We’ve got a set of NHL trade rumours for today. The trade deadline is five days away and the deals are happening. Last Word on Hockey will bring you the best trade news and analysis as soon as it breaks. Today’s NHL Trade Rumours feature the Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights, and Toronto Maple Leafs.
NHL Trade Rumours
Rumour: Elliotte Friedman indicated in Monday’s 31 Thoughts that the Colorado Avalanche are more interested in a moderate move over one for a star.
31 Thoughts: Read it before it becomes even more outdated than normal https://t.co/BXzuY5PdN1
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) February 18, 2020
Analysis: The Colorado Avalanche trade strategy is one of the more interesting at this stage. Their top-nine is battered and they have lost their starting goaltender as well. They have the assets for a big trade but those same assets could be in the NHL as soon as next season. Colorado’s combination of cap space and a deep prospect pool means they can do just about anything.
Trading for a middle-six player instead of a Chris Kreider or Jean-Gabriel Pageau seems like the smart move. The top options on the trade market will cost a great deal in picks and prospects. Colorado doesn’t want to trade for a rental and their looming free agents will command significant financial attention. Stars Gabriel Landeskog, Cale Makar and Philipp Grubauer all reach free agency at the same time.
The most cost-effective option for Colorado in this scenario would be someone like Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks. The 40-year-old centre has not expressed interest in leaving San Jose or waiving his No Movement Clause but would be an outstanding support player. He has two goals and 23 points in 59 games this year. Those aren’t great numbers but Thornton next to dynamic players like Makar and Nathan MacKinnon could be devastating on the power play. Adding Thornton would be similar to when the Avs added Ray Bourque for the 2001 Stanley Cup run.
Vegas Golden Knights
Rumour: Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News recently revealed that the Golden Knights could be looking for one more defenceman before the deadline.
Hearing Vegas may not be finished adding to their blueline…
— Ryan Kennedy (@THNRyanKennedy) February 20, 2020
Analysis: Vegas recently added Alec Martinez from the Los Angeles Kings but the Pacific Division is tight this year and every bit counts. One more blueline option could be just what this team needs to put itself over the top in the division.
Vegas does not have much cap space left but could still make a move for a cheap veteran. Someone like Erik Gustafsson could be perfect if Vegas can find the financial space. The 27-year-old has six goals and 26 points to lead Chicago’s defenceman in scoring. His scoring pace lags far behind his 60-point campaign in 2018-19 but Chicago has not been a good team for much of this season. Gustaffson would be an excellent scoring defender on Vegas’ power-play unit.
Vegas could also focus on defensive defenceman with Mark Borowiecki of the Ottawa Senators. The 30-year-old is hurt at the moment but is having the best season of his career. He has seven goals, 18 points, 199 hits and 120 blocks. Borowiecki’s production in multiple categories would fit nicely with Vegas’ gritty play style.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Analysis: Jake Muzzin has returned from injury but both Morgan Rielly and Cody Ceci remain on the injured list. Adding another defender makes sense so Toronto is not reliant on their young defenders in the playoffs. It helps that Ristolainen would fit perfectly while Toronto determines how long their other defenders will be out.
Ristolainen has been on the trade block for what feels like the entire season but has still produced at a high level. The 25-year-old has five goals and 29 points in 60 games. He anchored the Buffalo blueline when Rasmus Dahlin has missed time. Ristolainen also has a right-handed shot that many teams love for a defender. Toronto could slot Ristolainen in their top pairing next to Muzzin and on the second power-play unit behind Tyson Barrie.
Ristolainen also has the advantage of being more than just a rental player. His current contract runs through 2021-22 and carries a cap hit of only $5.4 million. Toronto would need to send at least one player like Kasperi Kapanen back to Buffalo to fit Ristolainen under the cap but this deal makes a lot of sense for multiple reasons. It would give Toronto an extra scoring defenceman with a contract beyond this season. Buffalo would also likely acquire at least one top-six forward to support star Jack Eichel.
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