- While Bowen Byram is now off the CPRA list, he will not accompany the Avalanche on their three-game road trip to St. Louis, reports Peter Baugh of The Athletic (Twitter link). The 19-year-old rookie has played in 19 games so far this season, recording a pair of assists while logging 17:31 on the back end. Assuming he’s able to suit up after this trip, he’ll have a couple of weeks to work on his conditioning before the playoffs get underway. Meanwhile, Baugh adds that winger Logan O’Connor, who suffered a lower-body injury at the end of March, is on the trip. Initially an injury fill-in, O’Connor has three goals and two assists in 22 games this season.
The Chicago Blackhawks were reportedly listening to offers for defenseman Nikita Zadorov at the NHL Trade Deadline, but ultimately decided not to move him. However, that doesn’t mean that the two sides will stay together for much longer. As Ben Pope writes for the Chicago Sun-Times, the Blackhawks have dropped some hints that they are not content with the big blue liner and time is running out for him to prove himself.
Zadorov, 25, is in his first season in Chicago after coming over from the Colorado Avalanche in the Brandon Saad trade this past off-season. The Blackhawks hoped that Zadorov would step into a lineup that was missing many difference-makers on the back end and would transform into a bona fide top pair defenseman. While Zadorov has still been impressive as a physical force and solid defender, there has not been much else to praise about Zadorov’s game this season. He has been firmly entrenched as a second-pair defender in terms of time on ice, is fifth in defensive scoring and even lower in per-game production, and is on pace for a career-high in giveaways, even in a shortened season. Zadorov has merely continued to play the same role in Chicago as he did in Colorado, that of a complementary stay-at-home defenseman. While that is not without value, it isn’t what was expected of the 2013 first-round pick and may not be worth the cost to the Blackhawks. The team has not-so-subtly expressed their frustration recently, acquiring a younger and similar style of defender in Riley Stillman and then making Zadorov a healthy scratch on deadline day after discussing him with other teams beforehand.
This off-season, Zadorov presents a number of challenges to Chicago. The impending restricted free agent will need a new contract, which at a minimum will require a $3.2MM qualifying offer. However, despite his underwhelming effort this season, Zadorov can probably argue for making more than that and has the option to file for arbitration to support that claim. The problem for the Blackhawks is that they have very few contracts coming off the books this off-season and are projected to have limited cap flexibility to make other moves. Retaining Zadorov at a higher number even further reduces that cap space without making a material change to their roster, which is only a fringe playoff team this season. A potential arbitration case makes using their cap space even more problematic. If the relatively young blue liner demands a long-term deal as well, that becomes an issue with a number of young players already pushing for play time. Beyond the actual contract, the only way that Chicago can ensure that they even retain Zadorov’s RFA rights beyond July 21 is to protect him in the upcoming NHL Expansion Draft. With Duncan Keith and Connor Murphy as virtual locks to be protecting, adding Zadorov to that group would mean exposing valuable veteran Calvin de Haan and the recently-acquired Stillman. Yet, if they don’t protect Zadorov he could very easily be selected and lost for nothing.
In order to avoid a difficult expansion decision and possible contract battle and arbitration case, the Blackhawks may decide to re-ignite trade talks for Zadorov once their season has come to an end. Until then, Pope notes that Zadorov will be given every chance to prove that he is worthy of a longer look in Chicago. With de Haan and Adam Boqvist currently injured and the Blackhawks fighting for a playoff spot, Zadorov has the chance to step up and finally show that he can be a complete top-four defenseman. If he succeeds, perhaps all of the off-season issues fall by the wayside in favor of keeping a rare physical specimen and good young defender at all costs. However, if he falters then the partnership between the Blackhawks and Zadorov could be coming to an end sooner rather than later.
Each day, the NHL will publicly release the list of players that are unavailable to their respective teams due to being in COVID-19 Protocol. While two teams have yet to report, here is today’s list for the remaining 29:
Colorado – Philipp Grubauer, Joonas Donskoi
Edmonton – Dmitry Kulikov
Montreal – Jon Merrill, Erik Gustafsson
Philadelphia – Jackson Cates
Toronto – Nick Foligno, Riley Nash, Ben Hutton
As a reminder, inclusion on this list does not mean that a player has tested positive for Coronavirus or even that they have been confirmed as a close contact to another positive person. Included in the NHL’s list of possible reasons for someone being on the list is are the following:
(1) an initial positive test which remains unconfirmed until confirmatory testing is completed pursuant to the Positive Test Protocol; (2) mandated isolation for symptomatic individuals pursuant to the Positive Test Protocol; (3) required quarantine as a high-risk close contact in accordance with the Positive Test Protocol; (4) isolation based on a confirmed positive test result and/or; (5) quarantine for travel or other reasons as outlined in the COVID-19 Protocol
Players removed today: Bowen Byram, Colorado Avalanche
While the Kings and Wild are still question marks for today, as of right now the league has not added any new names to the CPRA list. Byram’s removal is also good news, as further proof that the Avalanche have avoided any widespread infection that could lead to numerous or lengthy absences. Only Grubauer and Donskoi are currently on the list for actual COVID-related reasons as well, as the remainder are all undergoing mandatory quarantine following trades or signings. More progress out of Colorado and the NHL could finally be looking at the first empty CPRA list of the season.
*denotes new addition
With Avalanche top prospect Alex Newhook turning pro late last month, it looked as if he’d become an interesting late-season recall option if for no other reason than to get his feet wet in the NHL before the playoffs. However, head coach Jared Bednar told Mike Chambers of the Denver Post that the plan for the 20-year-old is to remain in the AHL for the rest of the season. Newhook, the 16th pick in 2019, had 16 points in just a dozen games with Boston College this season while picking up six more in six contests at the World Juniors. As Colorado will need to inject some cheaper players into their lineup for next season, he should have an opportunity to push for a roster spot in training camp but it appears that will be his first crack at an NHL opportunity.
The NHL has been forced to shut down another team for at least the next few days. After the Colorado Avalanche canceled morning skate today following another positive test result, the league has postponed their games through April 20. That means tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Kings and Tuesday’s game against the St. Louis Blues will have to be rescheduled further down the line.
The hope is that the Avalanche can re-open their practice and training facilities on Wednesday, April 21 and return to action on the following night.
Bowen Byram was joined by Philipp Grubauer on the COVID Protocol Related Absences list earlier this week, though the team continued with their scheduled games. Today it was announced that another positive test result had come back from yesterday’s testing, though it is not clear which player will be in the protocol when the list is revealed in a few hours.
Just as the NHL deals with a difficult COVID-19 situation in Vancouver, another one seems to be emerging. The Colorado Avalanche have canceled morning skate again today after another member of their traveling party tested positive for coronavirus. The release does not indicate whether it was a player, coach or staff member, but this is not an isolated incident. The Avalanche canceled the skate on Wednesday as well after Philipp Grubauer tested positive, but still went on to play the St. Louis Blues that night. Out of an abundance of caution, the Los Angeles Kings–the scheduled opponent for tonight’s Avalanche game–have also canceled their morning skate.
Grubauer joined Bowen Byram on the COVID Protocol Related Absences list earlier this week. This would be the team’s third positive (at least released publicly) in the last week. The Avalanche also had many of their players vaccinated recently and have played both games after the previous positives turned up.
It is unclear whether that trend will continue tonight against the Kings, but so far there is no official word from the NHL on a potential postponement. If this most recent positive test result was a player, he will not be eligible to take part in tonight’s action if the game goes ahead.
The 2021 NHL Trade Deadline came and went with relatively little fanfare. Deadline day saw just 17 trades made (a new 8-year low) that involved only 26 players (a new 20-year low). The obvious downside to a quiet deadline is that it’s not very exciting to follow and doesn’t create the same number of stretch run storylines to follow. The upside? With so little news to cover, nothing slipped through the cracks. Insiders, such as Elliotte Friedman, have come out with more “almost-trades” than in most years and they have been compiled below. Enjoy reveling in what could have been:
Nicolas Deslauriers to the Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins and Anaheim Ducks came so close on a trade for Deslauriers that an article was published on the topic. Friedman reported that a deal was done, but then backtracked as talks fell apart. Pittsburgh ended up adding experience to their bottom-six from another West Division source, adding Jeff Carter from the Los Angeles Kings.
Jamie Oleksiak to the Edmonton Oilers
In the middle of the deadline day chaos, several pundits reported that Dallas Stars defenseman Oleksiak was on his way to Edmonton. Yet, as time ticked by and there was no announcement, it became clear that a deal had not been completed. Oleksiak had been linked to both Edmonton and the Toronto Maple Leafs but stay put, with the speculation now being the the Stars hope to re-sign him. The Oilers, who also missed out on Patrik Nemeth, ended up finding their stay-at-home defenseman in the New Jersey Devils’ Dmitry Kulikov.
One of the biggest misses of the deadline was the Jets’ failure to add an impact defenseman. Winnipeg did add Jordie Benn late, but that hardly fills their gaping hole in the top-four. In retrospect, the mistake may have been focusing too much on defensemen who weren’t truly available. Friedman believes that the team tried to acquire either Gavrikov or Goligoski, or perhaps even both. Gavrikov would have been a very nice addition for the Jets, but by all accounts the young Columbus Blue Jackets defender was not really for sale. And while the Arizona Coyotes were expected to listen to offers for their expiring contracts, they ended up standing pat and not moving the veteran Goligoski. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that the Chicago Blackhawks were at least listening to offers for RFA blue liner Zadorov as well and the Jets made a push, but to no avail.
Taylor Hall to the New York Islanders or Vegas Golden Knights
Friedman began his post-deadline “31 Thoughts” by confirming the suspicions that Hall left the Buffalo Sabres little choice but to trade him to the Boston Bruins, stating that Hall had decided that was where he wanted to go and used his No-Movement Clause to make it happen. However, two other teams made a strong push and that was the Islanders and the Golden Knights. Hall was even open to joining New York, but once they acquired Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac he turned his focus to Boston even though the Isles maintained interest. The Sabres were seemingly very interested in making a deal with Vegas, as Friedman notes that multiple teams were contacted about acting as a salary cap broker for a potential deal. In the end, Hall preferred Boston and that is all that mattered.
Many have been critical of the Sabres’ return for Hall – a Boston second-round pick and forward Anders Bjork – but they tried their best to get more. Friedman reports that Buffalo asked Boston about moving one of their promising young keepers, as both Vladar and Swayman have shown NHL ability in recent weeks as the injury replacements in the Bruins net. However, once Boston knew that Hall wanted to go there and could control the decision, they held all the leverage. The team easily declined moving either talented netminder.
Conor Garland to the Toronto Maple Leafs or Vegas Golden Knights
While the team ended up acquiring Nick Foligno instead, Friedman notes that the Toronto Maple Leafs did express interest in affordable Arizona Coyotes forward Garland. Garland would have fit nicely under the cap, but would have been expensive to require and near impossible to re-sign for the cap-strapped Leafs. The team thus went in a different direction. The Golden Knights were also linked to Garland, but could not make a deal work with their division rival. Garland remaining with the Coyotes could be what is best for both parties in the long run anyhow.
Ryan Getzlaf to the Vegas Golden Knights or Montreal Canadiens
The Golden Knights just missed out on seemingly everyone, huh? Friedman notes that the team was close to adding Anaheim captain Getzlaf and the career Duck was open to the nearby move. However, Vegas allegedly was unwilling to meet the trade demands for the veteran center. For the same reason, the Canadiens likely missed out. Friedman notes that they had serious interest, but talks never got far. Dan Kingerski of Pittsburgh Hockey Now adds that the Penguins kicked the tires on Getzlaf as well, but never made a serious offer. Anaheim clearly put a high price tag on the face of the franchise and never even approached him about waiving his No-Movement Clause.
Travis Zajac to the Pittsburgh Penguins
While it’s easy to lose track of when trades were made and talks were had around the deadline, per Friedman it seems the Penguins had their sights first set on Zajac from New Jersey, then Getzlaf, and finally Carter. The Kings veteran is not a bad acquisition for a third choice. The Penguins do have to face Zajac on a fellow East Division contender the rest of the way though and surely hope that Carter proves to be the superior player head-to-head.
The Colorado Avalanche have canceled their morning skate today after a positive result in their COVID-19 testing yesterday. The person is isolating and the rest of the tests have all returned negative, meaning the game against the St. Louis Blues this evening is still currently scheduled as planned.
As Adrian Dater of Colorado Hockey Now reported last night, the Avalanche players were vaccinated on Monday. Peter Baugh of The Athletic tweets that Colorado head coach Jared Bednar revealed on the radio that some players are also feeling fatigued because of this. The team already had Bowen Byram in the COVID protocol after a positive test last week, and now seem likely to be missing at least one more player when they take on the Blues this evening.
In addition to Byram and the other player who tested positive, the team will also be missing Logan O’Connor (lower-body, indefinite), Matt Calvert (upper-body, week-to-week), Patrik Nemeth (upper-body, day-to-day), Pavel Francouz (lower-body, rest of season), and Erik Johnson (upper-body, rest of season). Colorado sits first in the West Division with a 29-9-4 record.
The NHL Trade Deadline has come and gone. A relatively slow day ended with a late burst, as many teams jumped into the mix at the last minute. How do you think your team did? Share your deadline grades in the comments for teams in the West Division.
In – None
Out – None
Los Angeles Kings
In – None
Out – None
San Jose Sharks
In – F Alexander Barabanov, D Greg Pateryn, G Magnus Chrona, 2021 fourth-round pick (TOR), 2021 fifth-round pick (COL), 2022 fifth-round pick (BUF via VGK)
Out – G Devan Dubnyk, F Stefan Noesen, F Antti Suomela, D Fredrik Claesson, D Nick DeSimone, 2021 fourth-round pick
St. Louis Blues
In – None
Out – None
Vegas Golden Knights
“Soda” as he’s affectionately known in Colorado, spent four seasons with the Avalanche earlier in his career. That included two great years and two disappointing ones but ended with a career-high 23 goals in 2018-19. The 35-year-old center has just seven goals and 15 points in 34 games with the Blackhawks this season and is on a one-year contract.
That deal carries just a $1MM cap hit, certainly reasonable for a depth forward like Soderberg that can still contribute in a limited role. He’ll get a chance to change his postseason reputation this season; Soderberg has just two goals and 12 points in 41 career playoff matches.
Instead of acquiring draft picks in return, the Blackhawks get a couple of names that are lottery tickets at best. Dickinson went undrafted out of the OJHL and has split time between the AHL and ECHL this season. His entry-level contract expires at the end of this season and he likely won’t receive a qualifying offer.
Rolston though is interesting, if perhaps underwhelming. The 2020 fifth-round pick had six points in 28 games as a freshman for Notre Dame, but does have NHL bloodlines–his dad Brian Rolston played more than 1,200 games in the league–and some upside. Who knows at this point if he ever reaches that level with the Blackhawks, but it was clear that Soderberg’s time in Chicago was coming to an end.