NHL Top Three: Chopping Block, College Kids, and Jeopardy in Vancouver

For the first time this season, we struggled to compile three major events to breakdown for you. Thus, this week will be a little bit different: stay tuned as we look ahead to the trade deadline, take a look at the recent influx of the signings of college athletes, and analyze the major COVID-19 outbreak that recently hit the Vancouver Canucks.

Potential Players on the Chopping Block

It’s that time of the year again where the general manager’s have players and fans on the edge of their seats as trade rumors swirl the league. This year, the NHL trade deadline officially ends at 3PM EST on April 12th. Let’s take a look at some of the players rumored to be on the move:

Sam Bennett

Recently this past year, it was reported that Bennett had actually requested to be traded from the Calgary Flames, just prior to coach Geoff Ward’s firing. Since the hiring of Darryl Sutter on March 4th, these rumors have seemed to fade away. However, his doesn’t mean that we can exclude Bennett from trade talks; since the surfaced rumors of the requested trade, Bennett’s production has been on the decline. He is, however, set to be a restricted free agent after this season. Will the Flames look to trade him before the upcoming deadline or hold out until he becomes a RFA?

Taylor Hall

Another trade deadline where Taylor Hall is one of the top names in regards to trade rumors; he can’t catch a break. After recently being scratched by the Buffalo Sabres and a 18 game winless streak, rumors have picked up surrounding the left winger and his future in Buffalo. He has struggled to produce and help lift up the team along with captain Jack Eichel (who also appears to be on the chopping block). Although he is set to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, Buffalo may look to trade him for draft picks in hopes of a rebuild in a the near future.

Shayne Gostisbehere

While Gostisbehere is a well known name in the city of Philadelphia, has recently been on the decline production wise as he continues to frustrate the Philadelphia Flyers Fanbase. He has been scratched from several games recently and is one of the biggest names on the trade rumors list. He still has two years remaining on his contract, giving the Flyers time to trade him. Will Gostisbehere still represent the orange come April 12th?

Jonathan Bernier

Look as this, a goalie on the chopping block – not something you see too incredibly often, but alas, it seems the Detroit Redwings are ready to move on from goaltender Jonathan Bernier. Unfortunately, with Bernier not in his prime, the Redwings need to look for more goalie depth. While he’s been good for the Redwings and putting up decent numbers, it’s time for them to move on and gain that goaltender depth they need in order to continue to improve their already struggling team.

College Kids in Town

With the college tournaments coming to a close, many college level players have begun signing level entry contracts with heir respective NHL team. Let’s take a look at some of those signings, how they benefit the various teams, and if any of these players will see NHL ice time this season.

Cole Caufield, Montreal Canadiens

After two years of Montreal Canadiens fans begging for Caufield to be in the lineup, they seem to be one step closer to getting him in that iconic bleu, blanc et rouge uniform. General manager Marc Bergevin recently announced that Caufield had agreed to a three year, level entry contract, earning $700,000 in his first year and $832,500 in the following two years. He will also receive signing bonuses for his time with the Laval Rocket.

Caufield led the Big Ten division with 52 points (30 goals, 22 assists) and was named Big Ten Player of the Year. He also won a gold medal with Team USA in the World Juniors this past January. With recent injuries plaguing the Canadiens (Gallagher, Price), we could see Caufield make his way into the lineup towards the NHL season and make his NHL debut. For the time being, however, he will remain with the Laval Rocket until a spot opens up for him.

Shane Pinto, Ottawa Senators

While the exact terms of the deal were not release, the Ottawa Senators announced on Thursday that they had come to terms with forward Shane Pinto in a three year entry level contract. The 20 year old was selected 32nd overall by the Senators in the 2019 NHL draft. Pinto recently came off a solid year with the North Dakota Fighting Hawks, in which he led the team with 15 goals and 17 assists in 28 games. He was also named a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.

After he servers the mandatory 7 day quarantine, Pinto looks to make his NHL debut with the Senators on April 14th against the Winnipeg Jets. In a recent media session, Pinto sounded hopeful about making the lineup and joining the Senators sooner rather than later.

Odeen Tufto, Tampa Bay Lightning

After coming off a solid year for Quinnipiac, Odeen Tufto recently signed a one year entry level deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tufto was the captain for Quinnipiac, led the NCAA Division 1 players in assists, and was a finalist for the 2021 Hobey Baker Award. He was also named ECAC Player of the Year.

He looks to get some time in the NHL this season, but will likely make his NHL debut next season as the Bolts look to make a playoff run, limiting open roster spots for the remainder of this season.

Vancouver in Jeopardy

It’s no secret that since starting up again on January 13th, the NHL has struggled with containing COVID-19 amongst their teams. While most have been able to postpone games and move on quickly, the Vancouver Canucks are a different story.

It’s now been reported that 18 of the 22 players currently sit on the COVID protocol list. This all began back on March 30th, in which Canucks’ forward Adam Gaudette was the first to test positive. Other players began to experience symptoms and were continued to be placed on the protocol list, which is where we sit now.

Originally, the following four games had been postponed, but as the protocol list has continued to grow, two additional games have been postponed as well. It’s important to note that while 18 players are on the protocol list, that doesn’t necessarily mean all 18 have tested positive; these 18 players have either tested positive or been in close contact with someone who tested positive or are experiencing possible symptoms. It’s also been reported that the families of Canucks’ players have begun to exhibit symptoms and be effected as well.

Additionally, it’s believed that the strain of COVID-19 currently effecting the Canucks is the P.1 variant first identified in Brazil.

This ultimately brings into question the ethics of the NHL. Gary Bettman recently stated the he doesn’t see this major outbreak in Vancouver to be a problem and that they will likely quickly recover. This seems more of a statement that disregarded the players wellbeing, as he only cares about bringing in the revenue.

That seems to have been the case throughout this NHL season as team after team has continued to have positive tests. What will it take for the NHL to finally take these outbreaks seriously and actually care about the wellbeing of their players?

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