canucks

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    VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Forward Andrei Kuzmenko signed a two-year contract extension with the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.

    The deal has an average annual value of $5.5 million.

    The 26-year-old Kuzmenko has played in 47 games for the Canucks this season with 21 goals and 22 assists, four penalty minutes and a plus-4 defensive ranking.

    Kuzmenko ranks second on the team in goals and power-play goals (nine) this season.

    His 43 points are also tied for third on the team in overall scoring, while his 32 even-strength points (12 goals, 20 assists) are second on the Canucks.

    Kuzmenko leads all Vancouver skaters in shooting rate (24.7%) and ranks third in the NHL in that category (minimum of 20 games).

    He leads all first-year NHLers in almost every offensive category, including goals, assists, points, points per game (0.91), power-play goals, and power-play points.

    He has also had 14 multi-point games so far this season (second most on the Canucks), highlighted by his first-career NHL hat trick and season-high four-point game against Anaheim on Nov. 3.

    A native of Yakutsk, Russia, Kuzmenko spent his first eight professional seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) with CSKA Moscow and SKA St. Petersburg, getting 200 points (85-115-200) in 315 regular-season games. He set career highs in goals (20), assists (33), and points (53) last season, ranking second in the league in scoring.

    Kuzmenko has also represented his country on the international stage on multiple occasions, totaling 16 points (10-6-16) and six penalty minutes in 37 games played. He was originally signed by Vancouver to a one-year, entry-level contract on July 13, 2022.