NHL Rumors: Analyzing Hottest Trade Buzz Entering 2018 Deadline Day

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistFebruary 26, 2018

Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson warms up before an NHL hockey game against the Chicago Blackhawks, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

The NHL trade deadline hits at 3 p.m. ET Monday, and a ton of big names and huge trades are potentially in the works.

Below we will break down the juiciest buzz with the deadline approaching.

               

Erik Karlsson, Bobby Ryan and Mike Hoffman, Ottawa Senators

Chris Szagola/Associated Press

The apparent availability of Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson could make him one of the biggest names to be moved on deadline day in years. 

"Whatever gets said, the belief is the Ottawa Senators want to try to make this happen and Erik Karlsson wants it to happen, and they have been grinding away in the last two or three days to see if they can," Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet said on Hockey Night in Canada (h/t Emily Sadler of Sportsnet). "Obviously [the] Tampa Bay [Lightning are] a leading contender. I think they've thrown several different proposals at each other."

Friedman added there may be "stealth contenders" out there to land Karlsson, including the Nashville Predators. He noted that Ottawa may try to package Bobby Ryan in any Karlsson deal to lose his $7.25 million cap hit, as he has four seasons remaining on his contract.

TSN's Pierre LeBrun added the San Jose Sharks could be suitors for Karlsson:

With the possibility Ryan needs to be a part of any Karlsson deal, multiple teams could get involved in the trade, per Craig Custance of The Athletic:

Any deals Tampa Bay makes would reportedly need to include a major player already on their roster.

"I'm sure the names Brayden Point and Yanni Gourde have come up, but at the very least it might even cost them [Vladislav] Namestnikov, and we know how important he is to the first line in Tampa Bay," Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos said on Hockey Night in Canada. "But Ottawa wants a major piece back."

Karlsson is arguably the best defenseman in the NHL and is a two-way superstar. He's scored five goals and added 37 assists in 56 games this season, and coming into the 2017-18 season, he had registered 66 or more points in five of the past six campaigns. If he's dealt, it could turn an already interesting NHL trade deadline into one for the ages.

As for Ryan, he's having another down season, with just seven goals and 15 assists in 41 contests. After registering 54 or more points in six of eight seasons between 2008 and 2016, he scored just 25 points last year. While he's on pace to surpass that total this term, the 30-year-old Ryan simply isn't the player he was in his prime.

And trying to package him in any Karlsson deal could make things complicated. But Karlsson is the type of player who could take a team from contending status to title-winning status—he led the Senators to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final last season, recording more points (18) than any other blueliner during the playoffs. He's worth the complications, in other words.

And then there's Mike Hoffman, who has scored 17 goals this year and added 24 assists. The 28-year-old left-winger would offer a playoff contender a nice burst of scoring should he regain his touch around the net after coming into the year with 26 or more goals the past three seasons.

Lou Korac of NHL.com reported that the St. Louis Blues had interest in acquiring his services earlier in February, while Friedman reported Tuesday that the Winnipeg Jets tried to make a move for Hoffman. However, because he has a no-trade clause and the fact they were on his no-trade list, the deal didn't go through.

Suffice it to say that the Senators could be busy before the deadline.

                               

Evander Kane, Buffalo Sabres

Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

Evander Kane's departure from the Buffalo Sabres seems like a mere formality. The veteran winger was even held out of the team's win over the Boston Bruins as a healthy scratch Sunday, the most clear sign yet he doesn't have a future with the organization.

Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News reported there is interest around the league in Kane:

"It's been known for several weeks the Sabres are looking for 3-4 pieces in return for Kane, including a first-round draft pick. In recent days, the first round talk has cooled slightly, with TSN reporting [general manager Jason] Botterill may be willing to accept a second-rounder if he receives a higher-rated prospect.

"Teams with Stanley Cup aspirations like 2017 finalists Pittsburgh and Nashville are known to be among the interested in Kane. Several other Western Conference clubs are reported to be looking at him as well; the Sabres had two scouts in Chicago Friday night for the Hawks' game against the San Jose Sharks, who are believed to be interested."

Kane isn't a superstar, but the 26-year-old is a solid scorer who has notched 20 goals and 20 assists in 61 games this season and has posted at least 20 goals in three straight campaigns.

For teams looking for a jolt of offense, Kane would be a solid solution. While he doesn't offer the most utility beyond that, as he isn't effective at killing penalties, goals win games. Kane, if nothing else, provides goals.

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