NHL trade rumors: Deadline date, top targets, latest news as trade talks heat up

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It's here: NHL trade deadline day, the craziest tradition in hockey. Sporting News will keep you informed on news and rumblings from around the NHL, with grades for every official trade.

NHL trade news: Grading every deal made on 2018 trade deadline day

It's here: NHL trade deadline day, the craziest tradition in hockey. Sporting News will keep you informed on news and rumblings from around the NHL, with grades for every official trade.

The NHL trade deadline is nearly here, which means time is of the essence for would-be contenders to load up for a run at the Stanley Cup.

The 2018 rumor mill already features a great many compelling storylines. And while pipe dreams of a John Tavares or Erik Karlsson blockbuster might qualify as a little too bold for the NHL's taste, there's enough rumors and speculation to keep things interesting right down to the final cutoff.

TRADE TRACKER: Live updates, analysis on 2018 deadline day

This year's trade bait list features your usual crop of rentals. Buffalo's Evander Kane, Detroit's Mike Green and the Rangers' Rick Nash — all pending unrestricted free agents — figure to swap their basement dwellings for a taste of the playoffs. And then there's a bounty of big names with term toiling on teams fixing for a reset — Ottawa's Mike Hoffman, Montreal's Alex Galchenyuk, Edmonton's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, to name a few.

Of course, it could always turn into an anticlimactic snoozefest like the 2017 version. Let's not think that way, though.

Here's everything you need to know as the NHL trade deadline approaches.

MORE: Top 10 most likely players to be dealt at 2018 trade deadline

When is the NHL trade deadline?

The NHL trade deadline is Monday, Feb. 26. Teams have until 3 p.m. ET to report trades to the league office, though news of some of the last-minute transactions may leak out shortly after the deadline.

MORE: History of first-round draft picks dealt for players

Who are the top targets at the NHL trade deadline?

Forwards

Rick Nash, Rangers: Traded to the Bruins

Evander Kane, Sabres: Kane, 26, can't shake the off-ice baggage and the next playoff game he's a part of will be his first, but there's no denying the talent. This is his third consecutive 20-goal season. He also brings a physical element. Kane has said he expects to be traded . Despite the Sabres' high asking price, it would be a shock if rookie Jason Botterill didn't pull the trigger since it's obvious Kane is no longer a part of the team's future plans.

MORE: Rick Nash trade grades | Bruins, Rangers closer to goals

Mike Hoffman, Senators: Unlike Nash and Kane, Hoffman isn't a rental, with a reasonably priced contract that runs through the 2019-20 season ($5.1875 million per annum). The 28-year-old becomes a part of the core of an acquiring team, but he won't come cheap. It's more likely Hoffman finishes the season in Ottawa and is traded in the summer.

Max Pacioretty, Canadiens: The Habs won't trade their captain without good reason. Pacioretty has a year left on his contract at $4.5 million after this season, so he won't come cheap and GM Marc Bergevin is under little obligation to make a move now. But Pacioretty will be in high demand, and a culture shift in Montreal means his days there are probably numbered. A deadline deal may come to fruition if a team makes an offer Bergevin can't refuse, especially if it involves a high-ceiling center prospect.

Patrick Maroon, Oilers: Maroonisn't the sexy addition given the higher-profile options available, but he is more practical. For cap-strapped contenders, the 29-year-old is a low-cost rental with a hit of $1.5 million. He has 14 goals and 30 points this season.

Derick Brassard, Senators: Traded to the Penguins

Alex Galchenyuk, Canadiens: The trade buzz around Galchenyuk has died down in weeks leading to the deadline. No doubt, he's coveted by center-needy teams hoping to play him down the middle instead of the wing, where he toils in Montreal. But much like Pacioretty, with two more (reasonably priced) years on his contract, it's can and should take a too-good-to-be-true offer to pry the 24-year-old away at the deadline. A summer deal makes more sense.

John Tavares, Islanders: Speaking of summer 2018 ... No, Tavares isn't going anywhere at the deadline. He reportedly has told Isles brass he won't sign a contract extension until after the season, when the plan is to meet with owner Scott Malkin to discuss the future. That may cause some fans to sweat, but there's still much that needs to play out between now and July 1. The Isles are posturing for his return, re-signing Josh Bailey, Tavares' primary linemate, and trading for Brandon Davidson.

MORE: Decoding the complicated Derick Brassard trade(s)

Defensemen

Erik Karlsson, Senators: It remains more likely than not Karlsson will still be in Ottawa after Monday's 3 p.m. ET deadline. That doesn't mean there won't be trade chatter — and lots of it — as teams try to figure out a way to pull off a blockbuster for one of the world's five best players. It would be the biggest trade the NHL has seen since June 2016.

MORE: The latest Erik Karlsson trade rumors

Ryan McDonagh, Rangers: McDonagh is one of the most interesting cases at this year's deadline. The possibility of an Erik Karlsson trade has taken away from some of the chatter around the Rangers captain, but a deal McDonagh, under contract through 2018-19, would be a blockbuster in its own right as the Blueshirts continue their sell-off. Think Lightning, Bruins and even the Panthers as front-runners, if he's dealt.

Jack Johnson, Blue Jackets: A month ago, Johnson was a lock to trade teams. The 31-year-old requested a trade in the wake of declining minutes in Columbus, hoping for a better shot to earn a contract extension. But recent reports suggest Johnson, a free-agent-to-be, and the Blue Jackets have made progress in extension talks. If a deal isn't finalized, though, there are a number of contenders interested in the veteran blueliner.

Mike Green, Red Wings: Green is probably the surest bet for a trade. The 32-year-old is no longer an offensive dynamo, but he's improved defensively in Detroit and will add a lot to a playoff contender, both at even strength and on the power play. It's a matter of price.

MORE: How an Erik Karlsson-Drew Doughty free agency would alter the NHL

Latest NHL trade rumors and news

For all of the latest trade deadline action, follow SN's Monday live blog HERE.

Feb. 25

Erik Karlsson talks heat up of eve of deadline

The more we talk about an Erik Karlsson trade, the more realistic it sounds. Take all this with the requisite deadline grain of salt.

Kelly cashes in on Olympics with Ducks

Chris Kelly, who captained Team Canada to Olympic bronze in Pyeongchang, has signed with the Ducks for the rest of this season. The 37-year-old signed a tryout contract with the Oilers in the preseason but didn't make the team, so he bounced around from Belleville (AHL) to HC Davos (Switzerland) and South Korea. Now off the Anaheim.

Nash deal opens rumor floodgates

Now things can get interesting. The Rick Nash blockbuster established the market to a top-tier rental forward at a first-round draft pick, top prospect and a roster player, something that should make the Sabres, Oilers and Senators very happy. Of course, the Rangers also took on Matt Beleskey's salary, so we'll see how much the likes of Evander Kane or Patrick Maroon cost teams. Kane is sitting out Buffalo's game Sunday, while Maroon is scheduled to play for Edmonton.

Bruins sign Gionta for stretch run

Brian Gionta's tenure as Captain America at the Olympics turned into an NHL audition. The 15-year veteran signed a one-year, $700,000 contract with the Bruins on Sunday, where he'll fortify their wing depth. Gionta, 39, has been out of the NHL all year and didn't register a point in Pyeongchang, so it remains to be seen whether he can be an effective addition as the Bruins chase a Cup.

Blue Jackets acquire Letestu in three-team trade

The Predators helped the Blue Jackets fill their deadline need for a center, acquiring veteran Mark Letestu from the Oilers in exchange for Pontus Aberg. Nashville then dealt Letestu, a former Blue Jacket, to Columbus for a 2018 fourth-round draft pick.

Leafs steal Plekanec from Jets

Sorry, Winnipeg. That's two strikes. The Maple Leafs swooped in out of nowhere and acquired Tomas Plekanec and Kyle Baun from the rival Canadiens in exchange for prospect Rinat Valiev, forward Kerby Rychel and Toronto’s second-round draft pick in 2018. Plekanec, the top center remaining on the trade market, was believed to be at the top of the Jets' list after finishing as runner-up for Derick Brassard. Their options are severely limited now.

Waiver wire gets busy

The NHL waiver wire was buzzing Sunday with teams attempting to clear roster and cap space ahead of the deadline.

Bruins land Nash in blockbuster

The New York Rangers have traded forward Rick Nash to the Boston Bruins, the teams announced in a Sunday morning blockbuster.

A 2018 first-round draft pick, defense prospect Ryan Lindgren and forwards Ryan Spooner and Matt Beleskey are included in the package headed to New York.

The Rangers also agreed to retain 50 percent of Nash’s $7.8 million salary cap hit, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie.

Feb. 24

Red Wings dealing Tatar?

The Red Wings made it evident that they were sellers at the deadling when they traded Petr Mrazek to the Flyers. Could Tomas Tatar be the next player to leave Detroit?

Teams have contacted Detroit regarding Tatar, according to TSN's Aaron Ward. Tatar, 26, signed a four-year deal worth $21.2 million with Detroit in July

Nashville interested in Karlsson

Nashville can be added to the list of teams interested in acquiring Erik Karlsson's services at deadline, according to TSN's Travis Yost.

The latest on Rick Nash

It sounds like the talk on Nash is really heating up, with the Boston Bruins reprotedly the leading candidate to land the forward, according to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman.

A potential deal may be delayed due to possible financial holdups.

At least one formal offer for Rick Nash has made it to GM Jeff Gorton's desk, according to TSN's Pierre LeBrun. No indication yet on the team, but this situation is holding up the forward market a bit. After Nash goes, the floodgates could open for the rest of the scoring wingers on the block.

The asking price for Nash is expected to be a first-round pick and a prospect, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie.

Panthers in on Ryan McDonagh?

The Panthers are a sneaky darkhorse suitor for some of the deadline's biggest names. They're five points out of a playoff spot (with three games in hand on the Blue Jackets and four on the Islanders), so don't count them out in the market for someone like Ryan McDonagh. They've got the prospects and picks to make an attractive offer to the Rangers. And with an additional year of team control, McDonagh makes sense in Florida beyond 2018.

Sharks might be serious about Erik Karlsson

​Most NHL general managers have at minimum kicked the tires on Erik Karlsson. They wouldn't be doing their jobs if not. TSN's Pierre LeBrun named the Sharks in the sweepstakes, joining the Lightning in a small group of serious suitors. With just under $5 million to spare, San Jose has more cap space than most.

Tomas Plekanec market gets a boost

With Derick Brassard off the market, Tomas Plekanec is the best rental center up for grabs — and that's good news for the Canadiens. The Habs will sit the 35-year-old during their game Saturday against the the Lightning and a trade seems imminent. Plekanec is a particularly good fit for the Jets, who missed out on Brassard.

Feb. 23

Derick Brassard stops in Vegas on way to Penguins

Derick Brassard is going to Pittsburgh, but it took Vegas stepping in to get him there.

The Penguins, Senators and Golden Knights announced a complicated trade Friday night that required seven hours, six players, four draft picks and one NHL veto before the final trade gained approval from the league office. It breaks down as follows.

Senators get:
Goalie prospect Filip Gustavsson
Defenseman Ian Cole
2018 first-round pick (PIT)
2019 third-round pick (PIT)



Penguins get:
Center Derick Brassard
2018 third-round pick (OTT)
Forward prospect Vincent Dunn
Forward prospect Tobias Lindberg



Golden Knights get:
Forward Ryan Reaves
2018 fourth-round pick (PIT via VAN)

The Golden Knights also agreed to eat 40 percent of Brassard's $5 million cap hit, which was really the crux of the trade. The initial trade rejection was due to an "improper use of salary retention mechanism," according to TSN's Pierre LeBrun, so there's no secret as to why this trade was so complicated to pull off.

MORE: Derick Brassard's trade(s), decoded

Feb. 22

Grabner trade puts Devils on fast track to playoffs

No, Hell hasn't frozen over. That's just the Devils and Rangers making a mutually beneficially trade. The Blueshirts agreed to send low-cost speedster Michael Grabner across the river to Newark Thursday in exhange for a 2018 second-round draft pick and defense prospect Yegor Rykov.

Grabner, 30, was the Rangers' leading goal-scorer with 25, and he comes with the low cost of $1.65 million. That made him especially attractive to cap-strapped contenders, with as many as 10-12 inquiring, but it was a big win for the Devils to outbid the others, including the division-leading Penguins. Grabner is a perfect stylistic fit with the run-and-gun Devils and brings them much-needed scoring help on the wing.

Feb. 20

Bruins trade for Rangers defenseman (no, not that one)

Those hoping for Ryan McDonagh in Beantown experienced a fleeting moment of joy with Tuesday's announcement of a trade between the Bruins and Rangers. Instead, a different Rangers defenseman, Nick Holden, is on his way to Boston in exchange for AHL blueliner Rob O'Gara and a 2018 third-round draft pick.

Canucks re-sign Erik Gudbranson

The trade market lost a veteran defenseman Tuesday when the Canucks re-signed Erik Gudbranson to a three-year, $12 million extension. Gudbranson, somehow still only 26, is something of a polarizing figure in Vancouver. A would-be unrestricted free agent this summer, he had garnered a fair share of interest as a rental, but opted instead to see the Canucks' rebuild through, at least for the next three years.

Feb. 19

Flyers find fill-in goalie for playoff push

Petr Mrazek is headed from Detroit to Philadelphia to man the Flyers' net in place of injured Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth. The Red Wings receive a pair of conditional draft picks in return: A 2018 fourth-rounder and a 2019 third-rounder. Detroit also agreed to retain half of Mrazek's salary.

TSN's Bob McKenzie has the details on the conditions of the second pick:

​Feb. 13

Kings get Dion Phaneuf from Senators

Dion Phaneuf is headed to the Kings as part of a four-player trade that officially ushered in the NHL trade season. The veteran defenseman was whisked away mid-game Tuesday while the Senators were playing the Penguins, stoking trade chatter. An hour later, it was announced Phaneuf is dealt to Los Angeles along with forward Nate Thompson with forwards Marian Gaborik and Nick Shore headed to Ottawa.

​Feb. 3

Predators, Lightning plan for Stanley Cup push

A bunch of NHL teams are still posturing, and the next three weeks will determine whether many become a buyer, seller or stands pat. The league-leading Lightning and defending Western Conference champion Predators already have a pretty good idea about their plans as Stanley Cup front runners.

Via TSN's Bob McKenzie:

That's a lot to digest and, as McKenzie notes, is little more than food for thought at this stage.

​Feb. 2

Henrik Lundqvist committed to Rangers rebuild

Details: A New York Post report detailed the Rangers' willingness to trade off veterans such as Rick Nash, Michael Grabner, Ryan McDonagh and Mats Zuccarello, all of whom carry contracts which expire this offseason or next. In other words, the Blueshirts may blow things up. And while that would seem to place 35-year-old Henrik Lundqvist's future with the franchise in question, the longtime Rangers netminder says he wants to stick around and "battle through the ups and downs, the good and the bad."

​MORE: Top 15 NHL veterans without a Stanley Cup

Islanders GM: 'I'm not trading John Tavares'

John Tavares, a pending unrestricted free agent, remains without a contract extension. And as the Islanders slip up in the Metropolitan Division playoff race, speculation grows about whether GM Garth Snow should trade the face of the franchise rather than lose him for nothing July 1. It sounds like that speculation is unfounded.

“I’m not trading John Tavares,’’ the Islanders general manager told The Athletic .

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