NHL Rumors: Latest Gossip on Erik Karlsson and More Ahead of 2018 Trade Deadline

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistFebruary 24, 2018

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 10:  Erik Karlsson #65 of the Ottawa Senators waits for a faceoff against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on February 10, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Senators 6-3. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Claus Andersen/Getty Images

The NHL trade market keeps gifting fans with major deals ahead of Monday's deadline.

The latest is the Pittsburgh Penguins' acquisition of forward Derick Brassard from the Ottawa Senators, a move the Penguins announced Friday, in what turned out to be an interesting three-team deal. 

NHL fans know the drill—most teams are conservative during the period right before the deadline, and then the floodgates seem to erupt as transactions start going down. Call it an unwillingness to be the first to strike a deal or something else, but there's no stopping the momentum and deals fans will get to see before Monday's 3 p.m. ET cutoff.

As such, it's time to step back and take a look at the latest rumblings from the market.

                  

Erik Karlsson

Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

Erik Karlsson is one of those guys who could get moved in the last 24 hours before the deadline. 

After all, his Ottawa Senators are only 21-29 and near the bottom of the standings in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference, meaning the team will slap a heavy price on him and see who bites. 

We are seeing just that unfold, as TSN's Bob McKenzie reported the team has been on the horn with a notable number of teams concerning the defenseman: "The reality is Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion has been, and still is, engaged in some level of trade dialogue for Karlsson with multiple NHL teams, certainly more than a half-dozen."

Hurting what should be simple trade talks is Karlsson's statistical down year—he's only tallied 42 points over five goals and 37 assists—thanks to his underperforming team. But he's still only 27 and in his ninth NHL campaign.

Likely also complicating the matter is the fact the Ottawa captain is an unrestricted free agent in 2019-20, so suitors would have to decide how many assets it's worth giving up for a guy who could turn into an expensive rental.

Granted, Karlsson is in his prime and contenders wanting to win now will likely get impatient, forcing some kind of deal soon. The who and why is what the Senators are holding out for as they hope to secure their long-term stability with assets.

             

Ryan McDonagh

Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

The Ryan McDonagh sweepstakes is another one prone to a late deal.

Why not? Like the Senators, the New York Rangers haven't exactly met expectations this year, sitting last in the Metropolitan Division at 27-30. It's not a tank job, but they have been one of the league's worst teams as of late, dropping six in a row.

As such, there are rumblings around defenseman McDonagh, with TSN's Darren Dreger one of the journalists reporting of interest in the New York captain:

Pierre LeBrun of TSN provided some insight into McDonagh's no-trade list:

This is going to sound quite a bit similar to Karlsson. McDonagh is all of 28, in the middle of his prime and will hit free agency at the same time. He's sitting on 26 points over two goals and 24 assists this term, right in line with his usual production.

At the least, McDonagh's presence on the market gives teams in need plenty of options. What will be interesting to see is how potential buyers at the deadline attempt to play these sellers against one another to get the best possible return.

Granted, any price will register in the "costly" column once the deadline passes—but fans of those teams willing to invest will at least know their team is all-in on a Stanley Cup run.

                  

Rick Nash

Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Speaking of rentals and the Rangers, let's talk some Rick Nash.

Nash, 33, is set to hit free agency for the first time in his 15-year career after entering the NHL via the No. 1 pick back in 2002, courtesy of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

In his sixth season with the Rangers, Nash has put up 28 points over 18 goals and 10 assists, numbers in line with his usual production—an important feat for the left wing, who will hope to make a big financial splash on the open market.

Or with the team that trades for him. 

According to LeBrun, "five or six teams" have been in some form of contact with the Rangers about Nash, though this was before the team shipped away another rental. Thursday, the Rangers sent Michael Grabner to the New Jersey Devils for a draft pick and prospect Yegor Rykov. 

That means a team still wanting to pull Nash from the Rangers would have to not only come with the correct price at a team already missing some offensive firepower, but would also need to focus on whether a long-term negotiation will be on the table with Nash himself. 

Offensively speaking, though, a contender who wants some reliable short-term production at worst will still be on the phone with the Rangers.

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