The NHL trade deadline is just over 48 hours away. Contenders are looking for the missing piece, sellers are looking toward the future and the teams in the middle are trying to decide which group they should join before Monday at 3 p.m. ET.
One team that didn't wait for the market to settle is the Chicago Blackhawks. The reigning champions have already added six players, highlighted by Andrew Ladd and Dale Weise, through three trades, per ESPN.com. It puts pressure on other Stanley Cup hopefuls, especially in the West, to upgrade as well.
So let's check out some of the other trade buzz making its way around the league and analyze what it could mean for the players and teams involved.
Loui Eriksson Asking Price
The Boston Bruins face a difficult decision with Eriksson. He's enjoying a rock-solid season with 48 points in 62 games, which is already more than he scored last season. But he'll be an unrestricted free agent at season's end if the two sides can't work out a contract extension.
In turn, if he isn't re-signed by Monday, the Bruins must decide whether to move him to ensure a return of assets or keep him for their own playoff run and hope for the best from there. Jimmy Murphy of Bruins Daily reports the price tag is set if they go the trade route:
Jimmy Murphy @MurphysLaw74
Per reliable source, if Blues want Loui Eriksson from Bruins, asking price is likely a first round pick & prospect Dmitrij Jaškin. #Bruins2/26/2016, 6:49:45 PM
That baseline offer sets the bar. Dmitrij Jaskin scored 13 goals last season, but he only has 10 points through 50 games this year. The Bruins would be betting the 22-year-old winger becomes more consistent with time. And a first-round pick is a common asset to land the top deadline options.
Anything less and Boston is better off keeping Eriksson, even with the risk of losing him to free agency. He can make a significant impact down the stretch and into the postseason. At the same time, the front office would still have a handful of months to work out an extension.
Teddy Purcell and Justin Schultz Staying Out West?
The Edmonton Oilers have lost seven straight games and once again find themselves as sellers leading up to the deadline. Purcell and Schultz have emerged as players who may get moved as the franchise stares down its 10th straight season without playoff hockey.
Neither player is a marquee trade chip. That said, Purcell would be an ideal fit on the third line of a contender, and Schultz could desperately use a change of scenery, as evidenced by his team-worst minus-22 rating. Darren Dreger of TSN reports they could both end up in the same spot:
Darren Dreger @DarrenDreger
Kings still mulling Purcell/Schultz. No rush to move on this and like all potential trades, could wait until Monday to happen...if at all.2/26/2016, 9:33:55 PM
The Los Angeles Kings currently sit atop the Pacific Division, so they don't necessarily need to make any blockbuster deals. Something smaller, like acquiring the Edmonton duo, to bolster the bottom six and improve their defensive depth is a reasonable goal, assuming the price is right.
Purcell is a potential unrestricted free agent, and Schultz is basically like buying a lottery ticket. It could pay off big, but the defender's return to form is far from guaranteed. That's why the Kings are probably waiting to see what else is out there before making a deal with Edmonton.
Chad Johnson Chatter
Johnson is a perfect target for a contender looking for a more reliable backup netminder. He received a lot of playing time for the Buffalo Sabres while Robin Lehner was sidelined and, despite the team's overall struggles, has posted a 14-14-3 record with a .917 save percentage.
The 29-year-old goalie has talked about wanting to stay in Buffalo. The Sabres have embarked on an extended rebuilding process and are hoping to turn the corner soon. But as a potential free agent, he also understands that change could be on the horizon, per Bill Hoppe of the Olean Times Herald.
"I want to be here and be here long term, be a part of this," Johnson said. "But I understand it's a business and it has to work for both sides. It's been good. I've enjoyed it here."
Shawn Stepner of WKBW reported there are three potential landing spots:
Shawn Stepner @StepnerABC2
A source tells me that landing spots for #Sabres G Chad Johnson are down to #Blues, #Kings & #Sharks.2/26/2016, 8:10:54 PM
The San Jose Sharks just got a look at Johnson's ability as he stopped 24 of their 25 shots in Buffalo's 3-1 victory in a meeting between the teams Friday night. He would definitely represent an upgrade over Alex Stalock, who's struggled mightily in 13 appearances this season (.884 save percentage).
Ultimately, it doesn't make much sense for the Sabres to keep Johnson based on their current position. It's all about picking up assets for the future. So they should trade him to the highest bidder sometime before Monday's deadline.