Kaplan: Latest on Patrick Kane, Boston Bruins and more trade buzz

The deadline for the NHL trade is March 3, and with just nine days left, negotiations around the league are intensifying. Here’s what I’m hearing about some of the dynamics going on behind the scenes…

What will Patrick Kane decide?

We should clear up Kane’s decision this week. None of this has been easy for the veteran winger. Kane always imagined he would retire as Blackhawk. Only in the last few months – and maybe even in the last few weeks – has he been forced to admit that this vision can no longer be realistic. Based on conversations with league sources, the behind-the-scenes talks with the Rangers were more advanced than reported. Kane had a route to New York, his preferred destination in case he left Chicago, and then all of a sudden it seemed to him that he had been taken away – which is why you saw how he reacted so defenselessly to the deal with Vladimir Tarasenko.

Kane was upset by the news of his hip injury, but the teams expressed this serious concern. Kane is one of the best players in the league. He is incredibly competitive and takes great care of his body. Ahead of his 30th season, he switched to a training method based on bodyweight movement; many league players, including Auston Matthews, follow him. Kane is doing a lot to prepare for the season. But he proved, especially with his home-ice hat-trick against the Maple Leafs on Sunday, that he can still be effective no matter what bothers him and no matter what linemates he plays with.

So now Kane is recalibrating again. I believe he asked to explore the possibility of moving to the Rangers. It’s not impossible, but it will require some serious maneuvering. Kane also needs to consider what else is available. I know the Carolina Hurricanes and the Dallas Stars are interested in him. I think Vegas Golden Knights and Edmonton Oilers too. There may be a mysterious team hiding there. One of the reasons Kane enjoys playing in Chicago is because it’s a comfortable environment for him and his family. So Kane must decide if he can recreate the comfort and structure in one of these places, giving himself a legitimate shot at winning. If he can check those boxes, we’ll see how he moves on and enters the next chapter. If not, the Blackhawks were prepared for Kane to come to them and say he didn’t want to move at all.

More about the Blackhawks

There was interest in Chicago captain Jonathan Toews. I know the Colorado Avalanche have been following him this season. The Seattle Kraken also followed his game. But once Toews took time off this month to find answers to why he still doesn’t feel healthy — symptoms of long-term COVID and chronic immune response syndrome, he says — a move became less likely. General manager Kyle Davidson confirmed to me that the Toews will not be sold by the deadline.

This creates interesting flexibility for Chicago’s recovery plans. Teams are only allowed to keep the payroll of three players, and the Blackhawks expected to keep some of the $10.5 million that Toews reached in the trade. They are likely to keep some of Kane’s $10.5 million in a potential deal. But how could they use the other two places now that Toews won’t be sold? Davidson made it clear to his colleagues that he was open for business. Call any player on his list and make an honest offer and he’s willing to listen. Jake McCabe is generating a lot of interest from across the league, especially if his $4 million cap for the 2024-2025 season is halved. I think the request from Chicago is a first round pick plus McCabe. There has also been a lot of buzz about Sam Lafferty, who has finally found his speed in an NHL regular role, has an attractive $1.15 million net worth and has a contract for next season. I think the Blackhawks want to pick Lafferty in the second round.

But even as Chicago tries to recover by picking up as many prospects and draft picks as possible, Davidson isn’t just trading players. He’s taken a lot of calls, but if the asking prices don’t pan out, he’s comfortable holding on to both veterans who have helped with the team’s culture and will be attractive to teams next year.

What do the Bruins need?

This year, the Boston Bruins are the most cohesive and consistent team in the NHL. But they know the President’s Trophy doesn’t guarantee playoff success, and they still want to add. They’re up to something potentially big. Other teams told me that the Bruins called and asked if they would take Craig Smith ($3.1 million) to help them clear the spot.

Although Boston has followed all the big names, including Timo Meier, they need left defense the most. Ideally, the Bruins could find someone big enough to play Charlie McAvoy, which would remove Matt Grzelczyk in the rotation. They have been monitoring the situation with Jacob Chichran for some time. I heard from several sources that the Bruins were in preliminary talks for Columbus’ Vladislav Gavrikov, but may be waiting for another deal before they can finalize that deal. And if Gavrikov doesn’t succeed, I guess they have a backup plan.

Expect Lightning to do anything

For the past three years, Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Julien Brisebois has said the same thing publicly around the same time: he has no room in his cap to make any moves. And over the past two years, he figured it out anyway, making a splash with Blake Coleman in 2021 and then Brandon Hagel in 2022. He’s singing the same tune this year, and when I met him in Tampa last week, he insisted that I, “Really, I don’t have the ceiling space or assets this year to do a deal like Coleman or Hagel.”

The Lightning have no first- and second-round picks for this year’s draft, and no first-round picks for 2024. And yet I find it hard to believe in Brisebois. He is one of the most cunning managers in the league. He’s going to find a way to do anything to help your team. Brisbois told me that defense is not what is needed. The Lightning believe they have 10 NHL-ready blueliners in their NHL roster as well as in the AHL Syracuse Crunch. I’ve heard from other teams that Tampa Bay is open to signing Cal Foote, who has only played 25 games this year, due in part to the arrival of Nick Perbix.

In fact, the Lightning are looking for a bottom 6 forward who can match their identity and culture (like Nick Paul, another pick for them last season). I also think they would like to add an element of speed, so Chicago’s Sam Lafferty and his price confidence for next season makes sense. But then again, when it comes to BriseBois, you should expect the unexpected.

Any surprise teams ahead of schedule?

I asked the assistant CEO to name me a surprise team that could be the protagonist of closing day. “Seattle Kraken,” the assistant manager told me. “I think they were sniffing around a lot of possibilities to add to their lineup. They still have the big picture in mind to build the right path, but I think this year they see an opportunity and they can go for it.”

There were rumors that Carson Saucy might be available. He was scratched on Monday against the Sharks after a puck hit his leg. Susi, 28, became an unrestricted free agent this summer, and so far there have been no contract negotiations. But it would be a big surprise if Sousi was moved; Removing an experienced defenseman from a team going to the playoffs is a bold decision.

Latest news about reeds and wildlife

The Hurricanes and Minnesota Wild are looking for scoring assistants, but both teams are getting creative. The Wild are hesitant to give up high picks or loan prospects as they are still managing their forced buyout cap cap – and I also don’t think they’re convinced they should go all in this year.

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes tend to do things differently than the rest of the league. While they have the most headroom and more flexibility among the top contenders thanks to Max Pacioretti’s LTIR designation, their pricing doesn’t always match what the market says and they stick to it. They’re keeping an eye on Kane and Meyer, but I wouldn’t be surprised if their signing turns out to be an inconspicuous player with a deadline. Canes usually don’t deal with rentals or short-term solutions. They also tend to do business at the eleventh hour. So, although many teams are ahead of the deadline, Carolina should be active on March 3rd.

Source: www.espn.com

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker