Some NHL Rumors – Feb 5, 2010

With Kovalchuk moved, Hurricanes lead league in trade deadline intrigue

JD acknowledges Blues’ interest in Ilya Kovalchuk before the trade

With Kovalchuk moved, Hurricanes lead league in trade deadline intrigue

By Kevin Allen, USA TODAY

The Atlanta Thrashers and Toronto Maple Leafs made early splashes this week by dealing for Ilya Kovalchuk and Dion Phaneuf. But there’s opportunity for many more moves because nearly a month remains before the March 3 trade deadline.
Here are my picks for the teams with the most intriguing decisions:

1. Carolina Hurricanes: The ‘Canes are the belle of the ball for the trade deadline. General manager Jim Rutherford is open for business, and forwards Ray Whitney (no-trade clause) and Matt Cullen are coveted by other organizations. Niclas Wallin, Aaron Ward and Stephane Yelle could also be moved as Carolina resets for next season. Because of the number of free agents, they are in great shape to take advantage of their situation and come back next season and make the playoffs. They could end up with the first pick in the draft, add premium prospects and have cap space to add free agents this summer.

2. Washington Capitals: GM George McPhee told me two weeks ago that if the trade deadline were that day, he would not make a single move. But he also reserved the right to change his mind if his team’s situation changed. The Capitals, in the midst of a 12-game winning streak, are an exceptionally dominant offensive team. They have two strong lines, speed, a good face-off man in Dave Steckel, plus solid role players. They could probably upgrade their defense, but isn’t that true of most teams? The question around the league about the Capitals is whether their goaltending will be good enough. The Caps have faith in Semyon Varlamov, who looked impressive in last season’s playoffs. But his progress was undermined by injuries this season, and he hasn’t played in the NHL since Dec. 7. He is also only 21. The other option is Jose Theodore, who has played well of late but is known for inconsistency. Depending upon what happens with Varlamov, McPhee might have to ponder acquiring a veteran goalie.

BIG DEAL: Kovalchuk heads to New Jersey

3. Nashville Predators: Don’t get your hopes up Nashville fans because there is no major deal on the horizon. Peter Forsberg isn’t coming back to Nashville. Instead, they face an agonizing dilemma about what to do about Dan Hamhuis. At the heart of Nashville’s competitiveness is a defense led by Shea Weber, Ryan Suter and Hamhuis. Weber and Suter are locked into contracts, and Hamhuis will be an unrestricted free agent next summer. Although they would like to keep Hamhuis, the presumption is that the Predators can’t/won’t pay him what he will be offered on the open market. So the question they must debate is whether to simply use him up this season and then receive nothing in return or trade him now, hoping to get perhaps a younger player who could help them now and in the future. The Predators need scoring, and a team might be willing to give up a promising scorer in return for Hamhuis. But the Predators need to make the playoffs, and the Predators could decide that Hamhuis is too valuable to that pursuit to trade him.

4. Atlanta Thrashers: The Thrashers might not be done dealing after Kovalchuk is moved. Colby Armstrong is going to be an unrestricted free agent, and there is no mutual admiration between Armstrong and his coach John Anderson. Also, GM Don Waddell has to decide what to do with his goaltending. With three goalies on the team, it’s not unthinkable he could deal Kari Lehtonen. There is a market for him.

JD acknowledges Blues’ interest in Ilya Kovalchuk before the trade

Jeremy Rutherford

Blues President John Davidson acknowledged Thursday night that the club had “legitimate interest” in trading for Ilya Kovalchuk before the star forward was dealt to New Jersey earlier in the day.”We had been working at it for the better part of the week,” Davidson said. “We had great conversations with Atlanta. We talked to them about various thoughts and ideas and put (a trade proposal) together. It never came to fruition.”

The Devils acquired Kovalchuk from Atlanta in exchange for defenseman Johnny Oduya, rookie forward Niclas Bergfors, junior prospect Patrice Cormier and a first-round draft pick this year.

Davidson said the Thrashers were asking for “a piece or two that we weren’t willing to give up, especially knowing that Kovalchuk is, for now, a rental player.”

Kovalchuk, who was the No. 1 overall pick by Altanta in 2001, is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, meaning he can sign elsewhere if New Jersey doesn’t reach an extension with him before July 1.

“When you make a deal like that, if it’s really a magnitude coming out of your bank account, you’ve got to try to make sure that he signs,” Davidson said. “And that (permission to discuss a contract extension before a trade) was never given to any team that was in the battle trying to get him. So we just couldn’t afford to go the extra mile.”

Davidson said had the Blues been able to successfully negotiate an extension with Kovalchuk, who will turn 27 in April, they would have been more apt to make a deal.

“It would have been a heck of a lot easier to give up a lot if you knew he was going to stay here,” he said. “But you can’t give up a ton and then have Ilya not be here come July 1. You’re just starting from behind again, as a franchise.”

31 Responses to Some NHL Rumors – Feb 5, 2010

  1. Dunski23 says:

    So ah now that Kovalchuk's been traded…wats left to talk about…

  2. DandoEagle says:

    I just wanted to say I extend my condolenses to the Burke family – losing a loved one especially your son is a tough thing to swallow.

  3. leafy says:

    Terrible news. Devastating for any parent. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Burke family.

  4. cam7777 says:

    wow, I was going to come on here and ***** about Gustavsson, but this kind of puts things into perspective doesn't it?

  5. lafleur10 says:

    i would like to send my sincere and deepest condolences to brian burke and his family on there tragic loss,it doesn't mattter what team you cheer for which team you hate when a traedy like this happens amongst us in the hockey world,we unite and stick together to offer support and condolences! we put alligences  aside and unite as 1 !

     god bless you  brian god speed

  6. bbruins37 says:

    yeah, that's just awful. 21 years old? there's not much you can really say.

  7. mojo19 says:

    lots of stuff. here are 10 rumours for you

  8. mojo19 says:

    ya, that's so sad.

  9. dumbassdoorman says:

    I as well would like to express mine… a parent of two i can't possibly imagine anything worse.

  10. cam7777 says:

    You're right on about Souray.  Much like Kaberle last year, he simply isn't worth moving right now.  I could see Anaheim or Dallas having interest in him in the summer, if they are unable to acquire either Tomas Kaberle (very likely the player Neuwyndyk is rumored to be very interested in), via trade, or Dan Hamhuis via free agency, then they will probably look to take Souray on.  Dallas will probably have new ownership by then. 

    I'm going to go ahead and say that there will be a three way trade in the summer between Dallas and Anaheim.  I think that Burke has used his big time connections to both organizations to plan a Kaberle trade well in advance.  This is why he is not interested in talking about Kaberle, because he knows he already has something on the table for him.  Dallas is beleived to be hot for Kaberle, and Anaheim is rumored to be having difficulty coming to terms with one Bobby Ryan.  So something like this could go down:

    To Dallas: Tomas Kaberle
    To Anaheim: Jamie Benn, Nicklas Grossman, 1st in 2010 (DAL)
    To Toronto: Bobby Ryan

    Benn has struggled since his strong start this year, but he's also had reduced minutes and lesser linemates.  He's big, and has succeeded at every level, and for the Ducks would be far better than any 2nd round pick.  Likewise, and NHL proficient Grossman would be far better for the Ducks than an additional 2nd, or a 3rd round pick.  It also makes sense for the Ducks to avoid offer sheets when next year's draft is supposed to be among the weakest in the last decade.

    Now, in his interview this week, Burke talks about how his top priority for the summer, is to find a "puck-distributing center".  If you listen to the segment, he somewhat gives away his gameplan.  He says he wants to move Bozak into the 2nd line center slot, and upgrade that first position.  Translation: Grabovski is going to be out of here.   So the way I see it, Burke has the following assets to use to turn into a top line center:

    -Mikhail Grabovski
    -2nd in 2011
    -3rd in 2011 (I guarantee he reacquires this by taking on Sopel)
    -rights to Jimmy Hayes
    -rights to Mikhail Stefanovich

    Phoenix says they want a young a roster player for Peter Mueller, and that they are basically tired of waiting for him.  He isn't happy in the desert, and they would basically like to move him before they're forced to match a high offer sheet that would otherwise only return a 2nd rounder in a weak draft via compensation.  Why not something like:

    To San Jose: Peter Mueller, 2nd in 2011 (TOR), rights to Jimmy Hayes
    To Phoenix: Mikhail Grabovski
    To Toronto: Joe Pavelski

    I know a lot of HTR'ers don't think Pavelski is a legitimate number one center.  However, the things Burke said about the center he is looking for were pretty much all pointing at Joe.  He talked about how he liked size and strength (when a caller suggested Getzlaf or Staal – as if they're available), but that character was even more important, and that he would put in a smaller guy if he felt he had the right character.  He is almost prepping Leafs Nation.  You know if he's on Burke's radar, Kessel will be sent in to grease the wheels at the Olympics.  After all, the second line of the US Olympic team will be Ryan, Pavelski, Kessel.

    Oh, and about Buffalo, they are rumored interested in Stempniak.  I think we're definitely going to get a decent pick back for this guy, either by taking on a salary dump coming our way, or just the market demanding it since there is so little available.

    And finally, on Ponikarovsky, Burke set his expetations – but was much cleverer about it than last year with Antropov.  Last year he flat out said he wanted a 1st round pick and nothing less.  When all the Leaf Haters balked from their media platforms, the other GMs knew they could low-ball Burke (turns out Antropov >>>> Jokinen, who did go for a 1st + player + 4th liner).  Burke says he wants a "reasonably high pick, or a high-end prospect".  Well, this is exactly what I've been hoping for.  Try and nab Jonathan Blum, who is going no where in Nashville's system (much like Aulie in Calgary's), and call it a day.  They want Poni, and we want a young puck-mover.

    And tweaks on the rest of your rumors:

    1.) Niedermayer to New Jersey for Corrente and a 1st in 2011
    2.) Finger to the minors at season's end
    3.) Svatos to Boston for a 3rd, cuz Chiarelli is a a cheap F*ck
    4.) Agreed
    5.) Hamhuis resigned
    6.) Moreau retires at the end of the season
    7.) Agreed
    8.) Horcoff going nowhere
    9.) Sabres land Stempniak; bid on Kubina
    10.) Ray Whitney to San Jose for a 1st in 2011 and Frazer McLaren

    and I'll add one:

    11.) Pavel Kubina and a 3rd to San Jose for Ryane Clowe

  11. dumbassdoorman says:

    Just out curiousity, have you heard Nashville is interested in Poni or are you hoping cause you like Blum? I only ask this as I read rumors fairly regularly and have not come accross this. I would like Bobby Ryan for sure, but not sure we can pull all that off, let alone Pavelski as well? I wouldn’t mind taken a chance on Mueller for the right price though. Here is hoping that something happens soon. In light of yesterday though it maybe more Nonis doing the dealings as Burke has a lot to handle right now. Also i may not be so hot on trading away Stefanovich right now. He is playing well, might be worth seeing what comes of his progress?

  12. leafmeister says:

    Do you think Atlanta might take a run at Poni, they need to replace the scoring, and Poni and Antro are great together.

    If Nashville offers Johnathan Blum straight up, and Atlanta offers Esposito and a 2nd, which one do you take? Blum maybe more of a need, but getting another top 6 and a 2nd couldnt hurt.

  13. cam7777 says:

    I take Blum.  I don't like Esposito, and it goes against Burke's character principle – the guy is not a winner.  On the other hand, I have a great deal of faith in Nashville's ability to draft defensemen.

  14. leafmeister says:

    I would be on the fence about that. I thought Esposito showed some good charater in last years WJC, and a 2nd would be nice, but a pucker mover is certainly appealing too.

    With Kadri and Blum in next years line-up the Leafs would have two guys with decent shots at the Calder.

    Presumably Blum would see some PP time with Phaneuf, and would probably be paired with someone reliable like Komisarek, so he would be impressive.

    I think next years team will finally play some defensive hockey. They have a solid, hard working goalie, one of the more depthy blue lines in the league, and a forward core that will probably struggle. If they wanna win, than that is the road they have to take. They should have a decent enough power play though, it was getting hard to watch the Leafs give the puck to Kessel, him shoot it, and it getting blocked. With Phaneuf they have two weapons, much like the double threat of Sundin-McCabe back in the day.

  15. cam7777 says:

    Nashville made a strong offer for Ponikarovsky last deadline, and were reportedly still interested in the summer.  However, the Leafs didn't have enough roster players to trade away one of their top wingers for picks/prospects at that time.  Now the season is lost anyways.  I think the Preds have to look at any players they trade for as potential free agent acquisitions as well, since they won't be able to sign anyone on July 1st.

    As far as Ponikarovsky rumors go, Dreger reports that as many as 10 teams have offers in on Ponikarovsky.  In that market, if Nashville is indeed interested, we should be able to nab Blum.

    It seems like a lot, but it's not really.  I expect Burke to make three trades where he drops something between now and deadline (but probably mostly right at the deadline).  He will move out Ponikarovsky for a prospect (like Blum), and Stempniak and Exelby for picks.  If there's time, he'll also take on a bunch of salary that teams don't want, in exhcange for 4th-6th round picks.  I'm talking about guys like Peter Sykora, Fredrik Modin (always injured), Darcy Tucker, Fernando Pisani, and Ryan Jones.  I expect in the end, we'll draft a couple times in the 2nd round, once in the third round, and a coupel times in the following 3 rounds.

    Making those salary dump trades is easy.  Moving out 3 bodies, we'll easily be able to find roster spots for a few overpriced guys, so long as they also come with a pick.

    The Pavelski trade, is admittedly situational.  The Sharks first option would be to move Clowe.  However, Clowe is not nearly as attractive as he was before he signed that massive contract extension (which is exactly why they tried to move him at the draft last year).  Basically, this is a matter of how tight things get in San Jose.  They played fine without Pavelski for a 20 game stretch this year, and they will undoubtedly resign Marleau at the end of the season.  So perhaps it is time they start recooping some of the lost youth and replenish the system with a trade like this.  The value is definitely right though, and if Pavelski decides he wants to go to RFA, Burke will be all over that.

    And of course, Ryan is situational as well – we need him to keep holding up contract talks until July 1st.  If it happened with Kessel though, it could easily happen with Ryan, who was afterall, Burke's pick, not Murray's, and is less significant than Kessel given the already substantial impact offensively of Getzlaf and Perry.  Like I said, if Burke is interested, I'm sure Kessel can persuade him and Pavelski to hold on until July 1st before they make any rash, contract signing decisions.

    Are we seriously doubting Burke's ability to make two monster trades in one summer, when he just finished making two in one day?

  16. TheLeafNation91 says:

    My deepest condolences for the Burke family!!! It's so depressing because these two have gotten so close with one another, and Brian learned to accept his son no matter what!!! They looked like great friends and I have a feeling Brian is crushed inside!!!

    To Brian, I hope you stay strong during this tough time!!! Everyone hear in Leaf nation is deffinetly giving our love and support during this rough time!!! God Bless!

  17. hockey_lover says:

    Its amazing that despite not liking someone, you can still be emotional for them.

    I dislike Brian Burke. I think he is a jackass. But, I just read the story about his son and my heart dropped.

    I have a son who is 6 years old. If something happened to him …. ugh. I dont know how people survive stuff like that.

    Mr. Burke … all the best to you and your family in this ever so SHITY time.

  18. cam7777 says:

    Yea, Blum would have to step right in for Kaberle, but would have an otherwise stacked PP unit to work with (Phaneuf, Kessel, Ryan, Pavelski).  Who will the opposition double team in that scenario.  You can get that Blum gets left all alone for a direct shot more often than not.  It's the ideal scenario for him.

    ______UFA_____(~2.5) – Joe Pavelski (3.8) – Phil Kessel (5.4)
    Nikolai Kulemin (2.25) – Nazem Kadri (1.75) – Bobby Ryan (5.0)
    Viktor Stalberg (0.85) – Tyler Bozak (3.725) – Fredrik Sjostrom (0.75)
    Wayne Primeau (0.85) – Chris Hanson (0.975) – Colton Orr (1.0)

    Dion Phaneuf (6.5) – Luke Schenn (2.975)
    Mike Komisarek (4.5) – Jonathan Blum (0.942)
    Carl Gunnarsson (0.8) – Francois Beauchemin (3.8)

    J.S. Giguere (6.0) – Jonas Gustavsson (1.8)

    CAP HIT – 54.667 million
    (including the Darcy Tucker buyout)

    It's possible too, that Kadri just plays with the Marlies next year, Bozak moves up to the 2nd line, Kulemin and Stalberg swap spots, and Ryan plays left wing on the top line, leaving us to find a speedy checking center that could keep up to Kulemin and Sjostrom, and a top six forward free agent:

    B.Ryan / Pavelski / Kessel
    Stalberg / Bozak / __UFA__
    Kulemin / __UFA__ / SJostrom
    Primeau / Hanson / Orr

    We'd have about 4 million to spend, and Bozak would have to really keep his game up to avoid being replaced by Kadri. 

  19. cam7777 says:

    What's amazing to me is that it feels so much closer to home than it is.  I don't know Brian Burke, his family, or anyone close to him, and I probably never will.  But I guess that's just the strength of the hockey community.  This sucks so much for Burke.  He must have been riding such a high this week, only to have this happen.

    I wonder if Bob Gainey had any words of wisdom for him in this ridiculously difficult time.

  20. cam7777 says:

    Yea, do you remember the TSN interview, and how concerned Brian was for Brendan?  He was upset that Brendan had decided to come public with his sexuality, not because it bothered him personally at all, but because he knew his son had chosen a harder life, lived under a great deal more scrutiny.  He said something about pioneers having to face the greatest challenges, and that would not be the path he would have chosen for his son – insinuating that he would have preferred he have a nice, peaceful, easy-going life.  This is just devastating.

  21. DandoEagle says:

    Kadri can't play for the Marlies next year he'll still have a year of Junior Eligibility left.

  22. dumbassdoorman says:

    Nothing against Espo and a 2nd….but Blum is A team captain in Jr…and I think that says a lot. Don Hay is a solid hockey guy and blum would have learned from one of Jrs best coaches. I think if the Leafs could get that for Poni, well xmas has come early. Also I do not doubt Burkes ability to make big trades, however there are only so many that can be made. Also this deadline might be more Nonis and Poulin, then Burke.

  23. leafmeister says:

    How about at the deadline, we trade Stempniak for Samuel Pahlsson. The Jackets have had a terrible season, and have a lot of money committed for next season, they could use a salary dump.

    Then do all of your moves, (minus any that might involve Stempniak), and have these lines


    The 3rd line would be one of the most effective shutdown/forechecking lines the league. Burke has experience with Samuel Pahlsson, and likes his game. PK has been terrible this year, and Pahlsson is one of the best.

    PP1: Kadri-Pavelski-Kessel
    PP2: Stalberg-Bozak-Ryan

    PK1: Pahlsson-Sjostrom-Schenn-Komisarek
    PK2: Kulemin-Primeau-Beauchemin-Phaneuf

    Special teams will be key next year. Playing with such quality players, it would not be unreasonable to expect a Calder worthy season out of Kadri/Blum.

  24. cam7777 says:

    Yea, I would totally go after Pahlsson.  His contract is expensive, but it's only two more years, since the Jackets have now wasted one year of it.  That said, Pahlsson has been dropping off every year since the Cup run, so you have to wonder if Burke maybe caught Lightning in a bottle with Moen/Pahlsson/Niedermayer. 

    Regardless, I think I have you on board with the thinking that Kaberle has to somehow be turned into a forward like Ryan, and the rest of our assets (Grabo, 2nd, Hayes, etc…) have to be turned into an affordable puck-distributing center like Pavelski.  And in order to make it all work, Ponikarovsky has to be turned into a player like Blum (young, cheap, but capable of filling in for Kaberle).

    And honestly, so far, everything is heading in that direction.  Marleau is having such a fantastic season that if the Sharks let him go, it would be among the dumbest moves since the lockout.  It's not hard to imagine a situation where Pavelski and Setoguchi get low-ball offers, and end up testing their restricted free agency.  For Pavelski especially, I could see him feeling that he is ready to take the next step in his career, and won't get that shot behind the Team Canada line.  Three years or four years in Toronto though, at a Zajac like rate (most comparable player I can think of), could mean a long and lucative second half of his career.

    And of course, with Giguee now added to the team, Burke knows exactly what's going on inside the Anaheim locker room.  If there's a rift between Ryan and Murray, he knows about it.

  25. cam7777 says:

    True, I keep forgetting about that.  But isn't that only if we don't want to burn a year of his entry-level deal?  Because Cody Hodgson was supposed to be sent to the AHL this year, and he is in the same position that Kadri would be in next year.  Of course, I don't think burning a year of his cheap cotnract is adviseable, so it's probably a moot point.

  26. cam7777 says:

    Was a team captain; he plays in the AHL this year.  It's possible we have to add more to that deal if Blum is all you say he is, but I could just see it shaping up much like the Aulie portion of the Phaneuf deal.  These guys are going no where because the NHL roster is so deep, so why not move them for help.   With Franson, Ellis, Suter, Weber, Klein, and Sultzer (to say nothing of the lesser talked about Nashville prospects – Rousell for instance) or Hamhuis and Bouillion (both likely to resign), Blum is an expendable asset.  I say that if the Preds feel they can ink Poni, they do this trade.

    And yea, you're right, just devastating for Burke. 

  27. reinjosh says:

    Yeah terrible news. Its one of the few things that just gets to you no matter who it is.

    And having Nonis and Fletcher really helps with this. Basically an extra 2 GM's who can run the team. Nonis at the very least. I mean, he was the guy running the Phaneuf trade if I do remember correctly. And who knows, maybe after the Olympic Break, Burke comes back and runs things. Some people just need work as a way to ge through things, that could be him.

  28. cam7777 says:

    Yea, I was going to say, that seems like Burke's personality.  He is a workaholic.  I hope he takes some time though.  Just a ridiculous thing to happen.

  29. hockey_lover says:

    I agree with you. Also, while it does show the strength of the hockey community, it transcends it. This reaches out to anyone with a child. I couldnt even imagine the pain he, or anyone else who loses a child, must feel.

    Yeah, parents die. Aunts and uncles. Friends. Grandparents. It sucks. But your own flesh and blood?

    Again, I dont know how people survive it. My friends consider me a bit of a "tough guy." I took kickboxing for 11 years. I play a lot of sports. I like to work on cars. All sorts of crap like that. I dont get emotional around people very much. Just my way. So I have that "image."  When I think about something happening to my son, I weep … like a *****. When I found out about Burke's kid, I gave my kid a huge hug … then threw him on the sofa and proceeded to tickle him endlessly. That laugh …..

    Its just .. I dont know. Cant explain it.

  30. mojo19 says:

    Stempniak might just thrive in Buffalo, and that's his home town.

    Nice comment cam! Thanks for reading, and always a pleasure to hear your analysis.

    One note, I think with the addition of Wallin the Sharks are pressed pretty tight to the cap, but they were into Kubina before so maybe they will still try to add one more guy. Atlanta might have to take a roster player back to make it work though. We'll see, I'm not too sure there's a fit there.

  31. mojo19 says:

    I love the idea of going after Pahlsson, I think Burke was rumoured to be interested in the summer before Sami signed in CBJ. And I love the look of that line with Kooly and Shoesy.

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