It was another busy day of NHL trade rumors Thursday with the Olympic roster freeze Friday at 3 p.m. ET. Many expected that the freeze would serve as another trade deadline before the official one on March 5 but as of Thursday night there hadn’t been any major deals this week. Still that doesn’t mean teams aren’t talking and trying to get ahead of the rest of the pack by pulling off an impactful trade before the Olympic break.
CBC Hockey Night In Canada analyst Elliotte Friedman reported over a week ago that the Los Angeles Kings search to jumpstart their putrid offense had turned their goal-starved eyes on Oilers forward Sam Gagner despite numerous reports the Kings would be in hot pursuit of unrestricted free agents to be Thomas Vanek (Islanders) and Matt Moulson (Sabres). Well on Thursday those talks intensified according to AJ Jakubec of the Team 1200 in Ottawa. Jakubec tweeted that the Kings and Oilers were closing in one a deal that would send Gagner to the Kings in exchange for a package that supposedly included forward Kyle Clifford and another player. Jakubec also claimed that the deal was so close that the Kings were set to give Gagner a physical and if he passed, they and the Oilers would complete the trade before Friday’s 3 p.m. ET roster freeze. It should be noted that the always on the money Bob McKenzie of TSN also backed up Jakubec’s reports.
Emails from Murph’s Musings to sources from both teams that usually reply promptly were not returned as of early Friday morning. Radio silence is usually a sign that something is imminent but that’s never a guarantee so stay tuned on Friday as the roster freeze approaches.
As for Vanek, he recently turned down an offer from the Islanders that according to Arthur Staple of Newsday was “believed to be in the same range as Vanek’s current seven-year, $50 million deal.” So now the Islanders are trying to move him out before the deadline but according to one NHL source it may not happen until then because the Islanders want “max” value. They also want to still sign UFA to be Andrew MacDonald but the minutes eating blueliner reportedly wants a five-year contract worth $5 million per season.
Also with Penguins star defenseman Kris Letang now out indefinitely with a “mystery illness” you can likely scratch from the rumor mill, though it should be noted that a Penguins source did scoff at reports in January that Letang could be available due to the Pens’ organizational depth on the blue line.
“Why the heck would we do that?” the source asked rhetorically to this hockey scribe recently. “You’re going to have to knock our socks off for that to happen. That’s not a guy you deal to just make a run at the Cup. You want long term help back too.”
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