Welcome back to Around the League — the column here at CanucksArmy in which we examine news from around the National Hockey League, oftentimes through a Canucks-tinted lens.
Around the League is back, and full of blockbuster wheeling and dealing! Well, sort of.
To be fair, two trades on the same day when we’re still months away from the trade deadline actually does create a pretty big news day for the NHL. We even have a big contract extension for a Canucks’ division rival to discuss as well!
Let’s jump in!
Avs and Leafs swap depth pieces
The Maple Leafs and Avalanche made a small trade today, swapping forwards Dryden Hunt and Denis Malgin. However, the trade could be an impactful move if all goes according to plan.
Malgin had four points in 23 games for the Leafs this season, after spending last year with the ZSC Lions in the Swiss National League. The Avalanche have been depleted by injuries throughout their forward corps, with Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Darren Helm all out long-term. The 25-year-old Malgin gives Colorado a depth-scoring option to round out their bottom six while MacKinnon and Landeskog are on the mend.
At 27, the slightly older Dryden Hunt has been racking up the air miles this season. After starting his season in New York with the Rangers, Hunt was claimed off waivers by the Avs in October and played 25 games, only notching one point. But the real value to the high-scoring Leafs is in his defensive skill, something sorely missing from Toronto’s bottom six.
Neither Malgin nor Hunt are likely to be the final piece of a Stanley Cup puzzle, but they could have a hand in overall team improvement as the season rolls along.
Oilers sign goalie Stuart Skinner to a three-year extension
Stop me if you’ve heard this story before: the Edmonton Oilers have given a goaltender a large new contract based on an extremely small sample size.
Let’s be clear, Stuart Skinner has been nothing short of great this season, and that played heavily into his extension that’ll pay him an AAV of $2.6 million for three years. The 24-year-old goalie has a .915 save percentage through 18 starts for the Oilers and has effectively usurped the throne as Edmonton’s #1 goalie from Jack Campbell.
But Campbell should’ve served as a cautionary tale to Oilers management. GM Ken Holland signed the 30-year-old netminder to a five-year, $25 million deal last offseason based on just 75 strong games as the Maple Leafs’ starter and a red-hot start.
In his first season for the Oilers, Campbell has completely fallen off. His .875 save percentage in 14 games is among the worst in the league, and his contract is already looking like an absolute boat anchor. And that’s without getting into the contracts the Oilers have given in recent years, like Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith.
Who knows, maybe Skinner will completely live up to the deal and keep up this pace for the majority of the next four years! But based on Edmonton’s history of goalie scouting and Skinner’s 33 games of NHL experience, I’m treading with extreme caution.
Michael Del Zotto part of three-way trade between Ducks, Red Wings and Panthers
A former Canuck is on the move, and to a franchise he’s all too familiar with.
Defenceman Michael Del Zotto is returning to the Anaheim Ducks organization for a third time as part of a three-way AHL swap between the Ducks, Detroit Red Wings and Florida Panthers. Del Zotto has spent this season playing on the Panthers’ AHL affiliates in Charlotte, scoring 10 points in 25 games, and is now on his way to an assignment with the San Diego Gulls.
Taking his place on the Checkers will be winger Givani Smith, a second round pick of the Red Wings in 2016. Smith has regularly jumped between Detroit and the Grand Rapids Griffins over the last five seasons, and will likely find a similar role in the Panthers’ system.
Moving from the Gulls to the Griffins is journeyman forward Danny O’Regan. O’Regan is joining his sixth NHL organization in seven seasons, and has never been able to make a real impact at the top level. But he’s always been a productive AHL scorer, and that likely won’t change in Grand Rapids.
Will any of these players make a real NHL impact in their new homes? Probably not. But any time a three-team deal happens, it’s fun to see which teams are able to get creative about solving organizational lineup holes in a flat salary cap world.