With only 5 weeks before the February 27 NHL trade deadline, rumors are swirling all over the Internet, and especially on Twitter, as fake insiders try to get the attention of hockey fans by spreading out false trade rumors. I will try to dissect some of the hottest rumors and tell you which players are likely available. Earlier this week I had a look at some of the players that might be involved in trade talks in the first part of the Rumors Galore and the second part of the Rumors Galore. Today, I’ll have a look at the remaining teams and players, while starting next week, rumors will directly target specific players and teams.
The New Jersey Devils are in the thick of the playoff race, currently sitting 6th in the Eastern Conference, which means they will try to acquire the missing pieces to contend for Lord Stanley’s Cup. With blue liner Henrik Tallinder out six to eight weeks with a blod clot in his left leg, the Devils will certainly look to add a quality defenseman such as Tim Gleason, Bryan Allen or Lubomir Visnovksy before the deadline. As for impending UFA Zach Parise, he will not be dealt as long as the Devils are the race, but if the team falls out of contention, look for GM Lou Lamoriello to scour the market to see what hefty return he could get for the nifty Parise. While both Martin Brodeur and Johan Hedberg will be UFAs at season’s end, don’t expect them to be dealt as they want to re-sign in New Jersey.
With the New York Islanders ten points out of a playoff spot, it is likely that GM Garth Snow will be a seller before the trade deadline. However, since the Isles are playing much better hockey lately, the team will most likely wait until the last few days before making any significant move. Players that could be moved out include goalie Evgeni Nabokov, veteran rearguards Milan Jurcina, Mike Mottau, Steve Staios and Mark Eaton who are all slated to become UFAs at season’s end. Yet, the most prized trading bait might be Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau who’s making an affordable $1,250,000 this season and has 41 points in 45 games this year. PAP will be one of the top targets come deadline day and the price will most likely be a 1st rounder.
Currently leading the Eastern Conference with 62 points, the New York Rangers will definitely be buyers this season, but don’t expect a major overhaul in the Big Apple. GM Glen Sather is desperately trying to unload under-performing tweeners Erik Christensen and Wojtek Wolski, but while both players are rumored to draw some interest from the goal-starved Minnesota Wild, it will be very difficult to trade them. The biggest boost the Rangers received was when all-star defenseman Marc Staal came back into the line-up in early January after missing extensive time due to post-concussion symptoms.
The biggest surprise in the NHL this season, the Ottawa Senators will certainly be sellers as they keep racking up points going 8-1-1 in their last 10 games. Yesterday, fellow writer Peter Harling wrote an in-depth analysis on their situation as buyers here.
In the thick of the playoff race, the Philadelphia Flyers will definitely be buyers this season, and are mainly looking for a top-4 defenseman to replace Chris Pronger, who’s out for the remainder of the year with concussion symptoms. The Hurricanes’ Tim Gleason has been mentioned as a potential target while a Luke Schenn for James van Riemsdyk swap was almost a done deal before JVR was diagnosed with concussion-like symptoms. The Flyers could be willing to sacrifice winger Jakub Voracek in order to land the impact player they need to contend for the Cup. Voracek will be a restricted free agent at season’s end and the Flyers will have problems keeping him.
The league-owned Phoenix Coyotes have been fairly inconsistent this season and as a result, the team is currently 10th in the Western Conference standings, only two points out of the playoffs. If the Coyotes become buyers, don’t look for any major moves because of their budget restrictions, but if the become sellers in the next month, look for many unrestricted free agents to leave. Veterans like Shane Doan, Daymond Langkow, Ray Whitney and Taylor Pyatt , while blue liner Adrian Aucoin will certainly draw major interest from contending teams.
Thanks to Evgeni Malkin‘s great play and Kris Letang‘s return from his concussion, it is safe to say the Pittsburgh Penguins will be buyers at the deadline as GM Ray Shero has always been very active in the weeks leading to the trade freeze. With Sidney Crosby‘s return this season less than certain, the team will look to add a quality forward to its already potent offense. Players like P-A Parenteau, Ales Hemsky, Tuomo Ruutu and Andrei Kostitsyn will certainly be on Shero’s radar in the next few weeks.
As for the San Jose Sharks, they are currently shopping 3rd string goaltender Antero Niittymaki around the league and would like to bolster their blue line in need of a steady 6th defensemen such as Hal Gill, Bryan Allen or Andy Sutton. The team is also looking for depth up front as Martin Havlat has been battling injuries all season and pivot Michal Handzus has been a major disappointment with only 3 goals.
After signing goalie Brian Elliott to a two-year contract extension, it is clear the St Louis Blues don’t see Ben Bishop in their soup and will most likely trade him. The NHL-ready Bishop might draw interest from team looking for goaltending depth for this season. Also, with the imminent return of Alex Steen and later this season, Andy McDonald, the Blues will not be very active prior to the deadline, but they could dangle Patrick Berglund for defensive help as the team would like to add a left-handed shooting defender to its already stellar defensive group.
12 points out of a playoff spot, the Tampa Bay Lightning will obviously be sellers at the deadline, especially since their goalies have been less-than spectacular and their defensive corps has been ravaged by injuries to key players like Mattias Ohlund and Victor Hedman. Steve Yzerman knows that last season was a fluke and wants to be patient with his team. Gone are forwards Dominic Moore and Adam Hall, while blue liners Brett Clark and Matt Gilroy could interest teams looking for a puck-moving defenseman. Ryan Malone is also on the market, but with four more years at $4,500,000 and a full no-movement clause until next season, he’s going nowhere.
Finally, rumors are swirling about the Toronto Maple Leafs and their dynamic GM Brian Burke, who’s reportedly to add a big name to his forward group. Obviously, Burke is trying to add size and is interested in JVR, Bobby Ryan, Rick Nash, and even Ryan Malone to a lesser extent. The Leafs are willing to part ways with a defender such as Luke Schenn or Cody Franson to acquire that big forward. The team is also considering bringing a veteran goalie like Evgeni Nabokov to the mix as James Reimer and Jonas Gustavsson have been inconsistent this season.
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