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What's brewing ahead of the Feb. 27 NHL trade deadline?

The Canadian Press
By:
The Hockey News
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What's brewing ahead of the Feb. 27 NHL trade deadline?

The Canadian Press
By:

The NHL's 3 p.m. ET Feb. 27 trade deadline is three weeks away. Here's a team-by-team outlook:

Anaheim: The Ducks need an upgrade on No. 4 defenceman Sean O'Donnell, who is a better fit as fifth or sixth guy. The Ducks will listen in on the Peter Forsberg situation in Philadelphia but won't sell the farm for him. They feel they made their blockbuster move last summer with Chris Pronger.

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Atlanta: The Thrashers want to add a forward or two, particularly a centre. There's possible interest in Blues centre Petr Cajanek, who has another year left on his deal at US$2 million. The Thrashers have also kicked the tires on Kings centre Derek Armstrong, an unrestricted free agent (UFA) July 1. Either way, they want a forward.

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Boston: The Bruins' attempts to re-sign Brad Stuart have hit a wall because the pending UFA defenceman politely told them he doesn't want to stay. It's entirely in his rights to want to play the free-agent market for the first time in his career. This will be rookie Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli's first big test, how to make a splash with this trade. There are plenty of suitors for Stuart, led by Edmonton, and right now the price is high. There's pressure on Chiarelli to make a good move here so that Boston has something to show for the Joe Thornton deal - Stuart was part of the package with Marco Sturm and Wayne Primeau.

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Buffalo: The high-flying Sabres could use a little more grit. They lost some when defenceman Jay McKee went to St. Louis and winger Mike Grier to San Jose as free agents last summer. A physical defenceman and gritty winger would fit the bill.

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Calgary: The reacquisition of centre Craig Conroy was the big move for Flames GM Darryl Sutter but he might add a role player or two before the deadline. Despite the fact the Flames are seventh in the NHL in goals per game, there's a feeling around the league another scoring winger wouldn't hurt.

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Carolina: Definitely in on the Forsberg chase. The defending champs need a jolt and he'd be it. Either way, the feeling is that Eric Belanger has struggled at times as the No. 3 centre so the 'Canes want to upgrade there. With the return of Frantisek Kaberle, the 'Canes have 10 NHL defencemen. GM Jim Rutherford will likely move one. Anton Babchuk appears to be the defenceman on the block.

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Chicago: How do you spell firesale? Defencemen Adrian Aucoin, Jassen Cullimore and Lasse Kukkonen are available, as are forwards Bryan Smolinski and Martin Lapointe and goalies Patrick Lalime and Brian Boucher. Aucoin has two more years on his deal at $4 million per. Smolinski, a useful two-way centre who'll be UFA July 1, will almost definitely move. Star goalie Nikolai Khabibulin isn't necessarily on the block but the Hawks would look at the right offer for the Russian, who has two more years at $6.75 million a season.

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Colorado: Like his predecessor Pierre Lacroix, rookie GM Francois Giguere keeps his cards close to his vest. This much we know: he'd love to find a taker for expensive backup goalie Jose Theodore, who will earn $6 million next year (good luck). If they remain buyers, i.e. close to a playoff spot come the 27th, look for them to try and add a veteran forward and a solid defenceman. They may get in on the Stuart sweepstakes as well.

Should the Avs fall too far behind a playoff spot in the West, they've got some UFAs to sell off as rentals: F Tyler Arnason, D Ken Klee, F Antti Laaksonen, F Pierre Turgeon. Future Hall of Famer Joe Sakic is also unrestricted July 1. Would the Avs even dare?

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Columbus: The Jackets will be sellers. Unless they sign contract extensions before the 27th, wingers Anson Carter and Fredrik Modin, both pending UFAs, will be the top catches. Defenceman Bryan Berard is also unrestricted July 1.

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Dallas: The Stars are 26th in the NHL in goals per game, and last among the 16 teams holding down a playoff spot Tuesday. To be fair, they wouldn't be that low if Mike Modano and Brenden Morrow hadn't missed most of the season (Morrow remains out until mid-March). But they still need a boost up front and Stars GM Doug Armstrong is aiming for a top-six forward. The Stars, however, will likely not be a player on the Forsberg front.

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Detroit: The Wings will monitor the Forsberg situation. He'd be a natural fit on a team that already has fellow Swedes Nicklas Lidstrom, Tomas Holmstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall and Mikael Samuelsson. Either way, they're looking for a top-six forward.

The salary cap shouldn't be an issue. The Wings have $1.5 million in cap room right now but can free up another $1.4 million, if need be, by deferring the cap hit to next season on bonuses owed to Dominik Hasek and Chris Chelios. That's not an ideal situation, but it's an important option should the Wings get hot and heavy for Forsberg ($2-million cap hit on Feb. 27) or any other big name.

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Edmonton: To say the Oilers are looking for a blue-liner heading into the deadline seems somewhat redundant, doesn't it? They've been looking for one since last summer, when they were forced to trade away Pronger and then lost Jaroslav Spacek to Buffalo via free agency. GM Kevin Lowe had been working the phones all season long. He'd be happy with anyone from Stuart in Boston, Eric Brewer in St. Louis or Joni Pitkanen in Philadelphia. Stuart and Brewer are both pending UFAs but Pitkanen is restricted and the Flyers aren't keen to move him.

Should the big fish not work out, there are lesser names available such as Babchuk in Carolina and Brent Sopel in Los Angeles.

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Florida: Rookie GM Jacques Martin told local reporters on the weekend that his team wouldn't be sellers at the trade deadline. That makes little sense. The Panthers aren't going to make the playoffs. It's imperative that they get something in return for their potential UFAs, which include forwards Todd Bertuzzi, Gary Roberts, Martin Gelinas, Ville Peltonen and Jozef Stumpel. Bertuzzi is expected back from a season-long back injury within two weeks. Stumpel, a natural centre, would be a nice consolation price for the teams missing out on Forsberg.

And what about 41-year-old goalie Ed Belfour? Would he interest anyone?

TSN reported last week that star centre Olli Jokinen could be moved as well. He has $16 million left on his deal for three more years but doesn't have a no-trade clause.

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Los Angeles: The Kings didn't wait for the deadline to start cleaning house, shipping off Conroy to Calgary last week and Sean Avery to the Rangers on Monday. There will be more to come as GM Dean Lombardi rebuilds this club from the bottom up. Centre Derek Armstrong and defencemen Brent Sopel and Aaron Miller - all UFA July 1 - are being dangled. Rob Blake has a no-trade clause and doesn't want to move.

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Minnesota: GM Doug Risebrough made his big splash last summer when he traded for Pavol Demitra so he'll likely aim for tinkering as opposed to a blockbuster move at the deadline. But he is a buyer. Expect at least a depth move up front. He doesn't want to give up any good young players.

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Montreal: Few people are more patient than Habs GM Bob Gainey but unless his club soon catches fire he'll realize he needs to do something fairly significant to shake his team up. A scoring forward would be the best remedy here, the Canadiens awful at 5-on-5 scoring this season. Defenceman Sheldon Souray is UFA July 1 and probably headed out of town but the Canadiens can't afford to deal their scoring ace with the team in a playoff spot. And if there are any takers for malcontent Sergei Samsonov and the $3.535-million salary he has next season, Gainey would gladly do it.

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Nashville: The NHL's first-place team doesn't have many holes but its blue-line group, after Kimmo Timonen and Mark Zidlicky, is a little green albeit very talented. So Predators GM David Poile will likely try to add a veteran defenceman.

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New Jersey: Unless Devils GM Lou Lamoriello can move salary for salary, this might be a largely quiet trade deadline for the cap-challenged team. Otherwise, this is a Stanley Cup contender that could use some offensive help. The Devils were 24th in the NHL in goals per game before Tuesday's action.

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N.Y. Islanders: GM Garth Snow has been on the lookout for a No. 2 centre and a top-line winger for well over a month since creating cap space with the Michael York and Alexei Zhitnik deals to Philadelphia. But he hasn't been able to pull the trigger.

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N.Y. Rangers: Avery won't be the last move. The Rangers are believed to be looking for a centre to match up with Brendan Shanahan on the second line. They haven't found a fit there all year. They need that second line to get going to take pressure off the top line. Perhaps Blues winger Keith Tkachuk can be converted to centre . . .

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Ottawa: Already made their big move with the acquisition of centre Mike Comrie but could still add a veteran forward. Florida's Roberts is a name that won't go away.

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Philadelphia: If Flyers GM Paul Holmgren can't convince Forsberg to re-sign, the pending UFA is gone. Holmgren has been feeling out the market while Forsberg tries to figure out his foot/skate issues. Just how much can Holmgren fetch? A first-round pick and a real good prospect? Other UFAs on the Flyers include F Kyle Calder, G Robert Esche, F Sami Kapanen and F Michael York. The Flyers began talks with Kapanen on an extension last week.

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Phoenix: Unless the Coyotes go on a huge roll in the next three weeks, they'll be forced to become sellers. Pending UFA winger Ladislav Nagy is the big catch. The two sides have held contract talks but if he's not signed by Feb. 27 he's probably gone. GM Mike Barnett doesn't want to move captain Shane Doan but the free-agent-to-be winger hasn't yet signed an extension.

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Pittsburgh: If Penguins GM Ray Shero can upgrade his defence this is a team that can do some serious damage in the wide-open Eastern Conference. One or even two solid defencemen would make a huge difference.

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St. Louis: The Blues are trying to fight off the firesale because they're finally drawing some decent crowds. But they started Tuesday 12 points back of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Some nice pieces possibly available if and when they become sellers: F Bill Guerin, Brewer, Tkachuk and F Jamal Mayers. Contract talks will get going this week, however, between Brewer's agent Don Meehan and the Blues. They've got three weeks to get a deal done.

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San Jose: The Sharks continue to be thrown into the rumour mix for Forsberg but GM Doug Wilson insists he's not a player on that front. San Jose has a ton of depth everywhere so there are no glaring needs.

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Tampa: Lightning GM Jay Feaster has been working the phones looking for a defenceman for two months but hasn't been able to find a fit. Pending UFA Ruslan Fedotenko is the trade bait.

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Toronto: The future of forward Darcy Tucker remains clouded. Will he be available Feb. 27 or not? With the Leafs making a playoff push how can they afford to move one of their best players? On the other hand, how can they afford to let him go for free July 1 as a UFA? His agent Carlos Sosa renewed contract talks with Leafs GM John Ferguson last week and planned to touch base again this week. Meanwhile, forget any notion of captain Mats Sundin being dealt. The Leafs believe they're a playoff team and need Sundin for the stretch run.

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Vancouver: The Canucks have a first-rounder and three second-round picks for next June's draft so they can move a pick to get some help. Another scoring forward and a solid defenceman would be great although the Canucks have limited cap space. Putting injured centre Ryan Kesler on the long-term injury list later this month would give them more cap relief. Blue-liner Sami Salo is a pending UFA and the Canucks desperately want to re-sign him as soon as possible. They don't want to be sitting there Feb. 27 facing the prospect of maybe trading him so that he doesn't walk away for free July 1 like Ed Jovanovski did last summer.

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Washington: The Capitals are tired of being sellers and desperately hope to make a run over the next three weeks to avoid it this year. If they can't get back in the playoff race, winger Richard Zednik is the most interesting rental up for grabs, although preliminary contract talks have begun between both sides to see if he can re-sign before Feb. 27. Centre Dainius Zubrus is also UFA but the Caps want to re-sign him.

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What's brewing ahead of the Feb. 27 NHL trade deadline?