All posts by Cory Wilkins

3 teams that could pull off an Erik Karlsson trade

The Erik Karlsson speculation just won't go away.

The Ottawa Senators captain is up for a contract renewal in the summer of 2019, and he's made no bones that his next deal will pay a pretty penny.

Karlsson has since walked back those public remarks - somewhat - indicating he wants to win as a Senator, and that his submission of a 10-team no-trade list is simply a contract stipulation.

The constant speculation is a given, considering players of Karlsson's ilk - Senators head coach Guy Boucher recently called him the best player in the world - are rarely traded, and when the opportunity arises, suitors line up to inquire.

With that in mind, here are three teams that could put together the necessary pieces to acquire the superstar blue-liner:

Dallas Stars

Luck fell into the Stars' hands at last year's draft lottery, when the club moved up from the eighth overall selection and into the top three, granting Dallas the rights to highly touted Finnish defenseman Miro Heiskanen.

He's a prime piece for the Stars, but one that won't pay immediate dividends for a team ready to compete for the Stanley Cup. Dallas is under the gun to win with its current lineup intact, especially with key players Tyler Seguin and former Senators captain Jason Spezza only signed through next season. Karlsson's current agreement carries the same term.

While the Stars already have their own top-flight, right-shot defenseman in John Klingberg capable of holding down top-pairing duties, there's no saying the Stars couldn't have Klingberg and Karlsson on separate duos, capable of eating 50 minutes a night.

As for Heiskanen, he's impressed in Finland's top league this year, where he's picked up 13 points in 19 games - doing so as an 18-year-old playing amongst men. While Heiskanen would be a difficult piece for the Stars to part with, there is a replacement in the pipeline in 22-year-old Julius Honka.

Is Heiskanen enough to make a deal? Not likely, but the two sides could talk once Dallas offered up its 2018 first-rounder, a young roster player like Radek Faksa, and possibly another premium prospect, like goaltender Jake Oettinger.

Edmonton Oilers

Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli took heat when he traded former top pick Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils for Adam Larsson, and he hasn't fared much better from the Ryan Strome trade, which came at the cost of Jordan Eberle.

But the chance to add a premium blue-liner like Karlsson gives Chiarelli enough reason to reach back into his bag of tricks. Any deal is sure to have the Senators asking for a high-end defender in return, and the Oilers could begin the discussions with fellow Swedish defenseman Oscar Klefbom.

As for the Senators, the chance to add another top pick would be intriguing. Ottawa's recent slide has seen its upcoming first-round pick jump to third overall if the draft were held today. The Senators previously moved their pick to the Colorado Avalanche in the Matt Duchene deal, but have an option to defer it to 2018 if it falls in the top 10.

As of today, Ottawa's first-round pick sits just one spot ahead of Edmonton's. If the Senators held both selections, they would have two shots at adding top talents on the draft floor, like forwards Brady Tkachuk or Filip Zadina, or a budding blue-liner in Adam Boqvist.

Packaging Klefbom and a first-rounder leaves the Senators banking on the future, meaning the team would likely require one other current piece. Would center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins be too steep an ask, given Karlsson would add to a contending core of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Cam Talbot?

Philadelphia Flyers

Much like the Stars, the Flyers benefited from lottery balls, as they climbed from the 13th pick and into the top two selections at last year's draft.

That allowed Philadelphia to take Nolan Patrick with the second overall pick, a surprise get for a team that finished closer to the playoffs than it did to the basement. Could that leave open the possibility for a quick flip of Patrick?

The injury-riddled center has appeared in 20 games with Philadelphia this season, in which he's potted just six points. It's been a tough leap for Patrick, who was limited to 33 games in junior a year ago due to injury concerns, while he's already missed nine games this year with another ailment. Still, the potential is there - Patrick is just two years removed from a 102-point season in the WHL.

To add to the mix, the Flyers could part with a piece from their depth of riches on the blue line. Young defenders Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov should be untouchable, but a realistic option could be Robert Hagg in order to help a Karlsson deal come to fruition and give the Flyers their best defenseman since the days of Eric Desjardins.

To complete the package, the Senators would likely look for a top draft choice. Fortunately, the Flyers have two of those - their own, and the first-round pick returned from the St. Louis Blues for Brayden Schenn.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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Julien on Galchenyuk: ‘You never give up on your players’

From the poorhouse to the penthouse.

When the Montreal Canadiens face off against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday, they'll do with some new line combinations at the ready.

Among the changes made by coach Claude Julien, forward Alex Galchenyuk will climb to the team's top line alongside Andrew Shaw and Jonathan Drouin.

It should mean a busier night for Galchenyuk, who was limited to a season-low 9:18 of ice time in Thursday's overtime loss to the Calgary Flames.

It marked the second-straight night in which Galchenyuk was held off the scoresheet. Saturday's boost up the lineup is surely a move to get more offense from Galchenyuk, who just three games ago picked up four assists in the Canadiens' 10-1 romp over the Detroit Red Wings.

"We know he's a good player. We know he's got skill ... You never give up on your players," Julien told reporters Friday, courtesy of TSN. "We know that Alex is a young player still. You look at his age and because he played as an underager, if you want to put it that way, we think we expect more, but I think there is still some untapped potential there."

Galchenyuk's status with the Canadiens has seemingly been up in the air since the offseason, when a report indicated he was on the Canadiens' trade block following the acquisition of Drouin.

Adding more fuel to the fire, Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin stated earlier this season that Galchenyuk, a natural center, will spend his time on the wing until he can grasp the responsibilities of playing up the middle of the ice.

The Canadiens drafted Galchenyuk with the third overall pick in 2012.

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Expansion into Seattle would provide opportunity for radical realignment

Seattle is making its case to become the NHL's 32nd team.

Formally invited to apply for an expansion franchise, Seattle is expected to submit a bid backed by billionaire David Bonderman and film producer Jerry Bruckheimer.

Seattle would mark the NHL's first entry into the Pacific Northwest and bring geographic parity to a league that currently includes 16 teams in the Eastern Conference and one less in the West.

Seattle would also be a natural fit in the Pacific Division. But, as it already has eight clubs, one would need to be bumped to the Central, thus giving the NHL four divisions of eight teams each.

A better option could be to realign into eight divisions of four teams. Here's our proposal:

Northwest Southwest Mountain Central
Calgary Anaheim Arizona Chicago
Edmonton Los Angeles Colorado Minnesota
Seattle San Jose Dallas Nashville
Vancouver Vegas Winnipeg St. Louis
  • Seattle is a perfect fit in the newly created Northwest Division, which includes the three Western Canadian teams. All three could offer travelling fan bases to the NHL's newest city, while Seattle would also serve as a natural rival to Vancouver. That's something the Canucks are very much in favor of, residing less than 150 miles away.
  • The Golden Knights will require little travel, slotted into a division with the three California clubs.
  • Prior to the NHL's last realignment, Arizona and Dallas shared a home in the old Pacific Division. The two could be roommates again in this newly created Mountain Division. The proposed division covers two time zones differing by just one hour. The Coyotes would also make frequent trips to their former home in Winnipeg.
  • The remaining clubs from the current Central Division remain grouped together, with the division name staying intact too.
Atlantic Northeast Metropolitan Southeast
Buffalo Boston New Jersey Carolina
Detroit Montreal NY Islanders Columbus
Florida Ottawa NY Rangers Pittsburgh
Tampa Bay Toronto Philadelphia Washington
  • Snowbirds from Western New York and Michigan will have plenty of opportunity to see the Sabres and Red Wings in warmer locales, as they're paired with the Panthers and Lightning.
  • Boston hockey fans could be considered honorary Canadians in their new grouping with the Canadiens, Senators, and Maple Leafs. Even better, any matchup within the division can be considered a rivalry.
  • Plenty of time will be spent on the bus in the lightly traveled Metropolitan Division.
  • The former Southeast Division returns and features two key rivalries - the classic Penguins-Capitals, and the budding Blue Jackets-Penguins.

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Kings acquire Jordan Subban from Canucks

A Subban is on the move.

Early Friday, the Los Angeles Kings acquired defensive prospect Jordan Subban from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for veteran forward Nic Dowd.

Subban has spent the past three seasons with AHL's Utica Comets. He has five points in 16 games this season.

Subban is the younger brother of Nashville Predators blue-liner P.K. Subban and Vegas Golden Knights netminder Malcolm Subban.

Dowd, 27, appeared in 16 games with the Kings this season, recording one assist.

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Wheeler, Price, Faksa named 3 stars of the week

Blake Wheeler, Carey Price, and Radek Faksa have earned the NHL's three stars of the week.

Wheeler received first-star honors after he wrapped the week with two goals and eight assists in four appearances. That included three separate three-point nights by the Winnipeg Jets captain. Wheeler sits fourth in NHL scoring with 35 points in 27 games.

As second star of the week, Price has made up for lost time since returning from injury, winning all four games last week. The Montreal Canadiens netminder posted a 1.50 GAA and .950 save percentage over the stretch. Price currently owns a five-game win streak.

Faksa was named third star after he tallied five goals and added two assists in his last four outings. That performance saw the Dallas Stars forward notch his first career hat trick against the Vegas Golden Knights. Faksa has collected 16 points in 26 games this season.

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MacKinnon, Andersen, Schenn named 3 stars for November

Three players stood above the rest in the NHL in November.

Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon, Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen, and St. Louis Blues center Brayden Schenn have been named the NHL's three stars for November.

MacKinnon wrapped the month with five goals and 15 assists in 20 contests. The stretch included seven multi-point games, plus a career-high five-point outing against the Washington Capitals on Nov. 16. MacKinnon sits first in Avalanche scoring with 28 points in 23 games.

In 12 November appearances, Andersen posted a 9-2-1 record alongside a 2.14 goals-against average and .938 save percentage. The Maple Leafs netminder also picked up back-to-back shutouts against the New Jersey Devils and Montreal Canadiens.

Schenn finished the month with seven goals and 12 assists in 12 games. The Blues forward saw four multi-point games in November. He also notched back-to-back game-winning goals against the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers. Schenn has 30 points in 25 games this season.

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Price has been spectacular since return from injury

Two games, two wins.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price secured his second straight win in as many games Monday, as the Canadiens defeated the Blue Jackets by a 3-1 score. The victory snapped Columbus' six-game win streak and, in the process, gave Price his first consecutive wins on the season.

Price allowed one goal on 38 shots against the Blue Jackets, just two nights after recording his first shutout of the season against the Buffalo Sabres.

Since his 10-game absence, Price has turned aside 73 shots for a spectacular .986 save percentage. It's a stark contrast from his performance earlier this season, when he owned a .877 save rate through his first 11 appearances.

In 13 games, Price is 5-7-1 with a 3.24 GAA and .898 save percentage. But If his last two outings are any indication, the Canadiens' MVP appears to be back to his old self.

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Sundin: Matthews right pick as next Leafs captain

From one leader to another.

Mats Sundin, who captained the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1997-2008, believes Auston Matthews should be next in line to wear the "C" for the iconic franchise.

"In my book, he's obviously the right person to be captain, no doubt about that," Sundin told Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star. "He leads on the ice and you can tell he's a good man off the ice."

The Maple Leafs have not had a captain since 2016, after former leader Dion Phaneuf was dealt to the Ottawa Senators.

The team has been coy on when it will name its next captain, as general manager Lou Lamoriello noted in September, "With the number of leaders we have in that room, we don't feel it's necessary."

Matthews, 20, leads the Maple Leafs in scoring this season, with 22 points in 20 games. The reigning Calder Trophy winner - the first Toronto skater to take home Rookie of the Year honors since 1966 - finished last year with 69 points.

"I have (Matthews) right up there with Connor McDavid," Sundin added. "The Leafs have waited so long to have a young franchise player to build around. He's that player."

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Kings activate Gaborik from injured reserve

Marian Gaborik is ready to play.

The Los Angeles Kings have announced the veteran forward has been activated from the injury reserve. He is expected to make his season debut against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.

Gaborik missed the first 22 games of the season as he rehabbed from offseason knee surgery. He tallied 21 points in 56 games with the Kings last season.

The 35-year-old is signed through the 2020-21 season at a $4.875-million cap hit, as per CapFriendly.

Gaborik won the Stanley Cup with the Kings in 2014.

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Kings acquire Mitchell from Canadiens

The Los Angeles Kings have acquired forward Torrey Mitchell from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for a conditional draft pick in 2018, it was announced Thursday.

Should the Kings qualify for next year's postseason, the Canadiens will instead receive their own 2018 fourth-round pick that was originally exchanged to the Kings for forward Dwight King at last year's trade deadline.

Mitchell, 32, has been held pointless in 11 games with the Canadiens this season. He tallied 17 points in 78 games with Montreal last year.

The Canadiens originally acquired Mitchell from the Buffalo Sabres in 2015.

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