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With less than two weeks until the NHL Trade Deadline, NHL teams are in the process of determining whether they will be buyers or sellers before March 1.
The Metro Division leading Washington Capitals made the first rental move on Wednesday, acquiring veteran defenseman Tom Gilbert from the Los Angeles Kings for a conditional 2017 fifth round pick.
Minnesota, Chicago, San Jose, Pittsburgh the New York Rangers and Montreal will likely follow suit with tinkering moves or major acquisitions, while bottom dwellers Arizona, Colorado, Detroit and Dallas will be in full sell mode.
Clubs fighting for a playoff spot or still within range are in an uncertain grey area, where they could be marginal buyers or sellers.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are unlikely to make an impact move unless a top four defenseman with term comes available, but that opportunity is more probable over the summer.
Where the Leafs may make a move is in the college or KHL free agent market.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie indicates that this year’s NCAA free agent crop is not as attractive as in recent years, but to sign a player is a low risk move, costing only a professional entry-level contract.
Ohio State defenseman Josh Healey is a player that NHL teams will be pursuing when the Buckeyes season has finished. The hard-hitting 22-year-old is a teammate of Leafs 2014 draft pick Dakota Joshua and leads Ohio State blueliners with 20 points (4 goals, 16 assists) in 27 games.
Another possibility is 6’4” 212lb center Zack MacEwen. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman indicated in his weekly ’30 Thoughts’ column that Toronto is one of four teams interested in the undrafted 20-year-old, who has 56 points (27 goals, 29 assists) for the Gatineau Olympiques of the QMJHL.
Friedman also reported back in December that Toronto had eyes on 23-year-old KHL forward Vladimir Tkachev.
Tkachev leads Ak-Bars Kazan with 15 goals, but the 6’0” 203 lb center is projected as a depth forward in the NHL. The KHL regular season ends on Saturday and Ak-Bars is in third place in their Eastern Conference, which means that Tkachev may not be available until March or April.