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Posted On Monday, 02.27.2012 / 1:36 PM

By Alan Robinson -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Clitsome: 'Bittersweet' feeling leaving Jackets for Jets

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Defenseman Grant Clitsome came off the ice following an hour-long practice Monday with the Columbus Blue Jackets to learn he was in the wrong uniform.
 
He now is a member of the Winnipeg Jets after being claimed on waivers, and he couldn't hide that he is excited about the late-season change of uniforms.
 
Just like that, he is moving from a team that effectively has been out of playoff contention for weeks to one that is currently in eighth place in the Eastern Conference. Suddenly, the postseason is a realistic possibility.
 
"In a day or two looking back on it, I'm sure there will be some emotion, but I think right now I'm kind of caught up in the excitement and the atmosphere," Clitsome said. "I'm excited. They're in a playoff push and they've got a great team, so it's going to be exciting times."
 
Columbus is 18-37-7 and has 11 fewer points than any other team in the League, while Winnipeg is 30-26-8 and only two points behind Southeast Division-leading Florida and third place in the Eastern Conference.
 
The move followed an emotional 48 hours for Clitsome after he was placed on waivers, his future very much uncertain. He acknowledged, "It felt strange." Now that he knows where he's going, he can't help but be enthused.
 
"It's my first time being put on waivers so I wasn't sure what to expect. It's kind of bittersweet. I developed a lot of relationships here and friendships," Clitsome said. "The organization has put a lot of time into developing me as a player and I thank them for the opportunity they gave me. On the flip side of that, I'm really excited to go to an organization like Winnipeg."
 
Clitsome, 26, has 4 goals and 10 assists and is a minus-6 in 51 games this season. In 93 NHL games spread across three seasons, he has 9 goals and 36 points.
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Posted On Monday, 02.27.2012 / 9:15 AM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Caps put Backstrom on long-term injured reserve


The Washington Capitals were one of only a few teams trying to make the playoffs that had little room below the salary cap ceiling to work with.

They aren't among those teams anymore, because a team spokesman confirmed to reporters that top center Nicklas Backstrom has been placed on long-term injured reserve. By putting Backstrom on LTI, the Capitals have an extra $6.7 million of acquisition space to work on trade deadline day.

Washington had less than a $1 million in space before the move, but capgeek.com has the Capitals with the ability to add about $7.693 million Monday. The issue is all of that relief from putting Backstrom on LTI is contingent on the concussed center staying on LTI -- the Capitals can only use all of that space if he doesn't play the rest of the season.

The Capitals are currently one point behind Winnipeg for eighth place in the Eastern Conference with two games in hand. They are also three points shy of Florida for first place in the Southeast Division and the No. 3 seed in the playoffs, but the Panthers have a game in hand.

Washington general manager George McPhee is notoriously tight-lipped about his intentions, though there have been reports that he is shopping veteran defenseman Roman Hamrlik. If he were to move Hamrlik, who was a healthy scratch and questioned coach Dale Hunter's decision, it would open up $3.5 million of "real" acquisition space that wouldn't rely on Backstrom not playing again during the regular season.

With a healthy Backstrom the Capitals might still need another center to have success in the postseason, and without him they are perilously thin at the position. If McPhee does look at add Monday, expect that to be an area of need he tries to address.
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Posted On Sunday, 02.26.2012 / 7:03 PM

By Alan Robinson -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Was Sunday Nash's last game as a Jacket?

PITTSBURGH -- The Columbus Blue Jackets without Rick Nash? Interim coach Todd Richards didn't even want to think about such a possibility.
 
Less than 24 hours from now, Richards understands he might have to do exactly that.
 
Nash, an elite forward with the talent to significantly improve a contender's Stanley Cup playoff chances, played what possibly was his final game Sunday with the Blue Jackets. If it was, Nash gave Columbus fans something to remember him by as he scored a shorthanded goal – his first since 2009 – during a 4-2 loss to Pittsburgh at Consol Energy Center.
 
Columbus' asking price for the former All-Star is reported to be immense, with a mix of current NHL players, prospects and draft picks. But with no other marquee type players known to be on the market, that could be a price a desperate team is willing to pay as the NHL Trade Deadline nears at 3 p.m. ET.
 
Richards knows it, too, even though he tried to deflect any Nash-might-be-traded questions following the Blue Jackets' fourth loss in five games.
 
"Why would I even answer that?" Richards said when asked what the Blue Jackets (18-37-7) might look like post-Nash. "Rick Nash is part of our team. Right now, he's a Columbus Blue Jacket. Twenty-four hours from now, it might be a different story. But, right now, he's a Columbus Blue Jacket and I treat him as one of our players."
 
While Nash's 2011-12 stats are down compared to those earlier in his career – he has 21 goals and 22 assists in 62 games – he has the combination of size (6-foot-4, 220 pounds), skill and intangibles that franchise players possess. Nash had 40 goals in the 2008-09 season and 38 the season before that.
 
Nash's goal Sunday was his 280th in 654 career games, and he can only wonder how productive he might be on a team with more talent, more depth, more of everything that is missing in Columbus.

Even if that was exactly what Nash didn't want to do.
 
Nash suggested he has the patience to ride this out, if the Blue Jackets do, too.
 
"It's been a great time living in Columbus," he said. "I'm a Blue Jacket today and we're going to do everything we can to move forward as a team. These fans deserve a winning game and a winning team; they're the ones who've been the most patient."
 
This time, though, it will be Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson whose patience is about to be tested.
 
As the minutes tick down Monday, Howson might be forced to decide if an offer that doesn't quite match what he is seeking might be preferable to that he gets when more players are on the open market next summer.
 
Nash wouldn't comment Sunday on comments made Saturday by his agent, Joe Resnick, to TSN that the list of teams acceptable for a trade won't expand if Columbus doesn't make a deal by Monday's deadline.
 
"There's been so many rumors, so much speculation, it's been tough on everyone," Nash said.

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Posted On Sunday, 02.26.2012 / 11:08 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Report: Bishop could be heading to Ottawa

With Craig Anderson sidelined due to a fluke hand injury, the Ottawa Senators are reportedly trolling for a new goalie and it could be Ben Bishop of the St. Louis Blues, according to a tweet from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun.

Garrioch tweeted Sunday morning that League sources had told him the Senators were close to a deal with the Blues to land Bishop and it possibly could be completed Sunday.

Anderson is out indefinitely after suffering a right hand injury. Alex Auld stopped 33 of 37 shots in a 5-3 loss to Boston on Saturday, the Senators first game since Anderson's injury. Robin Lehner was recalled from Binghamton of the American Hockey League to serve as Auld's backup while the Senators search for help in net.

Bishop, a third-round pick in 2005, is third on the Blues' depth chart behind Jaroslav Halak and All-Star Brian Elliott. He lost the backup job to Elliott in October and hasn't had any opportunity to claim it since due to Elliott's dynamite play all season.

Instead, Bishop, who is scheduled to be a restricted free agent following the season, has spent the entire season with the Peoria Rivermen in the American Hockey League and has posted a 24-14-4 record with a 2.26 goals-against average and .928 save percentage in 38 appearances.

The 6-foot-7, 215-pound goalie played six games with the Blues in 2008-09 and seven last season. He is 4-5-1 with a 2.83 GAA and .896 save percentage in his brief NHL career.
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Posted On Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 6:12 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Wings may make a move, just not a big splash

DETROIT -- As Monday's trade deadline approaches, more sports talk on local radio stations is being dedicated to the Detroit Red Wings.

Callers and show hosts will probably be a little disappointed, however, when they learn the Red Wings aren't even kicking the tires on a major deal such as the kind that would bring Columbus Blue Jackets power forward Rick Nash to the Motor City.

The price would probably be way too high in return for the Stanley-Cup minded Red Wings to get a deal like that done -- not to mention the fact Columbus would likely be gun shy of trading Nash within the Central Division. The Wings are also looking at their situation in a different light than many fans – who’ve noticed Detroit’s scoring woes the past five games and think trading for a top goal-scorer is the
answer.

"That's not what we're looking for," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said on Saturday. "We're looking for depth people."

Detroit general manager Ken Holland has already pulled off one depth-related maneuver this week when he reeled in former Red Wings prospect and draft pick Kyle Quincey from the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche in a three-team deal.

Quincey, who's 26, is a restricted free agent and is an insurance policy of sorts in case veteran defenseman Brad Stuart opts to leave when he becomes an unrestricted free agent this coming July. Quincey scored a goal in his first game back with the Wings on Thursday while shifting with Jonathan Ericsson on the third pairing. He has 6 goals and 18 assists in 55 games overall this season.

Quincey gives the Wings eight defensemen with NHL experience heading into the stretch run of the regular season, which is exactly the kind of quality depth Holland sees as ideal for a team hoping to make a long playoff run.

Detroit is also set in goal, where starter Jimmy Howard continues to shine and 32-year old backup Joey MacDonald played great filling in while Howard was injured for eight games. The Wings also have veteran Ty Conklin working on his game down in Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League. The only area left to address, possibly, is up front -- where Detroit likely won't get veteran depth forward Patrick Eaves [concussion] back this season.

"[Quincey] has a chance to be a real impact guy [on D] because he gives us depth and he's a good player," Babcock said. "That's, to me, what we're looking for. We're looking for depth because there's injuries. We got kids in the minors, but they're kids. So, if we can add a veteran type player who knows how to win and knows how to play, then maybe that happens. If not, then all hands on deck and let's go."

One name that has surfaced among those who cover the Red Wings is Montreal forward Travis Moen, who is currently out with an upper-body injury. If Montreal makes him available, the Red Wings are thought to have legitimate interest.
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Posted On Saturday, 02.25.2012 / 5:37 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Nash's agent breaks silence, hopes for trade soon

The Rick Nash story got more interesting Saturday afternoon because of comments by his agent to TSN and NHL Network Insider Bob McKenzie.

McKenzie reported via his Twitter account that Joe Resnick, the agent for the Columbus Blue Jackets' captain, has broken his silence on the trade talk about his client with less than 48 hours remaining until the trade deadline, which is Monday at 3 p.m. ET.

"We're hopeful a deal can get done prior to the trade deadline that is fair and equitable for the Blue Jackets," Resnick told TSN, according to McKenzie. "However, if a deal is not reached, then the list of acceptable teams will not change at a later date."

Nash has a no-movement clause in his contract, but he has given the Blue Jackets a list of teams that he would be willing to accept a trade to. Nash's list of teams reportedly includes the Rangers, Canucks, Bruins, Kings, Sharks and Maple Leafs.

Nash is signed through the 2017-18 season and comes with a cap hit of $7.8 million. According to Columbus Dispatch reporter Aaron Portzline, Nash traveled with the Blue Jackets to Pittsburgh on Saturday in advance of Sunday afternoon's game at Consol Energy Center.

The Rangers shed some cap space on Saturday with the deal that sent Wojtek Wolski to Florida in exchange for a third-round pick in 2013 and minor-league defenseman Mike Vernace. There were rumors on Saturday that the Rangers and Blue Jackets were in serious discussions about a trade for Nash.

According to capgeek.com, the Rangers have just more than $10.5 million in acquisition space.

The Canucks put defenseman Keith Ballard (concussion) on long-term injured reserve, freeing up some cap space as well. Capgeek.com has the Canucks with $4.607 million in space.

The Bruins could potentially do the same with Nathan Horton (concussion) and put him on LTIR, but the Bruins already have almost $11.9 million in acquisition space.

The Kings recently acquired Nash's former teammate, Jeff Carter, who is signed for 10 more seasons with a $5.27 million cap hit. Los Angeles, though, is on the outside of the playoff picture and is 30th in goals per game this season (2.05).

Nash has 20 goals and 42 points in 61 games this season. He has 279 goals and 530 points in 653 career games, all with the Blue Jackets.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 3:41 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Report: Caps' shopping Roman Hamrlik?

Washington Capitals defenseman Roman Hamrlik will be a healthy scratch Wednesday night in a critical contest against the Ottawa Senators, but his long-term future with the club could also be in doubt.

Renaud P. Lavoie of RDS reported Wednesday that the Capitals have shopped Hamrlik for a potential trade. Hamrlik's agent, Petr Svoboda told Stephen Whyno of the Washington Times that neither he nor his client have asked for a trade, but Lavoie reports Hamrlik "very much would like to play elsewhere."

Hamrlik has two goals and 10 points for the Capitals this season. He is a plus-11 in 37 games with Dale Hunter as the coach, but he's also been on the ice for more goals against than for at even strength this season.

"You want him to be a defensive defenseman," Hunter told reporters. "He's giving up too many chances, so he's out of the lineup."

He signed a two-year, $7 million contract in the offseason. Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported the Blues have been scouting Washington games with regularity of late, and Hamrlik could be a veteran defenseman they'd be interested in.
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 1:55 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Coyotes add Jackets' Vermette

Antoine Vermette is excited to be jumping into the Western Conference playoff race.

The Phoenix Coyotes acquired the veteran center from the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday in exchange for a pair of draft picks and goaltender Curtis McElhinney. The Blue Jackets will get the 2012 second-round pick the Coyotes acquired as part of the Kyle Turris trade, and a 2013 fifth-round pick. If the Coyotes win a playoff round, the 2013 pick becomes a fourth-round selection.

Antoine Vermette
Center - PHX
GOALS: 8 | ASST: 19 | PTS: 27
SOG: 106 | +/-: -17
It's a big change for Vermette, who is going from the worst team in the NHL to one that has ridden an 8-0-1 run to seventh place in the Western Conference. The Coyotes are even in points with first-place San Jose in the Pacific Division standings, though the Sharks are on top because they've played fewer games.

"I love that, I truly enjoy it and can't wait to get going," Vermette said of moving to a team in the playoff race. "It was a similar situation for me when I was dealt to Columbus from Ottawa. It was the same situation ... every game was a playoff game and meant so much. That's the fun part of hockey being in that part of the year and competing for those points and looking for the playoffs, it's really exciting.

Vermette has 8 goals and 19 assists in 60 games for the Blue Jackets, but has six seasons of at least 16 goals on his resume, plus 42 games of playoff experience with the Senators and Blue Jackets. Vermette was part of the 2007 Senators team that played in the Stanley Cup Final.

"He's a solid, two-way player who takes care of both ends of the rink," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "Center-ice depth has been a concern all year, and I think we've added a player that will fit very well into the style and the team concepts we play under. He brings a lot of different elements – penalty-killing, power play, faceoffs, there are a lot of elements he can bring to our group that can help us."

His best offensive season was in 2009-10, when he set career highs with 27 goals, 38 assists and 65 points. But regardless of whether he scores at that level for the Coyotes, Phoenix general manager Don Maloney said Vermette is a perfect fit for his organization.

"We look at Antoine as being a Dave Tippett-type player," Maloney told the team's web site. "He touches a lot of areas of the game. He's very good in the faceoff circle, he's a good penalty killer, he plays the power play. Two years ago he had [65] points, 27 goals. ... He's having a little down year offensively this year, but he's the type of player that will fit in like a glove with Dave and his staff.

"He might not be a 65-point guy -- he may turn out to be a 50-point guy. But we're still excited with all the other things he does."

Vermette is in the second year of a five-year, $18.75 million contract. With three more years at a cap hit of $3.75 million per season, Maloney said the budget-conscious Coyotes spent some time trying to make the numbers work. But with a two-game trip to Edmonton and Calgary this week as part of a stretch of five games in seven nights, Maloney felt making the move now was imperative.

"We've been talking about this and trying to juggle financially how to fit it in," Maloney said. "He had a good contract. It was a matter of making the dollars and cents work. But the sooner we get him here the better, with Calgary coming up and Edmonton, and then beyond the deadline, I look at it as it helps us now. And if you look at our centers under contract going forward, with Marty Hanzal and Antoine and Boyd Gordon, that makes us a lot stronger."

It's also the first move in what could be a busy next few days for Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson. With the Blue Jackets 30th in the NHL, rumors have swirled about which players Howson could trade in an attempt to rebuild. Reportedly, center Jeff Carter has asked for a trade, and the Jackets also could be considering dealing team captain Rick Nash.

"This is moving forward," Howson told the Columbus Dispatch. "We have to move forward. It wasn't working this season as we expected. We're going to move forward and this is part of the process of reshaping the team.

"Antoine was very professional, just as I expected he would be. I thanked him and his wife Karen, who did a lot of work in our community, for being such a good player and such a good person for our organization."

In 241 games with the Blue Jackets, Vermette had 61 goals and 91 assists.

Originally a 2000 second-round pick by the Senators, Vermette has 141 goals and 178 assists in 600 NHL games with Ottawa and Columbus.

Vermette said Wednesday's move is reminiscent of the trade that brought him to Columbus three years ago. At the time, the Senators were out of the playoff race while the Blue Jackets were pushing for what would become the franchise's only playoff berth, in 2009.

"I'm very excited and very happy to be joining a team that's successful and in the (playoff) race," Vermette told the Coyotes' website. "That side of the deal got me going. I can't wait to get this going and play competitive, challenging hockey, which I love. Since I've been a kid I never missed the playoffs beside the last two years. That's one thing I'm going to look forward to here."

Vermette said he played with current Coyotes Rostislav Klesla and Raffi Torres in Columbus, but knows little about this season's team. The Blue Jackets and Coyotes have played just once this season, meaning Vermette will see his former team three times between now and the end of the season.

"I think they (Coyotes) play well as a group, that's why they're so successful," he said. "That's what I keep hearing from different people, the coaching is doing a good job getting them on the same page. That's been a strong suit of theirs and mainly why they're having success. Where I'm going to fit, I talked to Don a little bit, probably going to play center on the top two lines. He was excited and told me he was happy about the trade. I am, too. I can't wait to be part of this and meet the guys and get this going."

McElhinney, who had abdominal surgery in January, is not expected to play again this season. He has 69 games of NHL experience -- including two games with the Coyotes this season -- while spending the majority of the season with Coyotes' AHL affiliate, the Portland Pirates. In 25 AHL games prior to his injury, he went 10-13-4 with a 3.04 goals-against average and .907 save percentage.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 10:13 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

After nabbing Quincey, Wings mull further moves

CHICAGO – Hours after completing a trade to bring in defenseman Kyle Quincey as part of a three-team deal, Detroit Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland didn’t rule out making another deal before Monday’s trade deadline expires.

Quincey’s addition gives the Red Wings eight NHL defensemen and the recent play of goalie Joey MacDonald has settled the backup role in net, but that doesn’t mean Detroit is necessarily done wheeling and
dealing.

“I'm going to kick the tires,” Holland told NHL.com prior to his team playing the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night at the United Center. “We're done in goal, we're done on defense. We might be done. We'll see."

As for what might pique Holland’s interest now, think forwards – big forwards. Also, don’t be surprised if the Red Wings stand pat after Tuesday’s deal between his club, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche.

“You’re always looking for grit and size and experience,” Holland said. “We’ll see. It’s got to be a fit. At the end of the day, this (Quincey) trade was about a fit for three teams.”
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 8:42 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Report: Sharks have interest in Nash

Will Rick Nash soon be a member of the San Jose Sharks?

NHL Network hockey insider Darren Dreger reported Tuesday night that the Sharks are a strong contender for Nash's services. Sources have told Dreger that the Columbus Blue Jackets wanted Logan Couture in return, but that was quickly rejected by Sharks general manager Doug Wilson.

Nash and Sharks captain Joe Thornton are apparently good friends and have performed well together in international competitions.

Nash, 27, has a no-trade clause and will ultimately determine where he ends up.

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL

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