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NHL Trade Deadline: High prices kick off start of silly season

The NHL’s trade deadline is Monday, but the action is starting to heat up now

Montreal Canadiens v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

The NHL’s trade deadline is Monday, and that typically is the day where the flurry of activity goes down. However, teams aren’t waiting as in the last 24 hours several big deals have already kicked off what is likely to be an active weekend. So far the recent activity has been:

  • Florida sending forward Frank Vatrano to NY Rangers for a fourth round pick
  • Montreal retaining 50% salary and sending defenseman Ben Chiarot to Florida for a 2023 first round pick, a college prospect and a fourth round pick
  • Calgary adding Seattle forward Calle Jarnkrok at 50% salary for a second, third and seventh round pick

These are very high prices to pay. The only relative deal for a buyer was Vatrano to NYR, and that was because the Rangers were in a position to absorb the full salary of Vatrano, helping clear way for Florida to add a defender. (You’ll notice the other two trades of yesterday required salary retainage). New York probably isn’t done, but it’s also an advantage for their current salary cap situation to operate freely right now compared to other playoff teams.

There’s probably more bad news for the Penguins, as even Montreal is still drawing a hard line in the sand on selling off players like Artturi Lehkonen.

Right now the Penguins are sitting in about the same exact spot they were at the last NHL deadline. As usual in the Ron Hextall era in Pittsburgh, information has been difficult to come by. He runs a tight ship and little about his actions are out there. There have been no reports of them particularly interested or in the mix for a player like Jarnkrok, who was also tied to LA and Washington in trade talks before going to Calgary.

There’s been no such news about the Pens’ serious interest or efforts to acquire anyone as of yet, similar to how no one knew that Hextall had been chipping away working on a Jeff Carter trade for weeks and months before pulling it off on deadline day.

Could something similar happen like that this year? A name out of left field to be acquired by Pittsburgh before the deadline? It can’t be ruled out, but by it’s very nature is also difficult to project or predict what that could be for the Pens.

In Friedman’s above linked column, there’s only one mention of Pittsburgh:

The Canucks don’t have to rush (other than Motte) and seem prepared to wait until the summer unless either someone forces them to reconsider or a player they covet drops on their lap. One example would be Pittsburgh defenceman John Marino, but, as mentioned last weekend, it’s a difficult match. For one thing, the Penguins like their vibe and aren’t inclined to tinker too much with it. For another, with several tricky negotiations to come, they don’t want more. Los Angeles and Boston have checked in for some scoring, just not sure if it happens right now. Don’t see J.T. Miller going anywhere at this time; see that as a postseason conversation, including what it would take to re-sign him.

Miller has scored 27 points in the last 13 games, he definitely isn’t getting traded right now. For obvious reasons, when Pens’ fans see Vancouver sniffing around the Pittsburgh defense for a trade, the inclination is going to be Marcus Pettersson. However, the Canucks need right shot players. If they want a trade with the Pens, it’s going to be Marino as the preferred target. Friedman’s note about it not being a great match or timing is very well stated, and I would expect that to be the case that there isn’t a PIT/VAN trade right now to be made to send a forward to the Pens for a defender to Vancouver.

Other than that report, which just shoots down and resets the rumor back to the status quo, there’s very little out there about what Hextall might be up to. Obviously that’s not shocking, and no one should expect he is going to be making huge waves based off his previous activity and also what he has said.