Flurry of NHL trades continue with Avs, Canes making moves
After a furious rush to beat the clock in 2022, NHL general managers are acting early and often to jockey for the top players available or stockpile future assets in advance of the trade deadline this year.
Following nearly a dozen trades getting done Tuesday, a handful more with playoff implications were completed Wednesday, with defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado filling a void and division-leading Carolina making another low-risk move in an effort to prepare for a tough road through the loaded Eastern Conference.
“There’s been a lot of phone calls, not a lot of sleep and a lot of activity the last few days,” Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said Wednesday after trading defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov and goaltender Joonas Korpisalo to Los Angeles. “I expect that to continue until Friday at 3 p.m."
Columbus got two high draft picks from the Kings, along with veteran goaltender Jonathan Quick, the top candidate to be on the move again —flipped to a contender, and there are plenty in need of help in net. Vegas, with starter Logan Thompson on the shelf with a long-term injury, would fit the bill after Kekalainen said he's “going to try to do the right thing” for Quick, a respected veteran who has won the Cup twice.
The reigning champion Avalanche, who want to get back atop hockey's mountain, acquired center Lars Eller from the Washington Capitals for a 2025 second-round pick. Eller scored two of the biggest goals on Washington's 2018 title run, including the game-winner in the clinching game of the final, and can win faceoffs and kill penalties and fill a void down the middle.
“Solid, big, strong third-line center,” coach Jared Bednar told reporters in Denver. “That’s what he is. Penalty killer, good on draws, lots of experience. This is a good pickup.”
After buying low on underachieving winger Jesse Puljujarvi, the Hurricanes made another under-the-radar pickup Wednesday by getting defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere from Arizona for a 2026 third-round pick.
“Shayne is a smooth-skating, puck-moving defenseman,” Carolina GM Don Waddell said. “We think his offensive skill set and veteran presence will help bolster our blueline.”
He's not the only Coyotes defenseman expected to be on the move. They could finally trade 24-year-old Jakob Chychrun, who has been on the block since before last season.
Logical landing spots for Chychrun dried up with the Oilers getting Mattias Ekholm from Nashville, the Maple Leafs trading for Jake McCabe, Luke Schenn and Erik Gustafsson and the Kings making the move for Gavrikov. But teams such as Columbus and Detroit, which each added a first-round pick over the past 24 hours, could be in the mix.
“Definitely with the picks we have now as assets, we’re looking to make our team better — not just be picking year after year,” Kekalainen said. “It’s a busy time, and everybody’s trying to figure out the present and the future.”
Ducks defenseman John Klingberg is among the other big candidates to change places. Anaheim is keeping Klingberg out of game action for trade-related reasons.
The Flyers chose the opposite approach, with pending free agent winger James van Riemsdyk and defenseman Justin Braun — perhaps their top trade chips — in the lineup against the New York Rangers, who will get Patrick Kane on the ice Thursday after acquiring him from Chicago in the most-anticipated deal of the season.
New York adding Kane and prolific scoring winger Vladimir Tarasenko, Boston adding size, toughness and depth by acquiring defenseman Dmitry Orlov and forward Garnet Hathaway from Washington, New Jersey stocking up for now and later with big winger Timo Meier, Tampa Bay giving up the farm for 25-year-old Tanner Jeannot and Toronto adding six new players over the past two weeks has only upped the ante in the East, which has the top six teams in the NHL.
Watching from his seat now as a seller with his team last in the league, Kekalainen looks around the East and admired his colleagues for going all-in.
“I like the approach," he said. "You do everything you can in the year where you feel like you have a chance to win the Cup. That’s what we’re all here for."
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Stephen Whyno, The Associated Press