Morning Morning Rumors – March 1, 2010

Trade deadline looms for Canes

Rangers hope banged-up Gaborik will play on

Penguins Notebook: Shero is not seeking an enforcer

Trade deadline looms for Canes


The Winter Olympics are over. For NHL general managers, that means another Olympian task begins.

In the next three days, teams will scurry to make trades and look to solidify lineups.

The NHL trade deadline is Wednesday at 3 p.m., but the break for the Vancouver Games – and the NHL trade freeze during the past two weeks — will make the next few days extra intense.

“It will be an interesting time,” Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford said Sunday.

Rutherford said he had received calls from 10 teams in the past four days – team officials were allowed to inquire about potential deals during the Games.

Veteran winger Ray Whitney has drawn the most interest, but Rutherford said he has been surprised when other Canes players were brought into the mix.

“I am getting inquiries on more players than I expected,” Rutherford said. “That doesn’t mean more players will be traded, but it’s more inquiries than I anticipated.”

Though Rutherford won’t name names, trade speculation has Whitney being pursued by the Pittsburgh Penguins, Los Angeles Kings or Buffalo Sabres, among others. As many as seven teams may be after a player who has experience, has a penchant for making big plays and won a Stanley Cup ring with the Canes in 2006.

But Whitney also has a no-trade clause in his contract. He must approve of any deal.

“He holds his own cards,” Rutherford said. “At one point we had a deal made, but he decided not to go.”

Rutherford did not say which team had agreed to a trade, but it is believed to have been the Kings.

Coyotes general manager Don Maloney: Team won’t give away talent

Jim Gintonio

The big news on the Coyotes
front is that they are on the verge of their first playoff spot in eight years. But there is old news that remains relevant: General Manager Don Maloney will not sacrifice what he considers top assets to bring in a player who might be gone at season’s end.

The NHL’s freeze on trades during the Olympics ended at midnight Sunday, and the window remains open until 1 p.m. (Arizona time) Wednesday.

Money is not the issue for Maloney; it’s his belief that success is built and then ensured through a solid foundation. Any deal he makes would fit that parameter.

“I still believe we are growing this franchise,” he said. “We expect to win. We’re a playoff team, and we think when we get there we have a chance to win, so that’s why we’re looking (for) help, but . . . the price right now on some of these players, that’s the challenge.

“This isn’t a money decision for us right now. We’ve been able to save enough in our budget to give ourselves room for paying the next six weeks. This is more of the asset price that we have to give up to acquire, and a second-round pick and prospect for a guy for six weeks, that doesn’t cut it for me at all.

“That’s where maybe somebody else is wiling to pay, but I’m not. We think we’re good enough, and we like the group. If we can find a way to be better, we’ll do it.”

Despite the season-ending knee injury suffered by Scottie Upshall, the Coyotes continue to play well. They enter their final 19 games in fourth place in the Western Conference. They have 79 points, a 10-point margin over No. 8 Calgary.

The Coyotes find themselves in a unique situation as a team looking to buy in a seller’s market.

“Our mind-set has remained the same,” Maloney said. “We’d like to have a little more depth in our blue line. We like what we have here now, but if we can improve that area that would be good. The strength of our team is our defense and goaltending, so if we help ourselves, that’s our first priority in my mind.”

Rangers hope banged-up Gaborik will play on


The Rangers took care of one potential problem area by acquiring veteran backup goaltender Alex Auld off re-entry waivers from Dallas, but that’s nothing compared with the problem the Blueshirts will face if the unspecified lower body injury that prevented Marian Gaborik from playing the third period of Slovakia’s 3-2 Olympic semifinal defeat to Canada on Friday intrudes on the season.

Gaborik, who missed two of the Rangers’ final threegames before the break (and played just 4:02 in the other) because of the thigh gash he sustained in a Feb. 9 practice collision with Henrik Lundqvist, remained in Vancouver yesterday and played in Slovakia’s 5-3 loss to Finland in the bronze-medal game. Gaborik scored a goal and took three shots in 17:06 of ice time.

In addition to being examined by the Slovakian medical staff, Gaborik also was believed examined following Friday night’s match by Rangers’ athletic trainer Jim Ramsay, who is serving in the same role for Team Canada.

Though neither Ramsay nor the Rangers have jurisdiction in this Olympic matter, the Blueshirts did not seem overly concerned yesterday by the winger’s condition. Gaborik, who has scored 35 goals in 58 games for the Blueshirts, has not missed a single game because of the hip and groin issues that turned him into a part-time player much of his career in Minnesota.

It is unknown whether Gaborik will return to New York today from Vancouver so he can be examined by Rangers’ physicians, or whether he will fly directly to Ottawa and meet the team there prior to Tuesday’s re-opener against the Senators. NHL regulations permit players in the medal games to remain at the Olympics through the closing ceremonies, which will take place tonight.

The acquisition of the 29-year-old Auld, meanwhile, will John Tortorella a more comfortable option to 23-year-old rookie Chad Johnson when the head coach seeks to give Henrik Lundqvist a rest down the 20-game stretch run, though not necessarily a more effective one.

Penguins Notebook: Shero is not seeking an enforcer

By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

It was quiet for a while, Ray Shero said.

Not anymore.

Not with the trade deadline, set for 3 p.m. Wednesday, just a couple of days away.

Shero, the Penguins’ general manager, said Sunday that although there was little trade talk in the first week of the Olympic break because “a lot of the managers were either on vacation or with their farm teams, or maybe at the Olympics,” that isn’t the case now.

“The last two or three days, it certainly has picked up,” he said.

The Penguins appear to be in the market for a goal-scoring winger and a reliable defenseman — ideally, a physical one — and have the salary-cap space to take on a fairly large contract, since it will be prorated over the balance of the season.

Shero professed, as he seems to at this time every year, that “we’re comfortable with our team,” but added that “if there’s a chance to improve the team, whether it’s depth or whether it’s a player who would make us better, I certainly would try to do that.”

One thing he won’t look for is an enforcer to step in for Eric Godard, who is out indefinitely with a groin injury but remains under contract for next season.

“We got tougher over the summer, [be
tter] team toughness,” coach Dan Bylsma said. “I don’t, in any way, shape or form, feel like we have not had a tough team on the ice in any game we’ve played this year.”

The Penguins could recall Wade Brookbank or Deryk Engelland from their American Hockey League team in Wilkes-Barre if they believe a need for more muscle at some point, but Bylsma doesn’t seem to think that’s likely.