Carolina is buying low on an underachieving young scorer and Washington continues to shuffle things around before the deadline, while the NHL awaits the long-anticipated trade of Patrick Kane.
The Hurricanes acquired winger Jesse Puljujarvi in a trade Tuesday with the Edmonton Oilers, giving one of the top Stanley Cup contenders in the Eastern Conference an offensive-minded player who has yet to reach his potential.
Minnesota got well-traveled forward Marcus Johansson from the Capitals for a 2024 third-round pick. It’s the fifth time Johansson has been traded in under six years, including the second time the Wild have added him.
Keeping true to general manager Brian MacLellan’s plan to quickly reset to try to win again as soon as next year, the Capitals acquired young defenseman Rasmus Sandin from Toronto for veteran pending free agent Erik Gustafsson and Boston’s first-round pick they got last week. Sandin, who turns 23 next week, is signed through next season at the bargain price of $1.4 million.
The Hurricanes are looking to win now and hope Puljujarvi helps them do that, getting him from Edmonton for the rights to 22-year-old unsigned draft pick Patrik Puistola in a swap of Finnish forwards.
The Hurricanes hope to unlock Puljujarvi’s offensive abilities after the 2016 No. 4 pick has put up just 117 points in 337 NHL regular-season and playoff games. The move helps replace what Carolina expected out of Max Pacioretty before the veteran winger re-tore his right Achilles tendon last month.
“Jesse possesses a great blend of size and skill, and he will add to the depth of our forward group,” Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said. “He has familiarity with some of our other Finnish players, and we see him as a great fit for our team and locker room.”
Puljujarvi, 24, joins countrymen Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Antti Raanta with the Hurricanes. He played on a line with Aho for Finland at the 2016 world junior championship and led the tournament with 17 points in seven games.
“I think I’m going to be a good fit on that team,” Puljujarvi said. “I’m getting a new opportunity, and I’m excited for that. I hope this is going to be good for me, and I’m going to work really really hard to do everything right and be best player I can be and help the team in Carolina.”
The Hurricanes lead the Metropolitan Division and trails only the NHL-best Bruins in the league standings. Before leaving for a two-game Western Conference road trip, coach Rod Brind’Amour said the upcoming trade deadline was not a distraction for his team.
“I think we’re pretty set on our group — I don’t think we’re moving people out,” Brind’Amour told reporters in Raleigh, North Carolina. “We’ll see. The good news is what is it three, four days away and then it’ll be over. We can all move on after that.”
Not before many other teams around the NHL finalize deals before the deadline Friday afternoon. The next major one expected is Kane to the New York Rangers, which cannot be completed until after 5 p.m. EST because of salary cap ramifications.
Trading Puljujarvi and not retaining any of his salary helps Edmonton by clearing his $3 million off the books. The Oilers, who are giving up more than three goals a game, are on the lookout for help on defense.
Vladislav Gavrikov from Columbus, Jakob Chychrun from Arizona and Mattias Ekholm from Nashville are all potential options. Gavrikov and Chychrun have each been held out of game action for weeks to avoid the risk of injury.
Any team acquiring a player already out with injury will have to be especially careful after the league sent a memo Tuesday to all 32 front offices warning them about increased scrutiny in that department. The league will be watching teams that acquire anyone on long-term injured reserve and waits until the start of the playoffs to activate those players, when the cap is no longer in effect.
Stanley Cup champions Tampa Bay in 2021 and Chicago in 2015 famously used the LTIR loophole with Nikita Kucherov and Kane, respectively, to use up space while they were out before plugging them into the lineup for Game 1 of the first round.
Eight years since he and the Blackhawks won their third championship during their lengthy run of success, Kane could make his Rangers debut as soon as Wednesday at Philadelphia in the same arena he scored the series-clinching goal in 2010 that ended Chicago’s 49-year Cup drought.
New York, which has won just once (1994) since 1940, has been doing cap gymnastics, including sending Vitali Kravtsov to Vancouver, to make the necessary room for Kane.
Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno
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