What will the Senators do with Erik Karlsson, Matt Duchene and Mark Stone?
THE ATHLETIC: Chris Stevenson reports this hasn’t been a good offseason for Ottawa Senators fans. Three key players – defenseman Erik Karlsson, center Matt Duchene and winger Mark Stone – are eligible next summer for unrestricted free agent status. Karlsson is reportedly on the trade block while Stone’s recent signing of a one-year contract raises doubts over his long-term future with the Senators.
Stevenson suggests the possibility that all three could be moved before the Feb. 25, 2019 trade deadline. He also notes there’s rumors of individuals or groups willing to buy the club from owner Eugene Melnyk but so far that talk appears to be wishful thinking by Senators fans.
Will the Florida Panthers trade Nick Bjugstad?
The Panthers face a fortunate problem — too many centres. With Aleksandr Barkov and Vincent Trocheck forming a dominant one-two punch, Jared McCann and Henrik Borgstrom as great rookie options for the third-centre spot, and captain Derek MacKenzie anchoring the fourth line, Nick Bjugstad finds himself without a home. The Panthers have tried Big Nick at wing, but with newly acquired Mike Hoffman filling the role much more effectively, Bjugstad could be on his way out.
With an ability to instantly slot in to a middle-six role and a very tame $4.1-million cap hit for the next three seasons, Bjugstad would get his fair share of attention were his name to hit the trade block. Interestingly enough, the Panthers were recently considering Bjugstad a winger, with Dale Tallon reportedly being a huge fan of his performance. Actions speak louder than words, however, and if Bjugstad can’t produce like a top-six winger, Tallon’s fandom could die down. If moved, Bjugstad should be used to grab a secondary defender for a Florida blueline that lacks top-class depth beyond its first pairing of Aaron Ekblad and Keith Yandle.