The circus that is the NHL trade deadline is Monday, and while it seems major names like Erik Karlsson will stay put, there are plenty of rumors surrounding other prominent players.
Potential No. 1 goaltenders do not typically get moved in late February, but Petr Mrazek became the first notable domino to fall when the Philadelphia Flyers snagged him from the Detroit Red Wings on Monday. However, recent reports indicate more trades are on the way.
Will top offensive players like Derick Brassard, Mike Hoffman and others be changing address in the next few days? Well, there seems to be some smoke—fire could soon follow.
Hoffman Staying Put?
The Ottawa Senators looked to be on a meteoric path toward Stanley Cup contention after losing in double-overtime in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final last year before landing Matt Duchene in early November. Fast-forward three months, and the outlook is drastically different.
Ottawa is the second-worst team in the Eastern Conference, with 51 points, and the franchise could be on the verge of a fire sale. It should come as no surprise Hoffman has become quite the commodity, and his name has surfaced in trade talk in recent days.
The most buzz-worthy report came Saturday, when NHL.com's Lou Korac, writing on his personal blog "In The Slot," cited a source as saying the Senators and St. Louis Blues were in "serious talks" for a Hoffman deal. While that could have been the case, the latest rumors indicate the contrary.
Per TSN's Frank Seravalli, it is "increasingly likely" Hoffman remains in Ottawa. Seravalli reported that general manager Pierre Dorion is less inclined to deal the sniper, with Seravalli speculating it could have something to do with his chemistry with Duchene, who has 21 points in his past 19 games.
The reasons for keeping Hoffman are similar to why he is considered so desirable on the trade market.
At 28, Hoffman's $5.19 million cap hit for the following two seasons is rather team-friendly considering his top-end scoring abilities. Hoffman topped the 25-goal mark in each of the previous three seasons, including a career-best 61 points last year. While he may be having a bit of a down campaign, he could top that mark again given he's on 16 goals after 58 games.
Legitimate top-six scoring is hard to find, so having Hoffman reportedly off of the board is tough news for some contenders in need of more offensive punch. Should he become available again, either at the deadline or this offseason, cap-strapped squads like the Blues or the Edmonton Oilers could be nice fits.
Ottawa would receive an awfully nice package as well, which would surely include a first-round pick and/or a top prospect.
For now, though, it appears the Hoffman sweepstakes is on hold.
Speaking of the Senators...
He may not be in the same offensive tier as Hoffman, but Brassard is still a good center, and he seems much more likely to be on his way out.
The 30-year-old is reportedly on the trade block, and TSN's Darren Dreger reported there is definite interest from around the league:
Brassard is no stranger to being dealt. He was a key piece in the Rick Nash trade of 2013, going with the power forward from the Columbus Blue Jackets to the New York Rangers. In July 2016, the Rangers shipped Brassard to Ottawa for Mika Zibanejad, who is five years younger.
The center did well in a top-six role in New York, putting up a combined 118 points from 2014 to 2016. However, his offensive production has slightly dipped in the years since. He failed to top 40 points last season, and he has 35 points in 56 games this term.
Still, Brassard has skill, and his ability to play in all situations makes him a desirable asset to a contending team. The focus shifts to what the Senators believe he is worth and whether someone is willing to pay it.
TSN's Pierre LeBrun shed some light on that recently:
It is possible this price has changed since LeBrun's report, but it is still high for a player who would likely be a third center on most contending teams.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, a team Dreger specifically mentioned, would be a great fit. They have yet to find a suitable replacement for Nick Bonino, who played a huge role in the last two Cup runs. Riley Sheahan has been playing better, with eight points in his past 10 games, but an upgrade is still needed.
Brassard could contribute in both special teams areas and solidify Pittsburgh's top nine, but is this move feasible?
The Penguins have less than $1 million in cap space, so they would need to ship a roster player while also having Ottawa eat a good chunk of Brassard's salary. Including Matt Hunwick and his $2.25 million cap hit in a deal that sees the Senators pay half of Brassard's remaining money works, but that would also require Pittsburgh to sweeten the trade.
Pittsburgh is 17-4-1 since Jan. 1 and is once again a major threat to win a Stanley Cup. Making this deal would only enhance that sentiment, so it may be worth it for both parties for the Penguins to include a first-round pick in a Brassard trade along with a legitimate prospect like Daniel Sprong. It would be a high price, but that is what it takes to go all the way in the spring.
If Brassard is dealt, expect Pittsburgh to be heavily involved and for a deal to look like this.