Los Angeles Kings
Carl Hagelin knows his time with Los Angeles might be running out, but the 30-year-old forward is trying to block that out while awaiting whatever comes next. The Kings (23-28-5) remain eight points behind the Minnesota Wild in the race for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference and likely will be sellers before the deadline.
That would mean Hagelin, who can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, might be on the move again after being traded to the Kings by the Pittsburgh Penguins for forward Tanner Pearson on Nov. 14.
“Everyone understands the situation we’re in,” Hagelin said Monday. “You just keep playing hockey. You never know what’s going to happen. That’s out of my jurisdiction right now.”
The Kings already have traded away two players in the past two weeks. First, they shipped defenseman Jake Muzzin to the Toronto Maple Leafs for forward Carl Grundstrom, the rights to defenseman Sean Durzi and a first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft on Jan. 28.
Then,they dealt center Nate Thompson and a fifth-round pick in the 2019 draft to the Montreal Canadiens for a fourth-round pick in the 2019 draft on Monday.
Hagelin, who won the Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 2016 and 2017, would be a valuable addition for a contender seeking speed and a strong penalty killer. He has 230 points (90 goals, 140 assists) in 523 NHL games with the Kings, Penguins, Anaheim Ducks and New York Rangers.
“That’s nothing I think about right now, but the media keeps talking about it,” Hagelin said. “You always know it could happen, but right now I’m focused on everything that’s going on here.”
Hagelin missed 20 games with a knee injury from Nov. 25-Jan. 3 but is healthy now and starting to feel comfortable with the Kings, playing on a line with Adrian Kempe and Ilya Kovalchuk. He has five points (one goal, four assists) in 19 games since the trade.
The Kings return from a six-game road trip (3-2-1) to play the Vancouver Canucks at Staples Center on Thursday (10:30 p.m. ET; FS-W, SNP, NHL.TV).
“I’m starting to get familiar with this team right now and my line is going pretty well,” Hagelin said. “The team is playing way better. Even the games we’ve lost now, we’ve been in and had a good chance of winning. So it’s a better feeling.”
The return of defenseman Justin Schultz is imminent, but apparently not when the Penguins host the Edmonton Oilers at PPG Paints Arena on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS).
It’s good timing for Pittsburgh with the news Tuesday that defenseman Olli Maatta will be sidelined indefinitely with an upper-body injury he sustained against the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday.
Schultz (fractured left leg), who hasn’t played since Oct. 13, was expected to be paired with Maatta when he came back but will have to find another partner until Maatta is healthy. The Penguins thought Schultz’s return would give them a surplus of defensemen, which contributed to their decision to trade Jamie Oleksiak to the Dallas Stars for a fourth-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft on Jan. 28.
With some uncertainty surrounding the length of Maatta’s absence, it’s possible the Penguins might look to add a depth defenseman to help for the stretch run.
Pittsburgh (29-20-7) holds the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference with 65 points, but is one point ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes (29-22-6) and two in front of the Buffalo Sabres (28-21-7).
Maatta, 24, has been a key contributor for the Penguins this season. He’s fourth among Pittsburgh’s defensemen in averaging 18:32 of ice time and has 13 points (one goal, 12 assists) in 55 games. His experience as a two-time Stanley Cup winner will be difficult to replace.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Cam Atkinson believes the Blue Jackets will be able to contend for the Stanley Cup this season wherever forward Artemi Panarin and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky are playing after the deadline.
Panarin and Bobrovsky each can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and there have been no contract negotiations with either player.
So general manager Jarmo Kekalainen must decide whether to keep them for a playoff run or trade them for pieces that will help the Blue Jackets in the playoffs and beyond.
Atkinson told NHL.com columnist Nick Cotsonika that he has faith general manager Jarmo Kekalainen will do what’s best.
“Whatever happens, happens. Atkinson said. “I don’t make those decisions. They’re above my pay grade. But we have the group of guys in here to make a run, and Jarmo’s always been good where, if he does trade star players or what, he always gets some pretty good players in return.”
Columbus (32-20-3) is third in the Metropolitan Division with 67 points, two behind the second-place Washington Capitals and five behind the first-place New York Islanders, who visit the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; FS-O, MSG+, NHL.TV). But the Blue Jackets are also two points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins and three ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes.
So a lot will be determined in the Blue Jackets’ final 27 regular-season games.
“I think we’re so close,” Atkinson said. “We have all the right pieces, a young team still obviously learning and maturing.”
A 3-0 loss to the Dallas Stars on Tuesday left the Panthers at 0-2-0 during a seven-game homestand they viewed as pivotal to their hopes of climbing back into the Eastern Conference race. Florida (23-24-8) had made a mini surge by going 6-2-0 in their eight games before the homestand, but trails Pittsburgh by 11 points for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference with 27 games remaining, increasing the chances it will be a seller before the deadline.
Speculation continues to swirl about the Panthers’ interest in forward Artemi Panarin and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky should the Columbus Blue Jackets decide to trade either or both rather than risk losing them as unrestricted free agents July 1. And the Panthers would likely be among the most interested if Panarin and Bobrovsky reach the UFA market.
TSN added Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau to its “Trade Bait Board”on Monday with the theory he could be part of a package to acquire Panarin and Bobrovsky from the Blue Jackets. In an interview with The Athletic on Tuesday, Huberdeau dismissed the talk as a rumor.
“We don’t know if it’s true,” said Huberdeau, who has 52 points (13 goals, 39 assists) in 55 games this season. “I’m just going to play here for now. We’re trying to make a push for the playoffs and I am going to do everything I can. We’ll see what happens. You can’t do anything about it, just play hockey. Just play the game.”
With Huberdeau, 25, under contract for four more seasons, he appears to be part of the Panthers’ long-term core, but they have six potential unrestricted free agents who could be dealt for future assets before the deadline: forwards Derick Brassard, Riley Sheahan, Jamie McGinn, Troy Brouwer and Micheal Haley and defenseman Bogdan Kiselevich.
Brassard and Sheahan were acquired from the Penguins in a trade for forwards Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann on Feb. 1. Florida also acquired Pittsburgh’s second- and fourth-round picks in the 2019 NHL Draft, and a fourth-round pick in 2019 previously acquired from the Minnesota Wild in the deal.
On the day of the trade, general manager Dale Tallon said, performance will dictate whether Brassard and Sheahan stay in Florida or are moved again before the deadline.