Although a lot of the NHL's intrigue is in the Eastern Conference, there's quite a bit going on in the West as well. The Predators and the Jets are locked in a battle for first in the Central, and the Calgary Flames are stunning the Pacific. One team expected to make a run at the Stanley Cup this season -- the San Jose Sharks -- has lived up to the billing. However, that's despite some abysmal goaltending so far this year.
Winger Mark Stone out of Ottawa is also raising eyebrows. Matt Duchene is now out, so Stone is their most enticing asset, but the Senators seem to be working hard to negotiate a new contract with Stone. If they fail to do so, they'll likely offload Stone before Monday's deadline, but that's a dangerous proposition -- the last thing they want is to have to settle for less because they're pushed up against the wire. Holding onto Stone is an option, but it also runs the risk of Stone walking and the Senators getting nothing in return. The other team looking to sell is the Rangers, but their pieces remain on the team for now.
Here are the latest rumors swirling in the league as we approach the deadline.
Blue Jackets still open to trading Panarin
The Blue Jackets have been the biggest buyers at the deadline so far, acquiring both Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel from the Senators in separate deals. But Columbus could still be somewhat of a seller too, as they're apparently still open to trading Artemi Panarin if the right deal comes across the table. Panarin is on the final year of his current contract and doesn't seem likely to remain in Columbus beyond this year, so the Jackets may be willing to take a package rather than let him walk for nothing.
It's hard to imagine Columbus getting an equal immediate return for Panarin so they may ultimately decide to hold onto him as they go for it this year, but they're not ruling out a potential deal just yet.
Bruins exploring options on the wing
Boston is still looking to upgrade their forward group and there are a number of names they're reportedly inquiring about. Among them: Mark Stone in Ottawa, Wayne Simmonds in Philadelphia, and Tyler Toffoli from Los Angeles. Toffoli is an interesting option considering he hasn't been discussed much to this point. He's having a down year with the Kings but is a solid two-way player who is signed for an additional year beyond this season.
Flames and Jets out on Mark Stone
Calgary Flames executive Don Maloney appeared on Sportsnet Monday morning and revealed that the Flames were "in on something big" before walking away due to a high asking price. It was later revealed he was talking about Ottawa's Mark Stone, so the Flames are reportedly out on Stone...at least for now. The Jets are also out on Stone after acquiring Kevin Hayes from New York.
It'll be interesting to see if Ottawa comes down on their asking price for Stone, as it seems whatever they're commanding is too much for the teams interested in his services.
Wild shopping Granlund and Zucker
Two names that could potentially be on the move Monday are Minnesota's Mikael Granlund and/or Jason Zucker. Both players have term beyond this season so they're not a sure thing to be moved, but the Wild are retooling and looking to get younger. According to The Athletic's Michael Russo, the Nashville Predators are interested in Granlund and young winger Kevin Fiala could be a piece that entices Minnesota.
The Wild's acquisition of Ryan Donato in the Charlie Coyle-to-Boston deal is already showing some early returns, so it's possible that helps convince them to pull the trigger on a deal that brings in some more younger talent that they can start building long-term plans around.
Boston back in on Eric Staal?
Reports last week had the Bruins interested in Minnesota's Eric Staal before ultimately deciding to take a different approach to the deadline. However, a report from Elliotte Friedman on Monday suggests that the Bruins have re-engaged with Minnesota on the veteran center, but that Staal is reluctant to waive his no-trade clause.
Boston just made a deal with the Wild to acquire Charlie Coyle last week. Coyle and Staal were linemates in Minnesota and would potentially provide a major boost for the Bruins' third line if they were to reunite in Boston. But, for now, Staal, who has one year remaining on his current deal, appears content to ride things out in Minnesota.
Gustav Nyquist waives for San Jose
TSN's Bob McKenzie reported late Sunday night that Detroit Red Wings winger Gustav Nyquist is waiving his no-trade clause for a deal that would send him to the San Jose Sharks. Follow-up reports suggest that the Sharks will send a 2019 second-round pick and a conditional third-round pick in 2020 to Detroit. The Wings will also reportedly retain 30-percent of Nyquist's salary.
DET has asked Gustav Nyquist to waive his NTC to facilitate a trade to SJ. Nyquist is apparently willing to do so, which would pave the way for DET and SJ to finalize/formalize this transaction.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) February 25, 2019
The trade is not yet official but it appears the framework is in place and formalities just need to be checked off before the deal is made official.
Capitals bolster defense with Jensen trade
The Capitals continued the arms race in the East with the addition of Nick Jensen from the Red Wings, per Darren Dreger. Jensen is on the final year of his contract, so he'll be a candidate for an extension. For the time being, however, he joins a contender as the Capitals try to prepare for the loaded Atlantic division come the postseason.
Senators have huge ask for Stone
With Duchene gone and Panarin apparently out of the picture, all eyes will now stay on the Senators as Mark Stone talks continue. According to The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun, the Senators' ask for Stone is huge right now, but with the winger on an expiring contract it may be negotiable. There hasn't been word on where the Senators stand in negotiation with Stone, but Monday's deadline is coming fast. If the Senators aren't amenable, teams may try to move on, with the Rangers' Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes being primary targets.
Blue Jackets reshuffle deck with Duchene trade
The Columbus Blue Jackets are just a game out of a playoff spot in the East, but with Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky being on expiring contracts -- not to mention the fact that they're stuck in a conference with the Lightning, Bruins and Maple Leafs -- they were expected to trade Panarin on a rental with the hopes of re-signing him long-term looking bleak.
Instead, the Blue Jackets traded for Matt Duchene, and gave up a fairly substantial haul to do so, indicating that they're taking this year seriously. The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun speculates that this means they're content to let Panarin play out the rest of his contract and potentially let him walk. The move topples a few dominoes in the Western Conference, as the Jets and Predators were looking at trying to land a winger. The Predators were a name heavily circulated in talks for Duchene, whereas the Jets were being name dropped as a team to go for Panarin if they'd landed him. Both teams in the Central race could now stand pat.
Panthers getting calls about Hoffman
Although there's a good chance Mike Hoffman stays in Florida past the deadline, teams need to have options. The Panthers have asked Mike Hoffman for the 10 teams he would veto a trade to, via his modified no-trade clause, according to The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun. Per LeBrun, Hoffman is getting interest. Hoffman will be a free agent in 2020, so teams who are inquiring about him are asking for a little more than a half-season rental. With that in mind, it's not likely Hoffman will be moved, but it's also not impossible given the Panthers' disappointing season..
Ducks working to send Miller to San Jose
Goaltending might be the Sharks' biggest bugaboo this season, and if they aren't careful, it might be what does them in. They're trying to address the problem, and according to John Hoven, they're hoping that the Ducks' Ryan Miller is their answer. The 38-year-old goalie may be heading up the coast for the final stretch of this season. The Sharks are a playoff team this year, but Martin Jones' .896 save percentage has San Jose worried.
According to Hoven, Miller would likely re-sign with the Ducks in the summer, but the Sharks only need a few months of solid hockey out of him to make any deal worthwhile.
Capitals place Smith-Pelly on waivers; trade for Hagelin
The aforementioned Capitals are looking to stay competitive against the Lighting and Maple Leafs, not to mention the Bruins who appear to be looking to be extremely active at this year's deadline. They reportedly placed DeVante Smith-Pelly on waivers on Wednesday, per Elliotte Friedman, and they then traded for the Kings' Carl Hagelin for a third rounder next year and a conditional sixth in the entry draft for 2020. Hagelin, a rental in his own right, has a goal in 22 games this season as the Kings try to retool.
Smith-Pelly -- last year's Stanley Cup hero -- didn't have much production this season. He has 13 goals in just under two seasons with the Capitals, but his seven goals in last year's playoffs were integral in the Capitals' championship run.