NHL Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz on Erik Karlsson, Rick Nash and More

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 23, 2018

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 10:  Erik Karlsson #65 of the Ottawa Senators waits for a puck drop against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on February 10, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Senators 6-3. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Claus Andersen/Getty Images

The 2018 NHL trade deadline is set for Monday at 3 p.m. ET, and the recent uptick in rumors involving high-profile players should make for an entertaining couple of days.

It should be a sellers' market, with only a handful of teams having already faded from the playoff race. That leaves the rest of the league's front offices competing for a limited amount of available talent as they look to bolster their rosters ahead of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Let's check out some of the latest trade talk from around the NHL and analyze what it could mean for the teams and players involved with just a few days until the deadline.


Erik Karlsson Pursued by Tampa Bay Lightning

The Erik Karlsson situation is tricky for the Ottawa Senators. He's one of the league's most valuable players and in the prime of his career. But he's also scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after next season, which means his trade value will diminish as he moves closer to the open market.

While the ideal situation for the Sens would be a long-term contract extension, the playmaking defenseman has remained noncommittal on that front. He made headlines back in November for his comments about maximizing the value of his deal—in other words, there will be no hometown discount.

"When I go to market, I'm going to get what I'm worth, and it's going to be no less, no matter where I'm going," Karlsson told reporters. "That's the business part of it. That's the way every player has been treated ever since this league has started, and I think the players have been a little bit on the other side of things when it comes to negotiations."

With the Senators struggling and no clear path to a new contract, it wouldn't come as a shock to see him moved before the deadline.

Travis Yost‏ of TSN reported the Lightning continue to "aggressively pursue" the 27-year-old blueliner as part of a concerted effort to upgrade their defense.

Tampa Bay is already one of the top championship contenders thanks to a core that features Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman. Adding a game-changing asset like Karlsson would go a long way toward making the Bolts the definitive favorite come playoff time.


Rick Nash Interest from Nashville Predators

Rick Nash is no longer the elite goal-scoring threat he was during his peak years with the Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers. He's remained a solid secondary offensive option for the Blueshirts over the past couple seasons, though.

That makes him an intriguing target for any contender who's willing to take on the final couple months of his $7.8 million cap hit. The fact he's set to become a free agent during the summer bolsters his trade value since there's no long-term financial burden beyond age 33.

Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reported there's a "large field" of teams considering Nash ahead of the deadline, adding the Nashville Predators are "all-in" in their pursuit of the winger.

Nashville could use another middle-six forward to bolster its offensive attack. The Rangers star, who owns 77 games of postseason experience, represents a nice fit on paper.


Mark Letestu Emerges as Popular Depth Option

Mark Letestu is a more archetypal deadline addition compared to marquee names like Karlsson and Nash. The Edmonton Oiler a bottom-six center with limited offensive ability, but he's reliable defensively, can upgrade the penalty kill and is also strong in the faceoff circle.

Although those niche roles don't generate much attention during the regular season, they take on a greater level of importance during the playoffs.

In turn, it's no surprise Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal reported the Columbus Blue Jackets, Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs are all potential landing spots for Letestu.

He previously played for both Columbus and Pittsburgh. The Jackets, who rank in the bottom third of the league in penalty-kill percentage, would probably be the best match from the interested trio.


Cap-hit info per Spotrac.