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Posted On Friday, 02.18.2011 / 2:12 PM

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

Bruins, Leafs reshape franchise futures with deals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Boston moves?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Could this be the time for Kaberle?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senators, Avalanche swap slumping goalies

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

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

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

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

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

If anything, the trade of Anderson signals Colorado will be shopping for a goaltender this summer. There could be some interesting options available. Tomas Vokoun, Ilya Bryzgalov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere are all pending UFAs. So is Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard, and Colorado making a run at him would certainly add some spice to that rivalry.
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Posted On Thursday, 02.17.2011 / 7:24 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Dropkick Murphys bagpiper pulling for Flames

Scruffy Wallace of the Dropkick Murphys has been in Boston for almost a decade, adopting the ways of the parochial city that his band celebrates in so many of their songs.

While not quite as Boston yet as Bobby Orr, Fenway Park or Sam Adams, Wallace has become a part of the city, laying down pretty strong roots. He owns a house in one of Boston's many diverse neighborhoods and is part-owner of a local watering hole.

But, his heart still belongs to Calgary, the place his family settled after emigrating from Great Britain when he was just a child. In fact, the bagpipes he plays for the Murphys are adorned with the provincial flag of Alberta.

And, it is Calgary that will once again own his heart this Sunday when he will gather a group of friends to his home and tune into Versus to watch the 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic between the Calgary Flames and the Montreal Canadiens at Calgary's McMahon Stadium.

"There's a big part at my house," Wallace Told NHL.com on Thursday, just minutes after the band finished rehearsal for an upcoming tour to celebrate the release of the band's latest disc, Going Out in Style, which debuts March 1. "I got my Flames jersey all ready to go. We'll have some steak tips and some beers and watch the game."

And, make no mistake, it will be a pro-Flames gathering.

"Hopefully the Flames will destroy the Canadiens," Wallace said. "I don't like the Canadiens."

Wallace's friends from Boston also don't like the Canadiens after years of the Montreal franchise wearing the black hats in The Hub. So, they could be some pretty loud cheers emanating from Wallace's neighborhood Sunday.

But, he knows it will be nothing like the noise that will engulf McMahon Stadium on Sunday.

"Calgary is such a great hockey town," says Wallace, who played goalie until he joined the military and took up rugby. "It's a really intense hockey town. That's why I could relate to Boston when I moved here."

Wallace would love to be in Calgary as his Flames and the Canadiens rekindled a rivalry that defined Wallace's time there. The teams met in the Stanley Cup Final in both 1986 and 1989. Montreal won the 1986 matchup, but the Flames gained revenge three years later in the final game of Calgary legend Lanny MacDonald's career.

Despite being from Great Britain originally, Wallace took to hockey immediately upon arriving in Calgary.

"In Canada, hockey is not a sport, it's a way of life," Wallace said. "You can't help but follow it."

But, now Wallace's new way of life -- playing the pipes in a rock band -- prohibits him from even entertaining the idea of going to Calgary for the game, which will be the biggest event in the city in quite some time.

The Dropkick Murphys are in the middle of intense rehearsals in preparation of a spring tour, which opens next week in Niagara Falls, N.Y., to support the Going out in Style disc. Her can't pull himself away from that -- not that he would want to.

"We're all really excited about this new record," Wallace said. "It's been long overdue."

Wallace also thinks the album shows some real growth by the band, without deviating too far afield from its Celtic punk roots.

Plus, Bruce Springsteen makers a cameo on the album, assuring that it will be a worthwhile listen.

"You're talking about Bruce Springsteen here," Wallace said. "He was gracious  to sing some songs for us and we are pleased as punch with the results."
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Posted On Thursday, 02.17.2011 / 6:03 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Heritage Classic a hit with sponsors

CALGARY -- It appears that the Heritage Classic is a hit -- even before the game is played.

NHL Executive Vice President of Marketing Brian Jennings said Thursday the sponsorship revenue for the 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic has exceeded the sponsorship revenue for the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

Jennings didn't reveal the dollar figures, but said the excitement shown by Canadian sponsors such as Tim Hortons and Canadian Tire for an outdoor game in Canada has made the difference.

"We were probably long overdue to get back on Canadian soil," Jennings said. "I think our corporate partners recognize the power of the brands. For us, we were overwhelmed at the support from the sponsorship perspective. There's a lot of ways we measure success from this, and certainly revenues are a part of it."

About 22,000 Heritage Classic jerseys of both the Calgary Flames and Montreal Canadiens have been sold thus far, Jennings said. Sales have favored the host team so far, with about 16,000 Flames jerseys having already flown off the shelves.

But a major concern for Jennings is the sale of counterfeit jerseys. He said not only are fans purchasing an inferior product, but they could also be helping people engage in illegal activities.

"I think we've seen a heightened increase of counterfeiting," Jennings said. "I think there's a lot of things that fans can do. Some of the dollars that get generated from counterfeit jerseys find their way back to terrorist-type activities. It's a big business, and not just from a hockey perspective but hockey in general. It's intellectual property, which is (a) main part of our collateral. It's a key element for us to protect, and we are quite vigilant in the marketplace for doing so."

Jennings also announced the NHL, the Calgary Flames and Hockey Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine and his Companions in Courage charity has plans to donate a state-of-the-art "NHL Legacy Classroom" at Alberta Children's Hospital. The classroom is expected to be operational by April 2011.

The classroom will feature Cisco System's online conferencing system WebEx, which allows young patients to connect to family, friends, schools and teachers anywhere in the world during a hospital stay.

"The Alberta Children's Hospital is a Southern Alberta jewel providing unparalleled care for all young people in need of its services," said Flames President & CEO Ken King. "The Calgary Flames organization is proud to partner with the NHL in the creation of this unique legacy."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Thursday, 02.17.2011 / 3:45 PM

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

Canucks injuries shouldn't change much

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Burke: Reports false, no deal yet for Kaberle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATED: Kaberle deal Bruin?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ducks send Mara back to Habs

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

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

With a shortage on the blue line due to injuries (Hall Gill and Jaroslav Spacek have been out with injuries, forcing the Habs to raid their AHL team in Hamilton), adding Mara at the cost of a fifth-round pick in the 2012 Entry Draft should provide help on the blue line for the Canadiens while giving the Ducks the flexibility to add a forward as they head on a weekend trip to Minnesota and St. Louis.
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He seemed to thrive on his own and didn't really need any push from me. I certainly don't want to get in the way of the coaches. You see how that goes sometimes. I never really worried about it and just enjoyed the ride.

— David Ekblad on his son's [Aaron Ekblad] journey to the NHL, signing with the Florida Panthers