Hockey Trade Rumors – Feb 6, 2012 – Mega Update

With the NHL trade deadline three weeks from Monday, the Carolina Hurricanes seem to be everyone’s favorite partner.

Jets would like to add a scorer

Is Ales Hemsky worth the risk? How much should other NHL teams value him?

Blackhawks facing fourth net change in four years down stretch

With the NHL trade deadline three weeks from Monday, the Carolina Hurricanes seem to be everyone’s favorite partner.

General manager Jim Rutherford hopes his team rockets into contention, but the more likely scenario is the Hurricanes becoming a major seller. Tuomo Ruutu (16 goals) is the hottest trade name.

Ruutu will be an unrestricted free agent, as will defensemen Bryan Allen and Jaroslav Spacek. Teams usually move potential unrestricted free agents rather than lose them for nothing.

The cost for Ruutu could be high. Last year’s hot rental player, Tomas Kaberle, went to the Boston Bruins for prospect Joe Colborne and a first- and second-round pick.

What other Eastern Conference teams are looking to accomplish before the Feb. 27 deadline:

•Boston: Keep an eye on Nathan Horton (concussion). If his situation drags on, the Bruins might go stronger into the trade market. Otherwise, they might not want to disrupt chemistry.

•Buffalo Sabres: Is it too late for the Sabres to climb back into the race? That’s what they have to ask themselves pretty quickly. If they believe they can, they will make a move sooner than later. The problem is they need a No. 1 center, and not many are available. They are also pushed up against the salary cap ceiling.

Jets would like to add a scorer

GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is close-mouthed about his plans for the trade deadline, although it’s obvious the Jets need a scoring forward.

With three offensive-minded defencemen on the roster in Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Engstrom and Zach Bogosian, the Jets are in position to get the scorer they need. Cheveldayoff also has seven pending unrestricted free agents among his regulars, including goaltender Chris Mason and defenceman Johnny Oduya, as ammunition.

Cheveldayoff will get an indication of what he should do this week. The Jets, who are six points behind the eighth-place Toronto Maple Leafs, have three games this week against teams ahead of them in the race, including the Leafs. The Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins are the other opponents and the Jets need three wins to realistically stay in contention.

The Capitals have the most control over their own destiny. They have 11 games left within the Southeast Division while the Jets have 10, the Panthers nine and the Lightning eight.

Is Ales Hemsky worth the risk? How much should other NHL teams value him?

“I feel like I’m just coming into my prime,” he told The Team 1260′s Jason Gregor. “I don’t feel like I’m close to retiring, (laughs) I’m only 28 and I have lots of hockey in front of me. It (shoulders) was something I had to fix and there was no other way to do it, and I’m happy I did the surgery. I feel like I’ll be a better player now. Of course it was a struggle with the injuries for a few years, and this year has been a bit of a struggle offensively for me, but I’m feeling much better lately. I’ve had some pretty good years before and I’m confident I’ll be back there again.”

Great to hear all that. But does Hemsky have reason for such optimism?

His production this year has been marginal, lagging that of other Oilers attackers, including Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Ryan Smyth and Sam Gagner, who has spent most of the season on the wing. Other young wingers wait in the wings for ice time, namely Magnus Paajarvi, Linus Omark and Teemu Hartikainen.

Of course, if Hemsky were healthy, risking a new contract on him would be a no-brainer. Through his peak years, he’s been close to a point-per-game scorer. He will be just 29 years old next season, young enough to continue to play at a high level for a few years under normal cir*****stances.

When it comes to scoring points in the NHL, most players follow the same path. They take a few years to settle in, then establish a level of scoring they will maintain through their peak years, until they’re 30 or so, when they’ll decline until they’re out of the league.

The main thing that interrupts things is injury, as followers of Hemsky’s career know well.

Blackhawks facing fourth net change in four years down stretch

By this time last season, Corey Crawford already had secured the starting spot in goal over Marty Turco for the stretch run.

It’s time to find out who that goalie will be this year.

While help might arrive on the blue line via a trade, the Hawks won’t be pursuing a goalie. It will be either Crawford or veteran Ray Emery.

“I don’t want to forecast or say exactly how it’s going to play out,” coach Joel Quenneville said Sunday. “Ray has done a good job, and [Crawford], we have to get him some confidence.”

Although he won’t announce until Monday who his goalie will be Tuesday against the Colorado Avalanche, Quenneville made similar comments in December when Emery started six games in a row and Crawford worked longer practices.

“When I get in there, I want to contribute,” Emery said. “That was my mind-set going into the year, which is to be a confident player and take a few games when the No. 1 guy needs some rest.

“[Crawford] is a top goalie in this league. Our recent tough stretch is a team thing.”

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