Hockey Trade Rumors – Feb 22, 2011

Enough outdoor NHL and Mr. Gillis don’t forget Brunette

Could the Wild make a move for a center

Anxious Sens brace for more trades

Trading deadline gets general managers going, or in case of Kings, not going

Connolly’s days as Sabre may be counting down

Enough outdoor NHL and Mr. Gillis don’t forget Brunette

By now, the names in play at the trade deadline are fairly well known to most puckheads, but there’s one development which bears monitoring. The Minnesota Wild are currently in the thick of the Western Conference playoff battle but if they fall off in the next week, they have five pending UFAs -Andrew Brunette, Antti Mietinen, John Madden, Chuck Kobasew and Jose Theodore -who could make things very interesting

Canucks GM Mike Gillis has indicated he isn’t planning anything dramatic but if there’s one player he should make an exception for it’s Brunette. He’s a proven playoff performer, has character in spades and he’d give the Canucks options among the top-nine forwards and the power play.

Could the Wild make a move for a center

Wild captain Mikko Koivu was examined by a hand specialist this morning and it’s been determined he will not have to undergo surgery on his broken finger. GM Chuck Fletcher told reporters this morning that he will definitely be back by the end of the regular season.

As I reported today, I’ve heard three to four weeks without surgery. But it’ll be up to his pain threshhold and ability to grip a stick. But good news, relative to how bad the situation could have been.

Still, you can bet Fletcher will be trying to make a move to improve the Wild’s depth at center. Some names of centermen in the last year of their contract include Jason Arnott, Tim Connolly, Ryan Johnson (history with Fletcher/Flahr, Wild considered signing last summer), Jeff Halpern (Flahr’s college teammate), Marty Reasoner and Cory Stillman (a wing that can play center, has won two Cups and is good pals with Matt Cullen).

Anxious Sens brace for more trades

With seven days to the NHL trade deadline, nobody is sure who will stay and who will go in the Senators dressing room.

GM Bryan Murray spent the long weekend watching top prospects for the draft in June. Indications are he’s also been busy working the phones.

Mike Fisher (Nashville), Chris Kelly (Boston), Jarkko Ruutu (Anaheim) and Brian Elliott (Colorado) are already gone — and they almost certainly won’t be the only ones who will have packed their bags before next Monday at 3 p.m.

“We know there’s probably a few more moves to come,” centre Jason Spezza said following the club’s skills competition at Scotiabank Place Monday. “It will be nice once the deadline is over and we can just focus on the games moving forward.

“There’s some guys with decisions to make. A couple of guys whose names have been mentioned … don’t want to leave. It will probably be a better atmosphere for everybody on the ice once the deadline is over.”

There is plenty of chatter surrounding the following Senators:

D Chris Phillips
RW Chris Neil
D Filip Kuba
RW Alex Kovalev

Trading deadline gets general managers going, or in case of Kings, not going

A general manager identifies a need for a productive left winger. He decides to trade a valuable asset to fill that need but gives his team a better chance to go deep in the playoffs this season and in the future.

Congratulations, Ray Shero of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

What, you thought it might be Kings GM Dean Lombardi shaking off his paralysis by analysis?

While the Kings sit outside the top eight in the West and Lombardi dithers about filling a hole he recognized last summer, Shero’s Penguins on Monday acquired power forward James Neal — a three-time 20-goal scorer — and defenseman Matt Niskanen from the salary-dumping Dallas Stars for defenseman Alex Goligoski. It’s a great deal for the Penguins, who lost Sidney Crosby indefinitely to a concussion and Evgeni Malkin to season-ending knee surgery.

The Stars, hamstrung financially while seeking a new owner, get dollars off their books and a puck-moving defenseman. The next question is how long they’ll wait to move Brad Richards, who’s earning $7.8 million and is eligible for unrestricted free agency. In a hockey sense, the Stars can’t afford to lose a franchise player, but financially they can’t afford to keep him.

Goligoski will earn $1.5 million this season and $2.75 million in 2011-12. Neal will earn $2.25 million this season and $3.5 million next season, and Niskanen will earn $1.25 million this season and $1.75 million next season. All three can become restricted free agents on July 1, 2012.

“There aren’t many of these young, power guys in the game. Neal is on our list [and] is one of the better ones in the game,” Shero told reporters in Pittsburgh. “This is the hockey trade that we’ve been looking for.”

And so continued the buildup to next Monday’s noon (Pacific time) NHL trade deadline. The trends: Defensemen are going at a premium and teams aren’t afraid to move so-called cornerstone players, as in the St. Louis Blues’ trades of team captain Eric Brewer to Tampa Bay and 2006 No. 1 overall pick Erik Johnson to Colorado.

Youngsters are being swapped with surprising frequency. Neal is 23, Goligoski is 25, Niskanen is 24. The late-night deal between Colorado and St. Louis last weekend that sent 22-year-old Johnson to the Avalanche also sent to St. Louis 23-year-old power forward Chris Stewart, who scored 28 goals last season, and 22-year-old defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.,0,7155922.column

Connolly’s days as Sabre may be counting down

Tim Connolly has been with the Buffalo Sabres longer than any other player on the roster, coming from the New York Islanders in 2001 for Michael Peca. But this could be Connolly’s final week with the team.

The center is in the final year of the controversial two-year, $9 million extension he signed at the trade deadline in 2009. He’s an unrestricted free agent after the season and could be the kind of third-line center and special teams player that a club like Pittsburgh, Washington or Los Angeles might be interested in as the NHL trade deadline looms next Monday.

It’s unfathomable that the Sabres would re-sign Connolly again for next season. And many observers think it would be hard to believe he even lasts the week here.

“I don’t know what to expect to happen,” Connolly said after practice Monday in HSBC Arena. “I’ve seen a lot of deals happen early this year but those aren’t real deadline deals. You just have to wait and see. It’s not in my control. I have to perform to the best of my ability for this team. I’m excited about this team. We still have a good shot [to make the playoffs].”

Connolly has averaged 17.5 goals, 56 points and a plus-11 rating over the last two seasons and has taken plenty of heat because those numbers aren’t befitting a $4.5 million player.

He’s not going to get close to that avera
ge this year, either.

In 44 games, Connolly has just eight goals and 26 points. And he’s a minus-13, the lowest rating on the team.

The Sabres have scored just two goals in dropping the last three games and Connolly has contributed little. He has no goals in the last six games and just two goals in his last 20 — including a goal-less January.

3 Responses to Hockey Trade Rumors – Feb 22, 2011

  1. TheLeafNation91 says:

    I've always been a big Tim Conolly fan…When healthy and on his game.

    Wonder what the Sabres would want for him?

  2. dumbassdoorman says:

    I wouldn't give much for him, as he is UFA at seasons end. But ya he is a sweet passer and good player when healthy

  3. Kessel_Leafs48 says:

    philly's first? 

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