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Posted On Monday, 02.28.2011 / 5:30 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

All the day's trade action in one live-blog extravaganza

There were 16 trades made in the NHL on Monday, none bigger than the deals that sent Dustin Penner to the Los Angeles Kings, Dennis Wideman to the Washington Capitals and Jason Arnott to the Caps in a separate deal.

If you're looking for a recap of all the day's action go here to read the six-hour live-blog that captured all the day's deals, rumors and signings.
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Posted On Monday, 02.28.2011 / 10:17 AM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Morning musings: Deadline Day

We're finally here - it is 2011 trade deadline day. For our final installment of Morning Musings, here is an update on players who could still be on the move.

BRAD RICHARDS - TSN Darren Dreger has reported Richards will only waive his no-trade clause to play for the New York Rangers. Richards is still out with a concussion and the Rangers would have to either include some salary in the deal or make another move to have enough room to add Richards -- and be willing to meet the Stars' asking price. All that sounds unlikely, but Rangers GM Glen Sather has rarely been afraid to make a big splash.

STEPHEN WEISS - Maybe the No. 2 center available and signed to a reasonable contract for two more seasons, but there have also been lots of reports that Florida GM Dale Tallon has placed a high price tag on him. Damien Cox of the Toronto Star says the Maple Leafs have incquired. Weiss has a no-movement clause.

ZACH BOGOSIAN
- Kevin Allen of USA Today reports it is unlikely Bogosian gets dealt today and that Atlanta GM Rick Dudley will need to be "bowled over." Bogosian is in the final year of his rookie contract and an RFA. He's also a 20-year-old defenseman who could still become a No. 1, franchise-type guy someday. The Thrashers should expect a lot back for him, but it would make sense for rebuilding teams that don't have that type of player in the system now (see: Edmonton, N.Y. Islanders) to inquire about Bogosian - that type of talent isn't available for trade all that often.

JASON ARNOTT - Tom Gulitti reports Arnott has spoken with New Jersey GM Lou Lamoriello and told him he only wants to be traded to a team that is definitely in the playoffs -- otherwise he will stay and try to help the Devils complete a near-miraculous comeback. Arnott is a pending UFA with a $4.5 million cap hit. It seems like Arnott would be a good fit in Washington, but there could be others in the mix as well.

JOHN-MICHAEL LILES
- Liles has one more year with a $4.2 million cap hit. He's been linked to Toronto, but Elliote Freidman of CBC reports a potential deal fell through because the Leafs wanted a draft pick tossed in as well. James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail reports that Toronto GM Brian Burke isn't willing to yield more than a third-round pick. Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports the Blue Jackets are interested in Liles, and that he would be willing to waive his limited no-trade clause to go there.

RON HAINSEY
- Hainsey has two years left with a $4.5 million cap hit, and the Thrashers have Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom and probably Bogosian to anchor the team's defense corps. ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun reports teams have shown interest in the 29-year-old veteran who hasn't produced at the same rate in Atlanta that he did with Columbus.

CHRIS HIGGINS - Higgins is a pending UFA who is currently injured, but he was previously expected to be out four weeks and now it might be shorter than that. Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet reports Montreal, a team Higgins scored 84 goals for in four seasons at the start of his career, could be interested in bringing him back.

ZENON KONOPKA - Dreger reports Anaheim and Vancouver are interested in the fourth-line center/face-off specialist/tough guy. He's on a one-year deal and cheap at $600,000. Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune says the Wild could also be in on Konopka.

MARTY REASONER - Another Florida forward, and another guy the Canucks could be interested in. Reasoner is in the final year of his deal and carries a $1.15 million cap hit. He has 13 goals and 27 points this season. Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province reports the Canucks are interested in Reasoner or Konpoka to center their fourth line. There could be other teams out there interested in having Reasoner play a bigger role.

Plenty of other names in the mix, but those are the latest updates. There could still be a lot of activity today, with a lot of focus on Edmonton (Ales Hemsky, Dustin Penner, Steve Staios, James Vandermeer) and Florida (Weiss, Higgins, Reasoner, Radek Dvorak and maybe Tomas Vokoun) as the number of teams willing to sell is far outnumbered by the clubs looking to add.
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Posted On Sunday, 02.27.2011 / 8:39 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Arnott willing to move to a contender

The New Jersey Devils moved within nine points of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with Sunday's 2-1 win at Florida. Now, GM Lou Lamoriello must decide whether or not to deal Jason Arnott.

The veteran center addressed the issue at the BankAtlantic Center after the victory and expressed a willingness to move if it meant playing for a team with a chance to win the Stanley Cup.

"I don't want to go to a team that is battling to make the playoffs," he told the Newark Star-Ledger. "It would make more sense for me just to stay here (with the Devils) and battle it out and try and make it here. I'll have to see who is interested."

With only 20 games remaining in the regular season, New Jersey still has a long way to go to qualify for the playoffs despite its miraculous run.

"It's pretty tough," Arnott said of the Devils' chances. "I've been three or four points out with 15-20 games left and didn't make it. You have to have a lot go your way. The way the guys are playing now, anything is possible. You just have to have other teams lose and have a little luck on your side. It's tough but not impossible.

"We're still a long ways off making the playoffs. It would be a huge gamble to stay. But I have to weigh all my options."
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Posted On Sunday, 02.27.2011 / 8:38 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Stars to keep Richards?

Have the Dallas Stars ultimately decided to keep Brad Richards?

Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times just reported on Twitter that the Stars, who entered Sunday's action in a virtual three-way tie for sixth place in the Western Conference, will indeed hang on to the 2004 Conn Smythe Trophy winner rather than deal him.

Richards, who leads the Stars with 63 points (24 goals, 39 assists), is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

The 30-year-old is undoubtedly one of the top centers in the League and has likely drawn interest from several teams over the past month. But with the Stars right in the mix for a playoff spot, you certainly can't blame them for wanting to keep Richards in the Lone Star State.
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Posted On Sunday, 02.27.2011 / 3:06 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Bowman, McPhee ones to watch

Stan Bowman and George McPhee find themselves almost in lockstep as the trade deadline draws closer. The respective general managers for the Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals have a plethora of prospects, a solid core in tact and still the need/want to upgrade their current rosters for the playoff push.

Let's start with the Capitals and McPhee, who is notorious for keeping his mouth shut at this time of the year. He picked up Marco Sturm off waivers from Los Angeles, which for all intents and purposes is a solid, no-lose move. But, are we really to believe that Sturm, who has had both of his knees operated on since 2008, is the difference-maker McPhee was hoping to land?

Sturm is a nice asset to have, a solid veteran who can play a good two-way game. He's probably suited for third-line duty to start, but that doesn't answer the Capitals need for a second-line center or a top-six scorer. Sturm used to be that and may very well be again, but it would be a stretch to think he can be that for the Capitals this season.

So, what does McPhee do? Ales Hemsky would be a nice addition, but Paul Stastny would be a better one because he will fill that second-line center role better than anyone available who isn't named Brad Richards. However, according to Adrian Dater of the Denver Post, Stastny probably won't get moved. The Caps would have to shed salary to make it happen.

Let's move on to Hemsky, who could play on the Caps first or second line. Washington might have to give up one of its goalies, Semyon Varlamov or Michal Neuvirth, to get him, and McPhee has been reluctant to move off his stance that the club is going with those two in net.

Perhaps the more attainable player is someone like New Jersey's Jason Arnott, who also would fill that hole in the middle of the Caps' second line and wouldn't cost nearly as much as someone like Stastny or Hemsky.

Washington isn't likely to trade top prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov, but center Cody Eakin, defenseman Dmitry Orlov and goalie Braden Holtby could draw decent returns. Holtby in particular could be an interesting asset to peddle if McPhee doesn't plan to move Varlamov or Neuvirth. The Devils would have to be interested in acquiring a young goaltending prospect.

What about Bowman and the Hawks? They have plenty of draft picks that could be up for grabs in the right deal, and wouldn't seem to be put off by a rental either considering their core is locked up and already have plenty of their 2011-12 cap space tied up into 11 players (12 if you include young defenseman Nick Leddy).

Leddy, Kyle Beach, Dylan Olsen, Ivan Vishnevskiy, Jeremy Morin could all be in line to make the big club next season, joining Michael Frolik, Bryan Bickell, Jake Dowell and Viktor Stalberg as the role players behind the core guys.

All that being said, perhaps David Booth could be an intriguing option for the Blackhawks even though he's signed for four more seasons at $4.25 million. The Hawks would have to move some salary back to Florida to make the deal happen, but with former GM Dale Tallon now manning the Panthers' post it's not unreasonable to think a deal could be made.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Sunday, 02.27.2011 / 2:37 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Stastny, Foote staying put?

Would Colorado be willing to part with young center Paul Stastny or veteran defenseman Adam Foote? Adrian Dater of the Denver Post writes the Avalanche are not expected to move either player between now and the Monday deadline.

Foote is 39 years old and an unrestricted free agent at season's end, but Dater expects him to stay with the Avalanche through the end of the season. It is possible that Foote will retire at that point. He might have been a veteran, physical defenseman who could help in the leadership department without costing much - a low-risk move for a contender who wouldn't have expected Foote to play big minutes.

Stastny is an interesting case. He signed a five-year, $33 million contract before the 2009-10 season and was expected to be one of the centerpieces of Colorado's rebuilding plan. He was an Olympian for Team USA and had 79 points last season, but the 25-year-old hasn't taken the step from young star to superstar. He has 49 points in 60 games this season -- not bad but probably not enough for a guy making $6.6 million.

There are three years left on his deal and there is no question he could still become a bona fide No. 1 center for a contending team. Dater says there may have been some exploring done, but Stastny will stay with the Avalanche. He and Matt Duchene could still become a very potent 1-2 punch at center for Colorado. It would be interesting to see what happens if another team (like Buffalo, Los Angeles or Washington) tried to make a big offer to pry Stastny away.

Dater also writes it is still possible that defenseman John-Michael Liles could be on the move. His name has been linked most to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
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Posted On Sunday, 02.27.2011 / 12:01 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Top prospects "available" -- don't count on it

A quick straw poll on Twitter last night on who the best prospect in the world not in the NHL is right now revealed the two names I expected to see the most -- Los Angeles' Brayden Schenn and Evgeny Kuznetsov, property of the Washington Capitals. They were the two best players at the world junior championship (the one time besides the Entry Draft when the kids take center stage every year). Note: I used to cover the Capitals so I expected plenty of love for Kuznetsov from DC-based followers, but there was a lot of it from non-Caps fans as well.

Schenn and Kuznetsov are at or near the top of the discussion. Others who could make a case include forwards Ryan Johansen (Columbus) and Vladimir Tarasenko (St. Louis), defenseman Erik Gudbranson (Florida) and goaltenders Jacob Markstrom (Florida) and Jack Campbell (Dallas).

The point of this excercise was to identify those guys as the trade deadline nears. If Schenn (or Kuznetsov) is indeed the "best prospect" there is probably a good chance that neither of them will be on the move this weekend -- even if both of their clubs end up being among the teams trying to make a big splash.

Schenn is undoubtedly the top prospect in the Kings' system and could be the team's No. 2 center behind Anze Kopitar as soon as next season. He dominted the world junior championships and is averaging more than two points per game in the Western Hockey League.

"No, it would have to be really something significant," Kings GM Dean Lombardi told LAKings.com. "The way his stock has risen here with the world juniors and what he's done.  It would have to be really special and quit frankly I don't think he's going anywhere."

Kuznetsov fell to No. 26 in the 2010 Entry Draft partly because of concerns about how quickly he'll want to come to North America. His star turn for Russia in Buffalo made him a big deal on this side of the Atlantic Ocean, but he has also had a fantastic season in the KHL. He has 17 goals and 32 points in 44 games.

To put that in perspective, Alex Ovechkin had 13 goals and 27 points in 37 games in his post-draft year playing in Russia's top league. Evgeni Malkin had 12 goals and 32 points in 52 games. Alexander Semin had 10 goals and 17 points in 47 games. Pavel Datsyuk was playing in the second division.

So yeah, Kuznetsov is a pretty enticing talent and despite what he's been telling Russian media outlets while living in, well, Russia, there's a pretty good chance that he could play for the Capitals next season. Capitals general manager George McPhee has earned a reputation for being pretty frugal with his top young assets, so Kuznetsov being moved would be an even greater shock than Schenn.

There is also historical precedent -- the last time a guy in the discussion for being the top prospect in the world was traded at the deadline was ... never? Joe Colborne is the best prospect to exchange hands in the month leading up to the deadline in a long time. The second-best prospect to move in the past 6 years? Probably Angelo Esposito (from Pittsburgh to Atlanta in the Marian Hossa deal), and even his stock had already begun to fade dramatically.

Normally when an elite prospect is moved, it is a) not at the trade deadline and b) because of extraordinary circumstances (think Eric Lindros). Often when a top prospect is moved, it comes with negative results (think Markus Naslund). If a guy like Schenn or Kuznetsov is that highly thought of around the League, said prospect's team probably sees the guy as a potential franchise player. It is one thing to give away a first-round pick or a young player the team has been able to see at the NHL level for a while, but the lure of drafting and developing your own franchise player makes it very hard to part with that type of asset.

So maybe Lombardi will find a return that he considers "really significant" (Brad Richards? Paul Stastny?) or McPhee change course from his philosophy, but it will come as a huge surprise -- and a truly rare occurance in NHL history.
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Posted On Sunday, 02.27.2011 / 10:44 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Morning Musings: Feb. 27

It's the morning before the big deadline day and there are several interesting reports/columns out there in the hockey world mentioning plenty of teams that could be busy between now and 3 p.m. ET on Monday.

Let's start in Buffalo, where new owner Terry Pegula could be interested in making a big splash, according to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun. He linked the names Brad Richards and Paul Stastny to the Sabres, who are 2-0-1 since Pegula officially became the team's owner early last week. Buffalo is two points out of eighth in the Eastern Conference.

Nobody from Colorado has said that Stastny is definitely in play, but after making the playoffs last season and taking a step back this season it wouldn't be totally ridiculous to think that GM Greg Sherman is thinking about taking the team in a new direction. He has already traded Chris Stewart for Erik Johnson and Craig Anderson is now in Ottawa. Stastny doesn't seem likely to move, but we've seen stranger things.

Dallas GM Joe Nieuwendyk hasn't denied that Richards is in play, but there is a conundrum there that he has to deal with.

With back to back wins over Detroit and Nashville the Stars are now seventh in the Western Conference, two points ahead of the ninth place Blackhawks. Richards (concussion-like symptoms) hasn't played since Feb. 13 and Dallas doesn't play again until Tuesday, when it starts a four-game road trip in Phoenix.

His value remains high despite the uncertainty surrounding his symptoms and we've seen reports saying the Rangers and Kings could be interested as well. Teams will want some certainty that Richards, a pending UFA, will be able to return soon, before they make a play for him. But, with that same certainty Nieuwendyk may choose to keep him for a possible playoff run.

It's silly to say that a GM has to make a move at the deadline, but the Kings' Dean Lombardi could be thinking that way. His team has forgotten about its dreadful 2-10 stretch from Dec. 23-Jan. 20 and has won 11 of its last 15 games to pull into fifth place in the Western Conference. Of course, they're only four points away from 10th, so Lombardi might feel compelled to do something before Monday's deadline to make sure that the team is situated well for the stretch run.

If Lombardi is looking to make a splash, say for Richards, Edmonton's Ales Hemsky or Florida's David Booth, the deal would probably have to include prospect Brayden Schenn. Lombardi told Fox Sports West on Saturday, "quite frankly, I don't think he's going anywhere." He couched that statement by saying it would have to be a "really special" return, but we believe him when he says Schenn is staying put.

How about this swing by veteran Edmonton Journal scribe Jim Matheson: Hemsky to Atlanta for young defenseman Zach Bogosian? Matheson spoke to Thrashers GM Rick Dudley, who didn't deny such a move could take place but did say that any move for Bogosian must include a return that bolsters the team now and for the future. The Oilers would need to give more than Hemsky to get a defenseman that could turn into a stalwart on their blue line for years to come.

It might be a pipedream, but at least it's food for thought.

Sunday's game in Sunrise, Fla. could be a defining game for the New Jersey Devils and what GM Lou Lamoriello chooses to do before the deadline.

The Devils have miraculously pulled themselves back into the playoff conversation, but they remain 11 points out of the eighth spot with Buffalo, Atlanta, Toronto and, yes, Florida, between them and Carolina. They are a major longshot to make the playoffs for the 14th straight season and a win Sunday wouldn't change that, but a loss could be devastating and convince Lamoriello to give up on the season and move some assets that could at least get some marginal returns. Jason Arnott would be at the top of that list, though he would have to waive his no-trade clause.

Finally, I'll just toss this out there to see if it sticks anywhere, with Martin Brodeur starting Sunday for the first time since Feb. 6, what about trading Johan Hedberg to a team that needs some goaltending depth? He could wind up with a contender and the Devils could always re-sign Moose in the offseason. Odds are his experience in New Jersey, which has been excellent, would be enough to convince him to return.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Saturday, 02.26.2011 / 11:28 AM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Report: McCabe to Manhattan?

UPDATE: TSN is reporting Bryan McCabe has been traded from Florida to the New York Rangers for Tim Kennedy and a third-round draft pick.

Several media members reported earlier today that McCabe could be on the move and joining the New York Rangers as early as today.

Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet reported on Twitter that McCabe was willing to waive his no-trade clause and he could be traded to the Rangers today. Arthur Staple of Newsday writes it is believed that McCabe will only waive his no-trade clause to move to the Rangers.

McCabe is in the final year of a five-year, $28.75 million contract. He is set to make $4.15 million this season but carries a cap hit of $5.75 million. McCabe has 5 goals and 22 points for the Panthers this season, but he also missed time with a broken jaw.


The Rangers have reportedly been seeking an offensive-minded veteran to help their young defense corps. Michal Rozsival was traded to Phoenix and Wade Redden has spent the season in the minors, leaving the Rangers with their top six defensemen are all 26 years old or younger. New York has plenty of cap room to make such a deal, and Larry Brooks of the New york Post reports the Rangers would need to move $3.5 million of acquisition space if they wanted to add McCabe and another rumored target, Dallas center Brad Richards.

This is McCabe's third season in Florida after being traded to the Panthers from Toronto in September 2008. He was one of the players interim Toronto GM Chuck Fletcher asked to their no-trade clauses at the 2008 deadline that declined to do so.
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Posted On Saturday, 02.26.2011 / 11:03 AM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Morning musings: Feb. 26

Here's a look at some of the chatter around the NHL as we countdown to the 2011 NHL Trade Deadline. We're just a little more than 48 hours away from the deadline, but the frenzy has clearly already begun.

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman has reportedly been looking for a defenseman to help his team's sturggling PK for a while now, and a move yesterday may help make room for such a deal. Nick Boynton was placed on waivers, and if he clears he can be sent to the AHL, which frees up $500,000 in acquisition space for the Blackhawks.

"Boynton, who has one goal and eight points in 41 games, never emerged as a viable replacement for Brent Sopel, which the Hawks had hoped for," writes Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times. "As a result, the Hawks are among several teams in the market for help on defense."

Jahns goes on to name a pair of Edmonton Oilers, Ladislav Smid and former Chicago property Jim Vandermeer, and Tampa Bay's Brett Clark as players the Blackhawks have been linked with. Chicago is 26th in the League on the PK and currently eighth in the West.

COLORADO AVALANCHE

The next two days could be long ones for a lot of potential trade targets around the League, and count Avalanche defenseman John-Michael Liles among that group. Toronto has reportedly been interested in dealing for Liles, who has one more year left on his contract after this one and carries a $4.25 million cap hit.

He has 6 goals and 39 points this year, but that price tag for him next season could prove to be too much for a cap-conscious team. A club like the Leafs with cap room to spare though and a need for an offensive-minded defenseman might be a good fit -- even Liles' first preference would be to stay.

"I always want to stay here," Liles told Terry Frei of the Denver Post. "I love Colorado. I love the guys in the room; I think it's a fantastic organization, the fans, everything about it. There's a reason why I signed here, and I definitely want to stay."

Liles does have a limited no-trade clause in that he can name 18 teams doesn't want to be dealt to. With Tomas Kaberle off the market, Liles and Bryan McCabe are probably the two best offensive defensemen whose names have come up in reports about available players.

DETROIT RED WINGS

There aren't many contenders without pressing needs, but the Red Wings might be in that small group. Detroit is close to getting all of its key players healthy, and the Red Wings are already well on their way to another Central Division title and top-3 seed in the West.

They have wobbled ever so slightly of late and the red-hot Sharks are pressing them for the No. 2 spot behind Vancouver, but the Wings do not have a lot of acquisition space ($570,000 - which is down from the $750,000 that Ted Kuflan of the Detroit News writes the ogranization hoped to have).

"We don't expect to be very active," Holland told Kuflan.

That is a stark contrast from previous years of Holland's regime, but the Red Wings have adjusted to the salary cap era about as well as any other franchise in the League and continue to be one of the elite teams because of it. There has been one area of concern, and that is the backup goalie with Chris Osgood out because of a sports hernia.

Detroit tried to add Evgeni Nabokov but the Islanders claimed him on waivers. Holland has said on a few occasions that he expects Osgood back, but another cheap insurance policy could be a play for him to make this weekend.

"Chris is optimistic and upbeat and he's happy with the progress he's making," Holland told Kuflan. "If that were to change in the next few days, that could affect our thinking (about trades). But anticipate Chris playing again here soon."

EDMONTON OILERS

Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported the Minnesota Wild are interested in Oilers forward Dustin Penner, but Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal doesn't expect that transaction to happen. Matheson reports the Wild are offering draft picks for Penner but don't want to part with their first-round pick in June.

As Russo points out, Penner's cap hit of $4.25 million is too rich for the Wild to take one without someone off the current roster going in the other direction. Matheson says Chuck Kobasew might be a guy that Minnesota tries to include in the deal but doesn't see him as a good fit with the Oilers.

Given the high return most sellers have been getting this month, it makes sense that Oilers GM Steve Tambellini wants a lot for Penner and especially Ales Hemsky. Both have another year on their contracts and the Oilers are not pressed to trade either of them.

"A source close to the Wild said what the Oilers were asking for Hemsky was “astronomical,” but did not elaborate," Matheson writes. "The Oilers would have to get a first-round pick, a second and certainly an experienced NHLer for Hemsky."

This is not the first report of Tambellini's asking price for Hemsky being high. If he does get dealt between now and Monday, it could end up being the biggest transaction of the month.
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Posted On Friday, 02.25.2011 / 2:45 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Flyers need a defenseman?

One of the great strengths of the Philadelphia Flyers this season has been their depth on defense. However, the last week has shown that maybe that deep lake has a fairly shallow bottom.

First, last Sunday they lost Sean O'Donnell for what was expected to be 10-14 days with a left knee injury. However, that injury turned out not to be as serious as feared, and he was ready to play Thursday. That worked perfectly, as Tuesday's game against Phoenix saw Oskars Bartulis -- who's spent the season as the spare defenseman -- likely have his season ended on a late hit by Phoenix's Scottie Upshall. Bartulis is expected to have surgery on his shoulder soon, and miss 10-12 weeks.

Then on Thursday, Chris Pronger missed the last seven minutes of regulation and all of overtime against the Islanders after he was hit in the right hand by a shot. After the game Pronger and GM Paul Holmgren said X-rays revealed no fractures and Pronger was expected to play Saturday. On Friday, however, Pronger skipped practice and the Flyers called up rookie Erik Gustafsson as an insurance policy.

All that being said, does this mean the Flyers could be in the market for a spare defenseman prior to Monday's trade deadline?

The Philadelphia Daily News reported Thursday that Holmgren and Avalanche GM Greg Sherman had spoken regarding Avs captain Adam Foote, but he's currently out with a torn quad muscle.

Another candidate could be Sabres captain Craig Rivet, who recently went on waivers.

Holmgren said he had no intention of trading anyone currently on his roster to fill a need on defense, and said there were in-house candidates he felt comfortable using, including Matt Walker -- currently recovering from knee surgery that's not expected to keep him out too long -- minor-league veteran Danny Syvret and rookies Gustafsson and Kevin Marshall.

"Matt Walker won't be out that long," Holmgren told reporters Thursday, prior to Pronger's injury. "We like Gustafsson, we like Syvret, we like Marshall, but they're all young guys. Will I explore it? Probably listen around, look around, but I don't feel like trading anyone off our team to do anything like that."

Could he feel differently if Pronger is out for any length of time? We'll know more by Monday.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Friday, 02.25.2011 / 1:00 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Early Afternoon Musings: Feb. 25

Here's a look at some of the chatter around the NHL as we countdown to the 2011 NHL Trade Deadline. We'll try to do this most mornings between now and the deadline. There were four more trades yesterday as the flurry of pre-deadline deals continues.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

As Chris Botta of NYI Point Blank points out, the Islanders have made three big moves during the season -- trading James Wisniewski and Dwayne Roloson and inking Matt Moulson to a three-year extension. What does that leave for GM Garth Snow to do in the next few days? Not a lot, writes Botta.

He names three players who could be on the move for the right price -- defenseman Radek Martinek and forwards Zenon Konopka and Rob Schremp. Martinek is likely to bring the highest return - he's a competent defensive defenseman who doesn't cost much that several teams could in interested in as a depth guy. Konopka is a fourth-line center who wins faceoffs and fights, and doesn't do much else. There's probably a team out there that could use a player like that.

Schremp is an interesting case. He's a restricted free agent at season's end and has a lot of talent but has never been able to produce consistently at the NHL level.

"One source told Point Blank that the Islanders have made it known around the NHL that Schremp is available," Botta writes. "He was showcased for 18 minutes last night, his sixth straight game without a point. In all likelihood, Snow will not receive any significant offers. The general manager will have to decide if he wants to return the pending restricted free agent next season on a one-way contract. Barring a brilliant final six weeks of the season, Schremp could be a looking for a new team in the summer."

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

There are going to be a lot of teams looking for defensemen between now and Monday. Where do the Flyers fall on that subject now that Oskars Bartulis is going to out long-term with an injury? GM Paul Holmgren sounded pretty tepid on the matter.

"Well you know Oskars is out for a considerable amount of time," Holmgren told reporters. "Matt Walker is not going to be out that long.We like [Danny] Syvret, we like [Kevin] Marshall for depth. I know they're all young guys. We'll probably look around but that's about it. I don't really feel like trading anyone off our team to do something like that."

Holmgren could surprise and make a big move this weekend (for a marquee goalie, perhaps?) but otherwise expect it to pretty quiet in Philadelphia on the trade front. A depth defenseman at a low cost (i.e. late-round pick) or even a guy who can be stashed with the Adirondack Phantoms in the AHL might be something Holmgren ends up pursuing.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS

The Canucks are clearly one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup, and provided teh defense corps gets healthy they have a loaded roster with no glaring holes. One minor nitpick is Vancouver hasn't settled on a fourth-line center. Top prospect Cody Hodgson might be able to fill the role, but Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Sun thinks the club should look into acquiring Marty Reasoner from Florida to put in that spot.

"At 33, the veteran leads the Panthers in faceoff percentage at 54.5 per cent, can kill penalties and doesn't take stupid ones with just 20 minutes through 60 games," Kuzma writes. "He wouldn't disrupt a dressing room where chemistry has translated into accountability. Reasoner, who has 25 points (11-14) in 16:25 of average ice time, would also be insurance against injury at the centre position and with little left on his $1.1 million deal, there's salary cap space, too."

Reasoner would probably be a great fit in Vancouver, and given Manny Maholtra's offensive struggles of late might even slot in as the team's No. 3 center. A problem for the Canucks could be the market for Reasoner. While the Panthers just traded Cory Stillman for a fifth-round pick, Reasoner will almost certainly command more. He's one of the better centers available in a weak crop and his small cap hit will make him even more appealing.

There are other teams (Washington, Pittsburgh and the N.Y. Rangers come to mind) who could consider Reasoner for a greater role than fourth-line center -- he'd be the No. 2 guy in Washington and maybe in New York and Pittsburgh, too -- so those teams are likely going to be willing to pay more than what Florida got for Stillman. Still, if Reasoner lands with the Canucks that would make a deep, scary team even deeper.
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Posted On Friday, 02.25.2011 / 12:12 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Kovalev, Stillman updates

Just a couple of quick notes on new faces in (sort of) new places:

* Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma told a local radio station this morning that new additions James Neal and Alex Kovalev will join Jordan Staal on the Penguins' top line. He also said Kovalev will be on the point for the team's top power play unit. Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Kovalev was on the right point this morning with Kris Letang next to him and Neal, Staal and Tyler Kennedy up front.

It's not Crosby-Hossa-Malone-Malkin-Gonchar, but it's also not the Wilkes-Barre unit, either.

* Cory Stillman will play on Carolina's top line with Eric Staal and Erik Cole, so says Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer. He also reports that Stillman spent the night at Cole's house in his return to Raleigh. Grabbing Stillman on the cheap was another deft move by Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford, who gives his team a little boost without costing any keys assets (prospects or high picks) moving forward.

Don't think the top teams in the East aren't a little concerned about seeing Cam Ward in the first round of the playoffs -- he doesn't lose in that round.
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Posted On Thursday, 02.24.2011 / 5:49 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

More moves for East contenders?

A pair of teams chasing the Philadelphia Flyers made deals Thursday, and it might not be the last from either of them. The Pittsburgh Penguins added Alex Kovalev from the Ottawa Senators for a conditional late-round draft choice while the Tampa Bay Lightning sent backup goaltender Dan Ellis to Anaheim for goalie Curtis McElhinney.

Pittsburgh has been ravaged by injuries at forward. There are currently eight guys up front out with injuries, though Dustin Jeffrey is expected back soon. Evgeni Malkin is done for the season, but each of the other six could be back at some point.

Because Sidney Crosby is still out because of a concussion, the cap space opened up by his and Malkin's absence means the Penguins could make another move even after taking on salary in the trade for James Neal and Matt Niskanen and the Kovalev addition.

"Yes and yes," GM Ray Shero said to reporters when asked if he still had cap space and still was interested in making more moves. "We'll continue to look to see by Monday what we can do. We've got two games back-to-back here and we'll see what our injury situation is.  We're getting guys closer, but it seems like as soon as we play a game we lose another guy so we'll see."

The injury problems have caught up with the defense corps as well. Paul Martin is out with an upper-body injury, but Shero said he could be back after this weekend. Brooks Orpik is now expected to be out for at least four weeks with a broken finger.

Shero didn't sound optimistic about being able to add another defenseman.

"The cost, asset-wise, to get a defenseman in the League right now is pretty high," Shero said. "I think we have some guys, no different than when we gave our guys opportunities from Wilkes-Barre up front, we've got guys in Wilkes-Barre who have played well for us on defense that are either are draft picks or our free agents that have performed well. They are certainly deserving of a chance, given this window of opportunity, to come up here and play for us.

"Outside of something coming my way that's not there right now, I don't anticipate picking up a defenseman at this point, but we'll see. You never know what could happen by Monday at 3 p.m."

Meanwhile, shedding Ellis' contract gives Tampa Bay more room in the budget to help make another deal if GM Steve Yzerman were so inclined. Cap space isn't a concern, but actual dollars spent could be. The Lightning have reportedly put Mike Smith on re-entry waivers, so if he isn't claimed he'll return to the big club to back up Dwayne Roloson.

The Lightning have already added Roloson and defenseman Eric Brewer in 2011, but another defenseman or a depth forward could make a lot of sense for Tampa Bay.

"I can't say that I have anything else in the works because I don't have anything else in the works," Yzerman told Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune. "But things come about pretty quickly, so we'll continue to work the phone here and see what other teams are looking to do.

"We'll wait and see what happens with Mike and then we'll wait and see what happens with our goalies at that point."
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.23.2011 / 3:28 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Pens' Shero still looking for forward help

Pittsburgh general manager Ray Shero has made one trade to bolster his depth at forward, and he said on NHL Live! that he might not be done.

Shero added forward James Neal and defenseman Matt Niskanen from Dallas for defenseman Alex Goligoski on Monday. He's got a bunch of other forwards who are injured and could be back at some point, but he remains focused on looking for more help.

"I would like to add another forward if possible, but it depends on what is going to be available and the price is going to be," Shero said. "This year I'm not into trading our first-round draft pick or something like that. That might take me out of some things, but if there is a right player, a rental, that makes sense for us [I'll be interested]."

Pittsburgh is still in second place in the Atlantic Division and has the second-most points in the East, but the Penguins will not have Evgeni Malkin for the rest of the season and Sidney Crosby remains out with a concussion. Crosby hasn't played since Feb. 5, and hasn't moved past doing light workouts at this point.

"I think he's feeling better, but really is there no update," Shero said. "Until he is symptom-free and can progress moving forward, it is really status quo. I go back to January 6th -- I don't think there's been a time where I've actually asked him 'how are you feeling?' Once he's feeling better and can move forward he'll let me know and we'll go from there.


There may have been some question about whether or not Crosby's status would help dictate Shero's plan in the next few days. One theory would be if the Penguins don't think Crosby can play, maybe they wouldn't sacrifice future assets to try and win without their top two centers.

"It is an easy answer to that -- our expectation is to win whether it is with Sid or without Sid and Geno," Shero said. "I think our goaltender is playing great, as good as anybody in the League. I think our defense has been strong all year. I think we have guys here that have won. I think the additions of Neal and Niskanen help solidify us and if there's another player or two out there and if there's another player or two out there that can help us, I think we can still be a good hockey team."

Alex Kovalev's name has been mentioned with the Penguins on several occasions in the past couple of weeks. If Crosby isn't going to be available, that would free up a lot more cap space but if Shero is reluctant to pay a big price that may not matter much. Colorado's Milan Hejduk could be a good fit, but Avalanche GM Joel Sherman has said he doesn't plan to trade Hejduk.
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.23.2011 / 2:34 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Stars GM: 'All options' open with Richards

Dallas Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk was a guest on NHL Live! this afternoon and his injured/pending free agent star center, Brad Richards, was one of the main topics of discussion.

Richards is second on the Stars with 24 goals and leads the team with 63 points. He has not played since February 13 because of a concussion. Just as important, he will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and his name has come up in many media discussions about the forthcoming trade deadline.

It turns out his name has come up for Nieuwendyk as well.

"I've discussed it with some teams," he said. "All options are in play here. It is certainly not my first choice. We've maintained all along that we'd like to keep Brad as a Dallas Star for a long period of time. There's a lot of uncertainty on our side as far as ownership and things like that are a concern from them. All options are open. It is certainly going to have to be good type of deal in order to pry him away from us because we are sitting here tied for eighth right now and have a lot of home games coming up in March."

This will not be an easy decision for Nieuwendyk. Richards would be the marquee player available this week, just as he'd be the top player available on July 1 if he doesn't sign between now and then. Richards is a legitimate No. 1 center and has a Conn Smythe Trophy on his resume. He also doesn't turn 31 until May, so he could have several years at a peak level remaining.


He's also concussed, which makes a potential deal tricky for other teams.

"Unfortunately there is not timetable for Brad," Nieuwendyk said. "We're talking about some of our best players here. Brad probably is our best player. It is difficult. I think he is feeling better. I anticipate that he will start skating soon although we don't have a timeframe on when he'll return."

There is more to the decision for Nieuwendyk (and for Richards) than just signing a contract. The Stars are a franchise with an in flux ownership situation. It is also one that needs to build some momentum with a fan base that was used to seeing the club win for a long time.

Making the playoffs would make some money and maybe help sell some season tickets for next year. Keeping Richards (and eventually signing him) would be the best-case scenario for Dallas. Keeping him and losing an elite player for nothing could be devistating.

"For our fans and our franchise it is important to make the playoffs, so that is always in the front of our minds," Nieuwendyk said. "Obviously the situation with Brad is a very delicate one, but we're certainly not going to give him away unless we feel we can make our team stronger now and for the future."
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.23.2011 / 12:27 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Early afternoon musings: Feb. 23

Here's a look at some of the chatter around the NHL as we countdown to the 2011 NHL Trade Deadline. We'll try to do this most mornings between now and the deadline.

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

The combination of two straight wins and some continued struggles by other teams around them has the Blackhawks level with the eighth-place team in the West ... but so are three other clubs. Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times writes that GM Stan Bowman is scouring the League for a physical defenseman who can help on the penalty kill.

“I think some teams are going to try to hold their guys close to the deadline,” Bowman told the Sun-Times. “We don’t necessarily want to wait that long. If we find a guy we’re comfortable with, we’ll make it work.”

Bowman told Jahns he has no intention of moving any of the key players currently in place for Chicago. The salary cap, as it has since the summer, will weight heavily on what Bowman can try to do in the next 5 days. According to capgeek.com, the Blackhawks have about $1.15 million in acquisition space. For Bowman to add any player whose cap hit is greater than that, someone will have to come off the roster.

The Blackhawks are 27th in the League on the PK. A guy like the Islanders' Radek Martinek ($1.5 million) could help in that area, but he's not overly physical. Adam Foote ($1.25 million) might also make some sense depending on the severity of his lower-body injury.

DALLAS STARS

The Stars are one of said teams helping teams like the Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets back into contention. Dallas has lost 5 games in a row and, after leading the Pacific Division for much of the season, is now in 11th place, level with Chicago and two other teams at 68 points.

This all leads back to Brad Richards, of course. Richards is a pending UFA and if GM Joe Nieuwendyk were to make him available, he immediately becomes the best player on the market. There is also a question of Richards' health, as he's currently not playing because of a concussion. Pierre LeBrun and Scott Burnside of ESPN.com discussed the Richards situation this morning in their Daily Debate.

"[Nieuwendyk] once again reiterated he wants to sign Richards and keep him in Dallas, but also has to look at all his "options.'' As GM, there is no question he has to see what's out there for Richards," LeBrun said. "The team is fading fast and the forward is set to become an unrestricted free agent July 1. The Stars must get value in return."

LeBrun and Burnside debated the viability of the Los Angeles Kings being suitors for Richards. TSN's Darren Dreger writes that as many as six teams could be interested in Richards. If Nieuwendyk feels like Richards isn't going to sign, he should be able to find a very nice return -- even though Richards is not healthy and even if he waits until the last day or two of the trade window.

NEW JERSEY DEVILS

A month ago it seemed pretty easy to point to the Devils as a team that would be looking to sell as the deadline approached. Pending UFA center Jason Arnott's name has appeared in trade deadline primer stories everywhere. Well, now that the Devils have started to play their way back into the fringes of the playoff race, it remains to be determined if a guy like Arnott is going to be available.

Rich Chere of The Star-Ledger writes that GM Lou Lamoriello has to decide which way to lean, and he's not tipping his hand at this point.

“As I’ve said for the last month plus, we’ve been going game by game and day by day and we’ll continue to do that," Lamoriello said to the Star-Ledger. "No preconceived notions, no crystal ball. Just simply taking things as they are."

If the Devils do end up deciding to sell (seems pretty unlikely at this point), expect a lot of interest in Arnott and maybe goalie Johan Hedberg as someone's insurance plan. If Lamoriello wants to add a defenseman would make a lot of sense but the cap situation is tricky.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.22.2011 / 12:49 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Early afternoon musings: Feb. 22

Here's a look at some of the chatter around the NHL as we countdown to the 2011 NHL Trade Deadline. We'll try to do this most mornings between now and the deadline. We've had 11 trades in the previous eight days already.

ANAHEIM DUCKS

A couple of weeks ago, it said here in this space that the Ducks were a good fit for Ray Emery because the organization was lacking at the position behind Jonas Hiller. Well, that's become pretty evident with Hiller out again because of dizziness and fatigue.

The Ducks are trying to stay in the playoff race in the West without Hiller, but Anaheim has lost 3 games in a row and yielded 21 (yes, 21) goals in the process. Still, Anaheim GM Bob Murray tells Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register that he's not planning on making a deal -- yet.

He wants to see when Hiller will be ready to play again. Emery has allowed 5 goals on 64 shots in 2 games for the Ducks' AHL affiliate in Syracuse, but Murray said he wants to give Emery more time before considering a recall. If it looks like Hiller will not be back soon, it may force Murray's hand.

"Making deals is really hard," Murray said. "If it comes to that point where I think Jonas is really going to be a while, we may have to say, 'OK'. Not at this point."

BUFFALO SABRES

There aren't very many pending UFAs at center for buyers to choose from, but Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News writes that Sabres pivot Tim Connolly could still be in that group. The Sabres remain in the hunt for the final playoff spot in the East -- four points back of Carolina with two games in hand.

But Buffalo also hasn't been playing all that well of late (three straight losses) and Harrington said that Connolly isn't expected back next season.

"It's unfathomable that the Sabres would re-sign Connolly again for next season," Harrington writes. "And many observers think it would be hard to believe he even lasts the week here."

He mentions Pittsburgh, Washington and Los Angeles as teams that could be interested in Connolly's services. He is making $4.5 million in the final year of his contract, but has only 8 goals and 26 points this season. He's one of the top playmakers in the League when he's healthy and in form -- both of which have not happened consistently enough in his career.

CALGARY FLAMES

Given Calgary's surge into playoff contention, it makes sense that Flames interim GM Jay Feaster would want to give his club a boost in that direction. His problem is trying to do without further damaging the organization's future.

The Flames don't have a second- or a third-round pick in this year's draft because of past deals, and Feaster has manitained he doesn't want to give up future picks. Given the way the team has played, he also told Vicki Hall of the Calgary Herald that he doesn't want to disrupt the team's chemistry.

"As far as buying, if we can find the players and we can do it at a price that makes sense, then we would do it," Feaster said to the Herald. "We have to be judicious about our deficit spending. We have to be careful about it. And so it's not going to be easy."

Given how well the team is playing, Feaster could just stand pat and see how long this run continues. If he does do something (and he'll have some cap space if Nicklas Hagman is removed from the NHL roster) it would probably have to be a minor deal for a late-round pick or prospect he's not sold on.

FLORIDA PANTHERS

Every time the Panthers have been on the edge of playoff contention in recent years, the club has tried to keep the roster intact to make a desperate run for the postseason. Well, a new regime led by GM Dale Tallon has made it pretty clear that's not going to be the case in South Florida this season.

Assistant GM Mike Santos tells Harvey Fialkov of the Sun-Sentinel that his team is open for business.

"We're going to make trades to improve the team in the future regardless of where we are in the playoff race,'' Santos told the Sun-Sentinel. "This is a long-term project. There's 10 years of mismanagement that we're trying to turn around, hopefully in three or four years."

Fialkov lists six pending UFAs plus center Stephen Weiss and defenseman Dennis Wideman as potential trade targets. The big names among the UFAs are goaltender Tomas Vokoun and defenseman Bryan McCabe, but forwards like Marty Reasoner, Cory Stillman, Radek Dvorak and Chris Higgins also have a fair amount of value.

People have been wondering where all the trade activity is going to come this week with 11 deals already in the books. Look south - Tallon could go on a trade binge this week that rivals or surpasses what has gone in Ontario to this point.

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

GM Brian Burke has already had a vast impact on this trade deadline, and he's probably not done. James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail reports Burke told fans at a Q&A session during Family Day on Monday he still intends to be active -- but as a buyer now instead of a seller.

Mirtle writes that Burke is looking for a puck-moving defenseman, and names Colorado's John Michael-Liles as a potential veteran addition or Atlanta's Zach Bogosian if Burke tries to stick with his plan of adding younger players.

Burke also said pending RFA Clarke MacArthur could be on the move if his salary demands are deemed too high.

"MacArthur would give Burke another key trade chip to move, joining the two first-round picks and a third-round pick he acquired in the [Kris] Versteeg and [Tomas] Kaberle trades," Mirtle writes.

Bogosian is precisely the type of player Burke appears to covet -- young with plenty of upside and maybe a little out of favor with the current organization. It is hard to imagine the Leafs giving up a lot for a veteran like Michael-Liles, but Bogosian (or a player like him) could be worth a high cost.


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Posted On Monday, 02.21.2011 / 6:58 PM

By David Kalan -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

The Goligoski-Neal Deal: Why and What now?

In any trade in February a number of questions are raised, and Monday's deal between Pittsburgh and Dallas may raise more than most. For the Penguins, the move fills an obvious need as James Neal instantly becomes the best winger on a team that was desperate for scoring that came from somewhere other than down the middle.

There are three main factors as to why this trade made sense for Pittsburgh. For one, the 23-year-old Neal is loaded with potential. For two, defenseman Alex Goligoski was unlikely to fully develop into a top pair defenseman on a team that already had several blueliners -- see Brooks Orpik, Paul Martin or Kris Letang -- locked up for the forseeable future. Finally, Evgeni Malkin's season-ending injury has given Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero and inordinate amount of cash to burn as he looks to patch up holes ahead of a postseason run.

Given all that, the move appears to be a no-brainer for the Pens, who would seem likely to use Neal on the top line and could see an enormous payoff when Sidney Crosby returns to action and Neal is playing next to, arguably, the best center on the planet.

For Dallas the incentive is a little less clear. Beyond the idea of any move shaking up a team in the midst of a potentially devastating funk, the Stars do get a defenseman who, with 31 points this season, is a proven contributor from the blue line, a place where the Stars have little offensively beyond Stephane Robidas, who has actually scored less than Goligoski this year.

But what is also worth noticing from the perspective of Dallas GM Joe Nieuwendyk is the salary that changes hands. Next season Alex Goligoski will earn $2.75 million before he becomes a restricted free agent, meaning he could stay on for 2012-13 at a slightly higher salary or simply come off Dallas' books altogether. Going to Pittsburgh in terms of salary next year, however is $5.25 million dollars -- $3.5 million to Neal and $1.75 to defenseman Matt Niskanen. Both players are restricted free agents after next season and Neal, assuming continued or better production, could easily start to eclipse his 2011-12 salary by a fair amount.

All in all, Nieuwendyk and the Stars have saved $2.5 million on the books for next season, which given Neal's potential career trajectory could be a red herring. However, Nieuwendyk could have two other options after this move. Rather than simply a cost-saving measure, this trade may have laid the ground work for another Dallas deal before next Monday's deadline in hopes of salvaging the current campaign. But it could also be a move intended to clear just enough space off the future cap so the Stars can make a legitimate run at signing All-Star center Brad Richards to an extension, something that would keep the franchise competitive for years.

In all likelihood, the immediate impact of this deal will seem much clearer in seven days, but for now there are a number of potential results for Dallas.  Whether it works out for either side as intended, however, could take months or years to fully realize. Only one thing is really certain: Nieuwendyk now has some significant choices to make.
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Posted On Monday, 02.21.2011 / 12:06 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

More young talent on the move?

After Colorado and St. Louis stunned hockey fans late Friday night, could there be more young talent changing places?

One rumor being reported Monday by TSN's Darren Dreger is a possible swap of Penguins defenseman Alex Goligoski for Stars forward James Neal.

It's a highly interesting move that fills a need for both teams.

With the emergence of All-Star Kris Letang in Pittsburgh, plus the summer signing of Paul Martin, the Pens could part with a young talent like Goligoski, 25, who has 9 goals and 31 points in 60 games.

The Stars could use some offensive punch to their blue line, as their leading offensive performer is 33-year-old Stephane Robidas, who has just 26 points.

Sending away a young left wing like Neal, 23 would be a big price for Dallas, but one they seem OK in paying. Neal has scored 20 goals in each of his first three seasons, including 21 this season. But the Stars have All-Star Loui Eriksson and promising Jamie Benn who can play on the left, and a number of talented young forwards in the pipeline, including Tomas Vincour and 2009 first-round pick Scott Glennie.

With Evgeni Malkin lost for the season, Sidney Crosby a question mark and a number of other injuries, the Pens certainly could use the offensive boost Neal could give them.

Could this move happen? It would take a pair of very brave general managers. But after seeing the Blues and Avs exchange talented young players Friday, anything is possible.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com and follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 02.19.2011 / 12:23 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Report: Souray on re-entry waivers

Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet reports the Edmonton Oilers have placed defenseman Sheldon Souray on re-entry waivers, so another team could pick him up at half the price tomorrow.

There is clearly a high level of demand for defensemen at this time of the year, and yesterday was a good example of that. Tomas Kaberle and Ian White were dealt to contenders, while St. Louis and Colorado sent shockwaves through the NHL with a four-player swap that included Erik Johnson and Kevin Shattenkirk.

Souray, who will turn 35 in July, has one more year left on his contract. He's set to make $4.5 million next year, but his cap hit is $5.4 million, so a team that claims him would owe a pro-rated portion of $2.7 million this season and a full $2.7 million next year.

Whether or not another team will put in a claim for Souray remains to be seen. The Oilers loaned Souray to the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League when they decided he didn't fit on the opening-night roster and didn't want to use up a roster spot with their own AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City.

He has 3 goals and 11 points in 26 games for the Bears. Souray missed time with multiple injuries, including a broken hand from a fight.

The New York Rangers were reportedly interested in Souray, but reports from earlier this month said that is no longer the case.
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Posted On Friday, 02.18.2011 / 8:25 PM

By Brian Hunter -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Canadiens react to Bruins' day of trades

All season long, the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens have been the two teams battling it out for supremacy in the Northeast Division, so when the Bruins made a pair of big trades Friday, landing standout defenseman Tomas Kaberle from Toronto as well as forward Rich Peverley and defenseman Mark Stuart from Atlanta, the natural question became what, if anything, the Habs will do in response prior to the Feb. 28 trade deadline.

"If you look at it, there's a couple teams in the [Eastern] Conference that have tried to add and really bolster their lineups here in the last few weeks," Montreal forward Mike Cammalleri said. "Time tells. I say it all the time but that's how we play sports, that's why we drop the puck and play. We never know how things are going to unfold. Managers make these moves to try and strengthen their rosters, but we’ll see."

The Canadiens did make a significant roster move in the past several days, reacquiring defenseman Paul Mara from the Ducks. Their blue line has taken hit after hit this season, losing power-play quarterback Andrei Markov and emerging talent Josh Gorges to season-ending knee injuries. James Wisniewski, brought over from the Islanders in late December, is day-to-day after taking a puck to the face in Thursday's loss to the Oilers -- a gruesome-looking injury the team hopes doesn't involve any facial fractures.

"Paul's an experienced defenseman," coach Jacques Martin said. "We had Paul last year. Unfortunately he got injured three-quarters into the season and missed the last stretch of the season and the playoffs. But he's an individual that is well-received by his teammates, well-appreciated by his teammates, has got good size, brings a physical presence to our blue line and I think will help us in the stretch here."
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Posted On Friday, 02.18.2011 / 4:27 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Lightning adding to defense?

TSN is reporting the Tampa Bay Lightning have acquired St. Louis Blues defenseman Eric Brewer. Brewer had a no-trade clause, but he's apparently waived it to move from the West's 13th-place team to the No. 2 team in the East.

Brewer has 8 goals and 14 points in 54 games, and has been St. Louis' captain since the 2007-08 season.
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Posted On Friday, 02.18.2011 / 4:04 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Looking at the Senators

Much attention has been focused on the rebuilding going on in southern Ontario, but there's another reconstruction effort that's taking shape in the eastern part of the province.

As the Senators have sunk to 15th in the Eastern Conference, GM Bryan Murray has begun to dismantle his team. He's said there are very few players off limits, a list that likely includes All-Star defenseman Erik Karlsson, rookie goalie Robin Lehner and team captain Daniel Alfredsson.

In the last eight days, he's bid farewell to forwards Mike Fisher, Chris Kelly and Jarko Ruutu, and today goalie Brian Elliott. In return, he's gotten first-, second- and sixth-round picks in the 2011 Entry Draft (plus a conditional 2012 pick) plus a goaltender Murray thinks could start for the team next season in Craig Anderson.

And with 10 days left before the Feb. 28 deadline, he might not be done.

When Murray made the Fisher trade, he said he wanted to start moving out veteran players to make room for a number of youngsters he expects to be arriving on a full-time basis next season.

"I feel we have some real top young players coming," Murray said then. "Robin Lehner, Erik Karlsson, Jared Cowen, David Rundblad, a couple forwards I could mention. We are going to have to open the door for some of these younger players to play come September. To do that, the hard part of the business is saying goodbye to some of the veteran players."

Other veteran players rumored to be on the move are forwards Alex Kovalev and Chris Neil and defenseman Chris Phillips, who has a no-trade clause in his contract, but will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com and follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Friday, 02.18.2011 / 3:37 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Frequent partners?

The San Jose Sharks and Carolina Hurricanes already have made one trade today; could another be coming?

The Sharks sent defenseman Derek Joslin to the Hurricanes earlier this afternoon, but a bigger move for a blueliner reportedly is being talked about, which would involve veteran Ian White going west to San Jose.

TSN is reporting a deal is in place that would send White to the Sharks, but there's no word on what might be going back to Carolina.

A trade involving White shouldn't be a surprise. GM Jim Rutherford alluded that he was considering an offer for White, and he was held out of Wednesday's game against the Devils.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com and follow him on Twitter @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Friday, 02.18.2011 / 2:12 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Bruins, Leafs reshape franchise futures with deals

The Boston Bruins are ready to contend for the Stanley Cup and the Toronto Maple Leafs are ready to rebuild.

Boston made a pair of trades today to beef up the roster with the hope of claiming the Cup for the first time in three decades, while Toronto finally embraced reshaping the organization with youth and building for the future.

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli identified two needs -- veteran help at center and a puck-moving, offensive-minded defenseman -- and filled both voids. He's added centers Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley in a four-day span, and finished his shopping spree by landing defenseman Tomas Kaberle.

Boston had lots of depth at center, but Marc Savard is out for the season with a concussion and rookie Tyler Seguin has been inconsistent. By adding Kelly and Peverley, coach Claude Julien has plenty of options in the middle and could have to move a couple of guys to the wing.

Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci should continue to center the top two lines, with Kelly or Peverley in the middle on the third line. Either Kelly, Peverley or Gregory Campbell will likely shift to the wing. Seguin will either move to the wing, or be sent back to the Ontario Hockey League.

Kaberle becomes Boston's leading scorer among defensemen, and should immediately slide onto the top power-play unit. Zdeno Chara should see a lot of passes from Kaberle, and goaltenders around the League should look forward to plenty of one-timers from Chara in the coming weeks.

If Philadelphia, Vancouver and Detroit were clearly the top three Cup contenders as of this morning, it might be time to add Boston and make the group a foursome.

Toronto general manager Brian Burke has retooled his franchise in the past two weeks, and the emphasis on prospects and draft picks is a new approach for a franchise that has been trying to compete and rebuild at the same time.

Burke has added a pair of prospects in center Joe Colborne and defenseman Jake Gardiner that are recent first-round picks. He's picked up two first-round choices and a third-rounder in the 2011 Entry Draft, and a second-round selection could be party of the Kaberle bounty if he re-signs with Boston or the Bruins make good on their push for a run to the Cup final.

The Maple Leafs now boast an intriguing collection of young talent -- something that has long been missing in Toronto. Luke Schenn, Keith Aulie and Gardiner could be the foundation for a solid defense corps, while Colborne and Nazem Kadri could eventually be Toronto's top two centers.

How the Peverley deal works in Atlanta should also be interesting to monitor. GM Rick Dudley was looking to shake up his roster with the Thrashers on the verge of falling behind both Carolina and Buffalo in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.

Peverley has been one of Atlanta's top two centers for much of the past two-plus seasons and a bargain at $1.325 million. He had been dropped to the fourth line recently. Both Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart played for coach Craig Ramsay when he was an assistant coach with the Bruins, and both should play key roles in trying to get Atlanta back into the postseason.
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Posted On Friday, 02.18.2011 / 1:24 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

More Boston moves?

According to TSN, it's shaping up to be a pretty busy day for Boston GM Peter Chiarelli.

He's already got the Tomas Kaberle deal with the Leafs about to happen. But in order to keep some salary cap flexibility, he's apparently got another trade brewing.

The Bruins would send forward Blake Wheeler and defenseman Mark Stuart to the Atlanta Thrashers, in return for forward Rich Peverley and defenseman Boris Valabik.

Wheeler and Peverley are near-washes, stat-wise. The Bruins would get the older player in 28-year-old Peverley, vs. the 24-year-old Wheeler.

Stuart has just 5 points this season, his second straight subpar season, but he's just 26 and two seasons removed from a 17-point season and back-to-back 82-game seasons.

Valabik, the 10th pick of the 2004 Entry Draft, has yet to earn a full-time NHL job. However, he could be another Zdeno Chara -- he's 6-foot-7 and 255 pounds, and hails from Slovakia. He had 2 points in 23 NHL games last season, but has spent all of 2010-11 in the AHL, where he has 9 points and 165 penalty minutes in 49 games.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com or follow him on Twitter @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Friday, 02.18.2011 / 12:48 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Could this be the time for Kaberle?

Tomas Kaberle has been pretty steadfast in the past few seasons about not wanting to waive his no-trade clause. However, as he nears the end of the final year of the deal, and with the Leafs on the fringe of playoff contention, could he have softened his stance?

TSN and the Boston Globe are reporting that he has, and a trade of the blueliner to the Bruins is imminent.

Going back to the Leafs, if the rumors are true, would be top prospect Joe Colborne and the Bruins' first-round pick. For clarity's sake, it's the Bruins' own pick, not the one they got last season from the Leafs in the Phil Kessel deal.

If that's truly the deal, it would be a win/win deal. Boston gets an elite offensive defenseman that will bring desperately needed punch to their blueline -- Kaberle has 38 points this season; only Zdeno Chara has more than 25 among Bruins defensemen.

In return, the Leafs would get a real solid center prospect in Colborne, the 16th pick of the 2008 Entry Draft currently playing with AHL Providence. The 6-foot-5, 190-pounder has 26 points in 55 games in his first pro season.
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Posted On Friday, 02.18.2011 / 10:58 AM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Senators, Avalanche swap slumping goalies

Two teams outside the playoff picture made an interesting goalie swap this morning as Colorado has sent slumping netminder Craig Anderson to Ottawa for Brian Elliott.

Both goaltenders were surprising successes last season. Anderson was a No. 1 for the first time in his career and helped the Avalanche to the playoffs. He led the League in saves and shots against after playing 71 games. This year he has an .897 save percentage and a 3.28 GAA.

Elliott moved in front of an injured/ineffective Pascal Leclaire on Ottawa's depth chart and started 55 games with a 2.57 GAA and a .909 save percentage. He struggled in the playoffs against Pittsburgh and it carried into this season. He's 13-19-8 with a 3.19 GAA and an .894 save percentage.

Anderson is an unrestricted free agent at season's end, while the soon-to-be 26-year-old Elliott is a restricted free agent. Both goalies could have a chance to earn a new contract, either with their new team or to catch the eye of a scout from another club, in the final few weeks of the season. This could end up being a classic "change of scenery" trade, or it could end up not mattering much in the grand scheme of things for either franchise.

It would seem this trade is a clear move in Robin Lehner's direction as Ottawa's goaltender of the future. That future could be as soon as opening night in 2011-12, because Leclaire is a pending UFA as well. Colorado's future at the goaltending position remains in question. The Avalanche have prospect Calvin Pickard, but he's nowhere near ready for the NHL.

If anything, the trade of Anderson signals Colorado will be shopping for a goaltender this summer. There could be some interesting options available. Tomas Vokoun, Ilya Bryzgalov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere are all pending UFAs. So is Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard, and Colorado making a run at him would certainly add some spice to that rivalry.
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Posted On Thursday, 02.17.2011 / 3:45 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Canucks injuries shouldn't change much

Vancouver is down five defensemen (six if you include minor-league call-up Lee Sweatt), but there are a myriad of reasons why GM Mike Gillis isn't likely to make a big splash into the blue-line waters come 3 p.m. ET on Feb. 28.

Prior to the hockey world learning of Kevin Bieksa's foot injury, which could keep him out a month, Gillis told Mark Spector of Sportsnet.ca that the Canucks have enough salary cap space to add a $1 million player. But, that's only for now because that money truly doesn't exist when you factor in the eventual returns of Bieksa, Keith Ballard and Dan Hamhuis before the end of the regular season.

The Canucks have to have cap space to bring those guys back in, which is why they probably won't add anyone of great significance, if they add at all, unless they are willing to subtract from the current roster. We could see them trying to deal Sami Salo, but he's their No. 2 defenseman behind Christian Ehrhoff until the injured guys return, which likely won't be until after the deadline.

"It probably doesn't cause me to rethink strategy," Gillis told Spector. "The fact is, we have to have space to get guys back into our line-up after the trade deadline. We may not have space to make any deals."

Gillis doesn't have to either. The Canucks have positioned themselves for a high seed, likely No. 1 unless these injuries cause a prolonged slump, so the GM can quietly sit back and watch all these other teams make moves while he waits for his guys to return.

Ballard (knee) and Hamhuis (concussion) are expected back before the playoffs. Alex Edler (back surgery) and Andrew Alberts (broken wrist), who are both on long-term injured reserve, could be back during the playoffs when there is no salary cap. Bieksa's status had not been updated by the team as of Thursday afternoon.

"I don't know why we would (trade a roster player)," Gillis said. "We're in first place, and we've lost maybe the most man games of any team in the League. I can't see a circumstance where we're trading a player off our roster at this point in time."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Thursday, 02.17.2011 / 2:04 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Burke: Reports false, no deal yet for Kaberle

Toronto GM and President Brian Burke said Thursday on NHL Live! that Tomas Kaberle has not been asked to waive his no-trade clause, has not given the Maple Leafs a list of teams he's willing to go to, and that any reports suggesting a deal with Boston is imminent are completely false.

Now, we understand that Burke has to say this now, especially if a deal is in place and waiting for sign-off from Kaberle. Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com reported earlier Thursday that the package Toronto will receive from Boston for Kaberle includes Blake Wheeler and a draft pick.

However, Burke, who was talking to hosts E.J. Hradek and Don LaGreca, said the Leafs are still talking to multiple teams about Kaberle and that he hasn't spoken to the puck-moving defenseman. Burke spoke about honoring Kaberle's no-trade clause even though he wasn't the one who gave it to him. John Ferguson was the Leafs GM who signed Kaberle to his current contract.

Burke actually said he isn't sure if Kaberle will be traded, though the odds of him being moved eventually, perhaps as early as today despite what he said, are still very high.

Burke said he has been talking with Kaberle's agent, Rick Curran, "who asked for radio silence" on the situation. He said Kaberle's no-trade clause does not prohibit him from talking to other teams about potential trades. He also said he can "almost promise" more activity from the Leafs before the Feb. 28 trade deadline.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Thursday, 02.17.2011 / 11:46 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

UPDATED: Kaberle deal Bruin?

It seems like Tomas Kaberle goes with trade-deadline rumors like peanut butter goes with jelly, but could this be the time a move actually happens? TSN's Darren Dreger is reporting today that barring "a complete meltdown," the talented defenseman will move from Toronto to Boston prior to the Feb. 28 trade deadline.

There's no report on what the return to the Leafs might be, but according to Dreger, the Bruins are not requiring Kaberle -- who can become unrestricted free agent on July 1 -- sign a new contract to consummate the deal.

At 32 years old, Kaberle is having one of his typically strong seasons, with 38 points in 58 games. One place the Bruins are lacking is offense from the back end, as Zdeno Chara is the only Boston defenseman with as many as 25 points.

Dreger is reporting it's doubtful the deal happens today, and that the Bruins might have to make another move to settle any salary-cap issues. However, Kaberle would have to waive his no-trade clause for the deal to go through, something he hasn't been amenable to doing in the past.

Will he do it this time? We'll find out for sure some time in the next 11 days.

UPDATE: Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com confirms Dreger's report that Boston is close to adding Kaberle, and also reports defenseman Mark Stuart could be on his way to Chicago to open up some salary cap space. Haggerty said the package for Kaberle is believed to be young forward Blake Wheeler and a draft pick, while Stuart would only bring a draft pick (and more importantly cap space) in return.

According to capgeek.com the Bruins have enough to acquire a player who carries a cap hit of just more than $2.5 million. Kaberle's deal has a cap hit of $4.25 million, but moving out Wheeler and Stuart would free up $3.875 million of acqusition space -- enough wiggle room to add Kaberle and still have a little space left.

Wheeler was the No. 5 pick in the 2004 draft by Phoenix, but didn't sign with the Coyotes after leaving the University of Minnesota and instead inked a deal with Boston as a free agent. He had 21 goals as a rookie, but only 18 last season and 10 in 57 games in 2010-11.
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Posted On Thursday, 02.17.2011 / 2:50 AM

By John Kreiser -  NHL.com Columnist /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Ducks send Mara back to Habs

Anaheim had too many healthy defenseman; Montreal didn't have enough -- which makes Wednesday's  deal that send Paul Mara back to Montreal a good fit.

Mara had a goal and an assist for Anaheim but hadn't played since Jan. 18 and was the eighth or ninth defenseman on the roster. He goes back to a team he knows well -- Mara signed with the Ducks last summer after spending 2009-10 with the Canadiens, although he didn't play after late January due to a shoulder injury that required surgery.

With a shortage on the blue line due to injuries (Hall Gill and Jaroslav Spacek have been out with injuries, forcing the Habs to raid their AHL team in Hamilton), adding Mara at the cost of a fifth-round pick in the 2012 Entry Draft should provide help on the blue line for the Canadiens while giving the Ducks the flexibility to add a forward as they head on a weekend trip to Minnesota and St. Louis.
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.16.2011 / 5:44 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Ottawa's Phillips staying put?

Weeks ago Ottawa defenseman Chris Phillips was indentified by media members as one of the top targets at his position for this forthcoming trade deadline.

It looks like other GMs around the League hoping to acquire Phillips might have to look elsewhere for a veteran defensive defenseman. Phillips, a pending unrestricted free agent, told Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun that he wants to stay with the Senators.

"I do [want to stay] and I know people will call me crazy for saying that," Phillips said. "But I think you need some veteran guys that have been around to help and guide the young guys coming in. I’m okay and would take on that responsibility."

Phillips is precisely the type of stay-at-home veteran that ends up on the wish list of several teams at this time of year. He hasn't had a great year, but his playoff experience and defensive sensibilities are coveted by contenders.

If he isn't willing to waive his no-trade clause, other options could include st. Louis' Eric Brewer, Edmonton's Jim Vandermeer and the Isladers' Radek Martinek. Toronto's Tomas Kaberle and possibly Florida's Bryan McCabe headline the group of UFA defensemen who are more known for their offensive production.
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.16.2011 / 12:53 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Carolina's Ian White rumored to be on the block

The rumors swirling around the potential deal of Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Ian White are just that -- rumors. At least for now.

Sure, defenseman Joni Pitkanen and forward Erik Cole will be unrestricted free agents at the end of this season, but it appears Carolina GM Jim Rutherford is getting inquiries about another pending UFA, the 26-year-old White. White has 2 goals, 16 points and a minus-6 rating in 55 games in his first season with the Hurricanes.

White is in his fifth NHL season.

"Something is in the works and it's pending … if it happens it'll happen within the next 24 hours I guess," Carolina coach Paul Maurice told the media following his team's morning practice at Prudential Center in Newark on Wednesday. "If it doesn't, he's with our hockey team."

Rutherford, who told NHL.com last week that he isn't outwardly seeking to make a deal, is fielding offers. He just might not be too quick to pull the trigger.

"There are deals out there and if you just played in a fantasy league and wanted to be a fantasy GM, you could make great hockey deals," Rutherford said. "But you can't because you have to factor the money in. Somebody has got to pay the bills."

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Posted On Wednesday, 02.16.2011 / 11:38 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Sens' Murray nowhere near done

Mike Fisher and Chris Kelly are gone, and Senators GM Bryan Murray indicated Tuesday night that more will follow those two out of Canada's capital city over the next 12 days.

"I've got two players gone. If you're going to try to retool the organization there have to be more than that go," Murray told reporters during his press conference to announce that Kelly had been traded to Boston for the Bruins' second-round pick in 2011. "There have to be doors open for other people. You can either do it or not do it. It's hard to do, but we're doing it. We're going to retool the budget, we're going to retool the organization and there are going to be some painful nights here."

There have been plenty already. Until recently the Senators have been barely competitive on most nights. They are 2-13-5 over their last 20 games and have fallen behind the Devils and Islanders into last place in the Eastern Conference. They're only three points better than the Edmonton Oilers.

"We've had such a dreadful year, such a disappointing year for what we thought we were going to be," Murray said. "This is the end result."

So, who is next to go? If you're paying attention you keep hearing that Chris Phillips, Jarkko Ruutu and Alex Kovalev are most definitely available. They're all in the final year of their contracts. Chris Neil is another name that has been mentioned. He has two years and $4 million left on his contract. Filip Kuba, who has one more year on his deal, could be had, too.

Murray said he has a list of guys that are untouchable, but he specifically mentioned only captain Daniel Alfredsson and All-Star defenseman Erik Karlsson on Tuesday.

"I am not trying to trade everybody," Murray said. "I'm trying to move some other people, but it's certainly not a housecleaning by any means."

Nobody would blame him if it was.

He'd probably love to move Jason Spezza, who is making $7 million per season through 2015, but that doesn't seem likely. Sergei Gonchar, signed for two more years at a $5.5 million cap hit, would also appear untradeable because of his contract and age.

However, Murray clearly has been given the green light to blow up the team and start over. He said he has spoken to Colorado GM Greg Sherman and Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini about the difficulties of a rebuilding project, but is confident that it's the only way for the Senators to go right now.

He won't even speculate on how long it will take for the Senators to become a contender again.

"I'm hoping that we're competitive right away, but I'm not going to suggest that because it's the wrong thing for me to say," Murray said. "All I can tell you is we're going to try to put young people on some spots on the team, and we're going to try to encourage them to play hard every night and be a fun team to watch."

Who will be in that mix?

Well, Karlsson for sure, and probably goalie Robin Lehner as well. Defensive prospects Jared Cowen, David Rundblad and Patrick Wiercioch are on the come and should all have a shot to make the team out of camp next season. Ottawa doesn't have as much forward depth in its system, but Zack Smith and Bobby Butler are getting some NHL experience lately.

"I'm not going to pick the team tonight," Murray said. "We'll wait for that.

"With two first-round picks and two second-round picks we can do something to help this team by the fall. That's my main objective right now."

Who knows how many more picks and prospects he'll stockpile before 3 p.m. ET on Feb. 28?

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.16.2011 / 11:09 AM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Morning Musings: Feb. 16

Here's a look at some of the chatter around the NHL as we countdown to the 2011 NHL Trade Deadline. We'll try to do this most mornings between now and the deadline.

BOSTON BRUINS

If the Bruins did indeed have a puck-moving defenseman and a veteran center on their list of needs, then GM Peter Chiarelli might be almost done shopping. He acquired the center yesterday, picking up Chris Kelly for a second-round pick. There were also numerous reports about him being in talks with Toronto GM Brian Burke about Tomas Kaberle. Burke told a Boston radio station that he and Chiarelli are talking but didn't name players involved.

Kaberle has a no-trade clause, but his comments to reporters after the Leafs' win against Boston last night implied he'd waive it for a move to Beantown.

"I would think so," Kaberle said when asked if Boston was a good place to be if he does get traded. "Obviously they have a pretty good team, good goaltenders. I've played a lot of games against them and it is always tough and they're always tough to beat. We'll see what is going to happen."

Chiarelli says his management staff is tracking nine trade targets on defense. Kevin Paul DuPont of the Boston Globe believes that Kaberle is one, with Atlanta's Ron Hainsey and Zach Bogosian and Ottawa's Chris Philips also on the list. Kaberle makes a lot of sense for the Bruins, who are looking for an offensive-minded guy who can help the power play.

The compensation for Kaberle could be interesting. Paul Dupont writes a deal is "likely to include Boston’s own first-round pick in this year’s draft." There is little chance Toronto's first-rounder from the Phil Kessel deal would be involved, but Burke might not be willing to settle for a late first-round pick.

Boston still has a No. 2 in the 2011 draft, courtest of a trade with Minnesota for Chuck Kobasew two years ago. The Bruins, as detailed on this blog, are flush with high-end prospects.

Kelly cost the Bruins their own No. 2 pick in the upcoming draft. It was a high price to pay for a No. 3 center, but the Bruins have the assets and Kelly brings some much-needed depth and playoff experience. While Boston is loaded with talent at the position, Fluto Shinzawa points out why it was an area of need.

"Even before [Marc] Savard suffered his latest concussion, the Bruins had been dissatisfied with their performance up the middle," Shinzawa writes. "Bergeron has been carrying the offense between Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi. Gregory Campbell has filled the club’s needs on the fourth line. But Savard hadn’t found his offensive tempo before his injury. [David] Krejci has been inconsistent all season. For the most part, [Tyler] Seguin has looked every bit the teenager he is. The team gave Blake Wheeler several looks at center, but he hasn’t given them the presence they’re seeking."

"In Kelly, the Bruins now have a veteran they’ll need if they are serious about a deep postseason run."

CAROLINA HURRICANES

The Hurricanes have shrugged off a slow start in the first half of the season to chase down Atlanta for the eighth spot on the Eastern Conference. Still, Carolina has to hold off both the Thrashers and the surging Buffalo Sabres, who are two points back and have two games in hand on the Hurricanes, if the Canes are going to return to the postseason after missing out last year.

Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer talked to team owner Peter Karmonos about the trade deadline. Karmonos told Alexander that GM Jim Rutherford has been authorized to add payroll if needed to help the club make the playoffs.

"Jim can do whatever he feels he needs to do to improve the team," Karmanos said. "We've worked together for 25 years, and he knows how I feel. Right now, the question would be who would you replace in our lineup? Another is, who's available? We're trying to figure all that out."

The Hurricanes have two established stars in Eric Staal and Cam Ward, and a host of young players moving into greater roles behind them. Carolina could probably use a veteran at both forward and defense to bolster the team's depth as crunch time nears. Rutherford has a track record of being willing to deal at this time of year, so don't be surprised to see the Hurricanes make an addition (or two) in the next two weeks.


DALLAS STARS

Yesterday it was the Colorado Avalanche as the "team in crisis" in the Western Conference. Today, it is the Dallas Stars. Dallas was one of the NHL's top stories of the season for a couple of months, forging a lead in the Pacific Division and challenging for the No. 2 seed in the West. Now, the Stars are without Brad Richards and have lost 8 of their past 10 games -- including a 4-1 defeat at last-place Edmonton last night.

"They didn’t lack in want-to, they lacked in composure," writes Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News. "They were overwhelmed by the pressure of the situation. Needing points to stay in the playoff race, needing positive momentum heading into death trap games in Calgary and Vancouver, the Stars simply fell apart."

Dallas is now perilously close to being engulfed by the swarm of tightly-knit teams behind them. The Stars sit fifth in the West, which is really a four-way tie for the Nos. 4-7 spots. Eighth-place Calgary is two points back, and a postseason-less Spring is three points away.

For much of the first half of this season, Richards was the UFA trade bait rumor du jour. When Dallas established itself as a contender in the West, that speculation went away. If the Stars keep losing, expect it to return.

"If the Dallas Stars stay in free-fall they have to trade their UFA Brad Richards if his blow to head vs Jackets is minor, don't they?" writes Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson on Twitter.

Richards could very well become the Jay Bouwmeester of this year's trade deadline. Florida faced the "should they or shouldn't they" trade Bouwmeester decision two seasons ago, and the Stars as an organization face similar pros and cons about trading Richards.

Dallas is an organization that could greatly benefit from a playoff run, both in galvanizing the fan base and the financial windfall that comes from it. Florida desperately needed to make the playoffs, so the Panthers held on to Bouwmeester. Will the Stars do the same, or will they look to add assets for the future? Richards would be the best player on the market -- and there are several contenders who are almost certain to get into a bidding war for his services.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.15.2011 / 7:33 PM

By David Kalan -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

With Byfuglien signed, Dudley turns to the deadline

Dustin Byfuglien's contract extension with Atlanta could serve to be a major moment for a franchise that has struggled to be consistently competitive in its 12-year history. The Thrashers have made just one postseason appearance, a Southeast Division title in 2007, but his team on the playoff bubble this season, Thrashers GM Rick Dudley said Tuesday that he is looking to make a move.

While the team is searching for offense to bolster a potential playoff run, Dudley at admitted that despite his efforts, the search for the right move hasn't yielded any fruit just yet.

"I only know that I'm on the phone a lot," Dudley said. "It's not an easy time in history to do trades."

"You have to be patient enough to not do something that's going to harm the team in its long term while helping the team in its short term."
-- Thrashers GM Rick Dudley

The extension to Byfuglien means that Atlanta has its top defensive pair locked up for at least two more seasons, as Tobias Enstrom is under contract through the 2012-13 season. Add 2008 first round draft pick Zach Bogosian into the mix and Atlanta's future looks to be in good hands as far as the blue line is concerned, but the team could certainly use help at forward, both down the middle and on the wing.

While Byfuglien and Enstrom lead the team with 43 and 42 points respectively, left wing Andrew Ladd's 42 points are the highest total of any forward. Bryan Little and Evander Kane have the next most production with 33 points each.

Given Atlanta's tremendous cap space -- the Thrashers are projected to have just under $18 million between their payroll and the League's salary limit -- there is almost no cap-driven restriction on who the team can acquire both this season and in the future.

Still, Dudley reinforced the guiding principle for him that making any move isn't as important as making the right one.

"It's difficult because you're in a playoff hunt," Dudley said. "But you have to be patient enough to not do something that's going to harm the team in its long term while helping the team in its short term. Those are trades that they can be made and we hope that we will make one here, but they haven't jumped off the page just yet."
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.15.2011 / 1:06 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Kings still looking for offense

Teams can rise and fall quickly in the middle of the Western Conference, and the Los Angeles Kings have been a great example of that. The Kings are on the upswing after sweeping East contenders Washington and Philadelphia on back-to-back days and are now on a 7-0-2 run.

Los Angeles is currently in 10th place in the West, tied with Minnesota at 65 points but only one shy of the top eight and four back of Phoenix for the No. 3 spot. The Kings are also, like St. Louis and Columbus, a franchise that has been trying rebuild with youth and establish a group that contend for years to come.

It makes for an interesting dilemma for Kings GM Dean Lombardi, who wants to help his club reach the playoffs but also doesn't want to sacrfice building for the future. Lombardi said in an interview on NHL Network that his team's recent success hasn't altered his plan for the next two weeks leading up to the trade deadline.

"No -- so many parts of this plan are coming together -- even in the summer you gauge how certain players are going to perform and I think in most cases, although maybe some of young players took a little stumble before they got back on their feet, that our projections are we are where we thought we'd be and what we need," Lombardi said. "We'll continue to look for it.

Lombardi's Kings were one of the two finalists in the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes, but trying to match New Jersey's creative deal, which endup being 15 years and $100 million, was not something he wanted to pursue.

"I don't think we look back on that because that deal never made sense for us," Lombardi said. "Part of putting this team together is a process and you've got to think not only about what is right in front of you but what's down the road. We have a very strong nucleus that is starting to come together. It needs time to mature, but we want to keep it together. It was one thing to go out and acquire a player prior to the [salary] cap, but you start doing things like that [now] and you're setting yourself up to create a huge hole later. Quite frankly that made zero sense for us the way it came out."

The Kings did eventually add Marco Sturm in a trade with Boston, but offense -- and in particular an impact forward -- remains on the wish list in Los Angeles. Lombardi's team was the one most-often linked to Jarome Iginla, though interim GM Jay Feaster has said he didn't talk to anyone about his captain. Expect the Kings to mentioned when other potential impact forwards are rumored to be on the move in the next two weeks.

"That was something we felt we needed to upgrade," Lombardi said. "We felt coming into the year that we'd be one of the best defensive teams in the League, which we are if you look at our goals against. Yeah, we'd like to increase our 5-on-5 scoring, but not at the expense of eventually having to blow this thing up because we went out and did something extreme."
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.15.2011 / 11:04 AM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Toronto acquires Voros from Anaheim

Brian Burke continues to be the busiest NHL GM heading into the 2011 Trade Deadline, making his third trade this month. Tuesday morning Burke acquired rugged forward Aaron Voros from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a conditional Draft pick in the 2011 Entry Draft.

In the event Toronto re-signs Voros prior to the 2011 NHL Entry Draft then Toronto will transfer Anaheim's 7th round pick (previously acquired) in 2011 to Anaheim.

Voros, who is in the American Hockey League with the Syracuse Crunch, played 12 games with Anaheim this season, failing to register a point and racking up 43 penalty minutes. In 162 NHL games -- with Minnesota, the New York Rangers and Anaheim, Voros has 18 goals, 37 points and 395 penalty minutes.

This is also the second trade in February that Burke has made with his former employer in Anaheim. Earlier this month, he sent veteran defenseman Francois Beauchemin back to the Ducks, where he won the Stanley Cup in 2007, in exchange for forward Joffrey Lupul and prospect Jake Gardiner.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.15.2011 / 10:54 AM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Morning Musings: Feb. 15

Here's a look at some of the chatter around the NHL as we countdown to the 2011 NHL Trade Deadline. We'll try to do this most mornings between now and the deadline.

BOSTON BRUINS

While the Bruins continue to set the pace in the Northeast Division, back-to-back losses to the Detroit Red Wings has their credentials as a Cup contender feeling a little flimsy. Boston has a deep and talented roster, but an addition or two is probably needed for the Bruins to be considered among the top contenders for a Cup run.

"For us, we looked at it as a bit of a measuring stick, and obviously we didn't do very well," coach Claude Julien said to Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald.

Expect the Bruins to be active in the next two weeks, and they have cap space (because of Marc Savard's injury) and assets to deal. Boston's top prospects are among the League's best, but the Bruins also have prospect depth and two first- and two second-round picks in the 2011 draft to work with. GM Peter Chiarelli made news by saying he'd move Toronto's first-round pick (likely a top 5-8 selection), but his own 1st rounder or the two No. 2s might be more likely.

Clearly, the Bruins are close to being a prime contender for the Cup, and as Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe writes, now is a good time to make a push in the Eastern Conference.

"With Pittsburgh shorthanded following injuries to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and Washington off its points-producing pace of last season, the Bruins could challenge Philadelphia, the East’s top club, with additions at center and defense," Shinzawa wrote.

COLORADO AVALANCHE

There is no NHL franchise reeling more this morning than the Avalanche. The club has lost eight straight games -- a record in the Denver era. Colorado lost by eight goals last night -- also a record in the post-Quebec portion of the franchise's history. The hope that came with Peter Forsberg's return is now gone after his retirement.

The Avalanche are now firmly in 14th place in the Western Conference. The pack of teams competing for the final five spots in the playoffs has moved forward without them. Colorado is 10 points back of eighth place with 25 games to play. To say the team's chances of making the playoffs are slim to none is not an exaggeration at this point.

This could mean it is time to consider the Avalanche as potential sellers and GM Greg Sherman has some assets to move if that is the case. First and foremost among them is forward Milan Hejduk. Pendings UFAs who can be impact forwards are few and far between this season, so Sherman could have several suitors for Hejduk if he ends up being available. Defenseman Adam Foote is also a pending UFA but not likely to bring as much of a return. Both players have no-trade clauses (Hejduk's is a no-move) that would have to be waived.

Given that Colorado was in contention for a top-four spot in the West before this collapse, and how the franchise has been rebuilt with elite young players such as Paul Stastny, Matt Duchene and Kevin Shattenkirk, it is hard to believe that Sherman would "blow it up" and move other guys with years still left on their contracts. John-Michael Liles, another guy with a no-trade clause (though it is limited), would probably attract a nice return. He has one year left on his contract with a $4.2 million cap hit, but the Avalanche are already thin on defense and that would leave another big hole to fill in the offseason.

NEW YORK RANGERS

The Rangers have done an admirable job of staying among the top five-seven teams of the Eastern Conference despite a rash of injuries. A big reason for their buoyancy has been the play of the team's young players like Derek Stepan, Mats Zuccarello and Marc Staal.

New York hasn't been an organization known for showing patience, but Arthur Staple of Newsday writes that GM Glen Sather may be willing to do so this month.

"I think we can compete," Sather told Staple. "It doesn't mean we're going to do anything [at the deadline] or not do anything. The whole goal this season has been to keep these young guys going as well as they can, to create a team that takes some ownership in itself. It took us a while to get to that stage, but we're getting there."

If Sather does look to make a move, a veteran defenseman to put with his young corps could be a beneficial move. From Sather's comments, it doesn't sound like he's going to be willing to pay a big price to do so.
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Posted On Friday, 02.11.2011 / 12:43 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Early Afternoon Musings: Feb. 11

Here's a look at some of the chatter around the NHL as we countdown to the 2011 NHL Trade Deadline. We'll try to do this most mornings between now and the deadline.

CALGARY FLAMES

The number of teams that look like potential sellers in the Western Conference has decreased to maybe just one, and the Flames are a big part of that. Once looking like the Ottawa of the of the West (expensive veteran roster but languishing at the bottom of the standings), the Flames have shot into the top eight of the conference by winning 14 of 21 games.

Suddenly there isn’t nearly as much talk of players being shipped out from the Red Mile, and said players are happy about that.


"It's nice to not have to hear as many [rumors]," captain Jarome Iginla told Scott Cruickshank of the Calgary Herald. "Literally, I think everybody’s name was in one at one time or another this year, so that's been a pretty nice change."

Should Calgary continue this run of good form, there could be more rumors involving the Flames but they will likely involve players coming instead of going.

“Everyone’s doing their part, and that’s the most important thing,” Sutter told the Herald. “What transpires from here till the deadline is out of everyone’s hands. We just have to play - and play well - and let’s see where we're at then. But I like the way our team’s playing, I like our hockey team. I like the way our team is being a team.”

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

Michal Frolik hasn’t scored in 23 games, but it says here that he will be an upgrade for the Blackhawks and could thrive if he gets to skate with some of Chicago’s elite forwards. That said, will Chicago keep looking to upgrade its roster considering the Blackhawks remain in 11th place in the West and three points shy of the Flames?

‘‘We’re not going to shy away from making another trade if it’s there to be made,” Chicago GM Stan Bowman told Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times. “It’s tough to make things happen. We’re pursuing it daily. We have a lot of conversations, and we’re not going to stop trying to make something happen.’’

If Chicago is going to make another move, remember the Blackhawks are pretty tight against the cap so don’t be surprised if another roster player has to be moved out to make such a transaction work. Also don’t be surprised if the guy coming in is a defenseman.

OTTAWA SENATORS

In case it wasn’t clear given their place in the Eastern Conference standings or from GM Bryan Murray’s previous comments, the Senators began the rebuilding process yesterday by trading Mike Fisher to Nashville. Getting a first-round pick for a second-line center is a quality return, and if the Predators make a run in this year’s playoffs the Senators will collect an extra pick for 2012 as well.

Murray made it pretty clear while addressing the media following the Fisher deal that it won’t be the last this month.

“There will be some deals,” Murray told reporters. “I don’t know how many, I don’t even pretend to know that, but there will be more deals. If we’re going to … follow our plan that we’ve outlined going forward, we have to make room for some people. We’re obviously going to acquire draft picks if we can and give ourselves a chance to pick as high as we can in this year’s draft and get good assets for the organization.”

The attention will now turn to other veterans on the Ottawa roster. Jason Spezza told Allen Panzeri of the Ottawa Citizen that Murray has not approached him about waiving his no-trade clause. It would probably be tough for Murray to find a taker for Spezza’s contract.

“No, I want to be part of the solution here,” Spezza said to Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun. “I feel this team has a lot more potential than we’re showing. We have a chance to make a quick turnaround here. I don’t think it’s going to be a long rebuilding process. We have good pieces in place, we just haven’t shown it. I think I can be a big help to turn this thing around and maybe take a little more responsibility on myself. Definitely, my thoughts right now going forward are really trying to fix this and trying to make us a better team.”

Defenseman Chris Phillips has been a popular name among potential trade targets, but he has a no-movement clause and could decide he doesn’t want to leave.

“I have talked to [Phillips] about what he would like to have happen for him, but Chris has not come back to me,” Murray told Bruce Garrioch of the Sun. “The door is open, ‘Come in and tell me what you want me to do and what you would like to do.’ I think he wants to stay in Ottawa. I’m not quite sure how that will work.”

Phillips is an unrestricted free agent and the type of veteran defense-first defenseman that contending teams covet at this time of year. Considering how many defenseman were traded for second-round picks last year at the deadline, that’s probably a good place to start when thinking of potential compensation for Phillips if he does agree to a move.
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Posted On Thursday, 02.10.2011 / 2:37 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

A Trade Deadline Wrinkle: Injuries

Teams are going to be making some very important decisions in the next couple of weeks, and the current roster will obviously have an impact on what areas clubs look to address via trades.

The wrinkle can often be the return of injured players. There are lots of injured players out there right now, and the expected return date for some of them could have a big impact on certain teams and their activities this month. With that in mind, here's a look at a couple of groups of injured players.

The first group is guys who have been out for most or all of the season but have returned recently or expected back soon. These guys will be treated "like a trade acquisition" by some team officials/media members. The second group is guys who have been impact players this year but are hurt now.

GROUP I: "LIKE MAKING A TRADE"

*Vinny Prospal, New York Rangers

Prospal missed the first 53 games of the season because of a knee injury, but returned Feb. 3. The Rangers need a veteran defenseman, but how the soon-to-be 36-year-old responds to coming off major knee surgery could determine if GM Glen Sather is in the market for another forward as well. The Rangers have overcome a lot of injuries up front, but Prospal was a key guy for them last year and if he's productive that would be a huge boost to their chances of making a deep playoff run.

*Sami Salo, Vancouver Canucks

Salo has yet to play this season because of a torn Achilles' tendon, but he is very close to being back. Salo is expected to be in the lineup Saturday, and the Canucks' defense corps can certainly use him. Alex Edler and Keith Ballard are injured and Dan Hamhuis was smarting after a hit from Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf last night. When (if) they all get healthy, the Canucks are going to face a cap crunch, but for now Salo could be the addition the team needs on defense.

*Peter Forsberg, Colorado Avalanche

OK, Forsberg hasn't been a member of Colorado's organization, but his foot earns him a spot on this list because he'd have been playing in the NHL if not for the chronic problem. The Avalanche have slumped to 14th in the West, so maybe Forsberg's return will spark the club back into playoff contention. If the team keeps losing and he plays well, maybe Forsberg would be willing to move to a contender. There certainly will be a lot of eyes watching Forsberg when he returns in the coming days.

*Ray Emery, Anaheim Ducks

Emery is in the same group as Forsberg -- his hip has kept him out of the NHL but now he's healthy enough to try a comeback. He'll start the comeback in Syracuse with Anaheim's AHL affiliate, but he could end up as the No. 2 guy for the Ducks and is insurance for Jonas Hiller. That leaves one less team in the market for a goaltender, even if Anaheim wasn't going to be looking for a potential No. 1.

*Marek Zidlicky/Guillaume Latendresse, Minnesota Wild

These guys should be in Group II, but Wild GM Chuck Fletcher used the "like making a trade" phrase to describe their pending returns. Zidlicky has been out since December with a shoulder injury but has returned to practice. Lantendresse had sports hernia surgery in November and could be back in early March. Zidlicky would be a big boost and Latendresse would give the Wild more depth up front. Whether or not it keeps Fletcher from making a trade to improve the club remains to be seen.

GROUP II: IMPACT GUYS MISSING

*Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

His concussion is the most talked-about injury in the League. He said earlier today he expects to play again this season. The Penguins are already short one superstar center in Evgeni Malkin. If Crosby were to be shut down, would it be worth trying to replace both of them? If he is going to come back, expect GM Ray Shero to try and replace Malkin with a forward or two and keep the Penguins among the top Cup contenders.

*Tobias Enstrom, Atlanta Thrashers

The Thrashers are trying to hold onto a playoff spot in the East but doing so without their top defenseman (ice time) has been difficult. He's out with a broken finger, but he's close to returning after taking part in practice Wednesday. GM Rick Dudley has not been shy about his desire to make a trade. Getting a healthy Enstrom back might make it easier for him to focus on the team's problems up front.

*Brad Stuart, Detroit Red Wings

Stuart could be back by the end of the month from a broken jaw. Detroit just welcomed back Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom from injuries, and GM Ken Holland will have to decide if there is a cheap way to upgrade his team if he needs more depth on defense or if a goaltender with Chris Osgood out remains a priority.

*Tom Poti, Washington Capitals

Poti has had all kinds of problems staying healthy this season and has been limited to 21 games. He could be close to coming back from the latest lower-body ailment, but if GM George McPhee is worried about not being to keep Poti healthy (and if he doesn't spend all of his cap space on a center) it is possible the Capitals could look for a cheap veteran defenseman for insurance. Mike Green could play on Saturday, but if his head injury is worse than currently thought, then that could change things drastically in Washington.

*Mike Cammalleri, Montreal Canadiens

The Canadiens are deeper up front this season than they were last year when Cammalleri carried the offense two a pair of playoff upsets. That said, he and Tomas Plekanec remain Montreal's top offensive players and the Canadiens will need him back in short order. Don't be surprised if Montreal is linked to a forward in the next couple weeks, even if adding a defenseman is probably the top priority.

*Ryan Malone, Tampa Bay Lightning

Malone has not scored at the rate expected of him this season, but he remains a key secondary guy behind the big guns in Tampa. The final diagnosis has not been delivered, but Erik Erlendsson reported he could miss 6-8 weeks with a torn abdominal muscle. Count the Lightning as another team that could be interested in adding a forward even with upgrading the defense as the biggest priority.
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Posted On Thursday, 02.10.2011 / 10:53 AM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Morning Musings: Feb. 10

Here's a look at some of the chatter around the NHL as we countdown to the 2011 NHL Trade Deadline.

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS


Despite a loss to scorching hot San Jose last night, the Columbus Blue Jackets remain on the fringe of the postseason chase with 57 points -- good for 12th place in the West and six back of eighth-place Calgary. The big question for the Blue Jackets is what direction to go in the next couple of weeks.

Do the Jackets try to add and make a push for the 8th spot, or do they try to sell and get ready for next year?

"The players decide if the team is good enough," Columbus GM Scott Howson told Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch. "Right now, we're showing signs of climbing back in. If we can do a deal that makes sense for the team, we're going to do it."

One of the problems for Columbus is the lack of postseason trips in its brief franchise history. The Blue Jackets have only been to the NHL's spring dance once, and like a couple of their expansion brethern (Nashville and Atlanta) have not advanced to the second round. Getting more fans back to Nationwide Arena is critical, and this is the tough decision teams like this have had to make -- does a playoff appearance do more to help the franchise in that area or would trying to rebuild some more to be a contender in future years?

"The team, as constructed, is neither the 14-6 team of the autumn or the 6-14-4 team of the dark holiday season nor the 6-3-2 team of midwinter," Arace writes. "It is a team which, this morning, is three games over .500 and below the playoff bar. It is not good enough."

Should the Blue Jackets decide to sell, Howson has several interesting assets. Pending UFAs defenseman Jan Hejda and goalie Mathieu Garon could draw interest if Howson doesn't want to drasticly alter the makeup of his roster for next season.

EDMONTON OILERS

There are 14 teams in the West that still fancy themselves as a playoff contender, but the Edmonton Oilers are the one club that is clearly not. Still, Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini told the Edmonton Journal this deadline already has a different feel than last year's when he dealt Denis Grebeshkov, Lubomir Visnovsky and Steve Staios.

"This year there’s not the pressure to move players in order to make room. We have enough room for our young players," Tambellini said to the Journal. "But I'm approaching this as I have other deadlines — where I am wide open to listening to ideas of how other teams can help make us a better team now, and maybe importantly, in the future."

Jim Vandermeer is the team's top pending UFA, and could be one of those depth defenseman that about half the League goes looking for around this time of year. There continues to be lots of speculation about Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky, who both have one year left on their contracts.

Tambellini didn't have much to say about his pair of potentially coveted forwards, but it sounds like he is open to a variety of different options with trade proposals between now and the end of the month.

"There's a lot of different scenarios that will come across the desk in the next couple of weeks and if it's younger, great," Tambellini said to the Journal. "If it's something that makes sense as far as a veteran, we'll look at that, too. We'll make a deal if it's good for the Oilers moving forward. If not, we’re very comfortable with where we're at. We have young players in young positions, we have good veterans playing hard in their positions and contributing from a leadership perspective.”

FLORIDA PANTHERS

The Panthers are another team like the trio mentioned about with no recent playoff success, and their need for better attendance is probably even greater. Florida dealt Michal Frolik, one of the team's top forwards in recent seasons and a guy who will turn 23 years old next week, to Chicago yesterday along with goalie prospect Alexander Salak for Jack Skille, prospect David Pacan and former prospect Hugh Jessiman.

Assistant general manager Mike Santos told reporters in South Florida that this deal doesn't mean the Panthers will be sellers in the coming days.

"I think we’re buyers. Skille’s a known quality," Santos told the Miami Herald. "He might not have played as many games as Frolik in the league, but he was with an organization pretty deep in forward."

Frolik hadn't scored a goal in 23 games and had dropped to the fourth line at times for Florida. Skille, like Frolik, was a high first-round pick but hasn't been able to secure a greater role with the Blackhawks.

"We saw the upside [with Frolik], but in the last 10 to 12 games we're getting outhit badly, so we needed a more physical presence up front," Santos told the Sun-Sentinel. "We traded one guy with 8 goals for another with 7 goals, but he really brings that element we need, more physicality who's harder to play against."

WASHINGTON CAPITALS

Any mention of the Capitals during the next two weeks will center (pun intended) around the team's need for an upgrade in the middle. Sure, there will be speculation about the Capitals being interested in a veteran goaltender, but unless there is an injury or GM George McPhee has a drastic shift in his assessment of Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth, Washington is not going to be adding a potential No. 1 goalie this month.

That leaves us with the hole in the middle. Rookies Marcus Johansson and Mathieu Perreault have now played a combined 70 games this season. Almost all of them were as the two centers that joined Nicklas Backstrom to form the team's top 3 in the middle. Johansson and Perreault have combined for 13 goals and 12 assists - not terrible numbers for one center on a contender but as the No. 2/3 combo it is pretty ghastly.

"Both have shown promise this season. Both also have been prone to bouts of ineffectiveness as they adjust to full-time roles in the NHL," writes Brian McNally of the Washington Examiner.

At this point it certainly looks like it will be a seller's market at center. There aren't a lot of obvious, impact guys available at the position and several contenders in the East, namely Washington, Pittsburgh, New York and Boston, could all be looking for one in the coming weeks.
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.09.2011 / 5:03 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Rough day for injuries could impact market

Parity in the NHL will go a long way towards shaping the direction of clubs in the next couple of weeks, but injuries may play just as big a part or more.

Today has been a busy day for injury updates around the League, and some key players could have a big impact on the next couple of weeks. Here's a look at the news from the day (we'll have a larger, wide-ranging post about injuries and guys returning from them tomorrow):

* Pittsburgh confirmed what might have been the inevitable -- Evgeni Malkin will need surgery on his knee and is done for the season. This also confirms the Penguins' move toward the top of the list among the buyers in the NHL. Provided they are confident Sidney Crosby will be back soon from a concussion, look for GM Ray Shero to go hunting for a forward (or two) to try and replace Malkin's production. A center would be ideal, but given the team's lack of depth on the wing a Crosby-Jordan Staal-Mark Letestu trio down the middle could work with an extra scoring wing or two.

* Top goalie prospect Jacob Markstrom of the Florida Panthers might need knee surgery. Tomas Vokoun is a pending UFA and could be the best player on the market if GM Dale Tallon chooses to make him available. The thinking behind moving Vokoun is Markstrom, currently in the AHL after a couple of standout seasons in Sweden, would be able to step in as the No. 1 guy next season. If Markstrom's injury is serious, does that make Tallon reconsider moving Vokoun? The guess here is probably not - if there are a few teams interested in Vokoun the return could be big, and if Markstrom wasn't ready to be the starter next season, either because of injury or performance, there are always placeholders available for cheap at that position.

* Calgary forward Alex Tanguay is out indefinitely with a concussion. The Flames have stormed into the top eight of the Western Conference, but losing Tanguay (14 goals, 42 points) for an extended period of time could derail what isn't exactly a deep Calgary offense. Will the injury push GM Jay Feaster to make a move to help his team, or would a few losses without Tanguay have him thinking of going in the other direction?

* Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson is out indefinitely with a lower back injury. He hopes it won't be more than two weeks. Clearly GM Bryan Murray is going to be in sell mode in the next couple of weeks. Alfredsson was unlikely to be dealt, but this would seem to make it even less likely if teams were at all worried about his back being a problem during the stretch run or the postseason.

* Vancouver defenseman Keith Ballard and New York Rangers captain Chris Drury are also out with knee injuries. Ballard is expected to miss 3-4 weeks while Drury will be on the shelf for six weeks. The Rangers' cap situation with Drury out doesn't change much, but the team's need for a center could be increased. The Canucks are dangerously close to be in a very precarious situation on the blue line. Alex Edler is already out because of back surgery. Sami Salo could be back this weekend from a torn Achilles' tendon and rookie Chris Tanev has been a welcome surprise as a fill-in. where the Canucks go with their tight cap situation could depend a lot on how close Ballard is to coming back as the deadline nears and how Salo performs. 
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.09.2011 / 1:33 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Ducks bolster defense with Beauchemin

Many general managers believe you never can have enough experienced defensemen, and you certainly can put Ducks GM Bob Murray in that group.

Murray today brought Francois Beauchemin back to Anaheim, a move that bolsters their defensive depth with a big, strong, experienced, puck-moving defensemen who can play big minutes.

Beauchemin has just 12 points in 54 games with the Leafs this season, but he had been used in more of a defensive-oriented role. He's a minus-4, but was second on the team with 23:45 of ice time per game, including 2:48 per game shorthanded.

Beauchemin's durability should take some of the ice-time pressure off the Ducks' top-four defenders, Lubomir Visnovsky, rookie Cam Fowler, Toni Lydman and Paul Mara, all of whom average more than 20 minutes per game.

And while Beauchemin's offensive numbers might be down, he does have a strong shot from the point, one that allowed him to score 8 goals in 61 games in 2005-06, and in his four previous seasons with the Ducks, he had 21 goals and 88 points in 234 games.

He also has a Stanley Cup ring to his credit, which he won while putting up 4 goals and 8 points in 20 playoff games en route to the 2007 championship.

To get Beauchemin, the Ducks had to surrender top defense prospect Jake Gardiner. The 17th pick of the 2008 Entry Draft, Gardiner has been fine-tuning his play at the University of Wisconsin. Now in his third season, he has 30 points in 30 games this season, and he also has a gold medal to his credit from the 2010 World Junior Championship.

Gardiner is renowned for his skating and speed. At 6-foot-1 and 173 pounds he needs to get bigger and stronger, but with top-end skating skills, he's a definite prospect.

In Joffrey Lupul, the Leafs receive a top-six forward who's just 27 and has scored at least 20 goals three times in five full NHL seasons.

However, Lupul has been plagued by back problems and a blood infection that limited him to just 23 games last season and kept him out of action until this past December. He has just 5 goals in 26 games -- and 1 goal in his last 14 -- but if healthy, the talent clearly is there.

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Posted On Wednesday, 02.09.2011 / 12:35 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Ducks aquire Beauchemin from Leafs

The Anaheim Ducks, locked in a tight race in the Western Conference, made the first bold move leading up to the 2011 NHL Trading Deadline later this month, trading for defenseman FrancoIs Beachemin from the Toronto Maple Leafs, who sit in 12th place in the Eastern Conference.

Beauchemin has some history with the Ducks, having played there during Anaheim's Stanley Cup run in 2007.

Here is the release from the Ducks:

The Ducks announced today that they have acquired defenseman Francois Beauchemin from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for right wing Joffrey Lupul and defenseman Jake Gardiner

“We are thrilled to be able to reacquire Francois,” said Ducks Executive Vice President/General Manager Bob Murray. “He is a physical, puck-moving defenseman with tremendous character. We would also like to wish Joffrey Lupul well in Toronto. He’s worked very hard to return from a serious ailment and we hope he can get his career back on track.”

Beauchemin, 30 (6/4/80), was a key member of the Ducks 2007 Stanley Cup Championship club. He played with the Ducks from 2005-09, appearing in 246 regular season games (21-69=90 points with 172 penalty minutes). Beauchemin also played in 55 playoff games with Anaheim, scoring 8-10=18 points with 68 penalty minutes (PIM). He scored 4-4=8 points in 20 games during the club’s 2007 Stanley Cup run, ranking third in the NHL in average time-on-ice (30:33). He also has two of the three multi-goal games by a defenseman in club playoff history.

A native of Sorel, Quebec, Beauchemin has played in 54 games this season, scoring 2-10=12 points with 16 PIM. He was originally acquired by Anaheim from Columbus with Tyler Wright in exchange for Sergei Fedorov and a fifth-round selection in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft on Nov. 15, 2005. He ranked fourth in the NHL in total minutes played (2093:23) in 2007-08, averaging 25+ minutes both that season (25:31) and in 2006-07 (25:28).

Beauchemin was drafted by Montreal in the third round (75th overall) of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. He was acquired by Columbus off NHL waivers on Sept. 14, 2004. After his stint in Anaheim, he signed a three-year contract with Toronto as a free agent on July 6, 2009 (runs through 2011-12 season). The 6-0, 213-pound defenseman has played in 382 NHL games (with Montreal, Columbus, Anaheim and Toronto), scoring 28-101=128 points with 221 PIM.

Lupul, 27 (9/23/83), has played in 26 games with Anaheim this season, scoring 5-8=13 points with 14 PIM. He returned to the Ducks lineup on Dec. 5 vs. Phoenix after missing a nearly a full year with a back injury and subsequent blood infection (his previous game was Dec. 8, 2009 vs. DAL). Lupul was most recently acquired by Anaheim from Philadelphia with Luca Sbisa, a first round selection in 2009, a first round selection 2010 and a conditional draft pick for Chris Pronger on June 26, 2009. He has played in 421 NHL games, scoring 117-121=238 points with 246 PIM with Anaheim, Edmonton and Philadelphia.

Gardiner, 20 (7/4/90), has appeared in 30 games for the University of Wisconsin (WHCA) this season, collecting 7-23=30 points with a +20 rating and 22 PIM. Selected by Anaheim in the first round (17th overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Gardiner advanced to the NCAA Frozen Four championship game in his sophomore season at Wisconsin last year. He has appeared in 110 career games for the Badgers, earning 16-48=64 points with 58 PIM.


We'll have more on this trade shortly on NHL.com.

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Posted On Wednesday, 02.09.2011 / 10:07 AM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Bruins put first-round pick in play

The Boston Bruins may well be the team to watch in the next three weeks when it comes to the 2011 Trade Deadline.

Tuesday, Boston GM Peter Chiarelli all but guaranteed his team would be active on the trade front before the deadline arrives.

Certainly, Boston has been forced to be more aggressive with the season-ending injury to first-line center Marc Savard, but that move also freed up some necessary cap space to go after a marquee player.

"In the real world, I'd like to add without subtracting," Chiarelli said Tuesday on his weekly call to the Toucher and Rich show on 98.5 The Sports Hub.

Chiarelli also woke up many across the League by saying on the show that the first-round pick obtained from Toronto in the Phil Kessel trade is in play. Last season, the Bruins refused to even listen to offers for that pick during their attempts to add talent for the playoff push.

Now, however, the Bruins feel that their young core -- players like Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Tuukka Rask to name a few -- have advanced to the point where the team can switch from building for the future to more of a win-now mode.

"It's a valuable pick so it would have to be a valuable asset coming back," Chiarelli said.

As of Wednesday's standings, Toronto sits in 26th place in the League standings, meaning that the pick could be a top-5 selection in June's Entry Draft.

Chiarelli said during the show that he has already received some action on the No. 1 pick, but refused to name names.

"Right now prices are very high, because its three weeks before," Chiarelli said. "Look at the West standings, they’re so tight. The East is tight too, just not as tight. There's not a lot of sellers right now."

Boston currently holds the No. 3 seed in the East, but is just two points ahead of Montreal for the lead in the Northeast Division. The Bruins play the Canadiens on Wednesday night at the TD Garden.

So, what type of player is Boston seeking at the deadline? Neither Chiarelli nor Cam Neely, the team's president, would be specific.

"I think we're going to look at anything we feel we can do to make our club better going into the postseason," Neely said Tuesday on the Felger and Massarotti show on 98.5. “We have a really strong hockey team that we&'d like to improve in a few areas. If it makes sense for us, we'll do anything."

Both Chiarelli and Neely admit that it is unlikely that they will find a No. 1 center on the trade market, but they would like to add some depth at forward. There is also a school of thought that the team would like to add an experienced defenseman to bolster its blue line.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.08.2011 / 1:09 PM

By John Kreiser -  NHL.com Columnist /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Goring deal still the gold standard

Butch Goring shakes his head when he's reminded that it's been 31 years since he was involved in the best trade deadline deal of all time.

The New York Islanders had struggled for most of 1979-80 after finishing first overall the previous season. GM Bill Torrey refrained from making any moves until the trade deadline, when he swapped a pair of productive long-time Islanders -- forward Billy Harris and defenseman Dave Lewis -- to Los Angeles for Goring, a speedy center.

The rest is history. With Goring anchoring a second scoring line, the Isles went 8-0-4 for the rest of the season, won the first Stanley Cup in franchise history, and then went on to win the next three, as well.

Goring said he was surprised -- and not at all pleased -- when the deal went down.

"I had signed a six-year deal with the Kings -- I think I was in the second year -- so I really wasn't expecting to go anywhere. At least I was hoping not to go anywhere," he told NHL.com. "My initial reaction was one of anger and disappointment."

Once he took a look at the team he was going to, he says he felt better.

"I got here and I realized I was going to an awfully good hockey club," he said. "That made it a lot easier to handle. This was a team that had a chance to win a Stanley Cup. Once I was able to get the emotions out of it, I realized it was a tremendous opportunity. In L.A., we were pretty much a .500 hockey club."

The Goring deal has become the gold standard of deadline deals because it led to four Cups, not just one.

"As we now know, you can say it was a pretty good trade," he said with a laugh. "It's because we didn't just win one; we started a dynasty of some sort. I'm not saying that trade was the reason we won four (Cups), but the fact of the matter is that they made a trade and they ended up winning four. That's why it's been such a much talked-about trade, and I'm happy to enjoy the moment every year."
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.08.2011 / 12:57 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Morning Musings: Feb. 8

Here's a look at some of the chatter around the NHL as we countdown to the 2011 NHL Trade Deadline. We'll try to do this most mornings between now and the deadline.

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

The injury situation is pretty grim in the Steel City, but trader Ray is on the case and we can only assume that by 3 p.m. ET on Feb. 28 the Penguins' GM will have acquired either a scoring winger or a big center to counter the loss of Evgeni Malkin for the season and the unknown of Sidney Crosby's return.

Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review wrote Monday that multiple sources are telling him that Crosby won't be back until at least March. Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma nodded in his approval Sunday when asked if he doesn't expect to have Malkin (knee) back until next fall.

So, Ray Shero is on the clock.

TSN's Bob McKenzie mentioned Alex Kovalev and PA Parenteau as names associated with Shero and the Penguins.

Kovalev would certainly be an interesting acquisition considering he had some of his best years in Pittsburgh and he's having some of his worst in Ottawa. There's no reason why the Senators wouldn't look to unload him either. He hasn't meshed with coach Cory Clouston and the team is not winning or going anywhere this season.

He comes with a $5 million cap hit, but the Penguins have the relief created by putting Malkin on long-term injured reserve and Kovalev would only be a rental since his contract is up at the end of the season.

Parenteau, currently with the Islanders, is having a breakout season with 32 points in 51 games. There is less concern with his contract since he's making only $600,000 this season and is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

TSN's Darren Dreger on Tuesday wrote about San Jose's Devin Setoguchi and Florida's Stephen Weiss as potential candidates to join the Penguins by the deadline. Dreger speculates that to acquire a player like Setoguchi or Weiss the Penguins would likely have to part with a package of prospects and/or draft picks and perhaps even a current roster player.

Defenseman Alex Goligoski is the name Dreger mentioned and it's also the name we've heard on many accounts regarding potential trade bait for the Penguins. Goligoski is seen as expendable since he doesn't play in the Penguins' top four (Kris Letang, Brooks Orpik, Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek). He's a power play specialist, but Letang and Martin are more than capable of playing the point.

Goligoski has another year on his contract at a reasonable $1.83 million cap hit, so any team that acquires him can look at him as a longer term investment that will help their power play.

Devils center Jason Arnott's name has also come up in rumors involving the Penguins. He's a big center that would likely be looking to make a run at winning another Stanley Cup to match the one he won with the Devils in 2000.


BOSTON BRUINS

With Marc Savard now officially sidelined until the fall at the earliest, the Bruins have the necessary cap relief to go searching for another a forward to replace him. Savard was making about $4 million.

Dreger, though, is reporting Tuesday that the Bruins have a strong interest in Toronto defenseman Tomas Kaberle. It makes sense only if, as Dreger writes, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli really does firmly believes that Blake Wheeler can take on Savard's role in the middle.

The Bruins could use a puck rushing blue-liner like Kaberle, but more than anything they need to bolster their blue-line depth as a whole as they head into the stretch run.

Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe writes Tuesday that Chiarelli should reach for the stars, or rather call the Stars, to find out the availability of Brad Richards, whose contract expires at the end of the season. Richards would be the Ilya Kovalchuk or Marian Hossa of this year's trade class, but it's hard to see Dallas GM Joe Nieuwendyk looking to deal him now.

The Stars are still first in the Pacific Division and third in the Western Conference. They've been able to stay in those positions despite losing three in a row and five of their last six.

ATLANTA THRASHERS

Thashers GM Rick Dudley told Ben Wright of the team's website that he is actively seeking a top-six forward. Dudley appears willing to deal with anybody right now because he knows how important it is for his team to make the playoffs.

Atlanta has only gotten in one time (2007) and it hasn't won a playoff game in franchise history. The Rangers swept the Thrashers that season and since then the team has had to trade away stars Marian Hossa and Ilya Kovalchuk.

We haven't seen any names associated with the Thrashers as of yet, but Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweeted earlier Tuesday that he was told the team had two scouts at Monday's game between the Oilers and Predators.

Terry Jones of the Edmonton Journal wrote last week that basically several players off the Oilers' current roster could be had, including Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky. They're both top-six forward material.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Saturday, 02.05.2011 / 2:49 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

As Deadline Day approaches: Central Division

Where does each team stand as the trade deadline approaches? Let's take a look around the League, one division at a time, and try to decipher which direction the teams might be leaning as the 3 p.m. deadline on Feb. 28 approaches. Next up is the Central Division, which features one of the favorites to win the title, one team trying to defend it and three teams with budget and long-term implications that could affect what they do this month.

DETROIT RED WINGS (31-14-6, 68 points)

The Red Wings are missing a bunch of key players, and getting everyone back to good health would make their lineup look a lot more formidable. Detroit GM Ken Holland also won't have a lot of cap space to work if everyone comes back.

Holland tried to add Evgeni Nabokov but that didn't work out. He could still be in the market for goaltending depth, but beyond that there aren't a lot of needs for a healthy Red Wings team, which would rival Vancouver in terms of talent and depth. Verdict: STANDING PAT

NASHVILLE PREDATORS (27-18-7, 61 points)

The Predators have also had their fair share of injuries, and they probably can't count on top center Matthew Lombardi returning. Steve Sullivan and Marek Svatos should be back soon, and they will help the offense. Still, more guys who can score goals would not be unwelcome for this team.

There are plenty of prospects and picks at GM David Poile's disposal -- the question will be how much, if any, salary can he add in a deal. He'll be looking to do something. Verdict: BUYERS

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (27-21-4, 58 points)

The Blackhawks, barring a serious injury, aren't going to have much more than about $1 million in space to play with this month. Chicago also doesn't have a definitive need. Corey Crawford has solidified the situation in goal, and there is elite talent (combined with youth and/or depth concerns) at forward and on defense.

Maybe there is a way for GM Stan Bowman to be creative and upgrade a spot by dealing one of his roster players for a guy who makes similar money. Verdict: STANDING PAT

ST. LOUIS BLUES (23-20-7, 53 points)

The Blues have slumped towards the bottom of the West, but have played the fewest games in the conference and sit six points back of eighth place with three games in hand. They are going to have to get hot this month to convince management of their credentials as a playoff contender.

St. Louis is another franchise that could use a trip to the playoffs to help re-establish its place in the market, but the Blues are also a young team and GM Doug Armstrong isn't likely to sacrifice any of the team's key young assets just to reach the back end of the top eight. If the Blues remain stuck behind the pack, pending UFA Eric Brewer could provide some help on defense to a contender. Verdict: SELLERS

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (24-22-5, 53 points)

The Blue Jackets have collected a young core of high draft picks, but the next step (i.e. being a consistent postseason contender) hasn't materialized. TSN's Darren Dreger reporterd goalie Steve Mason and forward Jakub Voracek could be available in a trade.

That's not a young team trying to sell veterans -- that's a team looking to tinker with its foundation. Defenseman Jan Hejda is a more traditional pending UFA who could be moved if the Blue Jackets do decide to remodel. Verdict: SELLERS
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Posted On Saturday, 02.05.2011 / 2:37 PM

By David Kalan -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Malkin fallout: Where do the Pens go from here?

While it would be silly to assume Pittsburgh will benefit from Evgeni Malkin's ACL tear, which could very well sideline him for the remainder of the season, his injury could add a significant wrinkle to the upcoming trade deadline for the Penguins -- both in terms of flexibility and terms of need.

With Malkin out, Sidney Crosby's slow return from a concussion and Mark Letestu's current absence with an upper-body injury, the Penguins are currently missing three of their top four centers and become more likely to look at adding depth down the middle before the Feb. 28 trade deadline. One player expected to be on the block who could be appealing to Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero is New Jersey center Jason Arnott, who has postseason experience and a championship pedigree that could make him an attractive short-term fix for the Pens' injury woes.

If Pittsburgh decides it is comfortable at center once Crosby and Letestu are back, they could feasibly search for help on the wing at the deadline. When Crosby is healthy, he and Jordan Staal still provide very formidable pivots to anchor the Penguins' top two lines, meaning the considerable cap space opened by Malkin's injury -- roughly $8.1 million -- gives Pittsburgh an enormous amount of flexibility if it chooses to address other needs. The only catch for the Penguins is that the added cap flexibility only will help them this spring as Malkin and his cap hit will be back next season. As a result, any major acquisition would have to be moved after the season or be in the final year of its contract.

With Marc-Andre Fleury in net and a solid defensive corps, the wing would seem the most likely area for Shero to attend to if he chooses to do so. Where Pittsburgh would go is anyone's guess, though if Edmonton chooses to move Ales Hemsky or Dustin Penner, the Penguins could certainly make the numbers work. And if Shero truly wants to dream big, could a run at Calgary's Jarome Iginla be in the mix?

There are several options of where the Penguins can go from here, but if they follow the organization philosophy they've maintained since acquiring Marian Hossa for a Cup run in 2008, the only certainty is that Pittsburgh, with its newfound cap space and ailing lineup, is unlikely to stand pat.
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Posted On Friday, 02.04.2011 / 3:44 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

As Deadline Day approaches: Southeast Division

Where does each team stand as the trade deadline approaches? Let's take a look around the League, one division at a time, and try to decipher which direction the teams might be leaning as the 3 p.m. deadline on Feb. 28 approaches. Next up is the Southeast Division, which features four of the top nine teams in the Eastern Conference ... and the most intriguing team to watch this month in the NHL.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (32-15-5, 69 points)

The Lightning have already made one big move, adding goaltender Dwayne Roloson. There is also plenty of positive momentum for hockey on the Gulf Coast side of Florida. Fans are starting to show up at St. Pete Times Forum in big numbers again, and the club is doing a week's worth of events including new uniforms and arena renevations.

As currently constituted, the Lightning could be a dangerous team in the playoffs and have plenty of cap space to make more improvements. Will the new owners allow GM Steve Yzerman the financial leeway to make another move or two? Other top teams in the East are probably hoping the answer is no. Tampa Bay could be a top-four defenseman away from being really scary this spring. Verdict: BUYERS

WASHINGTON CAPITALS (27-15-10, 64 points)


If the Capitals have three needs, they are: 1) a No. 2 center, 2) a guy to center the second line and 3) someone to play in the middle of the line that comes after the first one. Is there another team that has one clear, definitive need like the Capitals?

Rookies Mathieu Perreault and Marcus Johansson have combined to play 64 games, most of them as the team's No. 2 and 3 centers, and have a total of 10 assists. That's a bad number for any team's No. 3 center, let alone the 2/3 combo. Perreault's wildly inconsistent production can't be counted on in the postseason, though the hope is Johansson will be OK as the No. 3 guy behind Backstrom and another veteran after a full season of NHL seasoning. There is cap room for GM George McPhee to add the No. 2 center this team has been searching for two years since Sergei Fedorov left. Verdict: BUYERS

ATLANTA THRASHERS (24-21-9, 57 points)

Well, the Thrashers are in freefall mode, having lost 9 of 11 games and GM Rick Dudley has already made his intentions clear. He wants to add two forwards and a defenseman if the current group doesn't provide some answers in short order.

Count the Thrashers among the teams that we're not sure how much money they can add despite having plenty of cap space. Atlanta could use a top-six forward, but the Thrashers need a shakeup of any kind. Maybe a veteran with Cup-winning experience would inject some renewed confidence? Remember, this franchise is trying to find some fans in that market and has never won a playoff game. Have to imagine Dudley is going to do something. Verdict: BUYERS

CAROLINA HURRICANES (25-21-6, 56 points)

The Hurricanes surged back to the brink of the top eight in the Eastern Conference, but have lost five of six and continue to squander chances to pass the foundering Thrashers. This is about where everyone expected the Hurricanes to be, fighting for a playoff spot, but being so close and not getting there would be a big disappointment.

GM Jim Rutherford has retooled his roster from two years ago and has plenty of young talent. The trick for him is be able to make a move or two that doesn't cost much either in the way of assets or money. Maybe most pundits didn't expect the Hurricanes to make the playoffs, but just getting there would be great for the development of some of Carolina's young players. Verdict: BUYERS

FLORIDA PANTHERS (22-23-6, 50 points)

The Panthers seem to end up here every year, just on the fringes of the playoff race. Florida has left some points on the table in the past couple of weeks and hasn't taken advantage of the opportunity Atlanta has afforded like Carolina and Buffalo have.

In the past there has been a lot of pressure for the Panthers to break their long playoff drought, but new GM Dale Tallon seems intent on building a contender, not a team that can squeak into the playoffs. Should Tallon decide to continue his remodeling job, he has some of the best potential rentals available in goalie Tomas Vokoun, defenseman Bryan McCabe and forward Chris Higgins. Those 13 draft picks from the 2010 Entry Draft have restocked a depleted farm system, and Tallon could continue to add to his coffers this month. Verdict: SELLERS
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Posted On Thursday, 02.03.2011 / 4:57 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

As Deadline Day approaches: Northwest Division

Where does each team stand as the trade deadline approaches? Let's take a look around the League, one division at a time, and try to decipher which direction the teams might be leaning as the 3 p.m. deadline on Feb. 28 approaches. Next up is the Northwest Division, which features the best and worst teams in the Western Conference and three teams battling to get into the playoffs in the middle.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS (33-10-9, 75 points)


The Canucks were probably the most complete team in the NHL, but that was before Alex Edler was lost to back surgery. Vancouver could possibly use one more bottom-six forward, but if top prospect Cody Hodgson sticks with the team that might be less of an issue.

What to do about replacing Edler is the big quesiton. Sami Salo just started a conditioning stint, and his return to the active roster would fill Edler's spot but also limits Vancouver's financial flexibility. Plus, Edler has been argubly the team's best defenseman so it not just about filling his place on the lineup card. Verdict: BUYERS

MINNESOTA WILD (26-19-5, 57 points)


The Wild are one of the teams in the West trending upwards of late after a slow start, but figuring out what GM Chuck Fletcher could do to improve the team is a little tricky. Minnesota is pretty close to the salary cap and has more than $51 million of next year's cap tied up already.

There are some reinforcements on the way in the form of injured players Marek Zidlicky and Guillaume Latendresse, and depth is definitely one of the team's strengths. Can Fletcher add an impact player without adding money in the short-term or the long-term? Seems like that could be a tough proposition. Verdict: STANDING PAT

CALGARY FLAMES (25-21-6, 56 points)

Like Minnesota, the Flames have turned their season around after a bad start. Like Minnesota, the Flames have precious little cap space and a ton of next year's tied up.

If the Flames keep winning, GM Jay Feaster will try to do something to improve the team, but he doesn't have a 2nd or a 3rd-round pick in the 2011 draft so he doesn't have them as ammunition and isn't likely to further deplete his cache of draft picks in June. He will have to move out some money to take some money back, but remember he is the interim GM and making the playoffs certainly wouldn't hurt his chances of having that tag removed. Verdict: BUYERS

COLORADO AVALANCHE (25-19-6, 56 points)

The Avalanche are going in the opposite direction of Minnesota and Calgary. Colorado needs to stop the slide, and one way to do it could be through an addition. There is plenty of cap space but GM Joel Sherman has a budget to contend with as well.

Colorado can score goals, but preventing them has been an issue. There is also the possibility that Peter Forsberg joins the team, so an upgrade on defense could make a lot of sense. Craig Anderson has not been nearly as good this season as last and isn't that expensive. It would be very interesting if the Avalanche looked around for a goaltender (say, Tomas Vokoun?) in the next few weeks. Verdict: BUYERS

EDMONTON OILERS (15-27-8, 38 points)

This was always going to be a rebuilding year for the Oilers, and given the contributions of their young players it has been a successful one. GM Steve Tambellini's quest in the next three weeks is to try and find more assets, whether it is picks or prospects, who can help the current young core be contenders in 2011-12 or 2012-13.

The Oilers don't have a lot to offer in the rental market, but there are a few interesting players with one more season left on their contracts. Forwards Ales Hemsky (if he gets healthy) and Dustin Penner would be very attractive in a thin market at that position, and defenseman Kurtis Foster could be an offensive boost to someone's blue line. Verdict: SELLERS 
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Posted On Thursday, 02.03.2011 / 11:34 AM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Morning Musings: Feb. 3

Here's a look at some of the chatter around the NHL as we countdown to the 2011 NHL Trade Deadline. We'll try to do this most mornings between now and the deadline.

ANAHEIM DUCKS

Several members of the media, including NHL Netowrk analysts Bob McKenzie and Kevin Weekes, have pointed to the Ducks as a possible destination for free agent goaltender Ray Emery. Beat writers Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times and Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register have both confirmed Anaheim's interest in Emery, who began last season as the No. 1 goalie in Philadelphia before a right hip injury ended his season.

Why would the Ducks be interested in Emery? Jonas Hiller is the clear-cut No. 1 guy in the OC, but a healthy Emery could be an upgrade in the backup role over Curtis McElhinney. It is also important to note the Ducks don't have a clear-cut No. 3 guy as an insurance policy with Syrcause in the AHL. Timo Pielmeier and J.P. Levasseur are currently the tandem with the Crunch. Emery -- or another guy with NHL experience -- could be a good fit with Anaheim.

NHL Network analsyt Darren Dreger reported for TSN that three teams are interested in Emery and said Anaheim and Philadelphia are two of the three teams.

ATLANTA THRASHERS

These are tough times for a team that began this season as one of the League's best stories. After leading the Southeast Division for a few days earlier this season, the Thrashers are tumbling. Now both Carolina AND Buffalo are within range of knocking them out of the top eight in the Eastern Conference after losses in 15 of the past 22 games.

Well, first-year GM Rick Dudley wants to do his part to stop the slide. He told Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he is trying to be active in the trade market, and even offered a wish list -- two forwards and a defenseman.

"Are we looking to do something? Absolutely. We don’t want to let this go," Dudley said. "Obviously we haven’t given up on the season. It would be ludicrous. We haven’t given up on improving either. If it doesn't come from within, it will come from outside."

Dudley's strong statements came one day after coach Criag Ramsey questioned his team's "mental commitment" to winning following a 4-1 loss to bottom-feeder New Jersey. The Thrashers are one point ahead of the Hurricanes and five in front of the Sabres, but Carolina has two games in hand and Buffalo has four.

The tricky part for Dudley could be managing his budget and his cache of prospects while trying to improve the team.

"Obviously we feel a sense of urgency because we think we are a better team than we displayed [Tuesday]," Dudley said to the AJC. "We think we are capable of making the playoffs but it may take a move here or there.

"I'm not going to jeopardize the long-term future of the organization for the short-term gain. But if there is something that makes sense in both of those cases, long term and short term, we would do that for sure."

NHL Network analyst Bob McKenzie mentioned a pair of Thrashers defensemen, Ron Hainsey and Brent sopel, who could be made available once All-Star Tobias Enstrom returns from a broken finger. They make a combined $7 million this season (Hainsey makes $5 million but has a cap hit of of $4.5 mil), but would also have to be replaced in Atlanta's top 6 if dealt.

CALGARY FLAMES

The Flames are one of the hottest teams in the NHL right now and have surged back into playoff contention. That hasn't slowed speculation of which veteran players might be traded if new GM Jay Feaster wants to retool the roster. One of those guys is Robyn Regehr, who has two more years left on his contract and most importantly, a no-trade clause.

"That's something I fought for," Regehr told Vicki Hall of the Calgary Herald. "I had to sacrifice certain things to get that. If there's something I don't really like, I guess, I wouldn't be afraid to take advantage of it. That's something I've had to give up certain things for.

"It's more of a comfortable feeling to have that. If a team is talking to you about that type of stuff, it might be a good situation to go somewhere else. You never know. It's a very complex kind of thing and one that I haven't had to discuss yet."

Regehr would be one of the top defensemen on the market if Feaster would be willing to move him -- and with a $4.02 million cap hit a very reasonable contract for a player of his value. Despite all of the rumors about Regehr's future, he said he's never been asked to waive his NTC.

"So far that hasn't happened," Regehr said to the Herald. "I just have to go out there and play. There's certain [media] guys who have had me traded since the fall."

MINNESOTA WILD

The Wild have won 8 of 12 and moved into second place in the Northwest Division. More importantly, Minnesota is one point shy of eighth place in the West (and only four shy of fourth place) with games in hand compared to each of the six teams ahead of them in the standings.

The surge has made it very unlikely any of Minnesota's pending unrestricted free agents would be available in a trade, and Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune writes the Wild might be pretty quiet as the deadline nears.

"We're right there, and this is going to go right down to the wire," GM Chuck Fletcher told the Star-Tribune. "So we haven't had conversations about moving our pending UFAs to other teams. The focus right now is 'What can we do to make the playoffs?' We'll look to do anything that makes sense without mortgaging the future.

"That means keeping this group together so long as we can continue to play the way we're playing."
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.02.2011 / 5:15 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

As Deadline Day approaches: Northeast Division

Where does each team stand as the trade deadline approaches? Let's take a look around the League, one division at a time, and try to decipher which direction the teams might be leaning as the 3 p.m. deadline on Feb. 28 approaches. Next up is the Northeast Division, which features a pair of teams that could be looking for defensemen and a pair of teams in Ontario that might be willing to deal guys at that position.

BOSTON BRUINS (29-15-7, 65 points)

The Bruins don't have a lot of salary cap space, but Marc Savard's concussion could give Boston more room to work with thanks to some LTIR relief. Whether or not GM Peter Chiarelli would use that room to replace Savard remains to be seen. Boston has a deep group of forwards, even without Savard, and a couple of prospects in Jordan Caron and Zach Hamill that could be called upon to offset the loss.

Boston is one of the best defensive teams in the league, but some of that has to do with coach Claude Julien's system. The Bruins might have the best 1-2 punch in the League in goal with Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask, but another defenseman might not be a bad idea. The addition of a guy capable of logging top-four minutes could make Boston -- already a pretty good team -- a scary one once the postseason begins. Verdict: BUYERS


MONTREAL CANADIENS (28-18-5, 61 points)


The Canadiens are among the best teams in the League at preventing goals but one of the worst at scoring them. Neither of those facts should be surprising. GM Pierre Gauthier could add another forward to help boost the team's offensive production, but that might not be the biggest need.

Defensmen Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges are out for the season with knee injuries. James Wisniewski was added in December, but one more veteran defenseman could be a big boost and help Montreal maintain its position in the top eight of the Eastern Conference. Verdict: BUYERS

BUFFALO SABRES (23-21-5, 51 points)


There might not be a tougher team to forecast in the NHL right now than the Sabres. Buffalo is six points behind Atlanta, but the Sabres have four games in hand on the Thrashers and two on ninth-place Carolina. The Sabres are 7-3 in their last 10 games and another good week or two could make their postseason aspirations look much better than a month ago.

The other part of the Buffalo puzzle is the ownershup situation. Will there be a change in power in time to impact the trade deadline? Even if the team is officially sold in that time, will it have any impact on the decisions? If Buffalo becomes a buyer, the Sabres could use help anywhere but goalie. If the Sabres decided to sell, Tim Connolly could be attractive in what is shaping up as a weak center market. Verdict: Too close to call (OK, the guess is SELLERS)

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (20-25-5, 45 points)

Brian Burke and the Maple Leafs are always in the middle of something around this time of year. Don't expect this trade deadline to be any different. In the past Burke hasn't always been interested in traditional returns for veteran players (i.e. draft picks), so it will be interesting to see if he still wants roster players or is willing to collect future help instead.

There are likely to be some players on Toronto's roster that interest other teams. Whether or not Tomas Kaberle and J.S. Giguere are on the list of available players remains to be seen. Expect Burke to be looking for skilled forwards in any deal. If there is going to be a "hockey trade" this month, Burke is likely to be invovled. Verdict: SELLERS (and maybe BUYERS, if that makes sense)

OTTAWA SENATORS (17-26-8, 42 points)

The question may not be if the Senators are going to be willing to trade veteran players but how many. GM Bryan Murray has an expensive roster that has underperformed this season, and he might be ready to do some remodeling. Defensemen Chris Phillips and Filip Kuba could draw some interest, though it is unlikely anyone would be willing to take on Sergei Gonchar's contract with three years left on it.

Up front there could be several options available. For a team with the cap flexibility to handle Mike Fisher's contract (which has two more years on it), he could be one of the best players available at the position this month. Murray told ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun that he doesn't have many players who are untouchable (captain Daniel Alfredsson, young defenseman Erik Karlson and No. 1 center Jason Spezza and his no-movement clause made the list). Could be a very interesting month in the capitol city. Verdict: SELLERS
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.02.2011 / 11:48 AM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Morning Musings: February 2

Here's a look at some of the chatter around the NHL as we countdown to the 2011 NHL Trade Deadline. We'll try to do this most mornings between now and the deadline.

BOSTON BRUINS

The Bruins boast one of the deepest sets of centers in the NHL -- or at least they did before Marc Savard was hurt again. Savard is dealing with another concussion, and Stephen Harris of the Boston Herald writes that Savard missing the rest of the season cannot be ruled out. He missed the beginning of this season after returning in the 2010 playoffs from a concussion.

"We’ll meet with him and see where he’s at,” general manager Peter Chiarelli told the Herald. “I know he’s still  suffering from post-concussion symptoms headaches, irritability and it’s been over a week now. So we’ll get him reassessed, re-evaluated. As far as shutting him down for the rest of the year, that’s a possibility. We have to  see where he’s at."

Boston is atop the Northeast Division and a legitimate contender for the Stanley Cup with Vezina Trophy favorite Tim Thomas in net and plenty of depth at forward even without Savard. If Savard is deemed out for the season, the Bruins go beyond the salary cap to add another player with Savard on LTIR.

Given the amount of talent up front, the Bruins could still turn their attention to the defense corps. One possible addition up front could come from within -- 2007 first-round pick Zach Hamill has 28 points in 44 games for the Providence Bruins.

"The last 5-6 weeks the reports have been very positive, and I saw it for myself,” Chiarelli said to the Herald of Hamill. “I think he’s turned a corner and he’s playing with confidence. So you may see him at some point."

CAROLINA HURRICANES

The Hurricanes have played their way back into the playoff race in the Eastern Conference and currently sit one point behind Atlanta for eighth place. The franchise also has built some momentum in the community with a successful All-Star weekend creating plenty of good vibes.

But will the Hurricanes be able to be buyers in the coming weeks? Luck DeCock, columnist for the Raleigh News & Observer, pondered that very question.

"After putting on a great show to convince the world of the Triangle's hockey credentials, financial reality set back in for the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday," DeCock wrote. "This may be a good hockey market, but it's still a small one, and the budget is as tight as ever."

DeCock says the Hurricanes current projected payroll of $47 million is about $3 million more than owner Peter Karmanos, Jr. wanted to spend this season.

It should be noted Carolina already added to the payroll this season when the Hurricanes trade for Ian White from Calgary. Given how tight the race is, one addition could be the difference in making the playoffs.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

The Lightning have already made a key acquisition during the season, grabbing goaltender Dwayne Roloson from the New York Islanders. His addition has created a logjam at the position, though, and there could be a move to be made in the near future.

Roloson has posted four shutouts since joining the team and is the clear No. 1 guy. Mike Smith is back from injury, so he and Dan Ellis are vying for the No. 2 spot. The options appear to be a trade, or sending one of the two veterans netminders to the minors.

"I'm talking to teams every day, exploring options to see who has an interest or a need," GM Steve Yzerman said to Damian Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Times. "At some point goalies need to play. I don't want to keep guys around who aren't playing so at some point we're probably going to have to make a decision on what we want to do."

The guy who is No. 4 on the organizational depth chart, prospect Cedrick Desjardins, is out with a shoulder injury so the Lightning don't have to worry about taking away playing time from their top young guy at the position if Ellis or Smith is sent to Norfolk of the AHL. Teams looking for goaltending insurance could inquire about Smith or Ellis, but both have had their share of struggles this season.

UPDATE: Tampa Bay has placed Smith on waivers. Looks like he is going to be the odd man out. Smith is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. He is due a little more than $792,000 for the rest of this season if a team puts in a claim, according to capgeek.com.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS

The Canucks are atop the Western Conference and could be the most complete team in the NHL. They are also pretty tight against the salary cap and aren't likely to have much wiggle room this month, depending on the health of some of their injured defensemen.

Like the Bruins, they could call upon a top prospect to provide some help down the stretch. Cody Hodgson, the 10th overall pick in the 2008 Entry Draft, made his NHL debut for the Canucks last night.

"Obviously, it has been a long time waiting for this," Hodgson said to Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun. "I just  have to make the most of it with the chances I get. I'm happy to be here and happy to get going."

Hodgson has been slowed by injuries, including a back problem that was misdiagnosed and a broken toe, but he was a star at the 2009 world junior championships and considered one of the best prospects in the world before the injuries. He has 10 goals and 16 points in 28 games for Manitoba this season.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.01.2011 / 5:09 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Pens' GM prepping for potential

Ray Shero told NHL.com on Tuesday that he'll meet with his pro scouts in Pittsburgh this week to go over information that could prove useful before the trade deadline later this month. Shero said talks amongst all the general managers traditionally pick up steam coming out of the All-Star break, so he's getting himself prepared for some moving and shaking.

"I can only speak for myself and I've talked to a few (GMs)," Shero said. "I haven't talked to all the teams, but I have kept in touch with a few guys. With our team I have a pretty good idea of what we want to do so I'm not contacting every team. You do that a week or two before the deadline to make sure you're covering everything off, doing your due diligence, but it hasn't been that active now. As you get through the All-Star break it tends to pick up and we'll see that over the next few weeks of course."

Shero has been one of the more active deadline dealers in years past. He got Marian Hossa, Pascal Dupuis and Hal Gill in 2008 and picked up Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz in 2009. The Penguins made it to the Stanley Cup Final in both seasons. He traded for Alexei Ponikarovsky and Jordan Leopold last season, but the Penguins were knocked out in the second round.

This deadline could be an interesting one for Shero because he's not 100 percent certain what area might need to be addressed.

Pittsburgh entered Tuesday sixth in the NHL in goals scored per game (3.02) and second in the League in goals allowed per game (2.24) despite playing only one complete game (the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic) with star centers Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal at full speed.

Crosby will miss his 10th straight game Tuesday with a concussion and Malkin will miss his fourth in a row with a sinus infection. Staal sat out the first 39 games of the season with foot and hand injuries.

The injuries have given guys like Mark Letestu, Chris Conner and Dustin Jeffrey opportunities in the top-six and on the power play that they otherwise would not have been afforded. The Penguins' depth has been tested, which is good for Shero because that's given him an opportunity to see what kind of role players he's got heading into the trade deadline.

Shero hasn't been afraid to go after the big splash (Hossa), but he's also found out that the smaller moves (Gill, Guerin) or throw-in players (Dupuis in the Hossa deal) have the ability to change the look of the team enough.

History suggests Shero will do something before Feb. 28, but he'll probably have a better idea of what that is after he meets with his scouts this week.

"We're built down the middle with our goaltending, defense and center iceman and we've played only two games with our three centers, so once we get them all back and healthy I think we'll have a pretty good hockey team," Shero said. "Having said that we're looking to improve, but it's the salary cap era and that might limit your player pool."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.01.2011 / 12:43 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

As Deadline Day approaches: Atlantic Division

Where does each team stand as the trade deadline approaches? Let's take a look around the League, one division at a time, and try to decipher which direction the teams might be leaning as the 3 p.m. deadline on Feb. 28 approaches. First up is the Atlantic Division, which features three of the top teams in the Eastern Conference and two of the bottom feeders.

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (33-12-5, 71 points)

If the Flyers are confident in rookie Sergei Bobrovsky and one of last postseason's heroes, Brian Boucher, in net than Philadelphia doesn't really have any needs to address (and the record reflects that). There's enough cap room to do something if an injury occurs, but doing so would likely push some bonus money for James van Riemsdyk and Bobrovsky onto next year's cap. Verdict: STANDING PAT

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (31-15-4, 66 points)

GM Ray Shero has been very willing to wheel and deal as the deadline approaches during his tenure. The problem this season is a lack of cap space. Capgeek.com lists the Penguins as the team with the least amount of flexibility in the League, which means Shero is going to have to move some money out if he wants to make a move. Given the depth on defense (and lack of it up on the wing), expect Alex Goligoski's name to be in some trade rumors this month. Verdict: BUYERS


N.Y. RANGERS (29-20-3, 61 points)

The Rangers are probably going to want to see what the lineup looks like with some of the injured guys back before making any decisions, but the addition of Wojtek Wolski and a healthy Vinny Prospal is a boost up front. Count the Rangers as one of several teams who could be in the market for a veteran defenseman. Verdict: BUYERS

N.Y. ISLANDERS (15-27-7, 37 points)

Obviously the Islanders are still trying to build around John Tavares and Kyle Okposo, and Matt Moulson's three-year contract extension puts to rest any rumors that he might be one of the pending UFA forwards available this month. It could be a pretty quiet deadline for the Islanders, although Zenon Konopka could be a sneaky-good addition for someone as a fourth-line center who wins a lot of faceoffs and is willing to drop the gloves. Verdict: SELLERS

NEW JERSEY DEVILS (16-30-3, 35 points)

The Devils started to ascend from their disastrous start to the season with some strong play before the All-Star break. Now the question will be: Does GM Lou Lamiorello see this surge as a reason to keep the team intact, or was the first few months reason enough to make some changes? It might be tough to move some guys because of their contracts if Lamiorello wants to blow it up, but pending UFA Jason Arnott could be a hot commodity. Verdict: SELLERS
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.01.2011 / 10:20 AM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

It's Trade Deadline Month!

Welcome to the 2011 Trade Deadline blog at nhl.com! We are 27 days away from one of every hockey fan's favorite days on the calendar -- Trade Deadline Day.

Last season Trade Deadline Day brought plenty of volume but little in the way of star power changing teams, though Anaheim's addition of Lubomir Visnovsky has proven to be a great one for this season -- he's currently second among NHL defensemen in points.

The big blockbuster of 2010 happened nearly a month before the deadline when the New Jersey Devils added Ilya Kovalchuk from the Altanta Thrashers. Will there be star players on the move this month? Atlanta has traded the best player two of the past three years (Marian Hossa in 2008), but the Thrashers are now contending for a playoff spot in the East and aren't likely to be dealing away top players anytime soon.

During the next four weeks we will be tracking the latest in trade news and rumors, and posting some stories, analysis and interviews on this blog. First up is going to be a quick rundown of each of the 30 teams, broken up by division, and where each might stand as trade deadline day approaches. Check back during the next couple days to see posts on each division.

Whether your favorite team is buying, selling or not quite sure which way to go yet, it is sure to be an exciting month of anticipation and most importantly, trades! We'll try to keep you updated on all the bartering going on around the League.
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Quote of the Day

I just think about how much it hurts. The feelings aren't going to go away, probably never. It's just something that sticks with you for a long time.

— San Jose forward Logan Couture to The Canadian Press on the Sharks' first-round loss to the Kings after taking a 3-0 series lead