Each week, we're taking a look at the Central Division trade chatter. Here's the third installment as the trade deadline closes in, from the divisional leaders on down:
There's no urgency for the Blackhawks to do anything dramatic, but adding depth at forward and on defense remains a possibility for GM Stan Bowman. Teddy Purcell has been a name attached to the Blackhawks, and the Edmonton Oilers are willing to move him. The Oilers like Purcell and haven't completely ruled out signing him, but they're extremely hesitant to tie up future money in non-core players, especially looking toward the years when entry-level contracts for Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid expire. The appeal of Purcell to a team like the Blackhawks is heightened because he's shown an ability to play up and down the lineup, and with high-end talent from Steven Stamkos to McDavid.
As our friend Pierre LeBrun noted recently, the Stars remain in the hunt for a top-four defenseman, which puts them in crowded company with the market thin on quality top-four guys. As one exec noted, there's no shortage of depth defensemen or guys making more than they're worth, but a legit top-four D-man is hard to come by. It's why, even with his monster contract, the Toronto Maple Leafs were able to move Dion Phaneuf. Kris Russell was mentioned as a possibility for Dallas, as is Leafs defenseman Roman Polak. If the New York Rangers opt to move Keith Yandle, he'd be a fascinating addition to a high-powered offense, although Dan Hamhuis is a little more realistic. How GM Jim Nill approaches the deadline on defense could influence the future of current Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski, whose stock as a potential free agent climbed when the Winnipeg Jets took Dustin Byfuglien off the market with a new contract. According to a source, there's been no movement on a new deal for Goligoski, who will be a popular target if he gets to free agency.
The return of Jaden Schwartz is as good as anything GM Doug Armstrong can hope to get at the deadline. Last Friday, Schwartz scored a goal in his first game since Oct. 20, and coach Ken Hitchcock is slowly working him back up to the 17 minutes or so he was playing each night before the injury. With Schwartz back in the lineup, it buys Armstrong some time to evaluate his forward group and get a sense of how aggressive he needs to be in potentially adding a forward like Jonathan Drouin.
The collapse of the Wild has helped open a wild-card spot for the Avalanche, who have settled into one of the two spots with the Predators. They haven't necessarily seized the opportunity with authority, however, with a 4-5-1 record in their past 10 games, with a negative goal differential. The potential availability of Boston Bruins forward Loui Eriksson should be something GM Joe Sakic keeps an eye on. Bruins GM Don Sweeney reaffirmed to ESPN.com this week that signing Eriksson remains a priority, but he'd be a great fit in Colorado, where he could be reunited with former Bruins teammate Carl Soderberg. Plus, Eriksson has shown an ability to thrive in the West.
The focus in Nashville, even with the Ryan Johansen addition, has been to bring in more scoring, but the Predators have recently been mentioned as a potential destination for a rental goalie and Pekka Rinne isn't doing anything to quiet the talk. Since the All-Star break, Rinne is 1-3-1 with an .861 save percentage, and he wasn't exactly lights-out before the break. Carter Hutton has been good in spot duty this season with a .922 save percentage in 10 games, so perhaps it's simply a matter of easing Rinne's workload down the stretch, because it's hard to imagine a potential rental such as James Reimer stealing time away from Rinne when the games are at their most meaningful.
As much as GM Chuck Fletcher might have preferred to make an impact trade rather than fire coach Mike Yeo in order to spark his team, that trade never materialized and Yeo paid the price. The promotion of John Torchetti to interim coach buys Fletcher time to watch his roster and see how it responds to a new coach. It eases the pressure to make a deal, but it doesn't change the fact that this team needs a top-six forward. Fletcher's preference remains a traditional hockey trade rather than dealing for a rental such as Eriksson, and he has the depth on defense to pull it off. He just needs to find that right trade partner.
One of the only pure sellers in the league, the Jets should have no problem moving captain Andrew Ladd before the trade deadline if they opt not to sign him to an extension. The list of possible suitors for Ladd is long, with the Blackhawks a team with plenty of connections, from the relationship between Bowman and former Blackhawks assistant GM and current Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, to the fact that Ladd has a Stanley Cup ring from his time in Chicago. The Pittsburgh Penguins, Dallas Stars and Florida Panthers are other possible destinations for Ladd.