Ahead of the March 2 trade deadline, the Montreal Canadiens and Winnipeg Jets are both hoping to add at least one more piece for a playoff run. Montreal is gauging interest in Lars Eller and Alexei Emelin, while Winnipeg keeps its eye out for a top-nine winger.
The Montreal Canadiens suffered a 4-3 overtime loss at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers Thursday night and remain in a tie for first place in the Atlantic Division with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
But things aren’t as good as they seem in Montreal. At 5-on-5, Montreal has the 21st worst Corsi For percentage, even behind teams like Carolina, Ottawa and Florida in the rankings. Montreal has been largely buoyed by the play of netminder Carey Price, who has been nothing short of outstanding this season. As they head towards the playoffs, however, the Canadiens are looking to improve.
In order to fix what ails them and load up for their playoff run, the Canadiens are reportedly looking into moving one or both of Lars Eller and Alexei Emelin. During TSN’s Insider Trading, Bob McKenzie said Eller and Emelin’s names have been dangled in trade talks for, “weeks, if not months.”
As McKenzie pointed out, however, trading either player will be difficult because both Eller and Emelin are locked in for multiple years with sizeable cap hits. Eller will make an average of $3.5 million for each of the next three seasons, while Emelin makes $4.1 million for three more years. Both deals expire at the end of 2017-18.
Montreal isn’t the only Canadian team looking to improve at the deadline, though. After swinging a deal that sent Evander Kane to the Buffalo Sabres and brought Tyler Myers the other, Winnipeg is still looking to shore up its forward lines in their push for the postseason.
TSN’s Darren Dreger reported the Jets are looking for another top-six or top-nine forward to round out their roster. Toronto’s Daniel Winnik, who is an unrestricted free agent next season and all but certain to be moved at or before the trade deadline, is one of the rumored players that Winnipeg has interest in. Another Maple Leaf, Mike Santorelli, could be an option for Winnipeg, while others include chasing after Arizona’s Antoine Vermette or Montreal’s Eller.
Dreger also noted that teams have already come calling to Winnipeg about Myers, just days after the Jets acquired him. However, Dreger notes that if anything were to happen with Myers, it’s more likely the team would move him in the off-season after seeing what he can possibly provide the roster with.
Currently, Winnipeg sits five points up on Minnesota for the first wild-card spot and trail the Chicago Blackhawks by four points for third in the Central Division. However, Chicago has two games in hand and Minnesota has three. The wild-card race in the Western Conference is extremely close, and after missing the playoffs in each of their first three seasons in Winnipeg, the team looks poised to make it into the dance for the first time since relocating from Atlanta.
The rumor also persists that Toronto is headed for a massive blowup. The latest news comes from the Globe and Mail, where Cathal Kelly writes the Maple Leafs’ performance has allowed president Brendan Shanahan to begin a massive rebuild of the team. The players that will be built around, according to Kelly, are Morgan Rielly, Jake Gardiner, William Nylander, and Jonathan Bernier.
Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf have long been talked about as potential trade candidates, and it appears that those deals will happen sometime in the offseason as the Maple Leafs move forward with their plan to, once again, tear everything down and rebuild.