Prospects Rambling: Some deals, Quick back, Canucks mumped, deadline looms (Feb. 25)

Mark Allan

2017-02-25

Speedy prospect Vinnie Hinostroza paid the price at least in the short term when the Blackhawks acquired LW Tomas Jurco a few days ahead of the NHL trade deadline.

 

NHL GMs have become willing in the past several years to make deals ahead of the trade deadline rather than waiting in an effort to apply maximum duress to potential trade partners.

Not that any earth-shaking transactions have happened so far this week, but several trades and other developments have whetted the appetite of hockey fans.

Deadline deals are a double-edged sword that can help a prospect by sending him to a better situation or freeing some better icetime. Transactions can also hurt him by handing his NHL playing time to a veteran on a contending team, for example.

Chicago Blackhawks

LW Tomas Jurco acquired from DET;

C Vinnie Hinostroza assigned to Rockford IceHogs (AHL).

The tiny Hinostroza paid the price when Chicago landed the underachieving Jurco in what the ‘Hawks hope is their second straight Slovakian reclamation project after Richard Panik. Hinostroza, possibly Chicago’s fastest skater, was puttering along with 14 points in 48 NHL games in spite of earlier sharing some ice with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa and even playing some on the PP.

He’ll bide his time in the AHL but could be recalled for Chicago’s Stanley Cup push. His chances of getting into offensive situations is nil in the short term, but that could change as early as next season, especially if the cap-strapped Blackhawks can’t afford raises to RFAs Jurco and Panik.

Anaheim Ducks

RW Patrick Eaves acquired from DAL;

LW Nic Kerdiles assigned to San Diego Gulls (AHL).

As in the previous example, the impact on Kerdiles was immediate and the timing was awful. After missing almost four months of the season while recovering for a concussion, he demonstrated newfound consistency with nine points in 10 AHL games. After making his NHL debut, he was promptly demoted when Eaves arrived.

 

Budding power forward Nic Kerdiles will have to wait for another opportunity to score like this in an NHL game.

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Previously criticized for an iffy attitude and irregular commitment, the potential power forward could put that behind him as early as next season if he handles his demotion with maturity, particularly if the Ducks view Eaves as merely a rental.

There were other, minor, deals such as Pittsburgh trading RW Danny Kristo to Carolina, but the bulk of trade-deadline transactions is surely still to come. Rumors have been flying for weeks.

  • Although Jonathan Quick was activated from IR and started today at home against Anaheim, the Kings are rumored to be considering upgrading their goaltending backup. L.A. already waived Jeff Zatkoff, surely the NHL’s oldest prospect at 29, and he’s been assigned to the AHL.
  • Vancouver GM Jim Benning was preparing to try to deal veterans, presumably for prospects and/or draft picks, after asking some of them (including RW Jannik Hansen and G Ryan Miller) to waive no-trade clauses by submitting a list of teams to which they would be willing to be traded. A Hansen trade would presumably free NHL icetime at some point for prospect Jake Virtanen. Although Benning says he doesn’t expect it to influence any deadline deals, the Canucks are dealing with an extraordinary outbreak of mumps that affects five players. Prospect Troy Stecher has tested positive for the disease, while fellow D-Men Nikita Tryamkin and Chris Tanev as well as forwards Markus Granlund and Michael Chaput have exhibited symptoms. So far, Vancouver has promoted D Evan McEneny and RW Alexandre Grenier for tonight’s game against the visiting Sharks.
  • Marc-Andre Fleury is still a Pittsburgh Penguin until he’s not. Whether he’s traded now or after the season doesn’t matter to rookie(!) Matt Murray because the 22-year-old already has a Stanley Cup ring and has established himself as the No. 1. Depending on whether the Penguins get a goalie (Antti Niemi?) coming back in a deadline deal, a Fleury trade could have a much-larger effect on prospect Tristan Jarry, the starting netminder for Pittsburgh’s AHL affiliate. However, GM Jim Rutherford must be more focused on addressing his squad’s injury-ravaged blueline, a situation that might call for more than adding veteran Ron Hainsey.
  • Swift scoring center Matt Duchene and rugged LW Gabriel Landeskog of the Avalanche remain the focus of persistent trade rumors, some involving the Bruins, who would love a boost to lift them into post-season play. If the Bs want either player, the Avs would undoubtedly expect young defenseman Brandon Carlo as part of their return. As much as the Bs would love to improve up front, Boston is thin on the blueline and Carlo, 20, is playing big minutes with Zdeno Chara. If the young man indeed went west, Carlo could expect some significant minutes in Colorado, although his plus-minus would take a big hit in the short term.

* * *

Many other rumors are filling the blogosphere as well as clogging radio and TV waves. The most-rumored names include D Kevin Shattenkirk of the Blues, C Martin Hanzal of the Coyotes, RW Patrick Sharp of the Stars and G Ben Bishop of the Lightning. We’ll know by Wednesday’s trade deadline whether any or all are traded, and begin to assess how transactions might affect prospects.

Don’t miss tomorrow’s Ramblings column by Hayden Soboleski, which will doubtless have more to say about the subject. I’ll be back in a week, when I’ll probably still be analyzing fallout from the ever-interesting NHL trade deadline.

Mark Allan

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