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The brass may feel Tuukka Rask is ready to be anointed the No. 1 goalie. He certainly has done his job well — and maintained a remarkably positive and cheerful attitude.
And it is quite likely there will be NHL teams that could manage Thomas’ $5 million cap hit and $3 million paycheck, and would view the two-time Vezina Trophy winner as the guy who could make them a playoff, or even Stanley Cup, contender.
With the ‘Hawks sitting fourth in the Central Division, sixth in the Western Conference and 20th in the NHL in goals allowed per game (2.82), Bowman made no bones about his team needing to improve — especially on defense.
“I think there’s room for improvement” Bowman said. “We’ve had a good first 50 games for our group. We’ve put ourselves in a decent position going forward.
“We’re looking to improve our team through trades, but as you can see, there’s not a lot happening on that front. A lot of talking, but I think it will speed up a little bit as we get closer to the deadline. But right now, it’s a wait-and-see approach, and trying to find answers from within.”
Maybe that’s because he’s one of the few GMs who will actually be in Ottawa for this weekend’s NHL all-star festivities, but with the trade deadline only 31 days away, everybody is waiting for Burke to make a move.
“He’s trying. He’s trying hard. He definitely wants to get bigger,” a league executive said Thursday.
In a battle for one of the final two or three playoff spots with as many as six or seven teams in the Eastern Conference, the Maple Leafs want to get stronger.
Kevin Cheveldayoff is more interested in talking about the positives than the negatives.
Ask the general manager what one thing his Winnipeg Jets need to do to improve, and he’d rather discuss the so-so seasons of two of his young players.
“Everyone wants to focus on the things that need to get better, but there’s some great stories here of guys that have played very, very well,” Cheveldayoff said, opting to take the glass half full approach when, in fact, there’s a big crack in the bottom of the cup and liquid is gushing out. “That’s what we need to keep the eye on and keep focusing on.
Defenceman Luke Schenn, now seen as a prime trade candidate with Tuesday’s four-year, $15 million US contract extension for John-Michael Liles, has been waiting four years to be a part of a winning Leaf team and has no desire to go now.
“The guys we have right now are obviously thinking they’ll be part of things here in the future,” Schenn said Tuesday.
He’s already had a talk with the general manager after his name seeped into trade banter for Flyers’ James van Riemsdyk earlier this month.
If the Montreal Canadiens do make a managerial change at some point, do not discount former Avalanche GM Francois Giguere. Giguere was a very serious candidate in 2000, when Andre Savard replaced Rejean Houle.
Aggressive Blues GM Doug Armstrong recognizes the team’s need to finish chances, but he’s waiting for Andy McDonald and Alex Steen to return. Then he’ll reevaluate. Sure, a trade would make sense, but with the ownership situation still unresolved we don’t know if the team can add payroll. But it would be a mistake to minimize the lack of scoring. You have to go back to 2003 (Anaheim) to find a Western Conference champion that didn’t rank among the top 19 in goals scored. Since the NHL resumed play following the lockout season, 12 teams have competed in the Stanley Cup Finals. And only one, Edmonton in 2006, finished worse than 8th in the NHL in goals scored. The Oilers were 15th in scoring in ’06.
Clarifying my mangled french from RDS hit: in talking to several teams today, NONE of them had heard Subban’s name as being available.
13 scouts in attendance at Leafs game, including two from Edmonton and Flyers
So it has been difficult for Stuart being away from his family for long stretches, flying to the West Coast and back during breaks in the schedule.
“It is going to be a tough decision,” Stuart said. “It’s not going to be all based on hockey and what I want for my career. It’s going to be a little bit (about) family, which is important. Those are things I still have to kind of sort out, try to figure out what’s going to be best for everyone.”
Stuart, 32, is in the final year of a four-year, $15 million contract.
With the Feb. 27 trade deadline approaching, the focus has changed and the Senators could be a buyer. That doesn’t mean Murray is going to spend wildly and if the Senators do anything, it might be a tweak.
“(Dealing) would come with one caveat. Let’s not lose focus of what our job is: That’s to rebuild,” said Melnyk. “The deal we made for Kyle Turris was more of an anomoly than anything else because we did give up a piece of our future and we weren’t going to be competitive without a second-line centre.
Early and midseason predictions were that Claude Giroux was the runaway leader for the Hart trophy. The Sedins were in the race, as was Kessel. How things change so quickly in this game.
Kessel has come back to earth – albeit at a much higher place than previous seasons. He’s really coming into his own and proving he is an elite player in this league. He proved me wrong and Im eating some crow.
Giroux is in the same boat as Kessel. Coming out of the gate on fire, he has slowed a bit and is settling into a normal pace. A lingering injury may be at play but who really knows.
The Sedins are doing what they do … remaining at about a 1.2ppg pace, as they always do.
Things got a little testy at Maple Leafs practice on Sunday, with Carl Gunnarsson and Joey Crabb getting into a scuffle with each other.
Crabb got a couple of hard rights in on Gunnarsson before coaches Rob Zettler and Greg Cronin and teammate Nikolai Kulemin separated the two. Crabb and Gunnarsson jawed at each other while skating away.
The two later made up; coach Ron Wilson made them both lead the after-practice stretches for their chuckling teammates.
On the other hand there’s a significant percentage of the paying public who don’t believe Tambellini has achieved a status in the GM community much higher than his team sits in the standings.
And the current view of his team is that it has has no guts, still isn’t tough to play against, that his veterans haven’t performed, nor have the holdovers from Lowe’s veterans from his time in the GM chair. The group has shown no try in three of the last five games.
But apparently the decision is big picture, to stay the course with Tambellini, a first time general manager who is being developed, too.
Right when they brought up Nate Prosser yesterday with no injuries to defensemen, I figured Zidlicky was on his way out fo the lineup if we woke up this morning and found nobody traded.
The way Zidlicky played the past two games, something had to be done. It’s one thing not to score, and we’ve written on and on about his offensive woes. But it’s another to continue to play a guy that’s a defensive liability constantly.
Josh Harding isn’t oblivious to the fact his name is churning through the NHL rumor mill.
It has been almost 10 years since he was drafted, so he knows how it works. The Wild goalie is a potential free agent and it’s five weeks to the Feb. 27 trade deadline.
So since the Wild has yet to talk contract with him, could Harding help the Wild land that much-coveted top-six forward?
MacLean suggested Hemsky will pull in less than Dustin Penner did last season, though he failed to identify the main reason for that — Penner wasn’t just a rental, but still had another season left on his contract, while Hemsky is rental, a UFA on July 1. “I don’t see teams paying a big price,” MacLean said. He may well be right about that, though Kypreos was more positive. “There’s a lot of teams right now looking for a top six forward and he certainly fits the bill,” the real Kyper said.
The Maple Leafs need it, and Brian Burke has to go out and get it — sooner rather than later. The Leafs are on a fast train to Funkville and something has to be done to get them back on the rails.
They’ve lost three straight and have dropped out of a playoff spot, and have managed only six goals in their last four games.
If the Senators’ bubble was going to burst, you would have expected it to do so by now. It hasn’t, eh? Well, maybe under the hot California sun, where they start a four-game in six-day stretch Thursday against Western Conference teams, in their own time zone, who are at different levels of desperation.
GM Bryan Murray doesn’t think it’s going to happen, though. He looks at his team — the surprise of the NHL season with a 26-16-6 record and within a short saucer pass from the Eastern Conference lead — and he doesn’t see a crash and burn in its future.