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Posted On Friday, 02.25.2011 / 2:45 PM

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

Flyers need a defenseman?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Early Afternoon Musings: Feb. 25

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

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

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

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

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

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

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

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

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

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

VANCOUVER CANUCKS

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

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

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

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

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

Kovalev, Stillman updates

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

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

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

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

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

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

More moves for East contenders?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"We'll wait and see what happens with Mike and then we'll wait and see what happens with our goalies at that point."
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Posted On Thursday, 02.24.2011 / 4:43 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Surging Sea Dogs

It's pretty amazing what the talent-laden Saint John Sea Dogs have been able to accomplish this season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Not that it's too surprising, but still, the Sea Dogs have won 49 of 57 games this year for 101 points -- quite impressive indeed.

The Sea Dogs have outscored the opposition, 273-140, this season.

Last year, the club totaled 109 points en route to the Jean Rougeau Trophy as the regular-season champion. Just six other teams in the history of the QMJHL had achieved back-to-back 100-point seasons.

Keep in mind that there could be as many as six players from the QMJHL taken in the first round of the 2011 Entry Draft in St. Paul, Minn., on June 24. The last time the league produced as many as four first-round NHL draft picks was 2007 when forwards Jakub Voracek, Logan MacMillan, Angelo Esposito and David Perron were all taken among the top 26 selections.

Not only could there be as many as six players from the 'Q' drafted in the opening round, but four of the players might very well be from the surging Sea Dogs.

According to Central Scouting's mid-term rankings, No. 4 Jonathan Huberdeau, No. 9 Nathan Beaulieu, No. 12 Zack Phillips and No. 24 Tomas Jurco of Saint John are all among the top 30 skaters on the North American list.

Huberdeau has 36 goals and 87 points in 56 games, Phillips has 32 goals and 81 points in 56 games, Jurco has produced 28 goals and 51 points in 49 games and Beaulieu, the only defenseman of the group, has 11 goals, 39 points and a plus-39 rating in 56 contests.

The other two players from the QMJHL projected to go in the first round are No. 2 Sean Couturier of Drummondville and No. 23 Phillip Danault of Victoriaville.

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Posted On Wednesday, 02.23.2011 / 3:28 PM

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

Pens' Shero still looking for forward help

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Stars GM: 'All options' open with Richards

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Early afternoon musings: Feb. 23

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

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

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

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

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

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

DALLAS STARS

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

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

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

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

NEW JERSEY DEVILS

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

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

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

If the Devils do end up deciding to sell (seems pretty unlikely at this point), expect a lot of interest in Arnott and maybe goalie Johan Hedberg as someone's insurance plan. If Lamoriello wants to add a defenseman would make a lot of sense but the cap situation is tricky.
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.23.2011 / 9:00 AM

By Seth Ambroz -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Seth Ambroz draft blog

Two-time USHL All-Star: Seth Ambroz


Seth Ambroz is a right wing for the Omaha Lancers of the United States Hockey League. The 6-foot-3, 202-pound Ambroz, committed to the University of Minnesota in the fall of 2011, was just 15-years-old when he burst upon the USHL scene as a rookie in 2008-09. Through 38 games this season, Ambroz leads the team with 33 points, including 17 goals. The New Prague, Minn., native was rated No. 28 on NHL Central Scouting's mid-term release of North American skaters in January. A participant of the 2010 NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp fueled by G Series in August, Ambroz has offered to maintain a monthly blog for NHL.com that will chronicle his season leading up to the NHL Entry Draft in St. Paul, Minn.

Hi everyone. Last Friday (Feb. 18), the USHL announced its All-Star Team and I was honored to be named a second straight year because there are a lot of great players in the league and we have a lot of good players on our team. Just to be able to represent the Western Division is a honor.

It's definitely nice to be recognized as an All Star. I hope things keep working out for me. I obviously want to keep working hard because with hard work, comes reward. Like they say, the cream always rises to the top and that only happens with a lot of hard work. If it doesn't happen that way, I'll keep working and eventually something good will come out of it.

I was also happy that (defenseman) Ben Marshall and (forward) Nick Oddo were also named to the team. They've been huge for the team this year. Ben has been a plus-21 or so player all year and huge part of our team. He runs our power-play and obviously is a really good offensive-defenseman. He has a lot of skill and speed and he makes a lot of plays. He's definitely been a huge part.

Nick is in his fourth year (in the USHL) and he's having a great success and working hard. I'm really happy for him. To have two teammates like that with me on the All Star Team is great. I'm happy that it's all working out.

The USHL also celebrated Hockey Weekend Across America with some big games. We hosted rival Lincoln on Saturday (in front of 6,328 fans) at Omaha Civic Auditorium. It was great atmosphere against a big rival -- Lincoln is only 45 minutes away.

You get a lot of Lincoln fans there as well. Unfortunately, we didn't come out on top and it was a tough weekend for us. We didn't even score a goal (in 2-0 loss to Lincoln and 3-0 loss to Green Bay) which was tough. But that happens and even though it kind of set us back a little bit, we'll get back on the right track. We've had a great past 10 games. This kind of just put us in a little reality check. It could be a good thing. We need to keep our heads focused and just get to work on getting things back on track, working more towards the offensive side and scoring some more goals.

Our division is so tight (as the top five teams are within 9 points). It's never really been that close throughout the division. Last year, we kind of pulled away at the start, but this year its fun being part of this competitive side of this Western Division. You can't have an off night. It just seems like everyone is finding for points. Hopefully, we'll remain in a good spot at the time of my next blog.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.22.2011 / 12:49 PM

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

Early afternoon musings: Feb. 22

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

ANAHEIM DUCKS

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

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

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

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

BUFFALO SABRES

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

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

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

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

CALGARY FLAMES

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

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

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

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

FLORIDA PANTHERS

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

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

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

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

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

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

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

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

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

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

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


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It was the look in his eyes. Hockey is the most important thing in his life. He wants to be a hockey player, and nothing's going to stop him from being a hockey player.

— Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin on forward Alex Galchenyuk's potential