Separation between East’s have & have-not teams will make NHL trade deadline unique

Cody Franson (Abelimages/Getty Images)

If you don’t know by now the NHL’s points system is essentially a competitive funhouse mirror designed to give more teams the appearance they’ve got a shot at a playoff spot, you should. The league has, to the credit of its business acumen, recognized more teams can sell tickets to fans deeper into their regular-seasons if those fans see the teams are only four or five points out of a post-season berth; now, there’s very likely a very slim chance that team can leapfrog a bunch rivals playing each other down the stretch for one of the last playoff positions, but that’s not the point. It’s a mirage of sorts, and it works.

But the way things are shaping up in the Eastern Conference this year, not even the “loser point” looks like it’s going to create the illusion of competitiveness between the teams that make the post-season and the ones that don’t. Of course, most teams still have approximately 35 games to play, so you can’t be sure about anything just yet, but with the trade deadline set for March 2, it’s starting to look like the East’s eight non-playoff teams are going to serve as a feeder system for the much tighter West. Read more

Legendary Islander Clark Gillies: “The last thing on my hockey bucket list is to drink from the Stanley Cup one more time”

Stu Hackel
(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Scoring 304 goals and 663 points in his 872 games as an Islander – not to mention his 891 penalty minutes, Clark Gillies was a Hall of Fame power forward and core member of the Islanders dynasty teams of the 1980s. He added another 47 goals and 46 assists in the playoffs. His retired Number 9 hangs in the rafters at Nassau Coliseum. A former captain who was the heart and soul of the club, Gillies was honored earlier this season in a pregame ceremony as the club pays tribute to the heroes of the Coliseum. Here, he discusses playing on Long Island as the club prepares to move to Brooklyn next season. Read more

Rumor Roundup: What to watch as trade deadline draws near

Fleischmann Kopecky featured

With the 2015 NHL All-Star Game now history and teams returning to action on Tuesday, the focus shifts toward the approaching NHL trade deadline on March 2. It’s expected trade activity will increase over the next five weeks as more clubs fall out of playoff contention.

As the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch observes, only four teams – Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes and Edmonton Oilers – can be considered non-contenders and therefore sellers in the trade market. Between now and the trade deadline, Garrioch believes they will be joined by the Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Maple Leafs, Kings, Sabres, Oilers, and Senators all prepared to make moves following break

(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHL)

Talk of the the Toronto Maple Leafs and Los Angeles Kings swapping toxic contracts by exchanging defenseman Dion Phaneuf and Mike Richards persists in the rumor mill. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes it could make sense for both clubs. He thinks the Kings might go for it but not the Leafs at this point.

Phaneuf, 29, is in the first year of a seven-year, $49-million contract with an annual cap hit of $7 million. Richards, 29, is in the seventh-season of a 12-year, $69-million deal worth $5.75-million per season. Read more

Five players you can expect to be dealt after the All-Star break

Yandle Featured

In the salary cap era, trades before the All-Star break are becoming increasingly rare. But once the All-Star festivities come to an end and teams get back to business, the trade winds really start picking up.

There are several players that have been headlining trade talks from opening night, and with only five weeks remaining until the March 2 trade deadline, you can be expecting there will be a few significant moves made. These are five players you can expect to be traded following the break. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Avalanche’s O’Reilly, Sabres’ Myers center of trade talks

Ryan O'Reilly (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

The Colorado Avalanche’s struggles this season continue to provide fodder for trade rumors involving versatile forward Ryan O’Reilly, winner of the 2014 Lady Byng Trophy.

It’s well known the Avalanche lack skilled blueline depth, which is reflected in their woeful shots-against per game and puck-possession numbers. Some pundits believe the 23-year-old O’Reilly could fetch the Avs a top-two defenseman. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman suggests shipping O’Reilly to Arizona for Coyotes blueliner Keith Yandle makes sense for both clubs, though O’Reilly’s unrestricted free agent status in 2016 could be a sticking point. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Kessel, Phaneuf could be traded in off-season

Kessel-Phaneuf (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

In the week since the Toronto Maple Leafs replaced coach Randy Carlyle on an interim basis with Peter Horachek, trade rumors continue to dog the club. Much of it centers upon Leafs star Phil Kessel, whose critics were out in full force last week.

During the Kessel-bashing fest, Sportsnet’s Luke Fox noted Nashville Predators GM David Poile appeared on TSN radio to defend the 27-year-old winger. Poile was the architect of the 2014 Men’s Olympic hockey team and Kessel was part of the lineup. Fox claims Poile’s comments “raised eyebrows”, pointing out the Predators GM expressed interest in trading for Kessel in 2009 before the winger was dealt by the Boston Bruins to the Leafs. Read more