Hot and not
Antti Niemi, Dallas Stars
Niemi allowed three goals on eight shots in the first period of a 6-3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets -- including a soft goal on a long wrister in the closing seconds -- and was on the bench to start the second.
What does the Andrew Ladd deal mean for the trade market?
@Real_ESPNLeBrun: The domino effect should be in play now. The Chicago Blackhawks' bullish acquisition of Andrew Ladd from the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday should be great news for the Arizona Coyotes, who are trying to move pending UFA forward Mikkel Boedker. Mind you, the Coyotes were also talking to Chicago this week before the Ladd deal went down for the player they had ranked No. 1 on their target list among pending UFA wingers. Now teams that were also in on Ladd might turn their attention to Boedker. To me, Loui Eriksson of the Boston Bruins is the most talented pending UFA winger left. The Bruins are still trying to sign him, but as of Thursday night the two sides were still apart on term and money. Will they sign him by Monday? If not, do they have to move him? There's no confusing the Boedker situation, though. He's not signing and the Coyotes are focused on trading him. Other rental forwards include the Edmonton Oilers' Teddy Purcell, who was scratched Thursday at Los Angeles with a deal perhaps not too far away. I know the Kings spoke to the Oilers about Purcell, and several other teams have, too. P.A. Parenteau, Lee Stempniak, Jamie McGinn and Jiri Hudler are other scoring winger options among the pending UFAs. Southern California rivals L.A. and the Anaheim Ducks are both looking for a winger; Florida rivals the Panthers and Lightning could also both use a top-nine winger; and the Washington Capitals are likely aiming for a bottom-six winger; so there's lots of buying still to be done ahead of Monday's deadline.
@ESPN_Burnside: The guy I'm still curious about is Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal. The Canes lost to the lowly Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday, and while they are just two points in arrears of the playoffs, they have played more games than any of the teams they are chasing, and it seems clear Staal does not fit in their future plans. Does he agree? Would he be amenable to going to a contender and waiving his no-trade clause to allow GM Ron Francis to continue to restock the barren shelves in Carolina? My gut says yes. Could the New York Rangers make it happen? Rangers coach Alain Vigneault has been talking recently about liking the idea of adding up front. The Minnesota Wild, who lost for the second time in a row Thursday after four straight wins, are weak down the middle. Staal can play the wing as well, so he could also be a fit for the teams you mentioned, Pierre. I couldn't care less that Staal's numbers are off. He's a winner and a guy I can see elevating his game substantially if he finds greener pastures. It's up to him, but I'll be surprised if it doesn't happen before Monday afternoon.
@CraigCustance: I agree Scott, the two most interesting storylines to watch now will be Staal and Eriksson. The reviews on Staal have been mixed when I've asked around the league. Some see a true No. 1 center who will be revived when plugged into a Stanley Cup race. Others don't think the switch can be flipped quite that easily and that he's more of a secondary threat. Either way, I don't think the cost would be secondary, and that's assuming he even wants to move. As for Eriksson, maybe the contract situation will get straightened out soon, but if not, he's the best rental forward available. It's such a tough call for Boston. I'd be inclined to keep him and extend contract talks all the way to July 1, but if the mandate is still to pump young assets into the organization, that might not be realistic. His two-way game and experience in the West gives him wide appeal, and I could see the Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues making a push if Eriksson becomes available.
@ESPNJoeyMac: After analyzing the Ladd trade Thursday night, I believe it was a solid deal for both sides. The powerhouse Blackhawks become even more powerful (scary to think about) and the Jets land prospect Marko Dano. It should set the wheels in motion league-wide as we enter the final weekend before Monday's 3 p.m. trade deadline. I can usually decide one way or the other whether a team should buy or sell, but in the case of Eriksson, I can honestly say I have no idea. He's a world-class player and pending UFA. He's looking for a major deal, and even though the Bruins continue to make offers it remains to be seen if the sides can agree on an extension before the deadline. If they can't, then what? The Bruins remain in the playoff structure and need Eriksson down the stretch and into the playoffs, if the team gets there. If that's the case and Eriksson eventually signs elsewhere in the offseason, the Bruins will be left with nothing but memories. This is a serious predicament for GM Don Sweeney. In this case, I guess it comes down to whether team president Cam Neely wants Eriksson. Outside of Boston, the Ladd deal also increases the value of Parenteau, especially because he's been putting up points of late. Buckle up, fans, because it's going to be an interesting weekend.
Around the league
Ladd told reporters after Thursday's trade that he hopes to re-sign with the Blackhawks following the season.
Ducks GM Bob Murray said Thursday it's a "fair assumption" the team is targeting a winger on the trade market.