Inside the NHL
Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi is not in any danger of losing his job but pressure is building on Lombardi to get the Kings in the playoffs.
The Kings are the 8th seed at this moment in the Western Conference and missing the playoffs for the fourth straight season under Lombardi is what will put his job in jeopardy beyond next season.
Kings management saw this season as the year that the Kings take the next step and while there have been signs of that, it still might not be enough to get into the playoffs.
With the trade deadline less than 8 weeks away, Lombardi is believed to be prepared to make a major splash at the trade deadline.
Speculation continues to center around Ilya Kovalchuk with the Kings prepared to offer a 4-for-1 package centered around Jack Johnson and Dustin Brown.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago and Washington to some extent will get into the Kovalchuk sweepstakes, when Thrashers GM Don Waddell begins to entertain offers.
Waddell will be seeking a 4-for-1 package and is interested in young core players with term left on their contract. That puts Philadelphia’s Jeff Carter and Washington’s Alexander Semin as unlikely targets from Atlanta.
Washington is expected to look into Kovalchuk but their efforts are expected to be towards defenseman Tomas Kaberle.
The Bruins have the pieces to be a major player for Kovalchuk but will not offer their 2010 first round pick from the Toronto Maple Leafs that will likely be a top 5 pick.
The wildcard will clearly be the Chicago Blackhawks.
Thrashers defenseman Pavel Kubina is expected to draw significant interest on the trade market. Among the most interested teams is the New York Rangers. However, Waddell may be forced to hold onto Kubina and risk getting nothing for him if the Thrashers are still in the playoff race at the trade deadline.
The Thrashers will approach winger Colby Armstrong about an extension prior to the Olympic break. Armstrong’s numbers are down this season but will have plenty of interest from Detroit, Tampa Bay, and Minnesota.
Sources close to Armstrong tell me, Armstrong has his sights set on testing free agency.
Vancouver Canucks forward Alexandre Burrows has alledged that referee Stephane Auger targeted him in Monday’s 3-2 loss to Nashville and that Auger was looking for revenge.
Burrows said Auger approached him before the game and told him he was going to get him back for embellishing a Dec. 8 hit in Nashville that left Burrows crumpled on the ice, and resulted in Predators forward Jerred Smithson receiving a 5-minute major penalty for charging.
“It was personal,” Burrows said. “It started in warm-up before the anthem. The ref came over to me and said I made him look bad in Nashville on the Smithson hit. He said he was going to get me back tonight and he did his job in the third.
Burrows had two goals in Monday’s loss and was awarded 10-minute misconduct late in the third period.
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