1) Will Ryan Kesler get traded?
The Canucks seem to be sincere about writing this season off and looking towards the future. If that’s the plan, and for some reason they’d like to part with a big, talented, mean center with cheap term (wait, why is this happening again), they might as well do it sooner than later to maximize return.
So… *peanut vendor cadence* ”Kesler here…piping hot Ryan Kesler, who wants some Ryan Kesler…??”
2) What are the Ducks plan?
While it’s been reported that Thomas Vanek is going here, there, and everywhere, it sure looked like Bob Murray was clearing out the roster space and salary cap for a big addition like the Islanders’ playmaker. Whether he goes there or not (rumors say San Jose), I’d be really surprised if they didn’t use the cap space they’ve been banking all season to add another piece. They’re leading the NHL in points by five right now, and they can smell another shot at the Cup. You don’t expect them to stand pat, do you?
3) Do the Islanders get back what they gave up for Vanek?
When the Islanders acquired Thomas Vanek, they moved Matt Moulson, a first in 2014 or 2015, and a second in 2015. There’s a good chance they’d like to at least recoup those picks for the talented Austrian, and more. The Islanders really, really don’t like paying actual hockey players, so it wouldn’t be too shocking to see the main part of the return be picks, but with Brooklyn not too far off in the horizon, you’d think they’d like to exit the rebuild phase sooner than later, so…who knows. We’ll find out what they’re after soon enough.
4) What do the Toronto Maple Leafs think they are?
The Leafs are a team that would love to add a piece or two, but to do that you have to assets to part with, otherwise you’re just swapping pants for shoes when you should probably be wearing both, guys. But, if they think they’re close enough to do some post-season damage (or at least get in there) they could always spend on the credit card that is draft picks and try to at least grab a figurative hat or something. They aren’t entirely naked, but they’re not exactly dressed for winter either.
5) Does Matt Moulson return to his old stomping grounds?
The other half of the Vanek deal went to Buffalo, and like he always does, said the right things, played hard, and scored goals. The Kings, on the other hand, lack the ability to do that last thing. They’ve only outscored Calgary and Buffalo this season, but have been good enough to be playoff locks. If they can up the puck-in-opposing-net part of their game they’ll once again be a threat, so the return of Moulson seems like the obvious fit.
6) Will the Sabres move everyone of any value on their roster?
While we’re on Buffalo…
The Sabres are throwing everything off the boat to keep it from sinking, and even though some of the roster getting tossed overboard were sitting on holes to keep the ship from sinking faster, they think it needs to be done. They’re probably right. One of those guys that’s been doing a great job for them has been Christian Erhoff, who’s also been reported to be in the Kings plans. Tyler Myers name has come up. Tim Murray has basically said that no name is safe (save for Zemgus Girgensens) – will he go crazy at the deadline, or wait for the summer?
7) If Ryan Callahan isn’t re-signed in the early morning, is he a goner?
How long can you play the game where a guy says “I want $6.5m x 6 or 7 years,” the team says “We’ll give you $6m x 6,” and the guy responds by not responding? Frankly, if I’m the New York Rangers, he’s got until I’ve finished my morning o.j. before he’s 100% getting dealt. You just can’t risk losing an asset like Callahan for nothing, so I’m guessing the clock is running out on the guy.
8) Will Marian Gaborik join his fourth NHL team (and what’s his worth at this point?)
Don’t look now, but the Columbus Blue Jackets are kinda legit. Between the emergence of Ryan Johansen, Nathan Horton’s great play, Artem Anisimov becoming a player, Brandon Dubinsky’s grit and some quality play from the likes of James Wisniewski, they’ve become a considerable playoff threat.
So all that said…do they move pending UFA Marian Gaborik? You don’t want to lose him in the summer for nothing (as this whole UFA thing goes), but you could sure use that scoring punch down the stretch. It’s a tough call, and one the very capable Jarmo Kekalainen will have to make today. I kinda think they may keep him, rental style.
9) Will the Oilers finally rid themselves of that terrible (but totally not) player Ales Hemsky they’ve been shopping forever?
The Hemsky saga has been painful to watch for Oilers fans. For whatever god forsaken reason it just hasn’t worked between him and the Oil, and they’ve spent the bulk of his years threatening to ship him to Siberia, or like, Winnipeg or somewhere. The point is, he’s an undervalued asset that they’re probably going to part with for next to nothing, so…which team is going to snatch him up and put him in a situation to succeed? Which savvy GM recognizes a misused player?
10) What’s up Pittsburgh’s sleeve?
They can’t do nothing, can they? They were rumored to be involved in trying to snag Kesler from Vancouver, which means they’re serious about doing something bigger (and they have the assets to move, too). They’re going to be without Pascal Dupuis for the season, and you can’t run AHL call-ups out there with Crosby in the post-season. If Kesler doesn’t pan out, what then? Ray Shero tends to do something at every deadline; I’d be shocked if this year were any different.