The trade deadline and the day before the trade deadline ended up being much busier and way more full of big names than it has been in years. This year, finally, was not a let down as far as entertainment goes.
Martin St-Louis, Roberto Luongo, Thomas Vanek and Matt Moulson were just some of the front-line players moved before 3:00 p.m. on March 5. Some teams made significant upgrades, others not to much. So what does it mean heading down the stretch towards the playoffs?
Here are our five winners and five losers of the 2014 NHL trade deadline. Read more
The NHL trade deadline is nearly upon us. Here’s the latest on the notable names in the rumor mill.
Ryan Kesler: Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reports Kesler gave the Canucks a short list of preferred trade destinations. The Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers are believed among them. Kypreos notes the Canucks are reluctant to move the 29-year-old center to a Western Conference team.
Various reports claim the Canucks seek a 20- to 25-year-old center to replace Kesler, along with a first-round pick and a top prospect. The Vancouver Province’s Ben Kuzma reports the Penguins, Flyers and Detroit Red Wings are among the front-runners. Kesler apparently won’t waive his no-trade clause for the Columbus Blue Jackets, possibly because of an old feud with former college teammate R.J. Umberger. Kuzma believes the Flyers can address the Canucks’ need for a young center by offering either Brayden Schenn or Sean Couturier.
The Penguins and Flyers have reportedly made offers for Kesler. It’s also believed the Flyers have interest in Canucks defenseman Alex Edler. Given the limited cap space of the Flyers and Canucks, salaried players would have to be exchanged to make the dollars fit. One wonders what effect the Canucks shipping Roberto Luongo to the Florida Panthers will have on the Kesler trade talks.
The Edmonton Oilers are among the handful of teams considered sellers leading up to the March 5 trade deadline. Right winger Ales Hemsky and defenseman Nick Schultz are among the Oilers expected to be shopped once the Olympic trade freeze lifts Feb. 23.
Hemsky is no stranger to rumors, but he’s an unrestricted free agent this summer earning $5 million this season and isn’t expected to be re-signed. Schultz, earning $3.6 million, is also a pending UFA.
Oilers analyst Bob Stauffer claims the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins could be interested in Hemsky. Stauffer also commented on a proposed deal with Hemsky going to the Phoenix Coyotes for prospect Henrik Samuelsson. While doubting the Coyotes would part with Samuelsson, the Edmonton Journal’s Jonathan Willis believes if the Oilers agreed to pick up half of Hemsky’s remaining salary it could make the 30-year-old winger attractive to teams with financial issues, like Phoenix.
The Ottawa Senators find themselves at the Olympic break sitting only one point out of a wild card berth in the Eastern Conference. They’re currently locked in a three-way tie with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Washington Capitals.
GM Bryan Murray was actively shopping for help leading up to the Olympic roster freeze. Earlier in the season he sought a top-six winger and a puck-moving defenseman. The emergence of young blueliner Cody Ceci addressed the latter, leaving Murray still seeking that elusive winger.
The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports Murray will keep looking for the right deal to improve his club’s playoff chances. Unfortunately, only a handful of teams are currently considered to be sellers so there are few players available to address the Senators’ needs. Murray admits the asking prices are high and he’s unwilling to overpay for a rental player. Read more
The status of Buffalo Sabres’ goaltender Ryan Miller is an ongoing hot topic in the NHL rumor mill.
Sabres GM Tim Murray told The Buffalo News’ Mike Harrington he’s getting lots of trade offers for Miller and his fellow pending UFAs Matt Moulson, Steve Ott and Henrik Tallinder. Murray said he’s willing to listen to offers for any player on his team, but any deal depends upon the return. Harrington concluded those teams interested in Miller, Moulson and Ott should be prepared to pony up.
It’s rumored the asking prices for the trio will be expensive (especially for Miller) with Murray seeking young players, draft picks and/or prospects. In an earlier interview with Harrington, Miller didn’t rule out re-signing with the Sabres, but said he hasn’t been approached about a new contract or a trade. He holds a partial no-trade clause in which he can reject up to eight teams as trade destinations. Read more
The first goal Martin Erat scores this season might come in the Olympic Games.
Erat was named to the Czech Republic Olympic team today replacing Vladimir Sobotka. Erat hasn’t scored since April 16 of last year, a span of 57 regular season and playoff games. He does have 21 assists in 48 games for the Washington Capitals and has been in and out of coach Adam Oates’ doghouse.
So why are the Czechs turning to an ice cold player for the Sochi Olympics when hotter hands such as Jiri Hudler and Radim Vrbata were overlooked first time around?
I asked Denik Sport hockey writer Pavel Barta for his thoughts.
Everyone loves a “beating the odds” story. And odds are, by the time a hockey player’s 35th birthday has passed, his production has slowed considerably, giving him more time between shifts to contemplate investment opportunities or a broadcasting career. But there’s always a few gifted impact players who seem to barely slow down with age. Here’s the top-10 point-getters over 35 this season. Read more
The Maple Leafs dealt defenseman Mark Fraser to Edmonton Friday in exchange for minor-league forward Cameron Abney and the rights to KHLer and restricted free agent Teemu Hartikainen. If you’re underwhelmed by the move, you probably need to adjust your whelm expectations as the NHL’s trade deadline approaches, because these types of defensive depth deals – and not blockbuster moves for marquee blueliners – are what NHL people expect to see.
Sure, there’s a possibility an elite defenseman such as Phoenix’s Keith Yandle moves on to a new team. And if the Rangers can’t get Dan Girardi’s signature on a contract extension, teams will line up to bid on his services. But take a good look at the larger pool defensemen believed to be available. There’s far more demand than supply for high-quality players of that position. Read more