Welcome to the Saturday edition of NHL Rumours. The NHL season is in full swing. Teams are starting to make moves in anticipation of the April 12th trade deadline. With potentially more deals coming at the deadline. In this edition of NHL Rumours, we look at the Vancouver Canucks, Philadelphia Flyers, and New York Islanders.
Rumour: Via Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, it appears that there is leaguewide interest in Canucks winger Tyler Motte after his playoff performance last season.
Analysis: Despite the Canucks’ recent hot streak, mostly fuelled by the incredible play of netminder Thatcher Demko, they’ll likely be moderate sellers at this year’s trade deadline. Multiple lengthy losing streaks early in the season tanked their playoff hopes from the start.
Therefore, it’s of little surprise that Vancouver would listen on an asset for who they could likely receive an overpayment at this year’s deadline. Motte has largely been a fringe NHLer throughout his career. Yet he’s building on last year’s playoff performance with the best offensive pace of his NHL span. Motte’s on pace for about 33 points in an 82-game season. While he isn’t flashy, Motte has turned into a solid bottom-six winger who can be trusted in defensive situations. His 77.1 defensive zone start percentage at even strength this season is evidence of that. He’s also by far playing the most of his career with 16:02 average time on ice this season, creaming his previous high of 13:07.
Motte is cheap, with a cap hit of $1.225 million, but is signed through the 2021-22 season. The extra year will likely drive up the asking price. Vancouver, an unlikely seller this year, could find a trade partner in an unlikely contender – the Florida Panthers. Florida is getting incredible play from their top-six forwards, defence, and goalies. However, their bottom-six depth still leaves something to be desired, though. The difficulty of the Panthers’ schedule increases throughout the year. Extra insurance on the wing in the form of Motte could make a large impact come playoff time for Florida.
Rumour: Per Broad Street Hockey, the Flyers are working on a massive deal with the Nashville Predators that would see Mattias Ekholm, Viktor Arvidsson, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Erik Gustafsson swap teams in a major deal.
Sources close to BSH confirm that the Flyers have started preliminary conversations with the Predators that would bring Ekholm and Arvidson to Philadelphia for Gostisbehere, Gustafsson, and draft picks. Nothing is close, but the conversations have begun.
— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) March 12, 2021
The Flyers’ Side
The Flyers are a team that’s struggled somewhat defensively this season after the departures of players like Matt Niskanen. In this rumoured deal, they’d look to greatly improve that defence while adding to their already playoff-worthy offensive depth. Ekholm has continued to be an absolutely dominant two-way defenceman this season for the Preds. He’s operating at a 41-point pace over an 82-game year while having one of his best possession seasons in recent memory (56.0 percent Corsi For, 4.7 percent relative Corsi). Ekholm would likely slot onto the Flyers’ second pair behind Ivan Provorov on the left side. He’d be an immediate boon to a Philly defence that’s struggling to limit opportunities. Viktor Arvidsson would look to regain some of his former scoring touch in Philadelphia. But even Arvidsson at his current pace could be helpful middle-six depth to the Flyers’ offence.
The Predators’ Side
The Predators would receive an interesting name in Gostisbehere. He’s gotten back into the lineup on a more consistent basis for the Flyers this year, and his seven points in 18 games suggest he’s beginning to regain some of his offensive skill. Take those numbers with a grain of salt, as he’s seeing the highest defensive usage of his career. Used in a more predatory role (no pun intended) in Nashville, Ghost Bear could get back on the scoresheet more often in Nashville. They’d also be getting a more consistent offensive talent in Gustafsson. His 60-point (yes, 60-point) career-high is unattainable but still evidences his ability to put pucks in the net. He’d be a boost to a continuously struggling Nashville power-play unit.
New York Islanders
Rumour: With captain Anders Lee injured for the foreseeable future, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun states that they could be interested in bringing in New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri.
Palmieri would indeed make sense for the Isles if he doesn’t re-sign with the Devils. I would expect the Devils to soon gauge Palmieri’s camp to see if there’s enough common ground on an extension https://t.co/vAdjxP3EVG
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) March 12, 2021
Analysis: Palmieri has been a consistent offensive talent since arriving in Jersey. He’s netted between 20 and 30 goals in each of his five full seasons as a Devil. A slow start this year for him with only 10 points in 22 games means the pending free agent will likely be on the move, though. There’s a sudden need at the left-wing position arising in Long Island. Palmieri could have to hop across the New York metro area at some point in the near future.
New Jersey likely isn’t willing to move him while his value is at an all-time low. It makes sense that in order for them to recoup value, they’ll need to trade with a desperate partner. A team that’s struggling to score is missing their captain and one of their best scoring threats in Lee. They need a replacement, quickly. General manager Tom Fitzgerald could force the Islanders’ hand in negotiation. The Islanders continue to be primed to make another deep playoff run with Palmieri’s acquisition. If Lou Lamoriello is able to pull it off for the right price, it could be an incredibly impactful deal for the Islanders franchise.
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