The Saturday Slate is a weekly discussion or platform where members of Win Column Sports provide their respective opinions and thoughts on an event that took place in the prior week. Additionally, there is also a running pool amongst the contributors based on our picks for Saturday’s match-ups. This week, the Win Column panel discusses the NHL action on February 2nd.
As the trade deadline creeps closer, bubble teams and current contenders will be looking to bolster their lineups prior to the playoffs. Two major transactions have already occurred following the All-Star weekend. On Monday night, the LA Kings sent defenceman Jake Muzzin to the Toronto Maple Leafs for forward Carl Grundstrom, the rights to unsigned defenceman Sean Durzi and a 1st-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. Though it isn’t a blockbuster trade by any means, the Maple Leafs were able to more than adequately shore up their blueline, a problem area for most of the season thus far.
The second notable transaction came Friday morning between the Florida Panthers and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Derick Brassard and Riley Sheahan - along with 3 picks - were acquired by the Florida Panthers, with the Penguins receiving Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann in return. Penguins GM Jim Rutherford made it known that the Pens were looking to strengthen up the middle and they did just that with this transaction. With these two moves potentially paving the way moving towards the trade deadline, the panel discusses which team they believe will make a splash and why, and who they should target before this year’s deadline passes.
Given the sad state of affairs in St. Louis, I believe they will be big time sellers this deadline. Their season is basically lost and a rebuild is imminent. Fortunately, they have a number assets that can potentially net a big return, which can help fast track their rebuild. I believe Alex Pietrangelo will be on his way out of St. Louis come this trade deadline. If the Blues decide to go the rebuild route, it makes sense that they move their captain as they have young up and coming defensive core that’s proven they can fill Pietrangelo’s void in his absence, as he’s missed time this season due to injury.
A team I can see making a run for Pietrangelo is the Las Vegas Golden Knights. The Golden Knights lack a true No.1 defenseman. The asking price may be steep to bring Pietrangelo to Las Vegas but GM George McPhee has shown on numerous occasions that he aggressively pursues assets he believes will bolster the team. They have both the assets and picks to put together an appealing package.
While there are a number of big names available at this year’s NHL Trade Deadline, one name to keep an eye on is Detroit Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist. While he may not be as sexy a name as Artemi Panarin or Wayne Simmonds, the 29-year-old winger is on pace for the best statistical season of his career in putting up 45 points in 52 games thus far. However, the scoring isn’t an aberration; Nyquist is a career 0.61 points-per-game player, and would likely come at a lower price than someone like Matt Duchene.
When it comes to the playoffs, you can never have too much scoring depth and I would expect there to be a number of suitors for Nyquist. However, a team like the Nashville Predators would be a perfect fit, both in terms of on-ice and trade value. The Predators have the assets to acquire a player like Nyquist, and though the team does have a few offensive weapons there’s no arguing they could use another scoring winger. While the Music City may not be Nyquist’s final landing spot, I wouldn’t expect him to last through the deadline with the Red Wings.
It seems with the salary cap era we have tons of big names traded at the deadline because teams are looking for that extra piece to take a real run at the Stanley Cup. I think the next big name to get traded is going to be Ottawas Matt Duchene. It seems as though Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is too stingy and doesn’t want to pay Duchene what he’s expecting. The Senators aren’t going to let him walk for free, either, so they’ll attempt to get something for him.
I don’t know exactly what teams would be looking at a guy like Duchene to get them over the top, but I do believe he’ll be moved by the deadline.
The Columbus Blue Jackets are a team on the brink of the playoffs. They’re also on the brink of disaster with their two best players unrestricted free agents after this season. With Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky set to find greener pastures, the Blue Jackets cannot afford to lose both of them for nothing. As the trade deadline approaches, if they do not have either of these players signed to a contract extension by then, and there are varying reports on the probability of that, they have to be moved. Which should net them a healthy return. If a top goaltender is available at the deadline, the Calgary Flames NEED to be calling and should pay the price to get Bob. Likewise, every team can use an additional scoring winger, some more than others. Columbus can set themselves up well for a future without Bobrovsky and Panarin by trading them at the deadline. If they don’t and they walk, it’ll be a rough set of years in Ohio.
WinColumnSport’s Saturday Picks
|Oilers @ Flyers||Flyers||Oilers||Flyers||Oilers|
|Devils @ Canadiens||Devils||Devils||Canadiens||Canadiens|
|Blues @ Blue Jackets||Blue Jackets||Blue Jackets||Blue Jackets||Blue Jackets|
|Ducks @ Jets||Jets||Jets||Jets||Jets|
|Golden Knights @ Panthers||Golden Knights||Panthers||Golden Knights||Golden Knights|
|Red Wings @ Senators||Senators||Red Wings||Red Wings||Red Wings|
|Penguins @ Maple Leafs||Maple Leafs||Maple Leafs||Penguins||Penguins|
|Kings @ Islanders||Islanders||Islanders||Islanders||Islanders|
|Lightning @ Rangers||Lightning||Lightning||Lightning||Lightning|
|Stars @ Predators||Predators||Stars||Stars||Predators|
|Blackhawks @ Wild||Wild||Blackhawks||Wild||Blackhawks|
|Canucks @ Avalanche||Avalanche||Avalanche||Canucks||Avalanche|
|Coyotes @ Sharks||Sharks||Sharks||Sharks||Sharks|
Records Thus Far:
- Ben: (86-70), Last Week: (3-8), Winning Percentage: (55%)
- Carl: (54-48), Last Week: (4-7), Winning Percentage (53%)
- Arik: (76-80), Last Week: (3-8), Winning Percentage: (49%)
- Spencer: (75-81), Last Week: (6-5), Winning Percentage: (48%)
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