The NHL trade deadline is here, and that means the regular season has hit the homestretch.
In the days leading up to Monday's 3 p.m. ET deadline, the Chicago Blackhawks, Florida Panthers and New York Rangers were quite busy. The Rangers made a key acquisition on Sunday when they traded for Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal. The Rangers sent prospect Aleksi Saarela and 2016 and 2017 second-round draft picks to the Hurricanes for the big forward, reported CBS Sports.
In addition to leaving Carolina and joining a team that has been to the Eastern Conference Final in each of the last two seasons, Staal will get the opportunity to play with one of his brothers. Marc Staal is a talented defenseman for the Rangers.
One of the most discussed players throughout the last few weeks has been Boston Bruins forward Loui Eriksson, who is scheduled to become a free agent July 1.
Eriksson has scored 23 goals and 25 assists for the Bruins this season, and he has been one of head coach Claude Julien's most important players. While the Bruins and Eriksson have been attempting to negotiate a new contract, per CSNNE Bruins insider Joe Haggerty, no agreement has been reached.
As a result, general manager Don Sweeney has to decide if he is going to trade Eriksson or hold onto him for the final push in the regular season. The Bruins are a playoff team, and attempting to retain that position without Eriksson would be difficult.
Several teams have contacted the Bruins about Eriksson, and the Los Angles Kings and St. Louis Blues appear to be the leading candidates to make trade offers for him, according to Haggerty.
Prediction: Sweeney will listen to offers carefully, but he will realize his team will be weaker without Eriksson. Instead of trading him away as a "rental," the Bruins will keep their own rental player. Eriksson remains a Bruin.
Eriksson is not the only winger who will hear his name talked about as the deadline approaches.
It seems likely Jordan Eberle of the Edmonton Oilers will hear his name involved in trade discussions as well.
The Oilers have a team full of one-time high draft picks and seemingly talented players, but they are on the outside of the playoff structure yet again this season. As a result, it is possible general manager Peter Chiarelli will trade some of his high-caliber players who are not named Connor McDavid.
NHL Network analyst Brian Lawton, a former general manager, player agent and player, tweeted that he heard Eberle's name come up on Sunday:
Hearing a name I thought I would have heard a lot more often past few days but have not.... until today. Jordan Eberle this is interesting!— Brian Lawton (@brianlawton9) February 28, 2016
Prediction: Chiarelli has to shake things up in Edmonton, and he is likely to trade several players. Eberle is one of them. He will move before the 3 p.m. deadline Monday.
The Dallas Stars have had a remarkable season, finding themselves just a point off the lead in the Central Division, but they have recently been troubled by problems on defense. As a result, the Stars could be interested in picking up a defenseman for the stretch run.
TSN insider Darren Dreger reported the Stars are interested about Dan Hamhuis of the Vancouver Canucks and Kris Russell of the Calgary Flames:
Dallas working on a d-man. Hamhuis still an option, although things have cooled a bit there. Kris Russell also high on Stars list.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) February 28, 2016
Stars general manager Jim Nill may go after one of those two defensemen, or he could be working on a deal for another blueliner.
It seems clear the Stars could use help in that area if they are going to fulfill the potential they demonstrated earlier this season.
Prediction: The Stars will end up with a defenseman, and it may be Hamhuis or Russell.