The number of teams that look like potential sellers in the Western Conference has decreased to maybe just one, and the Flames are a big part of that. Once looking like the Ottawa of the of the West (expensive veteran roster but languishing at the bottom of the standings), the Flames have shot into the top eight of the conference by winning 14 of 21 games.
Suddenly there isn’t nearly as much talk of players being shipped out from the Red Mile, and said players are happy about that.
"It's nice to not have to hear as many [rumors]," captain Jarome Iginla told Scott Cruickshank of the Calgary Herald. "Literally, I think everybody’s name was in one at one time or another this year, so that's been a pretty nice change."
Should Calgary continue this run of good form, there could be more rumors involving the Flames but they will likely involve players coming instead of going.
“Everyone’s doing their part, and that’s the most important thing,” Sutter told the Herald. “What transpires from here till the deadline is out of everyone’s hands. We just have to play - and play well - and let’s see where we're at then. But I like the way our team’s playing, I like our hockey team. I like the way our team is being a team.”
Michal Frolik hasn’t scored in 23 games, but it says here that he will be an upgrade for the Blackhawks and could thrive if he gets to skate with some of Chicago’s elite forwards. That said, will Chicago keep looking to upgrade its roster considering the Blackhawks remain in 11th place in the West and three points shy of the Flames?
‘‘We’re not going to shy away from making another trade if it’s there to be made,” Chicago GM Stan Bowman told Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times. “It’s tough to make things happen. We’re pursuing it daily. We have a lot of conversations, and we’re not going to stop trying to make something happen.’’
If Chicago is going to make another move, remember the Blackhawks are pretty tight against the cap so don’t be surprised if another roster player has to be moved out to make such a transaction work. Also don’t be surprised if the guy coming in is a defenseman.
In case it wasn’t clear given their place in the Eastern Conference standings or from GM Bryan Murray’s previous comments, the Senators began the rebuilding process yesterday by trading Mike Fisher to Nashville. Getting a first-round pick for a second-line center is a quality return, and if the Predators make a run in this year’s playoffs the Senators will collect an extra pick for 2012 as well.
Murray made it pretty clear while addressing the media following the Fisher deal that it won’t be the last this month.
“There will be some deals,” Murray told reporters. “I don’t know how many, I don’t even pretend to know that, but there will be more deals. If we’re going to … follow our plan that we’ve outlined going forward, we have to make room for some people. We’re obviously going to acquire draft picks if we can and give ourselves a chance to pick as high as we can in this year’s draft and get good assets for the organization.”
The attention will now turn to other veterans on the Ottawa roster. Jason Spezza told Allen Panzeri of the Ottawa Citizen that Murray has not approached him about waiving his no-trade clause. It would probably be tough for Murray to find a taker for Spezza’s contract.
“No, I want to be part of the solution here,” Spezza said to Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun. “I feel this team has a lot more potential than we’re showing. We have a chance to make a quick turnaround here. I don’t think it’s going to be a long rebuilding process. We have good pieces in place, we just haven’t shown it. I think I can be a big help to turn this thing around and maybe take a little more responsibility on myself. Definitely, my thoughts right now going forward are really trying to fix this and trying to make us a better team.”
Defenseman Chris Phillips has been a popular name among potential trade targets, but he has a no-movement clause and could decide he doesn’t want to leave.
“I have talked to [Phillips] about what he would like to have happen for him, but Chris has not come back to me,” Murray told Bruce Garrioch of the Sun. “The door is open, ‘Come in and tell me what you want me to do and what you would like to do.’ I think he wants to stay in Ottawa. I’m not quite sure how that will work.”
Phillips is an unrestricted free agent and the type of veteran defense-first defenseman that contending teams covet at this time of year. Considering how many defenseman were traded for second-round picks last year at the deadline, that’s probably a good place to start when thinking of potential compensation for Phillips if he does agree to a move.
I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.
— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic