Sunday Feb 12, 12 – Mega Rumor Update

Not much activity in the trade market

Bruins GM predicts quiet trade deadline

Ray Whitney, Pavel Kubina, Hal Gill and Brad Boyes make quartet of potential NY Ranger deals

Rutherford: Decision on Ruutu next week
Not much activity in the trade market

Leafs General Manager Brian Burke calls himself a January guy, one who works weeks in advance and steers clear of the foolishness that often comes with the NHL trade deadline. We’re nearing mid-February, with two weeks from the annual swap meet, and all has been quiet in Toronto.

The most persistent rumor had Leafs defenseman Luke Schenn going to Philadelphia in a package deal for James van Riemsdyk. The Flyers, without concussed veteran Chris Pronger, are combing the NHL for defensemen and have had Schenn on their short list. JVR is the kind of big, sturdy forward often coveted by Burke.

Makes sense, right?

It’s also very unlikely.

Bruins GM predicts quiet trade deadline

As the general manager of the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins, Peter Chiarelli wasn’t about to tell us the names on his list of players he believes will be available by the Feb. 27 trade deadline.

Having said that, Chiarelli did offer up this small piece of insight.

“It’s a short list,” he confided on Saturday afternoon.

Truth be told, Chiarelli suspects that is the case for the other 29 teams in the National Hockey League as well. In his mind, it could be one of the slowest trade deadline periods in recent memory. Why?

1. The tight standings squeeze: When the NHL implemented a salary cap after the lockout of 2004-05, parity came to the league. Or, is that parody? Either way, with so many teams squeezed in tightly within so few points, there seems to be a reluctance to offer up resources.

“The races are so tight, it seems that many teams still think they have a shot and don’t want to give up players,” Chiarelli said. “And, even though I can’t speak for them, it seems the teams that are almost out of it want to stay competitive instead of having (a housecleaning).”

2. The high price of acquiring talent: A year ago, the Bruins gave up former first-round forward Joe Colborne, a first-round pick in 2011 and a conditional second-round pick in 2012 to acquire Tomas Kaberle from the Maple Leafs. When the Bruins reached the Stanley Cup final last June, that ensured that the Leafs would get the aforementioned second-rounder as part of the package.

That was a hefty cost to shell out for Kaberle, a move Chiarelli feels probably had a domino effect throughout the league.

“The bar has been set very high throughout the league in terms of the asking price for talent, and that probably has to do with what we gave up for Kaberle,” Chiarelli said. “If you want a good player, you are going to have to pay.”

Ray Whitney, Pavel Kubina, Hal Gill and Brad Boyes make quartet of potential NY Ranger deals

The build-up to this year’s NHL trade deadline has been quiet, and there are three reasons why:

Few teams are out of playoff contention, so they haven’t decided whether to be buyers or sellers. The sellers’ current asking prices are too high. And some commodities already have re-signed, including Hurricanes defenseman Tim Gleason and Blue Jackets forward Vinny Prospal, the former Ranger previously speculated as a candidate to return to the Blueshirts on rental.

Last season in the two months approaching the deadline, the Rangers made deals for a forward who hasn’t worked out (Wojtek Wolski, Coyotes), a since-departed defenseman (Bryan McCabe, Panthers) and a forward John Mitchell (Toronto) who is now a reliable presence in the lineup.

This season, the Rangers are leading the Eastern Conference and have the money to go after their primary needs for a Stanley Cup run a goal scorer and a depth defenseman. If they wait until the deadline, they can afford any combination of the equivalent of a $6.9 million annual salary. They’ll have even more to work with if they’re able to unload Wolski ($3.8 million) in the final year of his deal, which will be difficult but Wolski may be more attractive to other clubs since scoring three goals in his first four games during a conditioning stint with the AHL’s Connecticut Whale.

GM Glen Sather is not expected to break the bank since the Rangers appear built for long-term success with a solid core, great goaltending and youth. This also is a tight locker room, so a trade that risks the team’s chemistry probably isn’t worth it to management.

But prices should drop as clubs fall out of the playoff picture and the deadline nears, and when they do, remember these names:

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Rutherford: Decision on Ruutu next week

Canes general manager Jim Rutherford said today he has met with forward Tuomo Ruutu to discuss Ruutu’s future with the team, and said a decision should be reached next week.

Rutherford said Ruutu, due to become an unrestricted free agent after the season, expressed a desire to stay with the team.

“These meetings are to see where the player is at, what they think of the team, whether he likes being in the organization, those things,” Rutherford said. “Tuomo is a player we really like, and he said he likes being with the team. That’s an important first step and we had a good meeting.

“The next hurdle may be the bigger hurdle, but at least we know we’re on the same page.”

The “hurdle” will be the length of contract and the dollars involved. Ruutu, who leads the Canes with 17 goals, has a $4.4 million salary this season.

Rutherford said he did not discuss contract details with Ruutu but now would begin that process with Ruutu’s agent, Bill Zito. Ruutu, who turns 29 this month, is believed to seeking a long-term deal.

Rutherford had not negotiated a contract with a Hurricanes player during the season until this year, when he re-signed defenseman Tim Gleason to a four-year contract extension worth $16 million.

“We have now made re-signing Tuomo a priority,” Rutherford said. “If we’re not able to agree, both sides need to have some leeway and some options. We need to make a decision and he needs to make a decision.”

Ruutu still could be traded before the NHL’s Feb. 27 trade deadline. Rutherford said he would not put a number on the amount of teams that have inquired about acquiring Ruutu but said, “There has been significant interest in Tuomo.”

The Canes are coming off a 3-2 overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks that had a controversial ending. Jussi Jokinen was tripped by the Ducks’ Corey Perry behind the Carolina net in overtime, but no penalty was called. Moments later, Perry scored the winner.

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