New York Rangers
The Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche have emerged as front-runners for Rangers forward Chris Kreider, according to TSN.
The Avalanche are in need of reinforcements with forward Mikko Rantanen out for weeks after sustaining an upper-body injury in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday.
The Bruins have been considered a good landing spot for the pending unrestricted free agent all season, given their need for a second-line forward to help with scoring beyond their top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak.
The Avalanche (33-18-7) are third in the Central Division, one point behind the St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars. They are five points ahead of the Calgary Flames for the first wild card.
The Bruins (37-11-2) have a one-point lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic Division for the top spot in the NHL.
The Rangers acquired forward Julien Gauthier from the Carolina Hurricanes for defenseman Joey Keane on Tuesday.
Gauthier has 37 points (26 goals, 11 assists) this season for the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League.
The Rangers are rich with defensemen prospects with K’Andre Miller, Nils Lundkvist, Yegor Rykov, Libor Hajek and Matthew Robertson. They do not have nearly as much depth at forward, and the 22-year-old Gauthier should help shore that up, in addition to perhaps acting as insurance should they opt to trade Kreider or lose him as a free agent on July 1.
Forward Mikko Rantanen will be out weeks after sustaining an upper-body injury in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday, crashing into the boards after being tripped by Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak.
Colorado has had a rash of injuries, with goalie Philipp Grubauer, center Nazem Kadri, and forwards Matt Calvert and Colin Wilson all out with lower-body injuries. In addition to reportedly being frontrunners to acquire Chris Kreider from the New York Rangers, the Avalanche could also be in the market for a goalie.
Rantanen is fourth on the Avalanche with 41 points (19 goals, 22 assists) in 42 games this season, having also missed 16 games with an injury from Oct. 25-Nov. 29.
The Avalanche (33-18-7) are third in the Central Division, one point behind the St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars.
Brenden Dillon was acquired by the Capitals in a trade with the San Jose Sharks for a second-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, which was previously held by the Colorado Avalanche, and a conditional third-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft. San Jose also retained 50 percent of the defenseman’s salary.
The trade comes one day after Dillon, who can become an unrestricted free agent after this season, became emotional speaking about the pending deadline following the Sharks’ 5-3 loss to the Florida Panthers.
“I don’t know. Kind of see what happens,” Dillon said, his voice cracking as he teared up. “I like being here. I try to plan hard every night. It’s kind of out of my control.”
Dillon, who has 14 points (1 goal, 13 assists), was in his sixth season in San Jose.
The trade shores up the biggest need for the Capitals. Dillon is a left-shot defenseman who can play on his off-side. He should come in handy for the Capitals, who are tied for 14th in the NHL in goals allowed per game at 3.02.
The Capitals (37-17-5) are first in the Metropolitan Division, one point ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have two games in hand. They play next against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NBCSWA, TSN2, RDS).
The Canucks acquired forward Tyler Toffoli from the Los Angeles Kings on Monday in a trade for forward Tim Schaller, the rights to forward Tyler Madden, a second-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, and a conditional pick in the 2022 NHL Draft.
But the Canucks might not be done.
According to The Athletic, Vancouver has interest in Devils forward Wayne Simmonds, and another move is a possibility before the deadline.
The Canucks (32-22-5) are third in the Pacific Division, one point behind the Edmonton Oilers and Vegas Golden Knights. They are one point ahead of the Calgary Flames and the Arizona Coyotes for the first and second wild card into the playoffs from the West.
Vancouver general manager Jim Benning said the trade was directly related to forward Brock Boesser possibly missing the rest of the season with a rib cartilage fracture. Boeser, who has 45 points (16 goals, 29 assists), has not played since Feb. 8.
“It’s an eight-week injury,” Benning said Tuesday. “So we wanted to make sure that you know we had ourselves covered. Our players have worked hard this year, our coaches have worked hard, for fans we want to stay in the race here coming down the stretch and so we felt like this was something we could do now.
Los Angeles Kings
The Kings traded Tyler Toffoli to the Canucks on Monday, but more moves could be coming.
When asked about that possiblity, general manger Rob Blake confirmed there are active discussions between the Kings and other teams. Toffoli was sent to Vancouver for forward Tim Schaller, the rights to forward Tyler Madden, a second-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, and a conditional pick in the 2022 NHL Draft.
“Obviously we’ve got work to do here and we’re listening to a lot of different things,” Blake said. “But it’s hard to pinpoint other moves right now.”
Another player who could be on the move is defenseman Alec Martinez, who has this season and next remaining on his contract. The Kings traded goalie Jack Campbell and forward Kyle Clifford to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 5.
The Kings (21-33-5) are last in the Western Conference, 21 points behind the Arizona Coyotes for the second wild card. They play the Winnipeg Jets at Bell MTS Place on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; TSN3, FS-W, NHL.TV).
The Jets plan to be careful with any extra potential space they get under the NHL salary cap.
The Jets reportedly are working to terminate the contract of defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, who has been suspended since Sept. 22. He has this season and next remaining on a five-year, $38 million contract, with a cap charge of $7.6 million each season.
“It’s like if you’ve got money in your wallet, you don’t necessarily go out and spend it on the first piece of candy that’s out there,” Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff told NHL.com on Monday. “You’ve got to make sure you’re going to be buying something that will help you, whether it’s a short-term buy or a long-term buy.
“In this industry, cap space is an asset … but just because you have it doesn’t necessarily mean you can automatically just pluck someone out of someone else’s organization or free agency. There’s got to be a fit for both sides.”
Byfuglien has not played this season after asking for and being granted a personal leave of absence Sept. 12.
The Jets (30-25-5) are three points behind the Calgary Flames and Coyotes for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference. They play the Kings at Bell MTS Place on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; TSN3, FS-W, NHL.TV).
Asked about the Jets making a trade, given where they are in the standings, Cheveldayoff said, “It’s generally a very expensive time of year when you’re trying to make potential short-term changes. We’ll see. It is busy. The last couple of deadlines we went big, so we’ll see where we’re at.”
The Jets acquired center Paul Stastny before the deadline in 2018 and center Kevin Hayes in 2019.