Hurricanes make a big NHL trade deadline eve splash by getting Jake Guentzel from the Penguins

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FILE - Pittsburgh Penguins' Jake Guentzel prepares for a faceoff during the second period of the team's NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers in Pittsburgh, Jan. 26, 2024. The Carolina Hurricanes made the biggest splash in the league on the eve of the NHL trade deadline. Carolina acquired two-time 40-goal-scoring winger Guentzel in a blockbuster deal finalized Thursday night, March 7, with the Penguins. Guentzel was considered the top player available at the deadline. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

Jake Guentzel is heading to the Carolina Hurricanes after the biggest move of the NHL season came on the eve of the trade deadline.

Carolina acquired Guentzel in a blockbuster trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins late Thursday night, sending forward Michael Bunting, three prospects and two conditional draft picks for the two-time 40-goal scorer. Add the Hurricanes to the growing list of Stanley Cup contenders going all in after the team made its biggest deadline splash in several years.

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“Jake is an elite goal scorer and playmaker who has produced at a high level for his entire NHL career,” Carolina general manager Don Waddell said. “Ty is a young, offensive-minded defenseman who will provide us with another reliable option on the blue line. We’re thrilled to bolster our lineup as we compete to bring the Stanley Cup back to Raleigh.”

Hurricanes defenseman Brady Skjei grew up playing summer hockey with Guentzel in Minnesota and approved of the move.

“Jake’s an unbelievable guy and he’s going to fit in great here and all the guys are going to love him,” Skjei said.

With the Penguins retaining a quarter of Guentzel's salary and also trading defenseman Ty Smith, they received prospects Ville Koivunen, Vasili Ponomarev and Cruz Lucius and conditional first- and fifth-round picks in this year's draft. The first becomes Philadelphia's second-rounder if the Hurricanes don't reach the final, and Pittsburgh only gets the fifth if Carolina wins it all for the second time in franchise history.

The Guentzel trade capped off a flurry of activity over the past 48 hours that included nearly every Cup favorite making a move. The Toronto Maple Leafs joined the trading party Thursday, while two of the best in the West made more additions to improve in crucial areas.

Colorado acquired a pair of versatile forwards from Central Division rivals, Brandon Duhaime from Minnesota and Yakov Trenin from Nashville, Edmonton got defenseman Troy Stecher from Arizona and Toronto received Joel Edmundson from Washington.

“Every team has a window in which they see success or a key moment of time for the organization — whether it’s two years, five years, depending on expiring contracts who they have to renew,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “There’s lots of teams going all-in: teams that feel like they’ve got a chance to win, if they add certain things to their lineup, they’re going to go all-in. Your goal is to win the Stanley Cup. We’re not trying to be a mediocre team.”

It shows. Colorado and Edmonton stayed active, after the Avalanche added center Casey Mittelstadt and defenseman Sean Walker in separate deals and the Oilers giving themselves serious depth down the middle by trading with Anaheim for Adam Henrique and Sam Carrick.

The Avalanche sent a 2026 third-round pick to the Wild for Duhaime and a 2025 third and defense prospect Jeremy Hanzel to the Predators for Trenin and the rights to unsigned draft pick Graham Sward. The Oilers sent a 2027 fourth-round pick to the Coyotes for Stecher, and the Leafs got Edmundson from the Capitals for a a third-rounder this year and a 2025 fifth.

The deadline is 3 p.m. EST Friday.

Toronto's trade for Edmundson started the action Thursday, adding some much needed toughness on the blue line. He's a left shot, which the Leafs have plenty of, but his playoff experience alone makes Edmundson a potentially important acquisition for a team dreaming of an extended run this spring.

The Capitals are retaining a quarter of Edmundson’s salary after Montreal already has half from a trade last offseason and getting a third-rounder that originally belonged to the New York Islanders. Salary retention makes Edmundson quite the bargain for the Leafs at a cap hit of $875,000, just above the league minimum.

“He’s a really, tough, strong player when it comes to physical battles,” retired forward-turned-NHL Network analyst Brian Boyle said. “The Leafs need a little more of that, and they just got it.”

Edmundson, 30, helped the St. Louis Blues win the Stanley Cup in 2019 and is a pending free agent. He has skated over 16 minutes a game this season with Washington.

More than just the top championship contenders are getting in on the action.

The Tampa Bay Lightning, who won the Cup back to back in 2020 and '21 acquired offensive-minded winger Anthony Duclair from San Jose on Thursday night. They sent a third-round pick this year and minor league defenseman Jack Thompson to the Sharks for a 2025 seventh-round selection and Duclair, who has seven goals in his past eight games.

Tampa Bay, currently in a wild card spot in the East, is attempting to extend its playoff streak to seven years while missing injured defenseman Mikhail Sergachev, who's out indefinitely because of a broken left leg.

“It’s unfortunate that one of our big guys back there is out, but we’ve been able to hang around here without him,” coach Jon Cooper said. “This group here is ready to make a run and so see what we can do.”

The Predators, in the wild-card race in the West, acquired winger Anthony Beauvillier from Chicago for a 2024 fifth-round pick and claimed forward Jaret Anderson-Dolan off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings.

Among the other players expected to be moved before the deadline are New Jersey winger Tyler Toffoli, Washington center Nic Dowd and a couple of more Arizona pending free agents: defenseman Matthew Dumba and ex-Penguins forward Jason Zucker — none of whom played Thursday night.

Seattle's Jordan Eberle, who's also on an expiring contract, could also be the next to go after the Kraken sent Alexander Wennberg to the New York Rangers on Wednesday.

“From a player standpoint, we just want to continue to win,” Eberle said. “From a management standpoint, it’s a little harder, right, because they’re stuck between, do we have a chance, or do we want to get rid of some pieces? I can’t really say anything on their behalf. I think I can only say as a player, we’re just focusing on winning.”


AP Sports Writers Pat Graham in Denver and Tim Booth in Seattle and AP freelance reporter Mark Didtler in Tampa, Florida, contributed.



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