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Early afternoon musings: Feb. 22

by Corey Masisak /
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.


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."


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.


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.


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.


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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