Rangers, Panthers, Avalanche, Golden Knights and Oilers make pre-NHL trade deadline day moves

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Philadelphia Flyers' Nick Seeler, left, and Ottawa Senators' Vladimir Tarasenko collide during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

NEW YORK – Stanley Cup contenders did not wait until just before the NHL trade deadline Friday to make some big moves.

The league-leading Florida Panthers acquired a top scorer, the defending champion Vegas Golden Knights landed another big fish, the Edmonton Oilers got deeper down the middle, the New York Rangers picked up a player they coveted and the Colorado Avalanche made separate trades to fill important needs. With still two days of action to come, hockey's best teams loaded up to position themselves for what they hope is a long playoff run.

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Florida got winger Vladimir Tarasenko from Ottawa, Vegas added defenseman Noah Hanifin from Calgary, the Oilers got centers Adam Henrique and Sam Carrick, and New York acquired Alexander Wenneberg from Seattle. And Colorado made trades for center Casey Mittelstadt and defenseman Sean Walker in a bevy of moves over a 12-hour period Wednesday.

In the final trade of the night, the Golden Knights sent 26-year-old defenseman Daniil Miromanov, a first-round pick and a conditional third to Calgary for Hanifin, who they could soon extend long term. The Flyers retained a quarter of Hanifin's salary and got a 2024 fifth as part of the deal, the Flames kept half to make it happen and the third going to Calgary becomes a second if Vegas wins a round.

Colorado traded a top-10 protected 2025 first-round pick and center Ryan Johansen to Philadelphia for Walker and a fifth-rounder in 2026 and got Mittelstadt in a one-for-one trade that sent defenseman Bowen Byram to the Sabres.

The Panthers dealt a fourth-round pick in this year’s draft to Ottawa for Tarasenko, and the fourth-rounder would upgrade to a 2026 third-rounder if Florida wins the Cup this season. Ottawa also is getting a third-round pick from Florida in 2025, while the Senators are retaining half of Tarasenko’s salary.

“Vladimir is a highly skilled and experienced scoring winger who provides our club with another dynamic offensive option as we embark on the remainder of our season,” Panthers general manager Bill Zito said. “We are excited for him to join our team, and to compete for the Stanley Cup once again.”

The Rangers sent a 2024 second- and a 2025 fourth-round pick to the Kraken for Wennberg, considered one of the top pending free agent centers available. Seattle retained half of Wennberg’s salary.

Henrique was another top center rental, and Edmonton's deal for him was far more complicated, sending its first-rounder this year and a conditional fifth-round pick in 2025 to Anaheim and a 2026 fourth-rounder to Tampa Bay for retaining a quarter of his salary. The '25 pick becomes a fourth if the Oilers win the Cup, which stands better odds now after getting Henrique and Carrick.

“Both are quality individuals and character players that spent more than seven years with us, and they will serve the Oilers well,” Ducks GM Pat Verbeek said. "For us, this was a situation driven by contract status, and it was our desire to add another high draft pick to our core going forward.”

After word of the trades emerged, Florida became the Cup favorite on FanDuel Sportsbook, followed by Edmonton and Colorado. The Rangers are seventh.

All their moves came less than 24 hours after the defending champion Vegas Golden Knights got the ball rolling by trading with Washington for 20-goal scorer Anthony Mantha. More moves are expected before 3 p.m. EST Friday deadline.

After taking on Johansen's contract, which has $4 million annually left on it through next season, the Flyers immediately put him on waivers. GM Danny Briere, whose team is in third place in the Metropolitan Division and an unexpected playoff contender, said “everything's on the table” for Philadelphia at the trade deadline as he looks to build for the future.

One of those things is a new contract for Walker’s former defense partner, Nick Seeler, a favorite of coach John Tortorella who went on injured reserve Wednesday after taking a puck off his left foot during a game earlier in the week. The Flyers and Seeler agreed to terms on a four-year deal that begins next season and is worth $10.8 million.

Extension talks were not happening between the Senators and Tarasenko, who had a full no-trade clause as part of his $5 million, one-year contract that allowed him to choose his preferred destination. Another pending free agent who signed just for this season, Washington’s Max Pacioretty, is in the same boat.

Tarasenko, 32, has 17 goals and 24 assists in 57 games with Ottawa this season. He has tons of playoff experience — 97 games in 10 years — and helped St. Louis win the Stanley Cup in 2019 with 11 goals in 26 games.

And selling him on Florida likely was easy. Tarasenko owns a home in South Florida, has a relationship with Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and now joins a team good enough to win a title.

“Florida is probably a little bit different echelon than us right now,” Detroit Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde said. “Florida is a really good team. What they’ve been doing of late is nothing short of extremely impressive.”

Mittelstadt, 25, is on the verge of having a career year. He was the Sabres' leading scorer with 47 points, including 14 goals — one short of matching his career high set last season.

“He’s got good hands," Avalanche GM Chris MacFarland said. "He’s a very good playmaking center with really good vision. We think the last two years his game has taken a jump. He’s gotten stronger with experience and we think there might even be another level to his game and and we think we have a very good role for him.”

Walker, a right-handed shot, gives Colorado more stability on the blue line as it tries to win the Cup for the second time in three years. Him coming off the board could lead teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs to circle back on other defensive options, such as Joel Edmundson of the Capitals.


AP Hockey Writer John Wawrow in Buffalo, New York, and AP Sports Writers Tim Reynolds in Sunrise, Florida, and Pat Graham in Denver contributed to this report.


AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl

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