Welcome to the NHL Trade Buzz. There are 17 days remaining until the 2018 NHL Trade Deadline (3 p.m. ET, Feb. 26). The Chicago Blackhawks probably won’t be buyers. A Winnipeg Jets forward is wary of moves. Do the St. Louis Blues need help on defense? Here’s a look around the League at the latest deadline doings:
The Chicago Blackhawks have been buyers at the Trade Deadline the past several seasons, looking for that extra piece to bolster playoff chances. But Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said Thursday that the team won’t be in the same mode this deadline.
“I don’t expect us to be a buyer this year and it’s nothing to do with where we are in the standings,” Bowman said on Blackhawks Pregame Live. “Some of these young guys, we’re expecting them to take that next step. Bringing someone in to bump them out of the lineup doesn’t make sense right now. I wouldn’t expect us to be in that rental mode, where you’re bringing in a veteran player. That’s the one thing that’s tough: you take someone’s spot who’s been here all year. That’s not the way we’re going to head.”
The Blackhawks (24-22-8, 56 points), who are eight points out of the second wild-card spot into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference, have been working younger players into their lineup this season. Forwards Alex DeBrincat, 20, and Nick Schmaltz, 21, have been productive playing in the Blackhawks’ top six; Schmaltz is second on the team with 39 points (15 goals, 24 assists) and DeBrincat is fourth with 34 points (19 goals, 15 assists). Anthony Duclair, 22, acquired from the Arizona Coyotes last month, has played well on the top line with DeBrincat and Jonathan Toews. Defenseman Jordan Oesterle, 25, has become an everyday player.
Video: CGY@CHI: DeBrincat opens the scoring with a PPG
Bowman said if the Blackhawks do anything at the deadline it would be “a traditional hockey trade” much like the Duclair trade in which the Blackhawks sent forwards Richard Panik, 27, and Laurent Dauphin, 22, to the Arizona Coyotes to get a little younger and gain a little cap space.
“Those things could be in the mix, trying to trade for maybe a lateral-type move where there’s some upside in the deal,” Bowman said. “We’ll see how things play over the next couple of weeks as far as if we’re going to be making any trades. We’re having a lot of discussions, but I wouldn’t expect us to be adding players like we have in the past.”
The Jets (32-13-9), who are second in the Central Division with 73 points and are having their most successful season since they relocated to Winnipeg, could be buyers at the deadline. But center Mathieu Perreault isn’t sure the Jets should take that approach.
“We’ve got so many guys here right now. With all the injuries, when these guys come back, we’ll have a boatload of players,” Perreault told the Winnipeg Sun. “So, I don’t know if we necessarily need to add players to our team.”
The Jets health issues aren’t going away. Though center Mark Scheifele is expected to return against the St. Louis Blues on Friday, goaltender Michael Hutchinson is out with a concussion. The Jets are missing forwards Matt Hendricks, Brandon Tanev and Adam Lowry (all upper-body injuries) and goaltender Steve Mason (concussion). Getting healthy will be a big boost to the Jets but Perreault also cited past experiences as why they should be careful at the deadline.
“Thinking back to when I was in Washington, we did that pretty much every year. We were a top team in the League and then we’d go and get somebody at the deadline, and it never really worked out,” he told the Sun. “From my experience, anyway.”
Credit the Jets depth for getting them through injuries. Even if Winnipeg doesn’t do anything splashy, adding to that depth at the deadline would still be a good idea.
St. Louis Blues
The Blues (33-20-3, 69 points) have a one-point lead over the Dallas Stars for third place in the Central, and will be without defenseman Joel Edmundson, who had surgery to repair a broken right arm and will be re-evaluated in six weeks. What does Edmundson’s absence mean for the Blues regarding the deadline?
Veteran defenseman Chris Butler was recalled from San Antonio of the American Hockey League to replace Edmundson and he will help. But do the Blues want to do anything else? In mid-January general managerDoug Armstrong told NHL.com Staff Writer Mike Zeisberger that he wasn’t interested in acquiring a rental player ahead of the deadline.
“Now that can always change with the proper phone call and a scenario in which the assets we have to give up are something I can live with. But to get a player for six weeks and hope you’re going to go on a run, well, the teams that have done that really haven’t been successful,” Armstrong said. “I would like to make a trade, especially if we’re going to get a player like we did a few years ago with Jay Bouwmeester, where you get him for one or two additional playoffs more.”
Bouwmeester, 34, was in the final year of his previous deal when the Blues traded for him in April 2013. St. Louis signed him to his current five-year deal in August of that year.
San Jose Sharks
The San Jose Sharks have lost forward Joel Ward indefinitelybecause of an injury sustained in a 5-3 loss against the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday, the San Jose Mercury News reported on Friday.
San Jose (28-18-8) is already missing forward Joe Thornton, who is out indefinitely after having knee surgery on Jan. 25. The Sharks are tied for second with the Calgary Flames in the Pacific Division.
They’ve gone 2-4-1 in Thornton’s absence and that record, combined with Ward’s injury, could have the Sharks looking for a forward before the trade deadline. General manager Doug Wilson told NHL.com Columnist Nick Cotsonika on Feb. 1 he won’t overpay.
“We’re not about to give up any of our key young players,” Wilson said. “We’re not looking to move our first-round picks for rentals. We’ve always looked at, if there’s a player that fits for now and the future, we’ll explore that.”