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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.