Hockey Trade Rumors – Sunday Feb 20, 2011

Leafs looking for D-man

McCabe, Vokoun in play at deadline

Fletcher not a seller

Stewart move could haunt the Avs

Glen Sather listens to trade winds

Leafs looking for D-man

Leafs GM Brian Burke hopes he’s got at least another move left in him before the trade deadline. The Leafs have been scouring the market hard over the past few days looking for a defenseman. They kicked the tires on Zach Bogosian in Atlanta but there doesn’t seem to be a fit there. They have zero interest in Sheldon Souray, whom the Oilers put on re-entry waivers Saturday (waiver period clears at noon ET Monday).

McCabe, Vokoun in play at deadline

Bryan McCabe and Tomas Vokoun are both very much in play in Florida. The team discussed contract extensions with both players last month but there won’t be any signings. The focus now is trading them. Both players have no-trade clauses, so they control part of their fate. The Panthers hope the Tomas Kaberle deal will help set the price for McCabe. The Rangers are among teams interested in McCabe, but I’m told they don’t want to pay anywhere close to the price Boston paid for Kaberle.

Fletcher not a seller

The Wild general manager is balancing this season’s playoff pursuit with a quest to protect prospects for the future.

As usual around the trade deadline, the market is inflated.

Mike Fisher, with a hefty $4.2 million cap hit with term left on his contract, was traded for a first-round pick. Kris Versteeg is a pretty good third-line player (sorry, Versteeg fans, he is), and he cost a first and a third.

Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher won’t follow suit, saying, “We’re not mortgaging the future.”

This type of statement might make the skin crawl for a portion of the fan base, but the Wild’s not in position yet to trade its 2011 first-round pick or prospects Mikael Granlund, Johan Larsson, Brett Bulmer and Jason Zucker for a free-agent rental or 20-goal scorer.

Only eight teams can advance past the first round. Only one can win the Stanley Cup. So is it worth trading those kids for a hope and a prayer?

Fletcher arrived in Minnesota with a bare cupboard. The Wild either failed on too many first-rounders or drafted too few players.

So Fletcher’s “plan” is to do two things at once — be competitive in the present while aggressively restocking the cupboard. For the Wild to become the team fans are waiting for, it needs to develop its current prospects and add others.

After his already-scrutinized decisions to trade a second-round pick in last season’s Chuck Kobasew trade and trade 2010 first-round pick Nick Leddy in the Cam Barker trade, Fletcher can’t deviate from his plan again.

Every team goes through stages.

Some teams are in complete dismantle mode, like Ottawa and Toronto. Some teams are so desperate to sell tickets and get past the first round for the first time, they can trade a first for country music star Carrie Underwood’s hubby (Fisher). Maybe in three or four years, the Wild can trade a couple of draft picks for a player like Versteeg.

But the Flyers are a lot further along in the process of trying to win a Stanley Cup than Minnesota is.

The Wild’s kind of caught in between as the Feb. 28 trade deadline approaches. It probably doesn’t have the tradable commodities to add a big scorer. It doesn’t need role players. The Wild may need to add a center now that Mikko Koivu’s hurt, but there aren’t many juicy names available. The deadline’s not the time players with big salary and term (Nick Schultz, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, etc.) can traditionally be moved. And while the Wild will get in line with others if Zach Parise ever becomes available in New Jersey, it’s not that time yet.

Stewart move could haunt the Avs

It’s Erik Johnson for Chris Stewart with a bunch of other stuff — bodies and draft choices — tossed in.

For now, that’s the way I’m looking at the major St. Louis-Colorado trade announced (very) early Saturday.

The Blues get Stewart, a young power forward whose hockey career has been a roller-coaster ride, with the latest downturn coming in the wake of his seven-week absence because of a broken hand.

The Avalanche gets Johnson, the No. l overall choice in the 2006 NHL draft whose rise was slowed — and perhaps stalled altogether — when he suffered a horrific 2008 knee injury in a golf- cart accident.

Both players are under contract through the 2011-12 season, and their cap hits — Stewart $2.875 million, Johnson $2.6 million — are in the same range.

Yes, the Avalanche once trumpeted the ex-Boston University tandem of Kevin Shattenkirk and Colby Cohen as important elements in their rebuilding plan. But now both of those rookies are gone — Cohen to the Bruins for Matt Hunwick and Shattenkirk to the Blues.

Avalanche general manager Greg Sherman, who will comment only in team releases until after the trading deadline, emphasized the potential value of the conditional first-round pick (in 2011 or 2012) that also comes to Colorado from the Blues, along with journeyman forward Jay McClement.

Despite all of that, I keep coming back to Stewart for Johnson.

This is a longshot, but possible: Chris Stewart could become to the Avalanche what Cam Neely was to the Vancouver Canucks, the power forward his original team gave up on much too soon. I’m not saying Chris Stewart is Cam Neely; I’m saying he can be.

Glen Sather listens to trade winds

A run on defenseman in the trade market – five separate deals included blue-liners Friday — has not dampened Rangers general manager Glen Sather’s confidence that he can swing a deal before the NHL trade deadline in nine days.

The Rangers still covet an offensive-minded defenseman who could quarterback their power play, and Sather said before a 1-0 loss to the Devils at Prudential Center there’s still time and enough players on the market to make a deal.

“Lots of them,” said Sather, adding he’s been making phone calls to gauge the trade market for four months. “I’m listening, watching. It doesn’t matter what the asking price is. It’s what we want to pay.”

As usual, Sather said teams are inquiring about the Rangers’ younger talent. Typically, that includes players such as Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh. The Rangers also may not be eager to lose any high draft picks. So if Sather cannot make a match before the deadline on Feb. 28 at 3 p.m., he’d also consider looking to Connecticut (AHL) for help. Pavel Valentenko and Tomas Kundratek are among the prospects there.

And, of course, Wade Redden, who would have to clear re-entry waivers, is there, too, with four goals and 25 assists in 47 games.

“Sure, we
could bring any of those guys up,” Sather said.

The Maple Leafs sent defenseman Tomas Kaberle to the Bruins while Boston then shipped Blake Wheeler and defenseman Mark Stuart to the Thrashers for Rich Peverley and defenseman Boris Valabik.

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes traded defenseman Ian White to the Sharks and, in a separate deal, acquired defenseman Derek Joslin from San Jose. The Blues traded their captain, defenseman Eric Brewer, to the Lightning.

The Rangers have sought a defenseman since dealing veteran Michal Rozsival to the Coyotes on Jan. 10 for left wing Wojtek Wolski out of necessity once Alex Frolov was lost for the season with an injured right knee.

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