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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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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 4:41 PM

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

Sens' Murray unsure if he'll be active

Seeing the Ottawa Senators sitting seventh in the Eastern Conference with less than a week to go until the trade deadline is a major surprise. How they handle the next few days also could be a surprise.

"I don't know that we're doing anything," Senators general manager Bryan Murray told reporters when asked about his plans heading into the Feb. 27 trade deadline. "A lot of managers seem to be like me -- they're not sure what they want to do. They're in the race but they're not convinced if they're going to be around, so we're all trying to be somewhat cautious."

The Senators enter Tuesday seventh in the East with 70 points, but they're just two points behind fourth-place New Jersey.

Ottawa has hung around the top eight in the conference for most of the season, and after a seven-game winless skid around the All-Star break, they've rebounded to win four of their last five and three straight.

Murray said he'd like to add depth to his team, but wouldn't go into detail as to what area of his club he'd like to add it to. He said he's not actively working on anything, but said he's had phone calls with numerous teams.

"I've talked to a couple teams that look like they're ready to trade people away and asked for a particular name," he said. "And in turn I've had calls were we've talked about, could we get this guy or that guy, what the price would be. I can't be really definite because there's nothing definite I could get."

Murray said ideally he'd make a deal similar to the one he made in December with Phoenix for center Kyle Turris.

"That's the kind of trade we'd like to make," said Murray. "If we can get a younger play coming in that can help us now but has a good future going forward, that's the type of thing I'd much like to do more than trade a younger player for an older guy that's unrestricted that you'll really have a hard time re-signing."

One name that Murray has heard mentioned in trade rumors is defenseman Filip Kuba, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, but Murray was quick to squash any talk of him moving the veteran blueliner. Kuba has 22 points and a team-best plus-18 rating while playing 23:30 per game.

"I think he's one of our best defensemen, if not our most steady guy at this point in time," said Murray. "He's played penalty kill, power play, he's been Erik Karlsson's partner. He plays a lot of minutes, has great respect on the team. I'm not sure why his name has ever come up. At this point in time … unless I got something awfully, awfully good, it would do us no service to not keep him here."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 4:04 PM

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

Downie, Quincey dealt in three-team deal



The Detroit Red Wings' search for defensive help has brought Kyle Quincey back to where he started his NHL career.

The Wings acquired defenseman Kyle Quincey from the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday in a three-way trade. The Lightning, run by former Wings star Steve Yzerman, acquired Quincey from Colorado earlier in the day for forward Steve Downie, then shipped him to Detroit for the Wings' first-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft and minor-league defenseman Sebastien Piche.

Kyle Quincey
Defense - DET
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 18 | PTS: 23
SOG: 131 | +/-: -1
Quincey, 26, is expected to be in the lineup Thursday when the Wings take their NHL-record 23-game home winning streak into a matchup against the Vancouver Canucks.

"We like the addition of Quincey," general manager Ken Holland told the Detroit Free Press. "He's a guy who can play 20 minutes a night, he can play right defense, left defense, he can play in all situations. He can man a point on the second power-play unit. We believe this makes us deeper for the playoffs, and he's not a rental."

Quincey is returning to the team with which he began his NHL career. The Wings took him with the 132nd pick in the 2003 NHL Draft. He saw limited playing time and was lost on waivers to Los Angeles before the 2008-09 season The Kings traded him to Colorado in July 2010 as part of the package that sent Ryan Smyth to Edmonton.

The 6-foot-2, 202-pounder had five goals and 18 assists in 54 games with the Avs this season after missing most of last season with a shoulder injury.

The Wings have been looking for more toughness on the blue line. They signed veteran Mike Commodore last summer, but he hasn't been able to earn a regular berth. Rookie Jakub Kindl got off to a good start but has struggled during the past month.

It was the third trade in less than a week by the Lightning, who dealt center Dominic Moore to San Jose on Thursday and sent defenseman Pavel Kubina to Philadelphia.

Downie, 24, can become a restricted free agent this summer. He's in the final year of a two-year, $3.7 million deal and has 12 goals, 16 assists and 121 penalty minutes in 55 games this season.

"Our organization believes that Steve Downie will add grit and skill to our lineup offensively," Avalanche GM Greg Sherman said in a statement. "He plays the game with an edge and we look forward to seeing the immediate and future impact he can bring to our team."

The Lightning now have two first-round picks in 2012 along with a minimum of three selections in the second round.

Piche, 6-foot, 202 pounds, has played in 42 career AHL games with the Grand Rapids Griffins, recording five assists. This season he has played in 22 games, notching three assists. Piche signed with the Red Wings as a free agent on April 12, 2009.


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Posted On Saturday, 02.18.2012 / 2:58 PM

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

Report: Flyers, Jackets discussing Nash deal

PHILADELPHIA -- Could the Flyers be the leader in the race to acquire Columbus Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash?

For the third straight game, a top Blue Jackets executive is here in Philadelphia. General manager Scott Howson was in attendance last Saturday for the Flyers-Rangers game and had two long conversations with Flyers GM Paul Holmgren. Blue Jackets senior advisor Craig Patrick was here for Thursday for a game against the Buffalo Sabres, and today both Howson and Patrick are here. Howson again spent time talking with Holmgren prior to the game.

Sources tell CSNPhilly.com's Tim Panaccio that the Flyers are listening and having serious discussions about the cost of acquiring Nash. Panaccio speculates that cost could be high.

"As for the asking price for a player of Nash’s caliber? Probably Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn,” Panaccio wrote. “But … it may be something else. It may be James van Riemsdyk, another player, plus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. Or a high draft pick besides a player. The Flyers don't want to move Couturier or Schenn, but if I'm Howson, I want both those players."

Panaccio reports his source tells him the Flyers are more interested in adding another defenseman, like they did Thursday when they acquired Nicklas Grossman from the Dallas Stars. However, when asked if it was "unlikely" he'd go after a star player, Holmgren paused, and replied: "Unlikely? I don't know if I'd use that word, but probably not something that we're talking about at length."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Thursday, 02.16.2012 / 4:27 PM

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

Ducks, Oilers make minor deal

The Anaheim Ducks acquired Ryan O’Marra from the Edmonton Oilers for defenseman Bryan Rodney, both teams announced Thursday.

O’Marra played seven games for the Oilers this season, and has one goal and seven points in 31 career NHL games. He was a first-round pick by the New York Islanders in the 2005 Entry Draft.

Rodney has spent the entire 2011-12 season with Syracuse in the American Hockey League. He has five goals and 20 points in 41 games for the Crunch this season. Rodney has one goal and 13 points in 33 career NHL games – all with the Carolina Hurricanes.
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Posted On Thursday, 02.16.2012 / 11:49 AM

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

Lightning to sit Kubina, explore trade options

The Tampa Bay Lightning are holding defenseman Pavel Kubina out of the lineup, and he’s been asked which teams he would be willing to accept a trade to, the team announced Thursday.

Kubina is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, and he has a limited no-trade clause. General manager Steve Yzerman told reporters Thursday morning that a trade is not imminent, but Kubina will be scratched from the lineup for the time being.

A 34-year-old defenseman, Kubina has three goals and 11 points for the Lightning this season. He’s in the second of a two-year contract that carries a $3.8 million cap hit. Kubina has played parts of 14 seasons in the NHL and has 953 career games on his resume. He also won the Stanley Cup in 2004 with the Lightning.

Tampa Bay is currently in 13th place in the Eastern Conference and 10 points out of a spot in the top eight. The Lightning recently had a 6-0-1 stretch that offered a glimmer of hope, but they’ve lost four of five since then.

Yzerman told Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday that he was prepared to make moves for the future.

“We have to look at any opportunity that makes us a stronger organization moving forward based on where we stand today," Yzerman said to Cristodero.

“We're not going to just give our guys away. But if there is an opportunity that makes us a better organization, we're going to consider it.”

One of the biggest holes in the long-term future for the Lightning is the lack of a franchise goaltender. Dwayne Roloson was great last season but has struggled this campaign and is 42 years old, and there isn’t a top goaltending prospect in the system.

Yzerman told reporters Thursday not to expect a solution in the next 11 days though. He called the deadline a “time to replenish [organizational] depth, so prospects, draft choices are [the] priority,” according to Cristodero, and also said the goaltending quandary is “a likely summer project.”
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.15.2012 / 2:46 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Kostitsyn hasn't asked Canadiens for a trade -- yet

BROSSARD, Que. -- Impending unrestricted free agent Andrei Kostitsyn says he has not asked the Montreal Canadiens to trade him in spite of greatly diminished ice time that bottomed out at a season-low 4:20 in Monday night's loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.

But he says he might just do that if his situation does not change soon.

"Not yet," Kostitsyn said Wednesday when asked if he's requested a trade. "But we'll see in the next couple of games."

Kostitsyn just turned 27 on Feb. 3 and is playing out a contract that pays him $3.25 million. He scored 26 goals in his first full NHL season in 2007-08 but has never been able to match that total, though he topped the 20-goal mark in two of his previous three seasons.

He also brings a physical dimension to the game, topping 100 hits in each of the past four seasons and leading the Canadiens with 140 last season.

This season Kostitsyn has 12 goals and 12 assists in 47 games but he has hit a major dry spell with just 1 goal and 1 assist in his last eight games. Over his last four games, Kostitsyn's ice time has gone from 14:30 to 12:08 to 11:15 and finally to 4:20 on Monday.

"It's tough when you sit on the bench, you just (watch) the game. … You're freezing on the bench," Kostitsyn said. "I can't do anything in four minutes. If he gives me more ice time, I can show how I can play."

"He" is Canadiens coach Randy Cunneyworth, who explained the reason Kostitsyn was benched Monday night was because he committed turnovers on three consecutive shifts.

"The coach is probably thinking I'm the one guy on the team that (commits) turnovers or loses the puck," Kostitsyn said. "That's why maybe he put me on the bench."

Cunneyworth said he wants Kostitsyn and his center Scott Gomez to "play the right way" if they want to earn more ice time.

"I understand what he wants," Kostitsyn said. "He wants us to chip the puck and put the puck behind the defensemen and play in their zone. I tried to do that last game, but I still stayed on the bench. Nothing different."

Cunneyworth would not confirm whether Kostitsyn or Gomez would suit up for Wednesday night's game against the Boston Bruins.

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Posted On Wednesday, 02.15.2012 / 2:29 PM

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

Oilers' Smyth not going anywhere

The Edmonton Oilers might have some trades to make in the next couple of weeks, but veteran forward Ryan Smyth will not be a part of them.

Smyth met Wednesday with Oilers GM Steve Tambellini, according to several reporters in Edmonton, and made sure it was known that he doesn’t want to go anywhere.

"It was nice to clear the air and settle everything. I'm staying put," Smyth said, according the team’s official Twitter feed. "I came back (to the Oilers) for a reason. As a family, we're happy here and I love being an Oiler. Family is the most important thing."

Added Tambellini: "I have no plans to move Ryan Smyth. Ryan has made it clear that he wants to stay here and play for the Oilers."

Smyth, who turns 36 next week, has a no-movement clause and can be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. He returned to Edmonton this past summer in a trade from Los Angeles after spending two seasons with the Kings, two in Colorado and part of one with the New York Islanders.

Before that, Smyth played his first 11 seasons with Edmonton, and collected four 30-goal seasons before leaving the first time. He has 16 goals and 36 points this season, and has proven to be a valuable mentor to the team’s emerging stars.

"My ultimate goal is to sign a new contract with the Oilers, ideally before the trade deadline," Smyth told Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal. "Yeah, I want that."

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Posted On Wednesday, 02.15.2012 / 1:58 PM

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

Isles' Parenteau wants to focus on wins, not contract

TSN is reporting New York Islanders forward PA Parenteau, who is fifth in the League with 39 assists, will table any talk of a contract extension until after the season.

"This contract is going to be my only big one left," Parenteau recently told Newsday. "I want to make sure I'll be paid at my value. Having said that, I love it here and I've said all along I'd love to stay here."

Parenteau, who signed a one-year, $1.25 million contract over the summer, is second on the team with 51 points, two shy of matching the career-best 53-point output he had last season.

Parenteau's agent, Allan Walsh, told TSN that while his client would rather focus on winning hockey games than talking contract, they would listen if the Islanders made a contract proposal between now and the end of the regular season. He added the goal is to have a deal in place before July 1.

"He's made it very clear from the outset that he's highly motivated to stay with the New York Islanders," Parenteau's agent, Allan Walsh told TSN.ca via e-mail. "The Islanders gave him his first real opportunity to thrive in the NHL, he has a fantastic relationship with his teammates, the coaches, (GM) Garth Snow and the fans. Most importantly, PA sees the Islanders trending up and believes they will be a contending team for many years to come.

"With that being said, the Islanders are currently six points out of a playoff spot. Now is the time to play hockey, not to discuss or focus on contracts. When the season is over, I'm sure both parties will work diligently towards an agreement that will insure a mutual long term commitment to one another."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.15.2012 / 10:31 AM

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

Report: Five possible destinations for Nash

If the Columbus Blue Jackets were to follow through on any rumored deal for team captain Rick Nash, the Columbus Dispatch lists five potential landing spots.

According to beat writer Aaron Portzline, the teams that have shown the most interest are the New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens.

Nash has a full no-movement clause in his contract.

Blue Jackets General Manager Scott Howson has refused to respond directly to any rumors, but told the Dispatch, "We're open to all options to try to improve the team."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.15.2012 / 10:04 AM

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

Report: No deal yet for Wild's Zidlicky

Minnesota Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher on Wednesday told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the club has not asked defenseman Marek Zidlicky to waive his no-trade clause for any specific trade.

The newspaper, along with TSN, reported earlier Wednesday morning that Zidlicky had waived his no-trade clause so the Wild could send him to the New Jersey Devils.

"I haven't asked Zid to waive his no-trade for any specific trade," Fletcher told the newspaper's Mike Russo. "I haven't called him and said anything's close. I can tell you for sure I'm planning on talking to other teams. We haven't traded Zid, we haven't made the decision to trade Zid at this point. I have not formally asked him to do anything because at this point I honestly don't have anything to take to him, I don't have anything for him to say yes or no to."

Fletcher said a deal with New Jersey for Zidlicky could still happen anytime between now and the Feb. 27 deadline, but he just as likely could move Zidlicky to another team, or hold onto him and move him over the summer, or wait even longer.

"Maybe he's here next trade deadline and we're having the same conversation," Fletcher said.

The 35-year-old Zidlicky reportedly has been unhappy with how he's been used by first-year coach Mike Yeo, including being a healthy scratch four straight games between Jan. 21 and Feb. 2. According to the Star Tribune, after the third benching, Jan. 31, Zidlicky told Fletcher he would waive his no-trade clause for a move to the right team.

In 39 games this season, Zidlicky has no goals, 13 assists and a minus-7 rating. He has one year and $4 million remaining on his contract.

The Devils certainly could use a player with Zidlicky's skill set. While he doesn't have any goals this season, 42 of the 60 he's scored in his eight NHL seasons have been on the power play. In the absence of Henrik Tallinder and Adam Larsson, the Devils' power play has slipped to 17th in the NHL at 17.0 percent.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 4:48 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Could Habs' Kostitsyn be available?

BROSSARD, Que. -- Losing Wednesday's game could put the Canadiens' playoff hopes to bed for good, and with the trade deadline looming Feb. 27 Montreal General Manager Pierre Gauthier may be inclined to declare himself a seller.

Among the potential assets Gauthier could move by the deadline, the names of Gill and injured forward Travis Moen have come up often because they both have Stanley Cup rings and both can be unrestricted free agents July 1.

Another possibility is Andrei Kostitsyn, who played a season-low 4:20 in Monday's 5-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. He had just one 40-second shift in the third period.

"We need more," Cunneyworth said of his decision to bench Kostitsyn. "For me, I saw a problem with turnovers. That was my main concern. It was three shifts, three turnovers that were painfully obvious. It comes down to managing the puck, and he's a veteran that should know better."

Kostitsyn, who turned 27 on Feb. 3, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. With 20 goals in three of the four previous season and decent size at 6-foot, 214 pounds, it's possible someone with his skill set could interest a playoff-bound team looking for someone to plug into their top six.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 4:41 PM

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

McPhee negotiating tricky trade market

So this hasn't been the best of weeks for the Washington Capitals.

To recap: The No. 1 goaltender has the flu, the former No. 1 right wing is frustrated by being scratched and might want out, the No. 2 goaltender was surprised to learn two hours before a game that he was being replaced by the No. 3 goaltender, and the No. 1 defenseman and No. 1 center remain out with injuries.

Oh yeah, and the Capitals have lost three straight games and now are four points behind the Florida Panthers in the Southeast Division with four straight games coming up away from Verizon Center; they've lost 18 of 27 on the road this season.

Got all that?

The challenge for Capitals General Manager George McPhee is trying to figure out what to make of his club's current predicament, and if there is a way he can fix in the next two weeks.

One thing that is clear is that McPhee is trying to fix it, and not waiting around to see if and when injured defenseman Mike Green and center Nicklas Backstrom can or will return. CBC's Elliott Freidman wrote in his "30 Thoughts" column today that, "Apparently, no GM is burning up the phone lines more than George McPhee."

"I still think if we get our guys back and if we can add something here in the next couple of weeks we're good enough to win the Stanley Cup," McPhee said to John Feinstein of the Washington Post. "Then again, a lot of teams are looking to add something right now, too."

Added owner Ted Leonsis, on his Ted's Take blog: "Wish us speedy recovery to some of our players -- and hope we can add some jump via the trade markets during the next few weeks."

McPhee has a few potential roadblocks in the way of making a deal. One is what he already stated -- the market is full of buyers right now and not many sellers. Another is the status of Green and Backstrom. If both are back and healthy, it is great for the team but not for McPhee's ability to make a move -- Washington is already using the long-term injured reserve relief from Green and Tom Poti to stay below the salary cap.

Another issue is trying to determine what the Capitals need if Green and Backstrom are healthy. As McPhee pointed out to Feinstein, the team is 8-0-0 when everyone (sans Poti) is available.

The best way for McPhee to try and improve the team -- or at least shake up the roster and hope that sparks some improvement -- probably is to try and walk a delicate line of being a buyer and a seller as the deadline nears.

For the Capitals to add salary, McPhee is going to have to move some out (assuming Green and/or Backstrom can be ready before the end of the season). If Knuble wasn't an option to be traded before this week, he certainly might be now.

The 39-year-old right wing has three goals this season, and he's been a healthy scratch the past three games. He told reporters he hasn't gone to McPhee to request a trade, but that sounds like a plausible outcome if he doesn't start playing again soon.

"I don't know. I haven't thought that far ahead yet. I just kind of got through this weekend with three games in (five) nights -- just wanted to get through it and see what (would) happen," Knuble said to reporters. "Obviously we all saw what happened so it gets you thinking.

"If a player is not going to be used, or in the near future you don't have plans, then that player probably wouldn't want to be there. That's how we are in our League -- you want to go somewhere where you're going to play and contribute to your team and if you can't do it in one place, then you've got to go."

Knuble carries a $2 million cap hit. Another player in that price range who has not played a lot of hockey recently for the Capitals is defenseman Jeff Schultz. He's been a healthy scratch quite often since Dale Hunter became the coach, and his cap hit checks in at $2.75 million. Dealing Schultz would cut into Washington's depth on defense, but whether the team has seven NHL-caliber defensemen or nine won't matter if Washington doesn't qualify for the postseason.

A more radical move would be to deal Alexander Semin, who is on a one-year, $6.7 million contract. Semin has his warts even when he's producing at a high level, but he's been far from that this season. If McPhee could move him to a team willing to take the risk for more offense, he could then use the extra cap space to replace Semin and maybe address another need.

The final issue then becomes what future assets McPhee would be willing to trade to try and salvage the season. McPhee has proven to be a bit of a pack rat when it comes to young assets. He's yet to deal an impact prospect in a trade since this current group of players started making the playoffs consistently. The only young player with significant upside he has dealt was goaltender Semyon Varlamov -- and that was for an overwhelmingly great return and a player who easily was replaced.

Using those parameters, it is easy to take Evgeny Kuznetsov off the table, and probably rookie Dmitry Orlov, as well. Would McPhee part with Marcus Johansson in a deal for an established No. 2 center? How about goalie Braden Holtby, or forwards Cody Eakin or Stanislav Galiev? His history says no, but given how radically things have changed this season in Washington, it is plausible that he takes a different approach.

McPhee has proven to be someone who will make deals at the deadline, but this might be his trickiest two weeks to maneuver since the Capitals returned to prominence five years ago.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 12:45 PM

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

Could Jackets be looking into Nash trade?



Could the Columbus Blue Jackets be investigating a trade of captain Rick Nash?

According to the Columbus Dispatch, the team has made it clear to certain NHL clubs that Nash would be available for the right price.

"We're open to all options to try to improve the team," Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson told the newspaper this morning. "As far as rumors go, we're just not going to comment."

The rumor Howson mentioned is one from French-language TV station RDS, which reported Monday that the Jackets had put Nash on the trading block.

Citing a source, Dispatch writer Aaron Portzline wrote that Nash -- who has a no-movement clause -- has not requested a trade.

"The last couple of weeks there have been so many rumors," Nash told the newspaper following the team's morning skate. "And when a team loses, more rumors keep on surfacing. That's what it seems to be right now, is just rumors.

"I'm a Blue Jacket right now. I've played my whole career here and it's a special place to me. So as of right now I'm a Blue Jacket."

However, Portzline reports that following recent organizational meetings, which included, among others, owner John P. McConnell, president Mike Priest, Howson, senior advisor Craig Patrick and interim coach Todd Richards, that the possibility of trading Nash needed to be explored.

Last month, Nash told the Dispatch he had no desire to leave Columbus.

"I love Columbus. I love being here. I love being a Blue Jacket," he said. "The city of Columbus deserves a winner and deserves a good product on the ice. If it comes to that -- like you said, all speculation -- but if they don't want me here, they want to move me? I’m not going to do something where it's going to hurt the franchise just because I have that in my contract."

Howson, speaking with NHL.com Saturday in Philadelphia, said he wouldn't be commenting on any trade rumors leading into the deadline, but said he's determined the path the team wants to take.

"I'm not going to disclose what we're going to do, but we certainly have a plan in place," Howson told NHL.com. "We're working on it, we're talking to teams. We'll see … it's not just a pre-deadline plan. It's a plan leading up to the draft and leading into next season. We'll see what happens before the 27th and we expect to be active."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.14.2012 / 9:41 AM

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

Howson won't comment on Nash rumors

According to the Columbus Dispatch, Columbus Blue Jackets General Manager Scott Howson declined to comment on a report by French-language TV station RDS that Jackets captain Rick Nash has been placed on the trading block.

Dispatch writer Aaron Portzline, citing his sources, said Nash is not being shopped, nor is the club intent on moving him. However, he adds, the Jackets have reached a point where every player on the roster could be available for the right price and that includes Nash.

Nash has a no-movement clause in his contract, and told the newspaper late last month that he has no desire to leave Columbus.

"I love Columbus. I love being here. I love being a Blue Jacket," Nash said. "The city of Columbus deserves a winner and deserves a good product on the ice. If it comes to that -- like you said, all speculation -- but if they don't want me here, they want to move me? I’m not going to do something where it's going to hurt the franchise just because I have that in my contract."

Howson, speaking with NHL.com Saturday in Philadelphia, said he wouldn't be commenting on any trade rumors leading into the deadline, but said he's determined the path the team wants to take.

"I'm not going to disclose what we're going to do, but we certainly have a plan in place," Howson told NHL.com. "We're working on it, we're talking to teams. We'll see … it's not just a pre-deadline plan. It's a plan leading up to the draft and leading into next season. We'll see what happens before the 27th and we expect to be active."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Monday, 02.13.2012 / 1:29 PM

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

Bowman: Quenneville not going anywhere

With his team mired in an eight-game winless skid, Chicago Blackhawks General Manager Stan Bowman says he has zero intention of changing coaches.

Bowman told Comcast SportsNet Chicago that Joel Quenneville, who guided the Hawks to the Stanley Cup in 2010, is "absolutely the guy" moving forward and that he's happy with adjustments the coaching staff is making to try to snap the skid.

The Hawks enter the week sixth in the Western Conference with 65 points. Prior to the winless skid, which started Jan. 21, the Hawks were first in the League standings with 64 points.

One reason for the Hawks' skid has been subpar play in net by the combination of Corey Crawford and Ray Emery. Crawford hasn't won since Jan. 18 and has allowed five goals in each of his last two games. Emery has lost three straight and has allowed three or more goals in each of his last four games.

While the GM said he is working on bolstering the roster, he said trading for another goaltender "is not a priority."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Monday, 02.13.2012 / 1:03 PM

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

Ducks, Jets exchange minor-league forwards

The Anaheim Ducks and Winnipeg Jets swapped minor-league forwards Monday, with the Ducks sending Maxime Macenauer to the Jets in exchange for Riley Holzapfel.

Macenauer, 23, had a goal and three assists in 29 games with the Ducks earlier this season, the first NHL action of his career. He also has four goals and two assists in 13 games with the Ducks' American Hockey League affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch. He was a 2007 third-round pick by Anaheim.

Holzapfel, 23, was a 2006 second-round pick of the Atlanta Thrashers. He's in his fourth AHL season, and first with the St. John IceCaps. In 29 games this season, he has eight goals and seven assists.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Monday, 02.13.2012 / 9:56 AM

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

Sutton signing further limits defense market

It appears playoff teams looking for veteran help along the blue line just lost one more option leading into the Feb. 27 trade deadline.

With the Edmonton Oilers reportedly poised to sign Andy Sutton to a one-year contract extension, the possibility of contending teams standing pat 14 days looks better and better.

Speculation still surrounds a number of defensemen possibly being moved in the next two weeks -- Montreal's Hal Gill, Carolina's Jaroslav Spacek and Bryan Allen, Toronto's Luke Schenn and Tampa Bay's Pavel Kubina -- but none of them are blockbuster, franchise-changing quality.

Now, if Nashville decides to move unrestricted free-agent-to-be Ryan Suter, that would change things. But with the Predators fifth in the Western Conference, and Suter vowing not to sign with any team prior to the offseason, it's highly doubtful he goes anywhere.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 02.11.2012 / 5:30 PM

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

Howson, Gauthier take in Flyers-Rangers tilt

PHILADELPHIA -- There were two very interesting parties taking in the Flyers-Rangers game today at Wells Fargo Center.

Montreal Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier and Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson both were in attendance, with Howson spending extra time meeting with Flyers GM Paul Holmgren.

With the Feb. 27 trade deadline rapidly approaching, Howson said he enjoys the opportunity to talk to other GMs one-on-one rather than over the phone.

"You do it both ways, obviously," Howson told NHL.com. "But anytime you can get face-to-face with somebody and talk to them and have a little more time in a face-to-face encounter … I prefer it be face-to-face because I think you can get more out of it."

He wouldn't comment directly on any of his plans approaching the deadline, but said his roadmap runs well beyond what will happen between now and Feb. 27 – and he promised to be an active player in the trade market.

"We've determined what we want to do," he said. "I'm not going to disclose what we're going to do, but we certainly have a plan in place. We're working on it, we're talking to teams. We'll see … it's not just a pre-deadline plan. It's a plan leading up to the draft and leading into next season. We'll see what happens before the 27th and we expect to be active."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Wednesday, 02.08.2012 / 10:48 AM

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

Prospal staying put with Blue Jackets

Scratch another potential trade candidate off the list.

The Columbus Blue Jackets, expected to be aggressive sellers at the Feb. 27 trade deadline, signed 36-year-old forward Vinny Prospal to a one-year contract extension with a reported value of $2.5 million. Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch is reporting the deal includes a no-trade clause.

Prospal joined the Blue Jackets this summer after spending two seasons with the New York Rangers. Last season, Prospal was limited to 29 games as he recovered from knee surgery.

In 53 games with the Blue Jackets, Prospal has 9 goals and 24 assists.

"We are very excited to have Vinny signed for another year," said Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson said in a statement. "His leadership and play on the ice have certainly been positives for us this season."

Teams looking to add a veteran presence at minimal cost can't be happy about the extension. Prospal's original deal also carried a $2.5 million cap hit, and the veteran has 65 games of playoff experience under his belt.

At the time of coach Scott Arniel's firing, Howson said he expected his team to be sellers in the trade market this month. With Prospal locked up for another year, that leaves the Blue Jackets with five unrestricted free agents after this season -- forwards Kristian Huselius, Samuel Pahlsson and Derek MacKenzie along with defensemen Radek Martinek and Brett Lebda.

Huselius has played just two games this season due to pectoral surgery and a subsequent groin injury. Martinek has missed all but seven games due to a concussion.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.07.2012 / 7:07 PM

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

Isles, Nielsen agree on 4-year extension

The New York Islanders confirmed Tuesday night that they have re-signed center Frans Nielsen, who was set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

The team said the deal will be announced Wednesday, but TSN's Bon McKenzie reported that it's a four-year deal worth $11 million, a cap hit of $2.75 million. That's a big jump for Nielsen, who is on the last season of a four-year, $2.2 million deal he signed in 2008.

Nielsen, 27, was the Islanders' third-round choice (No. 87) in the 2002 NHL Draft. He became the first Danish-born NHL player to score a goal when he connected during a 15-game callup in 2007, and became a full-time Islander in 2008-09.

Nielsen entered Thursday's action with nine goals and 25 points in 51 games after posting career highs of 13 goals, 31 assists and 44 points last season, when he led the NHL with seven shorthanded goals. He is also one of the NHL's most proficient scorers in the shootout -- his 57.6 percentage (19-for-33) is the best of any player who has taken 20 or more attempts.

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Posted On Monday, 02.06.2012 / 7:00 PM

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

Report: Rutherford, Ruutu to meet this week

Will Tuomo Ruutu remain a member of the Carolina Hurricanes?

The Raleigh News and Observer reported Monday that 'Canes general manager Jim Rutherford will be holding "an important meeting" with Ruutu this week.

"I want to talk to him about where he's at, this season and in the future," Rutherford told the paper. "We'll talk about that and see where it goes. We're closing in on the (NHL) trade deadline, so we need to make a decision.

"I've had casual conversations with his agent the past month or so. The next step is to meet with (Ruutu) and make a decision on what direction would be the best for everyone."

Ruutu, who turns 29 next week, is believed to be seeking a long-term contract. Set to become an unrestricted free agent in July, Ruutu leads Carolina with 16 goals.


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Posted On Monday, 02.06.2012 / 2:08 PM

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

Could Moen be going back to Sharks?

According to a report in the Toronto Star, a return to the San Jose Sharks could be in the future for Montreal Canadiens forward Travis Moen.

The newspaper reports the Sharks are the frontrunner to acquire Moen, who was acquired by the Sharks from the Anaheim Ducks at the trade deadline in 2009. Moen had three goals and two assists in 19 regular-season games and was scoreless in six playoff games with the Sharks.

Other teams likely are interested in Moen, but before he goes anywhere, it's likely he has to prove he's healthy. An upper-body injury has kept the forward out of the lineup since Jan. 21, and while he has resumed light skating, the Star is reporting Canadiens coach Randy Cunneyworth as saying Moen will be out at least another week.

Prior to getting hurt, Moen was having his best offensive season, with his 9 goals and 16 points in 48 games, close to career-bests.

Moen can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Friday, 02.03.2012 / 4:43 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Habs face reality of being sellers at deadline

The Montreal Canadiens will play host to the Washington Capitals in a Hockey Night in Canada Saturday matinee in February, but the franchise is in a position it is not accustomed to.

Montreal is 19-23-9 and with 47 points the Canadiens are in a three-way tie for the least in the Eastern Conference. As a dashing run towards a postseason berth becomes more and more improbable, Montreal is likely to face the reality of becoming a seller at the trade deadline. 

Here’s what NHL.com’s Arpon Basu wrote earlier today on the subject for the League’s French website:

While a playoff spot is a distant 11 points away, the Canadiens find themselves just two points out of 29th in the League standings. The situation has many of the team’s fans openly excited about the prospect of landing a top-five pick in the 2012 Entry Draft, and it also positions the Canadiens as potential sellers leading up to the Feb. 27 trade deadline.

With both the deadline and the standings serving as potential distractions for his players, coach Randy Cunneyworth will have quite a job to do to keep the Canadiens focused over the coming weeks.

“What I look at – and what I hope my players look at – is what’s in front of us today, maybe tomorrow, but beyond that it doesn’t matter at this time. What matters is today,” Cunneyworth said. “To look beyond today or tomorrow would be too overwhelming.”

The Canadiens have a few players set to hit unrestricted free agency who could be attractive to contending teams looking to shore up at the deadline.

Rugged forward Travis Moen and penalty killing specialist Hal Gill are both former Stanley Cup winners who have excelled in the playoffs with the Canadiens.

Gill has played a more limited role with the club this season, but his ability to shutdown opposing teams’ top players becomes a very valued commodity in the playoffs when matchups become so much more important.

As for Moen, he is just two goals and five points shy of his career highs in each category while still serving as a top-end penalty killer for the Canadiens. He is currently out with an upper body injury, but Cunneyworth said he hopes to have Moen back next week.

Then there is defenseman Chris Campoli, who has dressed in just 10 of the 19 games Cunneyworth has coached.

Signed late in the summer to add a veteran presence to a young defense group, Campoli tore a hamstring on opening night. Then after his second game back, head coach Jacques Martin was fired and Campoli has not been able to grab a regular spot on a Canadiens defense that is not loaded with star power.

Campoli was acquired by the Chicago Blackhawks prior to last season’s trade deadline from the Ottawa Senators and he played an important role with them, which is why he is convinced he can still do the same.

Except he hopes he gets that chance in Montreal.

“The most frustrating thing is I’m capable of more. Playing top-four minutes in Chicago last year, I know I’m capable of more,” Campoli said. “But my focus day by day is trying to get back in this lineup. As far as future opportunities are concerned, that’s not what I’m focused on.

“Having said that, if someone thinks enough of you to trade for you, it’s tough moving on but from my past experience it’s something you would have to be excited about. But again, my focus is on being a Montreal Canadien and trying to get back in this lineup.”

For Campoli’s teammates, it is keeping that same focus of playing for the pride that comes with wearing a Canadiens sweater that will be challenging. And in Lars Eller’s eyes, simply talking about it has become very tiresome.

“It’s very frustrating because there’s been so much talk,” he said. “Too much talk on what’s not being done right, and this or that, blah, blah, blah. The focus has been on the wrong things. There should be less talk and more acting out there. That’s the short story.”
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Posted On Friday, 02.03.2012 / 11:25 AM

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

Rangers deal Christensen, pick to Wild for Wellman

The New York Rangers, who have been carrying 14 forwards since the All-Star break, cleared some room Friday by dealing Erik Christensen and a conditional seventh-round pick in 2013 to the Minnesota Wild for forward Casey Wellman.

The 24-year-old Wellman, who has 2 goals and 5 assists in 14 games this season, was assigned to the AHL's Connecticut Whale.

Before shedding Christensen's $925,000 salary, the Rangers could add about $5.5 million in cap hits at the Feb. 27 trade deadline, according to capgeek.com. That number is sure to go up slightly with this transaction.

Christensen had fallen out of favor with the Rangers after winning a roster spot out of training camp over fellow forward Sean Avery. The 28-year-old never seized the opportunity, netting just 1 goal and 4 assists in 20 games. He hasn't played since Dec. 17.

Christensen accepting a two-week conditioning stint with the Whale in mid-January. He had 2 goals and an assist in five games with the Whale, but had been a healthy scratch since he was recalled Jan. 24.

The Wild are Christensen's fifth team in seven seasons.

Christensen's strength has always been in shootouts. In his career, he is 24-for-46 in the post-overtime tiebreaker. The Wild, who rank 28th in the NHL in offense at 2.26 goals per game, are 5-5 in the shootout this season. Christensen has 62 goals and 94 assists in 358 career games, but confidence has always been an issue for the Edmonton native.

Christensen was claimed off waivers from the Anaheim Ducks in 2009, but he never found consistency with the Rangers. In 132 games as a Ranger, he had 20 goals and 38 assists.

"I probably frustrate him more than anyone else on this team," Christensen told NHL.com during last year's playoffs about his dealings with Tortorella. "He's definitely given me an opportunity. I come up here and didn't know what to expect. He's definitely got a people kind of side to him. He's not the guy everyone sees on the bench. He'll talk to you. You'll see him laughing and joking with the guys. It's been a lot of fun playing for him."

The 6-foot, 173-pound Wellman has 4 goals and 9 assists in 41 career games over parts of three seasons.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Thursday, 02.02.2012 / 5:35 PM

NHL.com - NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Caps make pair of minor deals

The Washington Capitals acquired defenseman Kevin Marshall from the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday in exchange for right wing Matt Ford. They also acquired center Mike Carman from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for defenseman Danny Richmond.

Both players will report to the Caps' AHL team, the Hershey Bears.

Marshall, 22, had two goals, three assists and 55 penalty minutes in 32 games this season with the Adirondack Phantoms of the AHL. The Boucherville, Que., native made his NHL debut on Nov. 21 against Carolina and has appeared in 10 NHL games, all with the Flyers, collecting eight penalty minutes. He has seven goals, 21 assists and 255 PIM in 185 career AHL games.

The 6-foot-1, 207-pound defenseman was originally drafted by Philadelphia in the second round (No. 41) of the 2007 NHL Draft.

Carman, 23, had three goals, three assists and 10 PIM in 28 games this season with the Lake Erie Monsters of the AHL. The native of Apple Valley, Minn., has 14 goals, 11 assists and 79 penalty minutes in 107 career AHL games and was a three-time member of Team USA at the World Junior Championship from 2006-08. He was originally taken by Colorado in the third round (No. 81) in the 2006 draft.

Ford, 27, had 10 goals and 18 assists in 39 games with Hershey this season while Richmond tallied four assists in 24 games with Hershey.

Ford appeared in 76 games with the AHL's Lake Erie Monsters last season, where he scored a career-high 26 goals and added 16 assists for a career-high 42 points. He has 50 goals and 50 assists for 100 points in 190 career AHL games with Hershey, Lake Erie and the Hartford Wolf Pack, and will be assigned to Adirondack.

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Posted On Thursday, 02.02.2012 / 3:44 PM

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

Several teams face interesting trade decisions

Earlier Thursday, we touched on the situation for the Dallas Stars as the Trade Deadline approaches. The Stars could go in a few different directions, and they are not alone.

There are probably 28 teams that still think the Stanley Cup Playoffs are a remote possibility, though that number could shrink by a few well before the deadline. Still, there is a group of teams that will have to decide if now is the time to strike and add a player or players to bolster a playoff run, or if sticking to the original plan of patience and developing a contender through young players.

Here’s a look at a few of those teams that could swing the number of buyers and sellers and alter the market of available players in drastic fashion:

DALLAS STARS: As already discussed, the Stars are in ninth place and could buy, sell or stay put. GM Joe Nieuwenduk has retooled the roster and there are young centerpieces in place like Jamie Benn, Alex Goligoski and Loui Eriksson and a couple of potential impact prospects in Scott Glennie, Jamie Oleksiak and Jack Campbell.

OTTAWA SENATORS: Nobody thought the Senators would even be in a position to battle for a playoff spot, let alone solidly in the top six of the Eastern Conference. Now that the Senators are a legitimate playoff contender, should GM Bryan Murray try to add veterans one year after dealing a bunch of them away and starting a rebuild? The Senators have prospects and young players at every position and no obvious long-term holes, but Murray may want to build on the momentum of this surprising campaign.

COLORADO AVALANCHE: The Avalanche have yo-yoed a bit in recent seasons, ending up with high picks in 2009 and 2011 with a surprise playoff appearance in 2010 mixed in. Colorado is back in the mix again this season. GM Greg Sherman made a big splash by paying a high price for young goaltender Semyon Varlamov, but veteran Jean-Sebastien Giguere has taken control of the nets in Denver and has helped the Avalanche to within a point of eighth place in the Western Conference. The Avalanche could make a push, or they can sit tight and be content with a nice collection of young talent with which to build. If they stumble and decide to sell, don’t be surprised if Sherman tries to obtain high picks in the 2012 Entry Draft after dealing his first pick in 2012 and a No. 2 in either 2012 or 2013 for Varlamov.

WINNIPEG JETS: The Jets are five points back in both the race for the Southeast Division title and the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Winnipeg is a young team and given it is the first year back in Manitoba there may not be as much pressure to make the playoffs as there might be in places like Dallas, Minnesota and Florida. Still, the Jets have plenty of salary-cap space and could also look to add some help up front and make a push for an even more memorable return for the NHL in Winnipeg.
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.31.2012 / 1:44 PM

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

Top UFAs staying put as deadline nears?

The NHL trade deadline is less than a month away, but with the All-Star Break now in the past, the media attention will shifts toward a day that has become something of a holiday for fans of the sport and the League.

It may still be 28 days away, but some big names are already garnering headlines – although it is because of they may not be available at the Feb. 27 deadline, which falls at 3 p.m. ET. Two of the biggest names in the unrestricted free agent class of 2012 – the list everyone looks to for potential trade targets – are New Jersey forward Zach Parise and Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter.

Both guys are star players – the type of addition that could drastically improve a team’s chances of claiming the Stanley Cup. Both might also not be available in the next four weeks.

Marc Everson of the New York Post reported Tuesday that sources from around the League do not expect Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello to trade Parise before the deadline.

“Sources say inquiring general managers are getting the word Devils GM Lou Lamoriello is not dealing unrestricted free agent-to-be Zach Parise before the NHL’s Feb. 27 trade deadline,” Everson wrote. “Instead, it is thought if the Devils do not want to re-sign Parise in June, they’ll trade his rights to a team that wants an advance shot at negotiations before he becomes free July 1.”

Parise would likely be the top forward available – either in the coming weeks or in July. He would be a cornerstone player for any franchise, and those players don’t become available often. He is making $6 million this season and would likely receive a substantial raise on the open market.

New Jersey is currently in eighth place in the Eastern Conference and the Devils’ chances of making the Stanley Cup Playoffs, let along advancing deep into the postseason, would take a huge hit if Parise went elsewhere. Keeping him beyond this season could be tricky because of the more than $38 million in salary cap space already committed to only 12 players for next season (and that doesn’t include a goaltender Martin Brodeur, who is also a UFA).

If Parise would likely be the top forward available then Suter would almost certainly be the No. 1 defenseman on the market. He forms the best defense duo in the League with Shea Weber and would be the no-doubt No. 1 defenseman on at least 20 other clubs.

Like Parise, Suter may also not be available. He told NHL.com on Sunday he wants to help Nashville try to make a run in Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“I want to focus on playing for Nashville,” Suter said. “We've got a good team and if we can add a couple of pieces here and there I think we have a legitimate chance of going to win the Stanley Cup.

"If we keep winning, we keep playing well, with the guys we have on the team and if we can add a couple of pieces, I think we can go far," Suter said. "It's (Poile's) call. It's his team and he can do what he wants with it, but I'd like to win this year."

Frank Seravelli of the Philadelphia Daily News reported Monday that League executives are thinking Suter will remain with the Predators in the coming weeks.

“The consensus among us is that Nashville will be hanging onto him, even if they know the odds are not in their favor of re-signing him,” one Eastern Conference general manager told Seravelli on condition of anonymity. “If he does decide to trade him, [Nashville general manager David] Poile has the market cornered. There are very few defensemen of Suter’s caliber in the League and Nashville has two of them.”


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Quote of the Day

I came into a team that had 65 points, that was at the bottom of the basement, a team that everybody wrote off as never going to be good. My goal is to go from the very bottom to the very top.

— Forward Brandon Dubinsky on signing a six-year contract extension with the Columbus Blue Jackets