Deals done long before NHL trade deadline set stage for more

Feb 28, 2023, 7:58 PM | Updated: Mar 1, 2023, 10:49 am
Washington Capitals center Lars Eller skates with the puck against the New York Rangers during the ...

Washington Capitals center Lars Eller skates with the puck against the New York Rangers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

David Poile did not go into the final deadline of his quarter-century-long tenure as general manager of the Nashville Predators thinking he would trade longtime defenseman Mattias Ekholm or 25-year-old forward Tanner Jeannot.

But the seasoned executive started listening on offers a long time ago and has so far completed three deals. And there’s still plenty of time until 3 p.m. EST Friday.

“My phone is on,” Poile said. “We don’t have to do anything else, but why not talk to everybody and see what’s available out there or what people like about our team or our players or don’t like about them?”

His phone wasn’t the only one that was ringing Tuesday, when nearly a dozen trades were completed around the NHL. And several of those moves set the table for more action before the dealing is done.

On Wednesday, the domino effect continued with the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche acquiring center Lars Eller from the Washington Capitals for a 2025 second-round pick. Eller scored two of the biggest goals on Washington’s 2018 championship run, including the game-winner in the clinching game of the final, and can win faceoffs and kill penalties and fill a void down the middle.

Eller was expected to be traded with free agency pending. Two-time Cup-winning goaltender Jonathan Quick was not.

The stunning deal of Quick from Los Angeles to Columbus immediately made the 37-year-old a top target to get dealt again. The last-in-the-league Blue Jackets took Quick along with a first- and a third-round pick to balance out the salaries of defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov and goalie Joonas Korpisalo going to L.A.

“Jonathan Quick is a two-time Stanley Cup winner who has been an outstanding goaltender in our league for a long time,” Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said. “And this deal provides us with draft capital that will be valuable as we move forward as an organization.”

It could add up to even more if they flip Quick to a contender looking for depth in net. Vegas, Toronto, Seattle and Pittsburgh are options.

Perhaps even Carolina, since the Hurricanes still have plenty of salary cap space left after acquiring winger Jesse Puljujarvi from Edmonton, which was clearing room to get Ekholm from Nashville. Goaltending injuries contributed to derailing the Hurricanes’ playoff run last year, and now in first place with a deep roster, now’s the chance to bolster the odds of coming out of a loaded Eastern Conference.

After NHL-leading Boston added size, toughness and depth by acquiring defenseman Dmitry Orlov and forward Garnet Hathaway from Washington, the New York Rangers got elite playmakers Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko, New Jersey stocked up for now and later with big winger Timo Meier, Tampa Bay gave up the farm for Jeannot and Toronto added six new players over the past two weeks, Carolina has plenty of motivation to make another trade.

Ducks defenseman John Klingberg, who was linked to the Hurricanes at the deadline last year before Dallas opted to keep him, is an option to help the power play, even though he’s going through a rough season. Anaheim is keeping Klingberg out of game action for trade-related reasons.

Another is Arizona’s Jakob Chychrun, the 24-year-old blue liner who has been on the block for more than a year. The Oilers getting Ekholm, the Maple Leafs trading for Jake McCabe, Luke Schenn and Erik Gustafsson and the Kings making the move for Gavrikov dried up the landing spots for Chychrun.

But with an impetus to get something done with Chychrun before Friday, Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong could find a trade partner in an unlikely place. The Capitals have shown a willingness to buy as well as sell, giving up a first-round pick with Gustafsson to get Rasmus Sandin from Toronto, and because Chychrun is signed for two more years he’s got value beyond teams looking ahead to the playoffs.

Columbus could even be a player for Chychrun with the extra high draft picks from the Kings — and more if Quick is on the move again.

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AP freelancer writer Jim Diamond in Nashville contributed.

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Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Deals done long before NHL trade deadline set stage for more