Several deals have been consummated during the days leading up to the 2015 NHL trade deadline, and with some unexpected names being moved, the level of intrigue is certainly rising.
There are plenty of obvious names on the block that seem like virtual guarantees to be moved in exchange for a draft pick or two, while others will be far more difficult to finagle. That type of dynamic is what makes the NHL trade deadline so exciting for hockey fans on a yearly basis.
With time running out for teams to make a splash, here is a rundown of the hottest rumors surrounding some of the most interesting names on the block.
Alex Gallardo/Associated Press
Winger Alexander Semin was supposed to be a huge addition for the Carolina Hurricanes when they signed him prior to the 2012-13 season, but the Russian forward has never been able to find his footing since leaving the Washington Capitals.
Semin has been especially off-kilter this season, with just two goals and 12 assists in 35 games. The Canes are on the hook for a $7 million cap hit through the 2017-18 season, according to NHLNumbers.com, which means he could be an albatross when it comes to trying to make moves in order to improve moving forward.
Per TheFourthPeriod.com, that fact has led to Carolina exploring potential trade avenues involving the underachieving star.
To increase the likelihood of finding a partner, the Hurricanes are even willing to eat a portion of Semin‘s contract, according to David Pagnotta of TheFourthPeriod.com:
Told by 2 diff league sources CAR been looking to trade Semin for some time are willing to retain a “significant portion” of his salary.
— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) February 27, 2015
It is unclear what teams might ultimately be interested, but Damien Cox of Sportsnet speculates that the Toronto Maple Leafs are probably out of the running:
With TOR eating Horton dead $$, CAR and LA now have to wonder how they’ll move awful Semin and Richards contracts, respectively.
— Damien Cox (@DamoSpin) February 27, 2015
When Semin is at his best, he can be a dominant offensive force. He has great size at 6’2″ and 209 pounds, and he is still relatively young at 30 years of age.
Semin has three seasons of 30 or more goals to his credit, including a 40-goal campaign in 2009-10. It will be tough for him to get back to that level, but he can still be productive when put in the right situation.
The Hurricanes will undoubtedly do everything they can to ship Semin out of town; however, finding a fit will definitely be a challenge.
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With the Dallas Stars starting to fall out of contention for a playoff spot in the Western Conference, it is seemingly time for them to start considering the idea of moving upcoming unrestricted free agents such as winger Erik Cole.
The 36-year-old veteran is enjoying a strong campaign for the Stars, but rather than losing him for nothing, Dallas’ best move may be to trade him.
According to ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun, Cole has generated plenty of interest from across the league:
Dallas Stars getting number of calls on pending UFA winger Erik Cole. Having a good year. Good pickup for a contender.
— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) February 25, 2015
Cole has 18 goals and 32 points in 56 games as well as a plus-four rating. He is a few years removed from a 35-goal season, and he has topped the 20-goal mark five times over the course of his career.
One forward-needy team that is reportedly interested in Cole is the Boston Bruins, per LeBrun. Boston is dealing with some injuries up front, and there is little doubt that it would benefit from adding a leader with playoff experience like Cole.
In fact, he looks to be an ideal deadline rental for any team poised to make the playoffs since he knows what it is like to play in high-pressure situations.
The Stars won’t receive a king’s ransom in return for Cole, but they figure to at least get a second-round pick and perhaps even more based on the forward trades that have already been made.
While there don’t appear to be many big-time forwards on the block heading toward the deadline, there seem to be even fewer options for teams that are searching for defensive help.
One of the top targets across the NHL figures to be Colorado Avalanche veteran blueliner Jan Hejda. The 36-year-old Czech is a ninth-year veteran with size, tenacity and a steady defensive style that is likely attractive to many of the teams searching for depth on the back end.
According to Mike Chambers of The Denver Post, Hejda is the likeliest Avs player to move, with the New York Rangers being mentioned as a potential destination.
Per Chambers, Hejda is well aware that his time in Colorado may be reaching its conclusion:
Jan Hejda knows his days with #Avs could be numbered. “This is the hockey world,” he told me. Will link story soon
— Mike Chambers (@MikeChambers) February 27, 2015
In addition to the Rangers, David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com is hearing that the Chicago Blackhawks have some interest in making a run at the 6’4″, 230-pound defenseman:
Two name I’m hearing the BlackHawks are exploring are defensemen Jan Hejda of Colorado and Carolina’s Andrej Sekera. Looking to add depth.
— David Kaplan (@thekapman) February 20, 2015
Acquiring Hejda isn’t the type of move that is going to energize a fanbase, but it is certainly a wise deal to make. It isn’t likely to cost much since his contract expires at the end of the season, and he is a guy who plays the type of style that wins in the playoffs.
He is an ideal third-pairing, stay-at-home defenseman who can also provide insurance for teams if some of their better defenders get hurt moving forward.
Keeping Hejda wouldn’t do the Avs any good at this point, which is why he is a prime candidate to be dealt prior to the deadline.
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