NHL Trade Deadline Primer: Max Domi could impact the right team

NHL Trade Deadline Max Domi
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The 2022 NHL Trade Deadline is Monday, March 21 at 3 p.m. ET. As we get closer to the deadline we will take a look at some individual players who could be on the move. We continue today with Columbus Blue Jackets forward Max Domi.

It has been a fairly decent season for the Columbus Blue Jackets, all things considered.

While they are unlikely to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs (the eight teams in the Eastern Conference seem pretty set right now) they have definitely performed better than preseason expectations, have seen Patrik Laine rediscover his game, and have a pretty good long-term outlook thanks in large part to their return on the offseason’s Seth Jones trade. There are some building blocks here, and another significant one ahead with that first-round pick that originally belongs to the Chicago Blackhawks (Seth Jones trade).

As fun as their 2019 trade deadline was when they went all in as a bubble team that is unlikely to repeat itself here. They look like sellers. As they probably should be.

If you are somebody that is hopeful that they might trade Laine before the deadline, keep hoping. General manager Jarmo Kekalainen seemed adamant that is not going to happen, and there is really no need for it. Not only do they still maintain his player rights after this season as a restricted free agent, he has been the player they hoped he would when they acquired him a year ago and should put all of their focus into re-signing him long-term.

The likely candidate to go here is forward Max Domi, who seems destined to get yet another fresh start with another team.

At this point what you see with Domi is probably what you are going to get: He can play center and wing, he can provide some offense, he can make some plays with the puck, but he is not really going to make a significant impact defensively. He also carries a pretty significant salary cap number.

What the return might look like

Domi seems like a good target for a buyer that wants to add, hopes to catch lightning in a bottle, and does not want to give up a ton of key assets. His contract situation (pending unrestricted free agent, fairly sizable salary cap number for the rest of the season) and inconsistent production will probably take him out of first-round pick range, but maybe two second-rounders? A second and a prospect? That is what players like Sam Bennett and Andreas Athanasiou have gone for in recent deadlines, and that should be the area Domi’s value is in.

The most logical landing spots

• Los Angeles Kings, Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers

The Maple Leafs and Rangers have reportedly been linked to Domi, and he seems like he could be a fit in both places. The Rangers have a definite need for some secondary scoring in their bottom-six, while Domi might be a fit with Toronto where he could potentially breakout a little bit surrounded by some of their skill players.

The Kings are a team in that weird gray area where they are not quite ready to be major Stanley Cup contenders, but they look like a playoff team and could make a small upgrade to their roster.

Wild Card team: Vancouver Canucks

The Canucks are pretty unpredictable right now because they keep playing their way back into the playoff race, but they could also trade a core player like J.T. Miller or Brock Boeser. Who really knows what Jim Rutherford and company have in mind right now. Rutherford was linked to Domi a couple of times over the years in Pittsburgh and it is difficult to imagine that has changed much. When he likes a player, he usually ends up acquiring that player at some point.

Spot I want to see just for fun: Florida Panthers

The Panthers already have one of the deepest forward groups in the league and they do not really have the available salary cap space at the moment to add a contract like Domi without some maneuvering, but Domi and Anthony Duclair had some fantastic chemistry early in their careers in Arizona. During their parts of three seasons together with the Coyotes they outscored teams 34-12 when they were on the ice together during 5-on-5 play and were by far the best duo on that roster. They looked like long-term core pieces for the Coyotes early in their career. It would be fun to see if they could recapture that.

NHL Trade Deadline prediction

There is no team in the NHL under more pressure to win than the Toronto Maple Leafs and no matter who they play in the First Round it is going to be one of the league’s elite teams (either the Tampa Bay Lightning or Florida Panthers) so they will need as much as they can get. While goalie is probably their most important need right now the options there are slim, slim, slim. So they keep going all in at forward and get Domi to add some more offense and energy to their lineup (yes, we also predicted Brandon Hagel to them as well).

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    Sabres agree with Dylan Cozens on 7-year, $49.7M extension

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    BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Buffalo Sabres agreed to terms with forward Dylan Cozens on a seven-year extension worth $49.7 million.

    The team announced the contract. Cozens will count $7.1 million against the salary cap through the 2029-30 season.

    Cozens, who turns 22, is the latest core player the Sabres have extended over the past six months. Buffalo signed All-Star forward Tage Thompson for $50 million over seven seasons in August and defenseman Mattias Samuelsson to a seven-year, $30 million deal in October.

    Rasmus Dahlin, the top pick in 2020 who’s a Norris Trophy candidate and filled in for Thompson at NHL All-Star weekend, figures to be next for a big contract. He’s signed through next season and can begin talking about an extension this summer.

    Cozens, who was set to be a restricted free agent, has already set career highs with 17 goals, 26 assists and 43 points – with 30 games left in the season. The seventh pick in 2019, Cozens has 34 goals and 60 assists in 169 regular-season NHL games, all with Buffalo.

    The Sabres, led by Dahlin, Thompson, Cozens and 2021 No. 1 pick Owen Power, are contending to make the playoffs. The organization’s 11-year playoff drought dating to 2011 is by far the longest in the league.

    Stanley Cup champion Avalanche steadily returning to health

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    ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Had his coach been watching, this might have made for an anxious moment: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar catching an edge and falling in the fastest skater contest.

    Jared Bednar wasn’t tuned in, though, and had no idea what happened in the skills contest over All-Star weekend. Only that Makar emerged from his crash into the boards just fine.

    These days, things are definitely looking up for the Stanley Cup champions on the injury front. Defenseman Bowen Byram returns to the lineup, along with forward Valeri Nichushkin. Defenseman Josh Manson is creeping closer to a return. Same for captain Gabriel Landeskog, who’s yet to play this season. Forward Darren Helm is progressing, too.

    In spite of all their bumps and bruises, the Avalanche entered the All-Star break in a playoff spot. To weather the injury storm, Colorado has relied on 39 different skaters this season, a mark that’s tied for the most in a single season since the team relocated to Denver in 1995.

    “Anybody we can get back right now is huge,” said Makar, whose team kicks off a three-game trip Tuesday night in Pittsburgh.

    Byram returns after being sidelined with a lower-body injury since early November. He was an integral part of their Stanley Cup run a season ago, when he led all rookies with nine assists in the postseason. Byram was off to a fast start this season – two goals and three assists in 10 games – before his injury.

    “He’s looking great. He’s buzzing out there,” Makar said of his fellow blue liner. “Hopefully it doesn’t take him too long to get back into game mode. But I think he’s a guy that can turn it on pretty quickly.”

    Byram missed a chunk of games last season as he dealt with concussion symptoms. This time, he was able to be around the team as he worked his way back.

    “I was just happy it wasn’t my head,” Byram said. “It was a lot easier to be out when you’re still feeling good and feel like yourself. … I’m just excited to get going again.”

    Count on Byram for as many minutes as necessary, too.

    “I’m 100%, so no reason to ease into it,” Byram said. “I’m confident with jumping back in.”

    Manson will join the Avalanche on the trip so he can skate with the squad. He’s been out with a lower-body injury since the start of December.

    “I do think it helps to get on the road, be around the guys,” Bednar said.

    Landeskog could be back “fairly soon,” Bednar said, but didn’t have a definitive timeline quite yet. The longtime Avalanche captain has been sidelined since knee surgery in October.

    The Avalanche entered the All-Star break on quite a roll, winning seven of their last eight. They’ve amassed 57 points, which trails Dallas (66 points at the All-Star break), Winnipeg (65) and Minnesota (58) in the Central Division.

    One thing the Avalanche are guarding against is another slow start out off the break. It happened over Christmas when the team had a few days off and promptly went 0-4-1 upon their return.

    “It’s just shifting the mentality back to game mode. No more vacation,” Makar said. “We still have a long way to go. We’re not where we want to be right now. But there’s a lot of time left.”

    Kraken add some size, acquire Jaycob Megna from San Jose

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    SEATTLE — The Seattle Kraken acquired defenseman Jaycob Megna from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a 2023 fourth-round draft pick.

    Megna is in the midst of his best season with 12 points in 48 games for the Sharks while averaging more than 19 minutes per game.

    “Jaycob has shown with his play this season that he is a responsible defenseman that can be relied on in all situations,” Seattle general manager Ron Francis said. “He provides welcome depth to our defensive group and we are happy to have him join our organization.”

    The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Megna will add some size and bulk to Seattle’s lineup. Megna ranked fifth for San Jose in both blocked shots and hits.

    Megna previously played for Anaheim for parts of three seasons between 2016-19. The 48 games played this season is a career-high for the 30-year-old.

    Seattle is tied for the lead in the Pacific Division and will return from the All-Star break beginning against the New York Islanders.

    Islanders sign Bo Horvat to 8-year deal after trading for him

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    The New York Islanders signed center Bo Horvat to an eight-year contract less than a week after acquiring him in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks.

    The team announced the contract after their first practice following the All-Star break. Horvat’s deal is worth $68 million and carries a $8.5 million salary cap hit through the 2030-31 season.

    General manager Lou Lamoriello joked to reporters at practice on Long Island that Horvat’s contract was “too long and it’s too much money.”

    The Islanders sent forward Anthony Beauvillier, prospect Aatu Raty and a protected first-round pick to the Canucks for Horvat . He was set to be an unrestricted free agent after the season, and the trade was a result of Vancouver and Horvat’s camp being unable to reach a deal last summer.

    Lamoriello and Horvat expressed confidence about getting a deal done after the trade. The 27-year-old has scored more than 30 goals for a second consecutive season.

    Horvat was chosen as an All-Star and played for the Pacific Division despite the trade. He played with longtime Canucks teammate Elias Pettersson and combined on one last goal together before parting ways.

    “I want to get going,” Horvat said after the All-Star 3-on-3 tournament. “That’s enough. Let’s start playing some games and getting to know the guys. I just want to start playing hockey again.”

    Horvat was on vacation with his family in Orlando when he was traded. He said coach Lane Lambert wanted him to enjoy All-Star festivities before getting rolling with the Islanders, who play at the Philadelphia Flyers.

    “Obviously getting my legs under me is going to be No. 1 and getting systems down and obviously chemistry with the new linemates and stuff like that,” Horvat said.

    After facing the Flyers and Seattle, Horvat will play against his former team when Vancouver visits UBS Arena.