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.
Several members of the media, including NHL Netowrk analysts Bob McKenzie and Kevin Weekes, have pointed to the Ducks as a possible destination for free agent goaltender Ray Emery. Beat writers Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times and Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register have both confirmed Anaheim's interest in Emery, who began last season as the No. 1 goalie in Philadelphia before a right hip injury ended his season.
Why would the Ducks be interested in Emery? Jonas Hiller is the clear-cut No. 1 guy in the OC, but a healthy Emery could be an upgrade in the backup role over Curtis McElhinney. It is also important to note the Ducks don't have a clear-cut No. 3 guy as an insurance policy with Syrcause in the AHL. Timo Pielmeier and J.P. Levasseur are currently the tandem with the Crunch. Emery -- or another guy with NHL experience -- could be a good fit with Anaheim.
NHL Network analsyt Darren Dreger reported for TSN that three teams are interested in Emery and said Anaheim and Philadelphia are two of the three teams.
These are tough times for a team that began this season as one of the League's best stories. After leading the Southeast Division for a few days earlier this season, the Thrashers are tumbling. Now both Carolina AND Buffalo are within range of knocking them out of the top eight in the Eastern Conference after losses in 15 of the past 22 games.
Well, first-year GM Rick Dudley wants to do his part to stop the slide. He told Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he is trying to be active in the trade market, and even offered a wish list -- two forwards and a defenseman.
"Are we looking to do something? Absolutely. We don’t want to let this go," Dudley said. "Obviously we haven’t given up on the season. It would be ludicrous. We haven’t given up on improving either. If it doesn't come from within, it will come from outside."
Dudley's strong statements came one day after coach Criag Ramsey questioned his team's "mental commitment" to winning following a 4-1 loss to bottom-feeder New Jersey. The Thrashers are one point ahead of the Hurricanes and five in front of the Sabres, but Carolina has two games in hand and Buffalo has four.
The tricky part for Dudley could be managing his budget and his cache of prospects while trying to improve the team.
"Obviously we feel a sense of urgency because we think we are a better team than we displayed [Tuesday]," Dudley said to the AJC. "We think we are capable of making the playoffs but it may take a move here or there.
"I'm not going to jeopardize the long-term future of the organization for the short-term gain. But if there is something that makes sense in both of those cases, long term and short term, we would do that for sure."
NHL Network analyst Bob McKenzie mentioned a pair of Thrashers defensemen, Ron Hainsey and Brent sopel, who could be made available once All-Star Tobias Enstrom returns from a broken finger. They make a combined $7 million this season (Hainsey makes $5 million but has a cap hit of of $4.5 mil), but would also have to be replaced in Atlanta's top 6 if dealt.
The Flames are one of the hottest teams in the NHL right now and have surged back into playoff contention. That hasn't slowed speculation of which veteran players might be traded if new GM Jay Feaster wants to retool the roster. One of those guys is Robyn Regehr, who has two more years left on his contract and most importantly, a no-trade clause.
"That's something I fought for," Regehr told Vicki Hall of the Calgary Herald. "I had to sacrifice certain things to get that. If there's something I don't really like, I guess, I wouldn't be afraid to take advantage of it. That's something I've had to give up certain things for.
"It's more of a comfortable feeling to have that. If a team is talking to you about that type of stuff, it might be a good situation to go somewhere else. You never know. It's a very complex kind of thing and one that I haven't had to discuss yet."
Regehr would be one of the top defensemen on the market if Feaster would be willing to move him -- and with a $4.02 million cap hit a very reasonable contract for a player of his value. Despite all of the rumors about Regehr's future, he said he's never been asked to waive his NTC.
"So far that hasn't happened," Regehr said to the Herald. "I just have to go out there and play. There's certain [media] guys who have had me traded since the fall."
The Wild have won 8 of 12 and moved into second place in the Northwest Division. More importantly, Minnesota is one point shy of eighth place in the West (and only four shy of fourth place) with games in hand compared to each of the six teams ahead of them in the standings.
The surge has made it very unlikely any of Minnesota's pending unrestricted free agents would be available in a trade, and Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune writes the Wild might be pretty quiet as the deadline nears.
"We're right there, and this is going to go right down to the wire," GM Chuck Fletcher told the Star-Tribune. "So we haven't had conversations about moving our pending UFAs to other teams. The focus right now is 'What can we do to make the playoffs?' We'll look to do anything that makes sense without mortgaging the future.
"That means keeping this group together so long as we can continue to play the way we're playing."