NHL News and Rumors – January 23, 2010

Run-up to Olympics likely will form trade strategy

Bowman coy on Hawks’ trade outlook

Deadline deals bug Leafs GM Burke
Run-up to Olympics likely will form trade strategy

Panthers coach Pete DeBoer knows the next 10 games will go a long way to deciding the future of this season’s team. Florida will play its final game before a 17-day Olympics break on Feb. 13.

After the Panthers play the Bruins on Feb. 13, they won’t play again until visiting Atlanta on March 2. The NHL trade deadline is the following day. Will the Panthers be buyers or sellers come that day? It depends on what transpires during this 10-game span.

If the Panthers are holding a playoff spot or a few points out, they might look to add to their team — expect offense to be addressed. If they are out of it, there could be some players in the final year of their contracts (or some with manageable money) saying goodbye to South Florida.

“We’ve talked about it,” DeBoer said. “We know we have to win games. The reality coming out of the Olympic break is you have 20-plus games left. That’s not many. We have to be in a playoff spot or close, or the reality is you won’t have a chance to get one of those spots. As a coach you try to break the season down into all kinds of segments to make the season a little smaller for the guys.”

The trade deadline might not be until March 3, but be sure that general managers will be talking throughout the Olympic break. Deals will be made during that time even if they aren’t announced. The inconsistent Panthers — they recently won three in a row only to lose their next two — have been heavily scouted as teams appear to think the Panthers will be willing to make some deals.

Unless things change in the next few weeks, that is.


Bowman coy on Hawks’ trade outlook


As the March 3 trade deadline approaches, it’s difficult to figure out what the Blackhawks need.

They have versatile defensemen and plenty of depth and skill up front, which will get even better when centers Dave Bolland (back) and Adam Burish (knee) return.

Some contend that goaltending is the Hawks’ only weakness, but general manager Stan Bowman emphasized Thursday in Calgary that he ”absolutely” believes Cristobal Huet and Antti Niemi are capable of leading the team to the Stanley Cup.

But Bowman isn’t going to rule out anything yet.

”You have to assess what makes sense short-term and long-term,” he said. ”We’ve got a good group here, and you want to try to give ourselves the best chance. That might mean doing something, but it also might not.”

The Hawks’ salary-cap situation is one reason why some analysts speculate Bowman and his staff will be active before the trade deadline. On Friday, the Hawks were mentioned again in a report on Canada’s TSN as a team that could pursue Atlanta Thrashers star Ilya Kovalchuk — a move some say would allow the Hawks to unload salaries while making an all-out run at the title.


Deadline deals bug Leafs GM Burke

So far, the Maple Leafs have avoided making a desperate trade to try and salvage their season.

By now, regardless of what happens Saturday against the Florida Panthers and beyond, it’s probably too late anyway. But GM Brian Burke and his management group could surely have pulled the trigger on some noisy deal over the past few months to quiet their critics and make it appear they were actively trying to fix their broken hockey club.

That is how to make a bad situation worse.

The much-discussed Phil Kessel trade with Boston was made before the season started. Otherwise, other than peddling prospect Jiri Tlusty to Carolina for prospect Philippe Paradis, Burke has held his fire.