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Rumblings: Market for D-men changed by recent deals

2/16/2015

Cody Franson has been traded to the Nashville Predators and Marc Methot is staying put after re-signing with the Ottawa Senators on Monday, so more clarity has been brought to the market for rental blueliners ahead of the March 2 trade deadline.

After speaking with a half-dozen team executives Monday, the prevailing thought is that Andrej Sekera tops the remaining guys on the list of sought-after pending unrestricted free-agent defensemen, and I certainly don’t disagree with that.

The 28-year-old Slovak had 44 points last season, although this season he has only 18 points in 52 games on a Carolina Hurricanes team that’s near the bottom of the standings.

He’s also a left-handed blueliner, and a few of the playoff-bound clubs are more focused on a right-handed shot. That’s where the Edmonton Oilers' Jeff Petry comes into the picture.

Petry had played much better over the past month and his stock certainly rises with Franson -- another right-handed shot -- already dealt.

My guess is Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish would like to get a second-round pick plus another asset in return for Petry. Whether he’ll get his price met will be determined over the next two weeks. But you can bet that some of the teams who struck out on Franson are now circling back to Edmonton on Petry.

Zbynek Michalek, 32, is also right-handed and he’s another pending UFA blueliner who's going to be dealt before the March 2 deadline by the Arizona Coyotes. He’s not an offensive guy like Petry, however, but rather a solid penalty killer. On a very good team, he’s a good addition to the third pairing.

With contenders like the Anaheim Ducks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins all looking to bolster the blue line, the market’s there for the sellers to stick to their current price demands until the deadline gets closer.

What’s fascinating to me is that both the Canadiens and Lightning aren’t terribly interested in doing a rental deal, although they may still do one at the end of the day.

I think both Tampa and Montreal view their window as not quite open yet in terms of being true, elite Cup contenders. Both GMs look at their evolving, impressive teams as still in the development stage en route to hopefully one day becoming that elite team. And yet they’re contending for first place in a wide-open Eastern Conference.

No question both Tampa GM Steve Yzerman and Montreal GM Marc Bergevin (whom I think, in a perfect world, would add both a forward and a defenseman) would rather make deals that help the team not just this season but beyond.

But what if a rental option is all there is before the clock strikes 3 p.m. ET on March 2?

I think they both may do a rental deal as long as the price isn’t exorbitant. The problem is, as listed above, right now the buyers outnumber the sellers, at least when it comes to pending UFA defensemen for sale.