It's that time of year in the NHL.
A quarter of the season is in the books. The wheat is being separated from the chaff. And executives across the league are starting to ponder exactly what it will take for them to take part in a summertime parade—or simply to keep their jobs come season's end.
A key date in that process is March 21—the trade deadline.
And though it's still better than three months away, there's no doubt that the deals that will take place in the final hours leading up to it are in the germination stage as we approach the Christmas holiday.
Some moves will be expected. Some will be stunning. And let's face it, some buzz will contain plain old B.S.
Which can only mean one thing: It's B.S. Meter time!
Edmonton Gets a Blueliner
Believe it or not, it's only been 12 days.
When the NHL's scheduled games for December 1 came to a close, the Edmonton Oilers—who were 5-2 winners over the Pittsburgh Penguins that night—had a 16-5 record and the league's best win percentage.
All of a sudden, though, it seems a generation ago.
The early-season optimism in northern Alberta has all but evaporated across the five games since, with the Oilers losing all of them, including four on home ice, while being outscored 19-8.
The skid has triggered all manner of doomsday chatter in the city, not to mention rumors about the myriad ways in which general manager Ken Holland could help the team regain its mojo.
Among them is gauging the market for a defenseman to bolster a beleaguered and injury-riddled blue-line corps. A frequent name connected to that chatter is the Montreal Canadiens' Ben Chiarot, a 6'3", 234-pounder in the final season of a three-year contract that's paying him $3.5 million annually.
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman made it a topic of discussion during a recent appearance on The Jeff Marek Show, and the urgency for Holland to pull the trigger has only increased now that the Oilers have tumbled from their penthouse perch into the thick of the Pacific Division mix.
The suggested asking price of either a first-round pick alone or a second- and a third-rounder (or a prospect) combined seems a trifle steep for a six-month rental, but the struggle to keep superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl happy and bought-in is real enough to prompt a desperation move.
B.S. Meter: Not B.S.
If the slide continues, this one happens sooner rather than later. If not, it will happen at the deadline.
Evgenii Dadonov Leaves Las Vegas
It's not the worst problem an NHL executive has ever had.
Vegas Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon swung the season's biggest deal when he pried a disgruntled Jack Eichel from the Buffalo Sabres for two players and two draft picks, and the Golden Knights will reap the rewards when the 25-year-old comes off long-term injured reserve sometime after the All-Star break.
That said, his arrival will cause some bookkeeping issues.
Among them is the fact that Eichel's annual $10 million salary will come with him when he returns to the active roster, which means a team that's already stretched to the salary cap without 2015's second overall pick is going to burst at the financial seams with him.
It will necessitate some quick and creative movement on McCrimmon's part, and one piece it's been suggested he's considering losing is winger Evgenii Dadonov. The 32-year-old arrived in Vegas as part of an offseason trade with the Ottawa Senators but hasn't found a consistent niche, scoring eight times in 27 games.
He's earning $5 million per year and is signed through 2022-23, which makes him a prime target to help with the space-clearing once Eichel returns. Owen Krepps of Vegas Hockey Now made the case that Dadonov could be shipped back to the team that dealt him to the Golden Knights in the first place, the Ottawa Senators, to both ease Vegas' cap crunch and help the Senators stay above the league's salary basement.