[Crashing the Crease is The Hockey Writers rundown of news, notes, and analysis from around the NHL]
~ As expected, it looks like Ray Whitney won’t be back in Carolina next season. (With the writing on the wall at the trade deadline, it makes me wonder why GM Jim Rutherford didn’t just take what he could get):
“I think it will be difficult with where he will be at, contract-wise,” Rutherford said. “I expect him to go into July (and the free-agent market). It appears that’s the way it’s going to go.”
~ With new bench bosses in Tampa and Columbus, Atlanta hopes to narrow down their remaining options:
The key deadline is July 1st when free agency begins–players want to know who will be in charge of their ice time and their role within the squad. The one advantage of hiring a coach early in the summer is that it gives him more time to review game tapes from the prior year and think about how to plan for the next season.
~ THW’s Dave Poleck dove headfirst into the Nathan Horton trade rumors last week, and ESPN’s Pierre Lebrun is suggesting he may not be the only big name heading out of Florida in the coming days:
While [GM Dale] Tallon declined to discuss specific names, another source told ESPN.com Horton is far from the only name on the table and it’s open season in Florida. If it’s a good offer, the Panthers will listen. They want to stockpile draft picks but also remain competitive. Tallon doesn’t want to bottom out, which is why he’ll likely keep veteran goalie Tomas Vokoun.
~ With a blueline solidifed pending the signing of recent acquisition Dan Hamhuis, Philadelphia now need to turn their attention to goaltender. Larry Brooks pulls back the curtain on the Flyers’ playoff run:
It’s a fact. The Flyers made it to the Final despite the leaks in net. But it would be the height of folly for GM Paul Holmgren to expect a repeat, for how likely is it that the Flyers would ever get a repeat of the playoff draw in which they faced the three lowest-scoring playoff qualifiers in the conference, one after another (Devils 8th, Bruins 7th, Canadiens 6th)?
Philadelphia played one team that could score, Chicago, and lost to the Blackhawks on a terrible goal. Thirty-five years will be 36 and counting if the franchise continues its historical hunt for bargains in the game’s most vital position.
~ The Edmonton Journal suggests San Jose could be in the market for Sheldon Souray:
There aren’t a lot of teams lining up to trade for Oilers Sheldon Souray because of his $5.4-million cap hit for two more years. One possibility may be the San Jose Sharks, who need help on the blue-line, especially if Rob Blake retires and they lose his big shot and $3.5-million worth of salary. The Sharks would likely offer defenceman Kent Huskins and forward Torrey Mitchell in return.
~ With all the offseason chatter around the league, one team you haven’t heard much from is the Minnesota Wild. Part of the reason may be that GM Cliff Fletcher is facing a challenging situation:
With limited salary-cap room heading into a weak free-agent market anyway, Fletcher will have to get creative and bold this offseason if he’s going to turn the Wild into a true playoff contender.
The trade route might be the only way, especially with the second-most popular trading time of the year coming up — the June 25-26 draft. But the problem is the Wild owns precious few assets that could draw back the significant pieces needed.
~ The Dallas Stars may have a few players available to use as trading chips this summer. My feeling is swapping Mike Ribeiro with Atlanta for the #8 pick would make sense for all parties involved, but Mike Heika eyes a different return for the veteran center:
As for Mike Ribeiro, he is the logical player the Stars would need to move if they were looking for a solid defenseman. The Stars are on a tight budget and cannot take on another big contract, so they have to trade money for money. Because Tom Wandell is coming back from knee surgery and the Stars seem intent to play Jamie Benn at center, there are options to replace Ribeiro, so he becomes a candidate to be traded. Ribeiro has a contract that averages $5 million over the next three seasons and he seemed to struggle with Marc Crawford’s system of go-go-go. He’s the type of player that likes to slow things down, so he might fit better on a different team.
Crashing the Crease is The Hockey Writers’ rundown of news, notes, and analysis from around the NHL.
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