No surrender as NHL trade deadline nears

What the heck, let’s blame Gary Bettman.

After all, the three-point system contributing most to the current trade-deadline inertia arrived under the NHL commissioner’s watch. As the Feb. 27 trade deadline approaches, there are still far too many teams that think they’re still in position to make a playoff run to create the annual player auction.

There are still few committed sellers two weeks before the trade deadline, which has the general managers trying to buy climbing the walls. Just imagine how Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman feels right now.

Corey Crawford may still be Chicago’s goalie of the future but neither he nor Ray Emery are stopping many pucks right now. Bowman needs an experienced goaltender immediately but the one that should be available, Evgeni Nabokov, is off the market because New York Islanders GM Garth Snow thinks his team still has a shot at the playoffs.

Nabokov, 36, is the perfect rental player because he’s playing well, has a minimal cap hit at $570,000 (all currency U.S.) and will be an unrestricted free agent in July. But all that’s available now for the Blackhawks is Nikolai Khabibulin of the Edmonton Oilers. He’s three years older at 39, is inconsistent and has one year left on his contract with a cap hit of $3.75-million.

Similar problems confront other GMs, as players such as Teemu Selanne, Lubomir Visnovsky, Ryan Malone and perhaps Hal Gill are disappearing from the market because their GMs think there’s still a chance to make the playoffs.

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