NHL Western Conference trade deadline outlook
The path to the Stanley Cup might be through Columbus or Edmonton. At least, you’d think that if you check out travel expenses submitted by pro scouts from NHL contenders over the last few weeks.
Anaheim Ducks: Although the Ducks have been mentioned in some of the wilder trade rumors, The most likely player to be traded is still Jason Blake. He and Nicklas Hagman are the team’s potential unrestricted free agents. Teams will call and ask whether Teemu Selanne will waive his no-trade clause, but he has resisted in the past. One thing to consider: Lubomir Visnovsky is a skillful defenseman who will earn $3 million next season, but will have $5.25 million cap hit. He could be a nice fit for a team that doesn’t go to the cap limit.
•Calgary Flames: General manager Jay Feaster seems to have an “all in” philosophy, meaning he is open to making a big deal to improve the team’s chances of making the playoffs. The Flames are interested in the Carolina Hurricanes’ Tuomo Ruutu. They have a bushel of potential unrestricted free agents who could be moved to upgrade the offense.
•Chicago Blackhawks: Needing a defenseman, GM Stan Bowman could call his former assistant Kevin Cheveldayoff about the Winnipeg Jets’ Johnny Oduya. Several defenseman could be available, including Mark Eaton, Hal Gill, Steve Staios, Jaroslav Spacek and Bryan Allen.
•Dallas Stars: With the Stars trying to restore fan support, they need a strong bid to make the playoffs. That would seem to mean they’d hang on to potential unrestricted free agents Nicklas Grossman and Sheldon Souray. On the top of the Dallas wish list is a top six forward.