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Insider Only Inside the NHL: Around the Rink

*Petr Forsberg has decided to stay in Sweden and play with his close friend Markus Naslund. Forsberg has only played 15 NHL games since the 2006-2007 season.
Following the lockout, Forsberg and Naslund each tried to sign with the same team and play together but for both of them to make their $6 million a year salaries, it wasn’t feasible. Now they’re playing together for free.
Pittsburgh was among the few teams that looked into signing both forwards as a packaged deal but Naslund had no interest in coming back to Pittsburgh.
*Alexander Ovechkin returned to action Tuesday night leading the Washington Capitals to a 4-2 victory over the New York Rangers.
Ovechkin scored his 15th goal of the season and now has 15 goals in 15 games. If Ovechkin (24 pts in 15 GP) stays healthy the rest of the season, he is the best bet for overtaking Anze Kopitar (32 pts in 22 games) for the NHL scoring lead.
If Pittsburgh’s power play doesn’t start showing some consistency, Sidney Crosby (21 pts in 21 GP) and Evgeni Malkin (17 pts in 14 GP) will have a lot of trouble making a run at the scoring title.
The trade market will begin to heat up as the calendar changes and the Atlanta Thrashers and Phoenix Coyotes are expressing significant interest in Penguins defenseman

Deryk Engelland. Both teams have had scouts at 2 of the Penguins last 3 games. Atlanta likes Engelland a lot I’m told, as the Thrashers are looking to add toughness to their blueline.
*Chris Bourque has been heavily scouted of late as it’s been expected that he will be placed on waivers when the Penguins get a healthy lineup. Minnesota’s been looking at him along with the Rangers.
*Brendan Shanahan has retired after realizing that there was not a market for him. When will Chris Chelios do the same thing? Atlanta, Phoenix, New York Rangers and the Montreal Canadiens have all decided to pass on Chelios.
*The Chicago Blackhawks are believed to be close to signing Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews to extensions. The deal for both players is believed to be worth $5.5 – $6 million per season with the term of the contract around 5 years.
Reportedly the Hawks are also close to signing defenseman Duncan Keith to a 12-14 year contract.
Cap woes are on the horizon for Chicago. The Hawks currently have $42.4 million committed to 12 players for the 2010-2011 season. They will remain very aggressive in trying to trade Brian Campbell ($7.14 cap hit). Getting rid of Campbell’s and Huet’s ($5.6 million) salary is the Hawks best hope of keeping its core together for the long-term.
Patrick Sharp ($4 million) will also be a trade candidate in the off-season.
*Brooks Orpik’s injury has not had any bearing on his chances of making Team USA for the Olympics. He’s on the bubble but remains a strong candidate for the 7th spot.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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