In the past week or so, Snow has watched Thomas Vanek strike a strong chemistry with John Tavares and Kyle Okposo on the Isles’ top line, which must have been exactly what he envisioned when he sent Matt Moulson, plus first- and second-round draft picks to the Buffalo Sabres on Oct. 27 in exchange for the Austrian sniper. But as the losses mount on Long Island, we can’t help but wonder if watching Vanek and Co. go to work on opposition goalies is only serving to remind Snow what his team’s biggest need is—and was all along—somebody who can stop the puck.
Edmonton Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish was on his cellphone while his team was skating Thursday morning, and while it could have been his wife telling her hubby to stop for a loaf of bread on the way home, it may have been another GM talking about defencemen.
Certainly, the Oilers could use an NHL veteran back there.
Given his team’s 2-10-2 skid, there’s room to add just about anywhere, but here are a few names that have been mentioned around the league as trade bait and where, based on conversations with several people across the NHL, the Isles might stand in trade talks:
One NHL scout in attendance Tuesday night told CSNWashington.com that teams might shy away from Erat because he’s made two trade requests in less than eight months.
“And he didn’t keep it in-house,” the scout said. “That doesn’t look good on him.”
Dreger "he's a solid def forward who has been slotted in that role. There is always trade interest in Kulemin & he'll be an attractive UFA"
— Hope_Smoke (@Hope_Smoke) December 4, 2013
“The Canadiens have been scouting the Avs all year long,” writes Adrain Dater of the Denver Post. “While I don’t believe something ‘major’ is imminent, I do believe Montreal has targeted the Avs for a while now for something. It could be as little as trying to get John Mitchell, or something as big as a package involving Paul Stastny.”
Steve Ott is the only impending unrestricted free agent in the Buffalo Sabres dressing room willing to emphatically state that he’s prepared to wait out the rebuild. Yet the captain has no idea if he’ll be given that chance. “We had some negotiating going back and forth and (former GM) Darcy Regier kind of pulled the plug and said he was going to wait until training camp,” says Ott of some summer discussions. “Then training camp came and nothing was said.”
I mentioned last week that the Vancouver Canucks had a conversation with the Washington Capitals about Martin Erat — who has asked for a trade — but the Canucks after some thought decided to pass. Ditto for the Ottawa Senators, who initially showed a bit of interest but ultimately decided Erat wasn’t a fit. …
Kypreos and Friedman think the Leafs are willing to move Gardiner to bring in a center. Both "how could you not?"
— Hope_Smoke (@Hope_Smoke) December 3, 2013
Bob McKenzie: Florida Panthers defenceman Dmitri Kulikov has been available for most of this year but the Panthers are kicking it up, very aggressively shopping him, and trying to get an auction going for a 23-year-old defenceman who was picked 14th overall in the 2008 draft. Kulikov though has two knocks against him. One, he hasn’t been developing and playing particularly well for Florida and two, he’s a restricted free agent at the end of the year and there are fears that because he has the KHL option as a Russian, he might go back there instead of playing in the NHL.
— Farhan Lalji (@FarhanLaljiTSN) December 4, 2013
David Clarkson saw red on Monday, but would not let any anger at a possible line change spew to the surface.
When the Maple Leafs emerged from a hard-to-watch video session preceding their first practice after four straight losses, the pricey winger was wearing the rouge of a checking line, with Carter Ashton and Trevor Smith. Nikolai Kulemin had switched positions with Clarkson on the second line with centre Nazem Kadri and Mason Raymond.
There were plenty of scouts and NHL front-office personnel at the Garden on Monday night taking in the Rangers’ 5-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets, including Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli, Flyers assistant GM Ron Hextall and two representatives from the Ottawa Senators.
Close to returning. Canes getting trade interest in both him & Peters. MT @NHLCanes Khudobin will travel with the team this week.
— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) December 2, 2013
Murray’s hands have been tied trade-wise because of the Senators internal budget, but we heard owner Eugene Melnyk suggest on TSN 1200 last week that he would add money if he was convinced it would make a significant difference.
Both Dubnyk and Bryzgalov are unrestricted free-agents at the end of the season and the betting is one of them will be offered up at the trade deadline if the Oilers get a suitor because they’d rather not have both goalies free to walk away July 1.
In the first Coach’s Corner since the hockey broadcasting landscape was forever changed earlier this week, Don Cherry pleaded his case to the Canadian public — and his potential future bosses.
An NHL pro scout, after watching the Buffalo Sabres, said: “Ryan Miller is about all they’ve got. He’s playing unreal.” So where do the Sabres send the goalie at the trade deadline? Are the New York Islanders on his list of teams he’d play for? Are the Nashville Predators, if Pekka Rinne is out for longer than they thought?
The Carolina Hurricanes are going to trade defenseman Tim Gleason. That’s how it’s going to be and fans may as well just be into it because it’s going to happen.
Can we agree the Capitals should not look for anything other than a hard-edged defenseman who can log big minutes alongside Mike Green?
TSN reported a few days ago that the Vancouver Cauncks are interested in Erat. The Canucks’ top four defensemen have no-move clauses, but if there is any way the Caps can pry left-handed Dan Hamhuis away, it would fill a gaping hole.